Europe has a long, rich and bloody history, which makes it home to numerous haunted locations. Many countries including Ireland, Scotland and England actually use their haunted histories to draw tourists. If you are planning a trip to one of these countries, you may notice that some castles have been converted to hotels, or rent out rooms to tourists. Fans of the supernatural pay big bucks for the chance to stay the night and witness some spooky happenings. People love to be scared and ghosts are a great way to send a shiver up your spine.
How about you? Do you believe in ghosts? If you are a skeptic, there are a few European castles that may change your mind. Castles are a perfect place to see specters, as they are frequently very old and thus have seen many horrific events. The following is a list of the 10 most haunted castles in the world.
10 Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Dragsholm Castle is one of the most famously haunted in Europe. It was built during the 12th century by Peder Sunesen, the Bishop of Roskilde. Its initial purpose was to serve as a fortification to house important nobles; however, it was eventually used to hold prisoners.
Today, the castle is home to a hotel, conference rooms, two restaurants and 100 ghosts. Out of its numerous ghosts, five of them are the most famous. The first, the Bishop Ronnow, is a prisoner who died in the castle. It is said that you can still hear Catholic chanting as you roam through the Castle’s halls.
The second ghost is that of the 4th Earl of Bothwell; he was a political prisoner who went mad and died in the castle. Visitors say they can hear him riding his horse in the courtyard. The third ghost is Ejler Brockenhuus, also known as the “Mad Squire.” He was chained in the castle’s dungeon; his wild moans can still be heard in what is now the castle’s hotel.
The fourth ghost is known as the White Lady. Her real name was Celina Bovles; she fell in love with a commoner and was pregnant with his child. When the father found out, he banished her to the dungeon. Workers in the 1930s found her skeleton in one of the castle walls. She can be seen wandering around the castle, searching for her lover and sometimes moaning in sorrow.
The Gray Lady is the last famous ghost. She was a maiden who worked in the castle, and one day was suffering from a terrible toothache. The owner of the castle reportedly cured her toothache with a poultice. She died shortly after but was still grateful to the master of the castle, and today haunts the castle searching for good deeds to be done to prove her never-ending gratitude.
9 Château de Châteaubriant, France
Château de Châteaubriant is an ancient castle, having been built during the 11th century. Its hauntings are said to have began in the 16th century, after the death of Jean de Laval's wife, Françoise de Foix. De Laval was summoned to see King Francis I, and he allowed his wife to tag along. Françoise soon become the Queen's lady-in-waiting and the King's lover as well.
Françoise mysteriously died in October of 1537. Rumour has it her husband poisoned her and locked her up when he heard of her affair with the King. For hundreds of years, she has appeared during the night on the anniversary of her death, aimlessly walking through the halls of the castle.
8 Meggernie Castle, Scotland
Meggernie Castle was built in the 17th century. Its main supernatural inhabitant is harmless, if not playful: she spends her time appearing before guests and kissing unsuspecting, sleeping men.
Believed to be the ghost of the wife of a Menzie Clan chief, she was murdered when her husband had enough of her flirtatious behaviour, and cut her in half before disposing of her body. It is said that the bottom half of her body floats around the lower floors and grounds of the castle, while her upper half prefers the upstairs as this is where more sleeping men can be found.
7 Charleville Castle, Ireland
The first Earl of Charville, Charles William Bury, commissioned Charleville castle in 1798. The most famous ghost that haunts the castle is the daughter of the Earl of Charleville, an 8-year old girl named Harriet.
Harriet was the victim of an unfortunate accident in 1861. She was playfully sliding down the main balustrade when she lost her grip and fell onto the stone ground. Visitors state that you can hear her ghost laughing, singing or screaming at night. Others have also reportedly seen her on the stairs, or have felt her presence nearby.
6 Castle Keep, England
Castle Keep is one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle; its construction began in 1080. Starting from the 17th century, the castle was used as a prison that was known for its horrid conditions and close proximity to the Black Gate, which was a primary location for public executions in the 18th century.
This castle is so haunted, that every room in the establishment has its own legend associated to it. Visitors have claimed seeing unexplained shadows, orbs and grey mists. Other reports indicate cases of people having been attacked, pushed and scratched, in addition to hearing voices of soldiers, women, children as well as chanting monks.
5 Houska Castle, Czech Republic
Houska Castle is perhaps one of the most frightening haunted castles, as it has the reputation of guarding the gateway to Hell. The castle was built by Bohemian ruler Ottokar II in the first half of the 13th century. The center of the castle features a chapel with a well where, rumours say, you can hear the sounds of hell (recordings are even available online).
Legend has it the castle is home to a hoard of paranormal creatures, including a monster that is part human, part frog and part bulldog. The ghost of a mad monk carrying a ghost axe is also said to go after any visitors that approach the castle. Visitors have also reported seeing a long line of ghosts, chained together, holding their heads in their hands, while being tormented by a hellhound.
4 Burg Eltz, Germany
The earliest record of Burg (Castle) Eltz is from 1157; Frederick I commissioned Count Rudolf von Eltz to protect the trade route connecting Maifeld plateau and the Moselle river. Amazingly, the Eltz family are still the owners of the castle.
A few of the rooms in the castle are opened to tourists. One of these bedrooms used to belong to a Countess by the name of Agnes. Her bed, breastplate and battle axe are still in her room. Legend says she died defending the castle from an undesirable suitor and still haunts the castle today.
3 Leap Castle, North of Roscrea, Ireland
Leap Castle was built in the 15th century for the O’Carrols clan. While the castle was being renovated, a dungeon was discovered containing enough human remains to fill three carts. The castle’s long and bloody history makes it home to numerous terrifying ghosts, the first of which is called “It.” "It" is a strange creature, about the size of a sheep, with a decaying face. The tell-tale sign of "It"’s arrival is the smell of sulphur and rotting flesh.
A ghost of a man pushing a barrel also haunts the old Priest’s house, most of which was burned down in 1922. The Red Lady is another ghost who haunts the castle. She can be found menacingly holding a dagger, as if ready to stab someone. Legend says that she killed herself after being captured and raped.
Finally, there are the ghosts of two young girls, named Emily and Charlotte, who are sometimes seen playing and running in the castle. Emily died when she was 11, having fallen from the battlements. Her ghost can be seen falling from the castle and disappearing right before hitting the ground. Charlotte can be found dragging her deformed legs.
2 Culzean Castle, Carrick Scotland
Culzean Castle was built in 1602 by Sir Thomas Kennedy, incorporating parts of the older castle that stood there before it. Two main ghosts reportedly haunt the castle.
The first is a ghost piper, who plays the pipes on the castle grounds during stormy nights and when one of the Kennedys are about to get married. The second ghost is that of a young woman dressed in an elegant ball gown. No one, however, is aware of who she is and why she is there.
1 Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, England
Chillingham Castle was built from a stronghold in the 14th century. It has the reputation of being one of England’s most haunted castles. It is the home of the ghost of a small boy known as the “Radiant Boy” or “Blue Boy.” His cries can be heard at midnight in the “Pink Room” from a nearby passage. After his cries fade, he is said to appear, all dressed in blue. His bones were discovered in one of the bedroom walls while the castle was being refurbished. After his remains were found, he was given a proper burial.
Another famous ghost residing there is that of Lady Mary Berkeley. She was the wife of Lord Grey of Wark. Her husband left her and eloped with her sister, leaving Lady Mary to take care of their baby daughter by herself. It is said that she wanders though the empty halls of the castle looking for the husband that abandoned her.
Sources: windowstoworldhistory.weebly.com, paranormal.about.com, irishcentral.com,chroniclelive.co.uk, examiner.com, gothic.stir.ac.uk, visitscotland.com, britannia.com,scotsman.com, data.historic-scotland.gov.uk, travel.allwomenstalk.com