If walls could talk, the world’s castles sure would have some horror stories to tell. From battle to torture, murder to scandal, these striking buildings have lived through it all.
With centuries of gristly history reaching from the tallest of turrets to the deepest of dungeons, it’s no surprise that many of the world’s castles are rumoured to go bump in the night. Under the shadows of darkness, do sinister beings come out to play?
With Halloween about to beckon for another year, there’s no better time to indulge in a generous helping of horror. Dare to be scared with these most ghoulish of tales from castles all over the globe, and you’ll be sure to find yourself sleeping with the light on for the next few nights.
Forget the romance of maidens and knights, these castles are straight out of hell.
Most haunted castles around the world
Most haunted castles around the world
1/10 Castle Bran, Romania
Looming deep in the heart of Transylvania, it’s here you’ll find a treasure trove of morbid history – with the ultimate vampire twist. Thought to be the inspiration for Dracula’s playground of horror in the classic Bram Stoker novel, it’s said that Castle Bran has seen its own fair share of gore. Although there’s no historic proof that the castle’s namesake and Dracula’s inspiration – Vlad the Impaler – ever lived inside, the castle has come to be associated with the ruthless ruler and his brutal acts, ensuring a haunting experience for all who dare visit.
2/10 Moosham Castle, Austria
Known locally as the Witches Castle, Moosham gains its nickname from the merciless witch trials held within its walls throughout the 17th century. No one can be sure just how many young women were accused, tortured and killed in the dungeons of the castle, but it’s alleged to be well into the thousands – with a whole crew of beheaded witches haunting the grounds forever more. Moosham Castle is also home to its very own werewolf ghost. During the 1800s when mutilated animal corpses started showing up, Moosham residents were tried and imprisoned in the castle as werewolves. The only logical answer, of course.
3/10 Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Claiming the title of the most haunted castle in the world, Dragsholm lays claim to over 100 resident ghosts – but there’s three in particular that really own the place. Forever tied to her working duties in the castle, the grey lady appears nightly to make sure everything is in order. The white lady was once the castle owner’s son who paid the ultimate price for loving a lowly worker boy. Punished by her father, she was sealed alive behind a brick wall never to be seen again. Until the modern day that is, when builders found her skeleton still dressed in white. The third is the ghost of the Earl of Bothwell, who rides his horse through the grounds of the castle at night; the clatter of hooves heard by all who dare to stay there.
4/10 Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
This Scottish fortress stands high on Castle rock, looking down over the city below. Sitting deep into the ground where no one could hear the screams, the castle dungeons acted for centuries as the city’s torture chambers. It’s here that plague victims were quarantined and entombed, their restless spirits never finding peace. In 2001, 240 volunteers spent ten days in the castle, with all reporting spookily similar experiences: burning sensations, shadowy figures and strangely enough, the ghost of a man in a leather apron.
5/10 Chillingham Castle, England
If you decide to name your home “Chillingham Castle”, you can’t really expect any less than frightful occurrences inside. The resident ghost here is the blue boy, with guests reporting flashes of blue light and a blue halo above their bed accompanied by a chilling wail. If a blue boy doesn’t get your spine tingling in fear, then the ghosts of eight headless men might just do the trick. Eight criminals whose heads were displayed on the city gates as a warning to others are said to roam the castle, looking for their revenge.
6/10 Houska Castle, Czech Republic
The history of Houska Castle is a deeply disturbing one, bottomless in fact. Built over the top of a never-ending pit thought to be the gateway to hell, it hoped to put an end to the regularly reported demonic activity, sightings of winged creatures and the existence of ‘non-human remains’. The sinister activity continued into the 1930s when Nazis took an interest in the castle’s history and used the grounds to conduct experiments of the occult. What happened next is shrouded in mystery, but several Nazi soldier skeletons were found in the castle’s cellars, many years later.
7/10 Castle of Bardi, Italy
The Castle of Bardi is perhaps home to the most cursed of star-crossed lovers, Moroello and Soleste. The original love-story-turned-nightmare, the tale tells that one night, Soleste sat at her balcony eagerly awaiting the return of Moroello from battle. After mistakenly believing him dead, she threw herself from the castle, just as Moroello returned unharmed. Devastated, Moroello promptly killed himself. The two lovers were never reunited in the afterlife and these days, Moroello is said to wander the castle by night, searching for Soleste’s soul in attempt to find peace.
8/10 Brissac Castle, France
The tallest castle in the Loire Valley, this French château boasts over 200 rooms, some of which are haunted by something a little more unusual than your standard ghoul. The story goes that French nobleman Jacques de Breze lived in the castle with his wife Charlotte, who was not afraid to flaunt her extra-marital activity by enjoying loud sex with her many lovers. When she and one lover mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again, it was rumoured to be Jacques behind the plot. Punishing him forever, the moans did not stop and instead grew louder. In fact, they can still be heard today.
9/10 Leap Castle, Ireland
Ireland’s Leap castle is the setting of a family feud turned fatal. Inside of the castle chapel, two brothers – one a priest and the other a warrior – fought each other to the death. The priest brother was slain across the alter, his blood dripping menacingly down. Suffice to say, the chapel has been known as the Bloody Chapel ever since. If priest ghosts aren’t enough to give you goosebumps, the castle is also haunted by a mythical being: the Elemental. This demon-esque creature wanders the castle with its human face, dark pools for eyes and a smell of rotting flesh.
10/10 Belcourt Castle, USA
Built by Oliver Belmont, the heir to the Belmont family empire, Belcourt Castle certainly has some tales to tell. Once the castle was built, Belmont decided to travel the world collecting quirky artefacts for his new home – and it’s these artefacts that are allegedly haunted. A 15th century suit of armour is said to be possessed by its medieval owner, crying out in a blood-curdling scream each March at the exact time that he perished. The Gothic ballroom houses haunted chairs, said to torment any guest who sits upon them. Time to redecorate?
Josie Sampson writes for Expedia.co.uk