Bran Castle, Romania
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Castles are often at the centre of tales of historic hauntings – and they have an appeal that both fascinates and frightens us. We take a look at where you can find some of the creepiest fortifications in Europe.
This Halloween promises to be unlike any other. With social distancing in place around the world, many of us are looking for ways to go out and explore new destinations away from the crowds. We’ve picked these haunted castles that are perfect for adventurers – and we’ve paired each of them with nearby places to stay.
Widely regarded as the most haunted castle in the world, this castle, in Coolderry, County Offaly, Ireland, has featured in a number of TV shows due to its spooky nature. The Red Lady patrols the halls with a dagger, and two young spirits are said to be constantly running up and down a spiral staircase.These apparitions are mere tasters of the sinister entity known as It, which makes its presence known on numerous occasions, so it’s said, via the stench of rotting corpses. It’s no wonder this paranormal activity is actively promoted by the team looking after the castle today.
It’s hard to believe some of the dark tales about this medieval castle when you visit in daylight. The Tower of London, however, has a gory history. It’s usually busy with tourists who come to see the Crown Jewels and the Beefeater guards, but how many are aware of the numerous ghosts that have been reported in the grounds? The tower not only housed some of the most famous royal prisoners from British history, it was also the place where many criminals spent their final nights before facing the executioner’s axe.
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Fyvie Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is where Robert the Bruce once held an open-air court in the 14th century, and the castle has been a royal stronghold since. In recent years, renovations have significantly improved the experience for visitors, but may have disturbed long-dormant spirits. There is believed to be a secret room, sealed up somewhere in the grounds of the castle, that places a curse on anyone that enters it. Good thing it’s a secret then.
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One of the few castle you can actually stay in, this baroque building has stood on an islet in the Danish town of Dragsholm for more than 800 years. From the outside, it looks rather unassuming, but it was once a prison for religious and noble inmates. The grounds of the castle are natural expanses of greenery that should be a delight to explore, as long as you don’t run into the phantom Grey Lady. The castle is just over an hour away from Copenhagen, so if you’re spending a few days in the Danish capital, visiting Dragsholm is a great way to see a different part of the country.
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We should all be grateful this gothic castle near Prague exists as it apparently blocks demons from marauding across the planet. Folklore suggests the foundations of Houska Castle were placed on a gateway to hell, and that if anything should happen to the building, all manner of otherworldly nightmares would enter our mortal realm. The castle is now owned by the president of car manufacturer Škoda, but is still open to the public.
If we’re going to start our list with Dracula, we might as well end with his pal, Dr Frankenstein. Set south of Frankfurt, in Hesse, the area surrounding this castle is best known for its vineyards and mild climate. If there are any rogue lightning strikes, however, this might not be the best place to find shelter. A recent Halloween tradition has seen American servicemen host a spooky festival in the ruins, and a nearby restaurant is famed for its Horror Dinner Nights. Locals use the area for hiking whereas Mary Shelley is thought to have taken inspiration from here for her 1818 gothic novel, Frankenstein.
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