If you think of dancing princesses and singing birds when you think of castles, think again. Many castles around the world have a much more sinister history.
In honor of Halloween, we decided to take a trip around the world to visit some of those terrifying fortresses. From torture sites to witch hunts, these spooky castles hosted some of the most bone-chilling types of human activity ever witnessed.
#10: Castle Fraser, Scotland
Located in East Scotland, Castle Fraser is known for its wonderful architecture, beautiful gardens, fertile farmland, and… a terrifying murder.
According to local legend, a beautiful princess once stayed at Castle Fraser. Instead of getting a dress made for her by small creatures or meeting a handsome highlands lord, the young princess was brutally murdered in her sleep. Her body was then dragged down the castle’s stone stairs and into the woods beyond.
The castle’s other occupants tried in vain to scrub her blood from the stairs, but they couldn’t. Instead, they covered the stone stairs with wood paneling, which is still present today.
Some say you can still hear the princess screaming as she haunts the castle halls at night.
#9: Dragsholm Castle, Denmark
Built in the late 12th century, Dragsholm Castle was once the home of Danish nobility. Today, it’s a famous hotel with a bit of a sinister claim to fame.
Apparently, three separate ghosts haunt Dragsholm Castle: the Grey Lady, the White Lady, and the Earl of Bothwell.
The White Lady is apparently the ghost of a noble girl who fell in love with a local commoner. Her father disapproved of the match and locked the girl in her room. Centuries later, construction workers found her small skeleton imprisoned in a small recess in the castle’s walls, still wearing her white dress.
If you’re looking to stay at the hotel, we hear that room is available for cheap.
#8: Leap Castle, Ireland
The most haunted castle in Ireland, Leap Castle has a number of ghosts that call it home, including something known as the Elemental, which sounds like it’s straight out of the Upside Down in Stranger Things.
The Elemental is apparently a dark evil creature the size and shape of a small sheep with a human face and black pools for eyes.
As if that weren’t enough, Leap Castle’s dungeon is also haunted by the ghosts of prisoners who were killed by falling eight feet onto spikes that rose from the ground.
Unsurprisingly, Leap Castle is one of the top sites around the world to go for a ghost hunt.
#7: Moosham Castle, Austria
While the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts may be some of the most famous witch trials in the world, the witch trials in Austria at Moosham Castle may be the bloodiest.
Thousands of young women were accused of witchcraft and brought to Moosham Castle centuries ago. They were tortured and killed in the dungeon. Unsurprisingly, the castle hasn’t quite escaped this bloody history and visitors report hearing chilling screams and seeing frenzied ghosts throughout its halls.
#6: Predjama Castle, Slovenia
The ingeniously designed Predjama Castle was initially known for its easily defensible location built inside a cave. Because of its fortress-like features, nefarious types tended to head to Predjama Castle when they were fleeing from prosecution.
One of those people was a renowned robber baron who settled his family into the castle while fleeing the wrath of the Holy Roman Emperor. A long siege of the castle began, during which time it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The robber baron built secret tunnels that lead in and out of the castle, which some unfortunate souls got trapped in when an earthquake destroyed the building.
Due to its long and bloody history, Predjama is seen as extremely haunted. We wouldn’t recommend checking out those secret tunnels alone.
#5: Himeji Castle, Japan
Hijemi Castle is well-known for being one of the best-preserved examples of Japanese castle architecture in the entire country. It’s also supposedly haunted by a ghost named Okiku, who crawls out of the well each night and shrieks, so, visit during the daytime, we guess.
People report experiencing a number of unexplained occurrences at Hijemi Castle, from items disappearing and reappearing to cold chills when they walk through certain areas. If you’re not looking to encounter Okiku, take our advice and view this architectural marvel from afar.
#4: Chateau de Brissac, France
The elegant countryside manor, Chateau de Brissac, is today a beautiful hotel in west-central France. However, the hotel’s charming exterior hides a deeply disturbing past.
According to legend, one of the castle’s former inhabitants discovered his wife cheating on him with another man. To avenge his honor, he imprisoned his wife and her suitor and tortured and murdered them both.
Today, visitors to the hotel get the added bonus of ghostly sightings, chilling touches on their shoulders, and eerie sounds when they book a stay.
#3: Arundel Castle, England
If hearing the words “Arundel Castle” makes you think of ice princesses and talking snowmen, think again.
Arundel Castle is a medieval castle in West Sussex, England, originally built in the 11th century. It’s supposedly haunted by numerous ghosts, but the most famous is the Earl of Arundel, who has appeared to hundreds of visitors over the years.
Other spirits reported seen at Arundel Castle include a Blue Man in the library (and not the drumming, dancing kind) and a young woman who jumped to her death (and no, her name was not Anna or Elsa).
#2: Ballygally Castle, Ireland
Ireland has the distinct honor of being the only country to have two entries on our most haunted castles in the world list. And while Leap Castle may be the most haunted castle in all of Ireland, Ballygally Castle is known as the most haunted castle in Northern Ireland. We think it says a lot about the number of hauntings in your country when you have to make such distinctions.
Ballygally Castle is home to a number of ghosts, the most famous being Madam Nixon. She died at Ballygally in the 18th century and decided to remain for all eternity. Madam Nixon was apparently somewhat of a fashionista and sightings of her report that she’s wearing a beautiful silk dress. We suppose if you’re going to wear something for all eternity, you might as well look #flawless.
#1: Bran Castle, Romania
In a creepy and hard-to-reach part of the Carpathian Mountains lies Bran Castle, the infamous home of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad Dracula. The inspiration for Bran Stokers’ Gothic horror novel, Dracula, Vlad the Impaler’s reign of terror over Transylvania has become the stuff of legends.
Historians aren’t sure whether Vlad III actually killed people in Bran Castle, but nevertheless, the site has been solidified as one of the most haunted places in the world. Regardless of whether or not Vlad the Impaler actually tortured and killed hundreds here, the castle boasts a number of other creepy features, including a golden casket that holds the heart of Romania’s Queen Marie. The countryside surrounding the castle is supposedly haunted, too, with undead souls haunting local villagers at night.
Would you stay at a haunted-castle-turned-hotel? Let us know in the comments!