Ghostly Europe

10 Spookiest Locations in Europe

Europe is home to some seriously spooky places, with its endless castles, creepy houses, and dark forests. All this history and culture naturally gives rise to a folklore, legends, and ghost stories. We’re sure even the bravest travellers will find something to leave them suitably spooked out.

We’ve searched out the creepiest places in Europe, from the fairy tale forests of Germany to the underworld of the French capital, so you can have a spooky adventure of your own. Here are our top 10 spookiest places in Europe.

Header Image: Juan Facundo Mora Soria, Flickr

Paris Catacombs, France

Far below the elegant streets of Paris lies a dark and creepy place synonymous with death. Travel to the south of the city, near to the former city gate known ominously as the Gate of Hell (Barrière d’Enfer), and you’ll find the entrance to the Paris Catacombs. This vast network of tunnels and chambers is filled with the bones of nearly 6 million people, arranged in gruesome but surprisingly artistic forms. They were taken there in the 1780s as the city’s centuries-old graveyards overflowed with bodies from wars, diseases, and famine, and conditions became unbearable. Remains were dug up, and nightly processions through the streets with chanting priests and black veils moved the millions of bones underground to their current resting place. A small part of the catacombs are open to the public, but some brave souls have ventured deeper beyond the sign that reads ‘Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort.’(Stop! This is the empire of the Dead.)

Photo: Randy Connolly, Flickr

Kaplica Czaszek (The Chapel of Skulls), Poland

From the outside, this modest-looking church wouldn’t necessarily catch your eye, but venture in and you’re greeted with a very different sight. The bones and skulls of over 3000 people decorate the ceiling and walls, arranged in eye-catching patterns, or resembling skull and crossbones symbols. In the crypt beneath the chapel are yet more bones – 21,000 skeletons to be precise. The bones were collected by priest, Vaclav Tomasek, and the local gravedigger J. Langer in the late 18th century, the pair raiding mass graves left by wars and epidemics. On the altar of the chapel Tomasek placed skulls of significance, including the local mayor and his wife, a Tartar warrior, and the skull of a giant.

Photo: Merlin, Praca wlasna

Burg Eltz, Germany

This imposing castle rises out of the Mosel Forest, looking like something out of a Grimm fairy tale or Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nearly 900 years old, the castle is still owned by the Eltz family, and is one of the few castles in the region that has never been destroyed. It’s also home to legends of ghosts and hauntings, including wandering medieval knights, and the spirit of a countess named Agnes, who died defending the castle from an unwanted suitor. Her bedchamber can be visited, and it still contains her breastplate and battle axe.

Photo: sebnero, Instagram

La Roche en Ardenne, Belgium

This picturesque town in the Ardennes region of Belgium is home to the ruins of a great castle that dates back to the 9th century. Long ago a lord of La Roche had a daughter, Berthe, who was the sole heir to his great fortune. He held a grand tournament to find a man worthy of her hand, with knights competing to win the right to marry her. During the tournament a small, puny knight managed to outwit the large and powerful Count of Montaigu, who competed even though he was already betrothed to the Countess Alix de Salm. The small knight slew the Count, and won the right to marry Berthe, Unfortunately it turned out that the diminutive knight was none other than the slighted Countess Alix de Salm, who threw herself and Berthe from the castle onto the rocks far below. The ghost of Berthe can be seen wandering the castle ruins after nightfall to this day (at 10pm between July and August, weather permitting).

Photo: Sjoerd van der Wal, Flickr

Chateau de Brissac, France

A stunning French chateau built in the 16th century, Brissac is a vision of beauty and tranquillity. However, a dark event that took place here has left it a slightly less than peaceful place. The chateau was once owned by a nobleman named Jacques de Breze who married Charlotte de Valois, the king’s half-sister. Unfortunately their marriage was not a happy one, and Charlotte found comfort in the arms of another man. Jacques discovered the pair one night, and in a fit of rage brutally killed his wife and her lover. To this day, her ghost is said to haunt the chateau as La Dame Verte, always appearing in green dress, or heard loudly moaning in the early hours of the morning. If you really want, you can book to stay the night at this grand house, and see if the Green Lady visits you too.

Photo: Daniel Jolivet, Flickr

Houska Castle, Czech Republic

One of the most notorious haunted castles in Europe, Houska’s construction has always appeared slightly odd, the site having no apparent strategic purpose. However, the castle may have been built to keep things in rather than out. At the centre of the fortress is a chapel, underneath which is an apparently bottomless pit, said to be the gateway to hell. Long before the castle was built, locals spoke of monsters and half-formed horrors crawling out of the pit, and black-winged creatures emerging at night to circle the area. Prisoners were offered pardon if they agreed to be lowered down the hole on a rope to report what they saw, but they would begin to scream horribly and were brought back up having apparently aged by decades. In the 30s Houska Castle was also occupied by the Nazis, who conducted occult experiments within its walls.

Photo: moncussss, Instagram

Chateau de Noisy, Belgium

Originally named Chateau Miranda, this magnificent gothic castle has all the hallmarks of a haunted house. Spires and turrets rise above its dark façade, with a soaring clock tower in the centre. The chateau was built in the 19th century, and was occupied until it became caught up in the two world wars. The Nazis occupied it during this time, until it was turned into an orphanage in the 1950s. Its grand interior has long since fallen into disrepair and decay, and is today popular with ghost hunters and urban explorers, and any who dare to enter this abandoned place.

Photo: sebnero, Instagram

Spooksteeg, Netherlands

The aptly named Spooksteeg is home to one of Amsterdam’s most famous ghosts, Helena of Ghost Alley. In the 18th century the narrow alleyway was home to a tannery where Helena lived with her father and her sister Dina. A handsome sailor fell in love with Helena’s fairer sister, sending Helena into a fit of jealousy that resulted in her murdering Dina. She threw Dina into the tannery cellar, making it look like a tragic accident. Helena ended up marrying the sailor, but confessed her crime to him on her deathbed hoping for forgiveness. Her husband refused, and instead cursed her to never find rest and to roam eternally. Exactly 100 years after her death, screams were reportedly heard on the site of her crime, and since then visitors have claimed to see her tormented ghost roaming the dark alley.

Photo: they-hide-in-the-dark, Tumblr

Frankenstein Castle, Germany

This hilltop castle in the woods overlooking the city of Darmstadt in Germany may actually have inspired Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, and is part of a whole region of dark forests and narrow valleys that have long been shrouded in legend. The castle was said to have been home to an alchemist named Dippel in the 17th century, who created the substance Dippel’s Oil, an elixir with life-giving powers. Dippel was also rumoured to have created a monster that was brought to life by a bolt of lightning, and local people still claim that this story was told to Shelley’s stepmother by the Brothers Grimm. There are other curiosities surrounding the castle too, such as a legendary fountain of youth that works under a full moon after Walpurgis Night, and strange magnetic stone formations that render compasses useless.

Photo: deoroller – Deviant Art

Paris Sewers, France

Like Paris’s Catacombs, the sewers have their own share of mysteries and folklore. The Parisians were curiously resistant to the idea of sewers until well into the 19th century, when largescale waterworks were constructed under the new boulevards and streets of the Paris we see today. Since then they have featured in stories and urban legends, such as in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and have been continually expanded underneath the city. During the 1980s it was even said that a fully-grown crocodile inhabited the dark waterways. You can visit a portion of this underground world today in the Paris Sewer Museum near the Pont de l’Alma.

 

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