World’s 8 Most Haunted Castles: The Lost Souls Tormenting Visitors of Famous Bastions
The histories of many of the world’s most haunted castles are filled with bloodshed, treason, and treasure. The checkered past and centuries of existence make these locations the perfect choice for specters and shades to find their eternal homes.
Many times it’s said that more than one phantom inhabits a spacious castle. They are used to one another—they have haunted the walls together for hundreds of years—and they very likely mean you no harm. But if you ever find yourself surrounded by the ancient dust, damp stone, and dew-covered grass at a castle, be aware of your surroundings. It could be that ghosts are right behind you.
Stirling Castle has a long history as the royal residence of Scottish kings and queens. It was the seat of power in the north. The land upon which the castle stands has passed through more hands than can be counted, from native tribes to the kings of Mercia, to the Picts the 12th century, and so on.
A woman known as the ‘Green Lady’ is said to wander the castle’s halls. According to locals, the castle is filled with female ghosts of all hues of the rainbow. The Green Lady, however, is feared the most—perhaps it is due to her appearance, known only by her long hair and ghastly green gown, or perhaps it’s because of the legend of her death.
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The Green Lady has been theorized as one of two people: a military commander's daughter who was a victim of a star-crossed relationship which eventually led to her suicide, or an unnamed handmaiden or serving girl to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Some say the Green Lady haunts the halls of Stirling out of guilt for the queen's near death experience that brought about the girl’s own demise. Others say she is merely a lost soul, unable to move on because of the trauma of her death. The fear of the Green Lady likely comes from the belief that she is an omen of misfortune. Another ghost believed to wander Stirling is a woman called the Pink Lady, who may be Mary, Queen of Scots, herself.
Glamis Castle, one of the most haunted castles in Great Britain, was the talk of Europe during the second half of the 19th century. The castle was connected with tales involving secret passages, hidden prisoners, initiation rites, and shadowy figures seen on the ramparts late at night.
The secret was apparently so extraordinary that only three people were ever allowed to know it at one time: The Earl, the Earl’s heir (after he reached his 21st birthday), and the estate manager, known as a factor. Many suspect that the mystery died with the 14th Earl; however, visitors cannot deny the chilling atmosphere felt in the Castle, especially in the lonely hours past midnight.
The first ghost that was said to haunt the castle corridors was that of Lady Janet Douglas. Caught up in regional politics, Lady Janet was accused of poisoning her husband (the 6th Lord of Glamis) and ultimately was convicted of witchcraft in 1537. She was burned at the stake in Edinburgh. The spirit of Lady Janet is said to favor the castle’s clock tower.
Yet the most famous legend of Glamis Castle is that of an unknown prisoner, often referred to as a monster, held in a secret hidden chamber. The Monster of Glamis has been described as deformed, hairy, ‘a human toad,’ and always terrifying to behold.
Some witnesses claim to have seen the strange creature’s shadow as he prowled the battlements late at night. One story tells how a castle workman unexpectedly found a door that led to a long, unfamiliar passageway. Walking along in eerie silence, the man is said to have seen ‘something’ at the far end of the passage. He fled and immediately reported his encounter to the factor. He was promptly urged to emigrate to Australia.
Château de Brissac is a castle in the department of Maine-et-Loire, France. The castle was built during the 11th century and has a long and interesting history. Its resident ghost is the ‘la Dame Verte’ or Green Lady, who is said to be the ghost of an unfaithful wife murdered by her husband during the 15th century.
The Green Lady is believed to be the ghost of a woman named Charlotte de Brézé, who was the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII and his mistress, Agnes Sorel. In 1462, a marriage was arranged between Charlotte and Jacques de Brézé, a nobleman. The marriage was politically motivated and that the two did not love each other.
On May 31, 1477, Jacques returned from a hunting trip, had dinner with his wife, and then went to his room. In the middle of the night a servant woke Jacques up to inform him that his wife was having an affair with a man named Pierre de Lavergne. Jacques caught his wife and her lover red-handed, and in a fit of rage, murdered the adulterous couple. Apparently Jacques moved out of the château shortly after the murder as he could not stand the moaning of the ghosts.
But the dukes of the château and their families are said to have grown accustomed to Charlotte’s presence, though it is claimed that guests have been frightened by her. Her moans are still said to be heard throughout the château in the early hours of the morning.
Poppi Castle was built around the second half of the 13th century AD. Today, it’s commonly considered one of Tuscany’s best preserved and haunted castles. One of Poppi Castle’s most infamous residents was a woman by the name of Matilda / Matelda. She was the wife of an elderly Count Guidi or a daughter in that ruling family.
In any case, Matilda was unhappy with her marriage and sought the company of young men from the town. After inviting one of them to the castle, she would spend the night with him. Before the sun rose, however, she would send the man “home” through the back door, to avoid being caught in adultery.
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But to ensure that her reputation was not soiled, she would silence her lovers for good. Unbeknownst to them, the path contained a trapdoor, which sent the lovers falling to their deaths. The disappearance of the young men soon raised the suspicion of the townspeople. In the end, an angry mob stormed the castle, caught Matilda, had her walled up in the tower, and left her to die. It’s believed the ghost of Matilda still haunts the castle.
Caerphilly Castle in south Wales stands proud among the medieval fortifications and strongholds in the United Kingdom and is classed among the finest in Europe. Many believe that the grounds are haunted by spirits of the de Clare family, ghostly soldiers, as well as by the Green Lady, a banshee-elf type creature who rises from the moat at night.
Richard Jones tells the story of the Green Lady:
"Gilbert was married to the beautiful Princess Alice of Angouleme, a lady of refined tastes and passionate nature, who came to resent her husband’s warring disposition. One day, Gruffudd the Fair, Prince of Brithdir, paid a visit to the castle. Alice became enamored with this handsome and amorous Welsh prince, and soon the two were lovers. Rather foolishly, Gruffudd confessed their secret to a monk who turned out to be duplicitous and informed the cuckolded husband. A deranged Gilbert sent his wife back to France and ordered his men to find Gruffudd. Learning of the friar’s betrayal, Gruffudd caught the monk and hanged him from a tree at a site now known as 'Monk’s Vale' in commemoration. No sooner had he done so than Gilbert’s men caught up with him, and Gruffudd, too, was soon dangling at the end of a noose.
Gleefully, the avenged husband set a messenger to France to inform Alice of her lover’s execution. Such was the shock of the news that she dropped dead on the spot, and her ghost has haunted the ramparts of Caerphilly Castle ever since. Resplendent in a richly woven dress, colored green for Gilbert’s envy, she waits in silent solitude, desperate to be reunited with her princely lover, whose flattering attentions fate has long denied her."
Queen Silvia of Sweden says that her home, Drottningholm Palace, is haunted. The elaborate residence is a well preserved castle dating to the 1600s. The royal said that the ghosts accompanying her family are friendly and the whole thing is exciting.
Those who resided in the palace would have witnessed a multitude of events over the last few centuries; apart from fires, royal festivities and dramas also took place within its walls. Political actions, scientific discussions, and the intrigues of everyday life would have kept those living there very busy.
The “unliving” that reside at the palace have added their own intrigue as well. Two of the ghosts allegedly found in the royal residence are the White Lady and the Grey Man. The White Lady specifically seems to appear to foretell a death in the palace. Legends of the Grey Man, on the other hand, appear to be almost as old as the palace itself. This phantom is said to have shown itself to all the kings who’ve lived in the palace so far, except King Carl Gustaf.
Strange sounds such as banging or thumping noises, opening of doors, or moving of furniture in unoccupied rooms, and unexplained happenings or “feelings” have been noted throughout the palace by various people working or living there. Nothing has been mentioned however, of past monarchs wandering the halls.
The White Tower, most commonly known as the Tower of London, is a castle situated on the north bank of the river Thames in central London and is one of the oldest, long-standing edifices in England. It has been used as a prison, a menagerie, a palace, a mint, and a repository for the crown jewels. But the Tower’s most renowned use was as a place of execution to get rid of Britain’s undesirables among the royal class.
With so much death that took place within the walls of the Tower of London, including people and animals alike, there is no wonder that many tales of ghost sightings have arisen over the years. It’s considered one of the most haunted places in London. One of the first reported ghost sightings was that of Thomas Beckett, the archbishop martyred at Canterbury.
Another sighting is that of Henry VI who was martyred as he knelt in prayer in 1471. It is also believed that Sir Walter Raleigh’s ghost has been seen sitting at a desk in one of the studies. But by far the most famous execution in the Tower is linked to one of the most popular ghost sightings.
Anne Boleyn is one of the most often seen ghosts in the tower – perceived by many as a headless grey or white spirit lady. Another apparition that has been sighted is not that of a human but instead a bear that was killed on the Tower grounds.
Hunyadi Castle, also known as Corvin Castle, in Romania was built in the 15th century as a feudal residence and for strategic purposes. There are many legends surrounding the construction, such as the one about the Turkish prisoners who built the interior fountain.
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The story says that they were promised freedom, but after 15 years of work, they remained slaves. For this reason, one of the prisoners added the following inscription to the fountain: “The one who wrote this inscription is Hasan who lives as a slave for the giaour in the fortress near the church”. Even today, Turkish tourists throw coins into the fountain in memory of their enslaved countrymen.
Vlad the Impaler was also a prisoner at Corvin Castle. Held in the cell below the Hall of Knights, he had to endure harsh conditions and eat rats to survive. Some even go as far as to claim that during this time he lost his mind.
But the most interesting aspect about Hunyadi Castle is the hauntings. This castle is one of the most haunted castles in the world. Ghostly silhouettes appear in photographs and violent ghosts are thought to wander the halls and chambers at night.
When some tourists tricked the guards to remain in the castle at night, they came out the next day bruised, beaten, and terrified - they had supposedly suffered the wrath of an angry ghost. The ghost had tortured them until the early morning.
Top Image: Haunted Castle Source: twindesigner / Adobe Stock