Whether it is the heroic medieval knight, the adoring love-struck princess or simply the idea of a fantasy-ridden past, castles capture our hearts and tempt our imaginations. We long to explore their narrow passages, climb their dimly-lit stairwells and peer from inside their soaring stone towers. And when the castle’s past includes impaling enemies, forgotten prisoners and vindictive spirits … well, that is even better.
Here are six of the creepiest castles in the world where a traveler is more likely to get brushed by a 16th Century knight than Cinderella’s Prince Charming.
Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania
Although this 14th Century fortress is one of several castles linked to the Dracula legend, Bran Castle deviously snatched the nickname of “Dracula’s Castle” and all the marketing rewards that flowed.
Bran Castle was allegedly the residence of Vlad Tepes, aka, Vlad the Impaler, so-called for his fondness of impaling his enemies on stakes. Today the castle is a museum that displays furniture and art that was collected by the royal family.
Visitors can tour the castle individually or with a guided tour.
Tamworth Castle in Staffordshire, England
Although Tamworth Castle in Staffordshire, England never housed a fictional vampire, the Norman motte-and-bailey design and foreboding stone tower kick up the creep factor. Oh … and it is haunted.
The most famous residents of Tamworth Castle are the Black Lady and the White Lady, both of whom are seen or heard regularly on the castle grounds. The White Lady is said to have thrown herself from the battlements when she learned her lover had been killed, while the Black Lady is allegedly the ghost of a nun named Editha, who was called from her grave by the angry prayers of other nuns after they were expelled from a nearby convent.
Visitors can tour fifteen rooms inside the castle, including the Great Hall, the Dungeon and the Haunted Bedroom.
Berry Pomeroy in Devon, England
Touted as the most haunted castle in the UK, the 12th Century Berry Pomeroy Castle has its own White Lady ghost … and this one is even sadder.
Berry Pomeroy’s White Lady is said to be the ghost of Lady Margaret Pomeroy who was starved to death by her jealous sister, Lady Eleanor. Castle rumors claim Eleanor was always jealous of her younger and prettier sister and locked her inside the castle dungeon for nearly two decades. Her ghost is said to be all white-from her wildly flowing hair to her ghostly white feet and she often is seen rising from the top of St. Margaret’s Tower.
She is a fixture inside the dungeons and people who see her report feeling intense depression, fear and anger.
Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland
This imposing castle towers above the Princess Street Gardens in what is often called the most haunted city in Europe …
Edinburgh, Scotland. The 900+ year-old fortress was built on the remains of an ancient volcano and is home to some of the most interesting ghosts in the world.
Although visitors and guests report hearing the droning beat of a drum, few people have ever actually seen the drummer, who is reportedly a headless boy who only reveals himself before the castle is attacked.
The castle’s dog cemetery is allegedly prowled by a phantom four-legged friend and the dungeons are haunted by a special phenomenon that has been scientifically proven to be unexplainable.
Bodelwyddan Castle in Wales
Whispering ghosts, shadowy figures and phantom soldiers is enough to propel Bodelwyddan Castle to the top of the world’s scariest castles list, add in the fact that the walls were built around human bones and this creepy castle just got creepier.
In 1829, current Bodelwyddan Castle owner, Sir John Hay Williams noted the discovery of human bones near one of the chimneys. Since the castle was currently undergoing restoration, they continued to rebuild the castle around the bones.
Over the years, this 15th Century manor house has served as a private residence, a World War I recuperation hospital, a private girls’ school and a museum.
In 2004 the castle was featured as a location for the British TV program, Most Haunted.
Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland
Built precariously on the edge of a cliff on the north Antrim Coast, this Norman castle has been remodeled numerous times over the ages, but former residents can’t seem to let go.
In 1586, a royal feud ensued for the castle and ended with the unfortunate hanging of the previous castle constable. This ghostly figure, dressed in a purple cloak and a ponytail wanders the Dunluce Castle tower from which he was killed.
In 1639, the kitchen collapsed into the sea, taking several servants to their grave. Today, visitors report feeling a cold chill in certain parts of the castle and staff arrives at the gift shop to find books relocated and radios blaring.
Although no one has sensed a malicious spirit among these ghosts, the idea of playful residents returning to entertain the living is downright creepy.
Read about author Cherrye Moore and check out her other BootsnAll articles.
Read more about castles and spooky places:
- The 12 Most Beautiful Castles in Europe
- 7 Great Castles That Are Not in Europe
- 5 of the World’s Most Haunted Places
Additional photo credit:
Tamworth by Elvis Payne at Flickr