Houska Castle (Czech: Hrad Houska) is a Czech clifftop castle shrouded in dark myths and legends. It was originally constructed in the 13th century, between 1253 and 1278, during the reign of Ottokar II of Bohemia. The castle, which was built in the early gothic style, is located about an hour north of Prague on the top of a steep, rocky cliff in the Czech countryside. It is thought to be one of the most haunted locations in the world.
At first glance the castle seems quite ordinary but upon closer inspection one notices a few strange features. Firstly, many of the castle windows are actually fake. If you look closely, you will see that most of the windows are merely facades: glass panes behind which sturdy walls are built. Secondly, the castle has no fortifications, no water source, no kitchen, and, for years after it was constructed, no occupants. This makes it clear that Houska Castle was not built as a protective sanctuary or a residence.
The location of the castle is also peculiar. It is situated in a remote area surrounded by thick forests, swamps, and sandstone mountains. The location has no strategic value and is not situated near any trading routes. Many people wonder why Houska Castle was built in such a strange location. Ancient legends may be able to answer that question.
According to folklore, Houska Castle was constructed over a large hole in ground which was known as The Gateway to Hell. It is fabled that the hole was so deep that no one could see the bottom of it. Legend has it that half-animal, half-human creatures used to crawl out from the pit at night, and that black winged creatures used to attack locals and drag them down into the hole.
It is believed that the castle was built to keep the evil in.
The location of the castle was specifically chosen in order to cover this mysterious pit from which the demonic creatures emerged at night. The castle’s chapel was specifically built directly over the bottomless pit in order to seal the evil in and keep the demonic creatures from entering our world. But even today, over seven hundred years after the pit has been sealed, visitors still claim to hear the scratching of creatures from the lower floors at night, trying to claw their way to the surface. Others claim to hear a chorus of screams coming from beneath the heavy floor.
When the construction of the castle began, it is said that all the village’s prisoners who had been sentenced to death were offered pardons if they agreed to be lowered by rope into the bottomless pit and then to report back what they saw. The first man was tied up and lowered into the hole and, a few seconds after he had disappeared into the darkness, he began screaming in horror. He begged to be pulled back up. When the prisoner, who was a young man, was pulled back up to the surface he looked as if he had aged 30 years in the few seconds he was in the pit. His hair had turned white and he had grown extremely wrinkled. He was still screaming when they pulled him to the surface. He had been so disturbed by what he experienced in the darkness that he was sent to an insane asylum where he died two days later from unknown causes.
According to the legends, the scratching of the winged creatures trying to claw their way to the surface can still be heard, phantoms have been seen walking the empty halls of the castle and the Nazis specifically chose Houska Castle in order to harness the powers of hell for themselves. Multiple paranormal television shows have visited Houska Castle and concluded that it is, in fact, haunted.
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Thank you for the beautiful pictures & stories of the castles. Your articles are always very interesting and I am so glad you sent today’s issue of your newsletter. I am a Texan of Moravian descent and have been studying Czech for a few years now in a continuing education class online from a junior college. It is difficult but it has a logic to it and I like it, figuring that it is good for my aging brain. Here’s hoping that is true!!