Haunted Europe

Pimsleur Approach • January 21, 2013 • Travel tipsComments (1)

In Europe a northern wind is not the only thing that might send a chill through your bones, because the continent is crawling with ghosts.

With its long history of wars, epidemics, religious struggles and natural disasters, it’s no wonder Europe has a few angry souls. In fact, if you want to explore Europe’s dark side to the fullest, you can probably find hundreds of purportedly haunted sites.

While we can’t offer a complete list of sites, here are a few locations to get you started. If we hear a loud scream, we’ll know you found them.

Haunted Bridge: Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge – Image via Wikipedia

Charles Bridge

Tourists from around the world visit Prague’s historic Charles Bridge to snap a few photos and learn about its intriguing past. However, some visitors leave with a rather frightening impression, because rumor has it that the bridge and surrounding area are a haven for a motley crew of troubled souls.

The Holy Roman Emperor commissioned the construction of the Charles Bridge in 1357 in an effort to provide a link across the Vltava River between Prague Castle and the city of Prague. Setbacks wreaked havoc on the project, but the bridge finally opened in the early fifteenth century.

The bridge rests on more than a dozen arches and spans a length of more than 2,000 feet. Its original construction included three gothic-style guard towers and 30 baroque-style statues. Originally known as the Stone Bridge, the Charles Bridge transformed Prague into a major economic center, because it helped connect Western and Eastern Europe.

While the bridge served a major role in Europe’s commerce, it was also the site of a few sinister activities. In 1621, the House of Habsburg executed more than two dozen rebel leaders for treason.

To discourage city residents from further uprisings, the heads of the executed dissidents were mounted on spikes along the Charles Bridge. Nighttime visitors to the bridge sometimes report the echoes of wailing or a dispirited song, sounds attributed to the ghosts of the revolutionaries.

But headless insurrectionists are not the only creatures making noises in the night at the Charles Bridge. Some people claim to have seen a goblin living under the bridge, which devours the souls of people who die in the cold waters of the Vltava.

Legend also tells of a wandering skeleton. The bones reportedly belong to man whose angry wife snuffed him out by driving a nail through his skull. The tale claims the restless spirit will continue to rattle his bones along the river until a kind mortal removes the nail from his head. Yikes!

Haunted Europe: Catacombs of Paris
Catacombs of Paris – Image via Wikipedia

Catacombs of Paris

The catacombs of Paris have more than a few reasons to be haunted. It holds the bones of an estimated six million departed souls, as well as a few that have reportedly refused to depart.

The underground vault was built in the late eighteenth century in a collection of old stone mines. They’re in Place Denfert-Rochereau and have been a ghoulish tourist attraction since the late nineteenth century.

Under Roman rule, Paris buried its dead in cemeteries outside the city, far from bustling streets and mortal residents. However, as Christianity spread throughout France, this out-of-sight-out-of-mind tradition changed. Christians promoted burials in city churchyards and consecrated cemeteries, which forced the city of Paris to adopt an urban plan for its non-living residents.

By the tenth century, inner city churchyard cemeteries were out of space, with no place to expand. Exasperated and perplexed by the problem, municipal and church leaders began burying poor Parisians in mass graves in a central cemetery.

By the seventeenth century, the mass graves were literally overflowing with skulls and bones and sanitary conditions became insufferable. Once a body decomposed, gravediggers dug up the bones and transferred them to above ground vaults to make room for fresh cadavers. Something had to give and the catacombs became the solution.

As you might imagine, scores of people claim to have witnessed paranormal activities in and around the catacombs. Some have encountered floating orbs, while others have reported seeing strange mists. A few have even spotted ghosts meandering through the corridors, rattling piles of bones as they passed. That should be enough to send a shiver up your spine.

Haunted Europe: Llancaiach Fawr
Llancaiach Fawr – Image via Wikipedia

Llancaiach Fawr Manor

Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Caerphilly, Wales was completed in 1530 and was occupied by the Prichard family. Constructed with four-foot thick stone walls and sturdy wooden doors, it served as a not only a home, but also a veritable fortress. As the Prichard dynasty grew, the family expanded the home and installed fine furnishings, including oak paneling and a grand staircase.

In the early seventeenth century, a feud erupted between the Prichards and the nearby Lewis family. The Lewis clan believed a Prichard servant had murdered one of their kin. The servant was hanged for the offense, but the Prichards believed him innocent – thus sparking the feud, which continued for many years.

Although the Prichards died centuries ago, many people believe they never left the manor. Visitors have reported hearing the sounds of children playing and some staff members claim to have felt an occasional tug on their garments. King Charles I, who once visited Llancaiach Fawr, has also made a few random appearances, according to some who have seen the spirits. Imagine, royal ghouls – how chic.

Haunted Europe: York
York, England – Image via Wikipedia

York

Many Englishmen refer to the city of York as the most haunted town in England. And given its long history, they might be right.

The Romans founded the city, originally called Eboracum, in 71 A.D. It grew to be a major trading center and by the Middle Ages rose to become the capital of the region.

During the reign of the House of Tudor, York suffered an economic decline, due in part to Henry VIII’s order to disband all convents and monasteries in the kingdom. During England’s mid-seventeenth century civil war, Parliamentarians overtook the city, killing thousands of people and destroying countless homes.

York managed to rise from the ashes and by the nineteenth century served as a major manufacturing center and railway hub. Today, the city is home to the University of York and its associated health care facilities, as well as a tourist destination.

York is said to be overpopulated by restless spirits, probably because of its turbulent past. In a building on Stonegate Road, people have reported seeing a small Victorian girl. The child is believed to have died in a fall down the building’s staircase and is often seen ascending the stairs or sitting on a counter in the ground floor shop.

While you might feel the urge to pinch the rosy cheeks of the cute little Victorian girl, the “glowing girl” will probably send chills up your spine. She likes to make appearances at All Saint’s Church, especially during funerals, but quickly vanishes when approached.

If you visit the Bishopthorpe district, don’t be surprised if you encounter a headless woman strolling its darkened streets. Locals say she was quite wealthy when alive and now wanders the streets in search of her missing head.

Visitors from around the world enjoy staying at the Dean Court Hotel and so does a Roman soldier who refuses to leave. Some guests have reported seeing him in their bathroom mirrors, while others encountered him strolling in the hallways.

The ghost of the Seventh Earl of Northumberland, Thomas Percy, is said to inhabit Holy Trinity Church. Percy was beheaded for treason during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and he would really like to find his head. Please help him out if you’re lucky enough to make his acquaintance.

One Response to “ Haunted Europe ”

  1. jinsea zheng says:

    today is a good day

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