The most haunted castles around the world are famous for their ghostly residents and the spooky hauntings. The dark histories of these castles reveal bloody and gruesome deaths from wars, torture, and murderous rages.
Leap Castle, Ireland
Leap Castle is legendary among haunted castles and is the most haunted location in all of Ireland and possibly the world. The history of the castle is steeped in bloody clan warfare. Ghostly tales include the appearance of a monk who was killed by his own brother in the chamber known as the "Bloody Chapel." There are countless other ghosts roaming about the castle.
For example, there are numerous ghosts in the oubliette, a type of narrow, deep dungeon, discovered by laborers. The workers were shocked to find the dungeon floor lined with long spiked poles, and the gruesome discovery of thousands of human bones scattered throughout the poles. It's no wonder there as so many ghosts haunting the castle.
The Red Lady is the apparition of a tall woman who carries a dagger in her hand, usually raised as though to strike the witness. People often hear her screams in the night. The Red Lady also appeared to past castle owners in the children's room, sitting at the foot of the bed crying. Two young girls play in the stairwell, running up and down the stairs. A nanny or governess often accompanies the girls.
Furniture rearranges itself during the night. Overnight guests often report hearing chanting outside the castle, seeing an apparition sitting at the foot of the bed, and discovering finding tools and other objects moved. The apparition of a large man pushes a barrel into the castle. Other odd events include bright lights, odd smells, and a bloodstain that returns after the floors have been refinished.
The most disturbing paranormal activity is an inhuman phantom called It. It is an elemental spirit, and many people suspect it's demonic. Witnesses describe It as vaguely similar to the rotting sheep carcass with unsettling, dark human eyes and an overwhelming stench. People who encounter It are filled with fear from its menacing energy, and a few people report It attacking them. In fact, such an attack was recorded in an episode of Ghost Hunters where an unseen force, under the cover of darkness, knocked one of the investigators to the ground.
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Perched on a 400-foot-high cliff, the Predjama Castle was built sometime in the 1200s. It's the world's largest cave castle. Baron Ezram Lueger was called the Slovenian Robin Hood. However, while he stole from the rich, he didn't give his stolen riches to the poor. He used the cave's extensive network of tunnels to go in and out of his castle to conduct his raids. One of his servants betrayed Ezram to the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III. The Emperor's men killed Ezram.
Ezram's ghost haunts the castle. People hear disembodied voices, and paranormal investigators have captured electronic voice phenomena (EVP). They also report hearing cries echoing from the torture chamber. Other paranormal activities include phantom footsteps, knocking sounds, and disembodied voices in conversation.
The cave has a high concentration of natural quartz that may record energies and provide energy to spirits resulting in a mix of residual and intelligent hauntings. During a paranormal investigation at the castle, Ghost Hunters International captured several EVPs and photos of a mist that appeared to be a spirit manifesting, but withdrew when noticed.
Tower of London Castle, London
Built in 1078, the Tower of London was the scene of many tragic deaths. There are many reports of hauntings at this castle, but a few standout. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of the infamous King Henry VIII, was beheaded at the Tower. She appears on the Tower green from time to time.
Sightings of the sons of Edward IV, often called "the little princes," have occurred over the years. The princes were held captive in the Tower after their father died, and later, they disappeared. Historians believe they were murdered to secure Richard III's claim to the throne. In 1674 during renovations, workers uncovered the bodies of two boys believed to be the princes.
King James I's cousin, Arabella Stuart, married against his wishes and was imprisoned in the Tower. Her ghost appears in the tower. There's one very terrifying ghost that has frightened the bravest of people. A phantom bear stalks about the Tower. One of the Tower guards died of shock when he saw the ghost bear.
Bran Castle, Romania
The ominous presence of Bran Castle inspired Bram Stoker to write about it in his novel, Dracula. The novel's main character is based on Vlad III, but Stoker took the original legend and embellished it into the quintessential vampire tale. Today, Bran Castle is a museum and a national monument/landmark. The Transylvanian government decided to capitalize on the novel's popularity and began advertising the castle as Dracula's Castle, even though Vlad Tepes aka Vlad the Impaler never owned the castle, much less ever visited it. The castle quickly became a popular tourist destination.
Even though the castle didn't belong to Vlad Tepes, it does have several resident ghosts that give it that haunting edge tourists expect. The most prominent ghost is the late Queen Marie who moved into the castle sometime during the 1920s and set about restoring it. Her apparition wanders about the castle and strolls the gardens.
Some of the other paranormal activities experienced inside the castle include spirit orbs and shadow people. Visitors have heard disembodied voices and captured EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). There have been instances of poltergeist activity with object moving on their own and the sound of phantom footsteps. People have claimed feeling possessed by a malevolent entity, and eyewitnesses claim to have seen an apparition they quickly identify as Vlad himself. Perhaps Dracula isn't a fictional character after all.
Chillingham Castle, United Kingdom
Chillingham Castle in Northumberland has its share of ghostly encounters that span centuries of eyewitness reports. Lady Leonora Tankerville occupied the castle during the 1920s and wrote about her ghostly encounters. Among them, she met the dead brother of the man who would soon become her husband, as well as a young soldier friend who visited her at the time of his death.
A number of supernatural occurrences people have witnessed over the years include disembodied muffled voices of two men in the chapel. The apparition of a frail woman dressed in white appears in the pantry, begging for water. Visitors report seeing a young boy dressed in blue or emitting a bluish light. Other encounters include feeling an invisible hand touching a visitor's arm or shoulder, shadow people, orbs visible to the naked eye, and cameras and electronic devices malfunction.
Himeji Castle, Japan
The Himeji Castle overlooks the city of Himeji in Japan. Built in the 1300s and added onto in the 1600s, the castle was built for war. It is made up of 83 buildings that feature a military maze cleverly designed to confuse any who enter. The ceramic tiles are said to be magical and protect the castle from destruction. There are numerous vengeful ghosts that haunt the halls and various buildings.
If you're a movie lover, you might recognize the castle's best-known story featured in the classic horror film The Ring. There are two versions of the story. The first one tells of a samurai who fell in love with a servant girl, Okiku. Unfortunately for the samurai, the girl didn't feel the same way and rejected his advances. The warrior devised a plan to force her to accept him, but it failed. Humiliated and angry, the samurai threw Okiku down a well at Himeji Castle. Her ghost appears crawling on all fours in an effort to terrify and torment visitors. The other version paints a different picture of Okiku, who was wrongfully accused of a crime, executed and her body thrown into the well where she eventually died.
Charleville Castle, Ireland
Located in County Offaly, Charleville Castle looms ominously, surrounded by an old oak forest where druids once practiced religious rituals. The castle itself is a formidable fortress built in the gothic-revival style by the Earl of Charleville. The castle primarily seems to be haunted by the spirit of eight-year-old Harriet, the daughter of the third Earl of Charleville. She died somewhere in the vicinity of the main staircase, but people feel her presence throughout the castle.
People hear a child's laughter, disembodied screams, and singing. Some visitors see a golden-haired little girl who wears a blue dress. Other paranormal activities include shadows, mists, phantom footsteps, and other unexplained sounds at night.
Preston Castle, California
Even the United States has haunted castles. Perhaps the best known is the Preston Castle in Ione, California. Although no nobility ever lived there, the castle was built in 1890, and served as a reformatory for boys ages 7 and older until 1960. The sandstone bricks used to build the castle came from stone quarried by prisoners at San Quentin and Folsom prisons. Some paranormal researchers believe the inmates' energies may have been imprinted on the stones and are partially responsible for the hauntings, since prisons are often haunted.
Some of the paranormal activity includes full-bodied apparitions, doors slamming, and phantom footsteps. Visitors are startled when invisible hands touch or grab them. Various paranormal investigative TV shows, such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Asylum, and Ghost Adventures, have captured EVPs and documented personal experiences.
Most Famous Haunted Castles
The most famous haunted castles are fraught with brutality and death. The many troubled spirits cling to the castles as though forever trapped in their suffering.