Europe is steeped in history, many times violent and bloody. What with ancient wars and feudes, palace intrigues, and domestic abuses it’s no wonder that many of its ancient castles are said to be haunted. In fact it would be even more amazing if there were no haunted castles in Europe.
Every Halloween I like to share with you haunted places around the world. Some of them I’ve been to, others are still on my bucket list. I’ve shared my experiences in Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theater and have written about haunted hotels and other haunted places around the country. But haunted places are definitely not exclusive to the United States, every country around the globe has its own spooky places that have stories of hauntings attached to them. This Halloween I’d like to share 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe.
So buckle your seat belts as we fly across the Atlantic and have a quick peek at 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe. Believe me there are so many haunted places on that continent it’s hard to pick just 6!
The Tower of London
It doesn’t take much imagination to decide that London has many haunted places, specially on chilly nights when the fog swirls thick around you as you walk down the narrow streets of the city. After all London was home to Jack the Ripper one of history’s first recorded serial killers. The streets of Whitechapel were known to be his hunting grounds.
Sure the pubs around Whitechapel are said to be haunted, remember many of them have been there since well before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree. But since we’re talking castles lets start with the Tower of London. It’s not exactly a castle, it’s actually a prison. A 900+ year old prison that housed some of histories most famous nobility, many of whom are now said to be haunting the place.
With its long history of torture, murder, and executions it’s no wonder this castle like building is haunted by a long litany of specters. Arguably the most famous haunt is Anne Boleyn the unfortunate second wife of Henry VIII. Her only crime was her inability to produce a male heir to the throne and her fickle husband grew tired of her and divorced her. The king then charged the poor woman with treason and had her beheaded 1536. Her headless ghost is said to roam the tower’s corridors.
Other famous ghosts include the two princes who were deemed illegitimate by Parliament and imprisoned in the tower. It is believed they were murdered, actually smothered, by their uncle the Duke of Gloucester. Today it’s said they’ve been spotted in the tower holding hands and looking afraid.
Believed to be the castle in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Bran Castle in the Romanian town of Bran is said to be haunted by a variety of its previous occupants.
It is said the Stoker never actually visited this 13th. century stone castle , but used pictures of it as his model for the home of his famous vampire Count Dracula.
But somehow fact and fiction mingled to form the basis of legends about this picturesque castle. Legend has it that some of Bran’s citizens are actually strigoi, people whose souls leave their bodies at night to terrorize the village. This definitely encourages the areas vampire lore. Who knows perhaps rumors of these legends reached Stoker’s ears in Ireland and encouraged him to write his classic novel.
Leap Castle (pronounced Lep) in Coolderry, County Offaly, Ireland is notoriously the most haunted castle in Ireland if not the world. This ancient castle has been featured in several TV shows about the paranormal including Ghost Hunters and TV’s Most Haunted.
It’s not surprising that the world’s most haunted castle would be located in Ireland, a land that’s steeped in legends and mystery. And it’s not at all surprising that Leap Castle is haunted given its bloody history and ambiguous origins.
It’s unclear exactly when the castle was constructed, some say 12th. century and others 15th. But whatever the year of it’s construction was one thing everyone seems to agree on is the site on which it was built. Leap Castle is build over a site that was previously occupied by druids who used it for initiation ceremonies. It was originally named Leim Ui Bhanain meaning Leap of the O’Bannons.
As the legend goes the O’Bannons were an affluent clan from County Tipperary. Two O’Bannon brothers vying to become chieftain is said to have entered into a contest where they would leap off the rock where the castle was to be built. The brother who survived would be chief and be responsible for building the castle. Thus began the castles bloody history and hauntings.
However O’Bannons did not control the castle for long, the castle was seized by the O’Carroll clan, a ruthless and greedy bunch who left a legacy of carnage within the castle walls. The years of O’Carroll reign over the castle are said to be cruel and bloody. Many of their victims are said to haunt the castle including the lady in red.
The lady is said to be seen wandering the castle dressed in a fluttering red gown carrying a sharp blade. The lady is said to have been imprisoned and repeatedly raped by the O’Carrolls. She became pregnant and her child was murdered by the same men. Overwhelmed by the murder of her baby it is said that she used the blade that she now carries to end her tormented life.
And then there’s the Bloody Chapel. At one point the O’Carroll chieftain died without a clear heir. Of course this resulted in a fight between his sons Thaddeus and Teighe. Thaddeus was a priest and is said to have been in the middle of a mass when his brother rushed in and slaughtered him. His ghost is said to wander in and around the chapel.
There are many more bloody tales about this castle as it seems that the O’Carrolls were a bloodthirsty and sadistic clan. It’s really no wonder that their many victims haunt this castle.
Perched atop a hill overlooking Scotland’s most haunted city of Edinburgh sits Scotland’s most haunted castle. Edinburgh Castle has seen its share of violent deaths. With over 900 years of history behind it the castle has been the scene of surprise attacks, executions, and even a brief capture by the English.
It should come as no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is said to be haunted, it would be more surprising if it wasn’t.
The castle is home to a variety of specters including the ghost Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis who was imprisoned for witchcraft and burned at the stake. Then there’s the unseen drummer who many have claimed to hear but never seen. The castle dungeons were filled with notorious thugs and cutthroats many are said to be heard moaning and groaning down there.
Moosham Castle also known as Witches Castle is a 13th. century castle in Unternberg, Austria. It was the location for the bloodiest and most gruesome witch trials in Europe.
In the 17th. century the archbishop of Unternberg tried, tortured, and executed thousands of women here. The women were accused of witchcraft. Here those women were beaten, tortured, hanged, and some even drawn and quartered (their bodies tied to horses and were torn apart when the horses ran in different directions.) It’s no wonder the place is haunted by those tortured souls who are said to roam the halls in search of justice to this day.
Another ghost said to linger in this castle is Anton the resident caretaker during the witch trials. He roamed the halls then guarding his prisoners and is said to roam the halls still.
Yes there really is a Frankenstein Castle, its ruins are located in Darmstadt, Germany. And yes this is the castle and the legend immortalized by Mary Shelly in her classic novel Frankenstein.
The original castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the town dates back to 948 B. C. Obviously it underwent many additions and renovations since it was originally constructed.
In the 1600’s the sole remaining member of the original Frankenstein family died instantly in a chariot accident. He was on his way to see his one true love, Anne Marie. Clearly he never saw her and as legend has it she stayed in the castle waiting for him until she eventually died of a broken heart. Today it is said that both Knight Frankenstein and Anne Marie are wandering around the darkened castle searching for each other. Now this is not the basis for Shelly’s novel, that one’s about monsters and body parts. So how did that come about?
After the original Frankenstein family died out a man named Konrad Dipple von Frankenstein moved into the castle. He was an alchemist and grave robber. As the story goes he was experimenting with human and animal body parts and the blood of virgins, he was trying to resurrect the dead. His greatest creation was his monster made of body parts and reanimated in his laboratory in the castle. The town folk were afraid and stormed the castle whilst the alchemist was locked in his lab. He supposedly drank one of his potions and thus ended up committing suicide. However his monstrous creation escaped and roams the forest to this day in search of virgins whose blood he needs to stay alive.
The brothers Grimm actually recounted this tale to Mary Shelly’s stepmother. Mary Shelly later visited the castle and used the story as her basis for her world famous novel Frankenstein.
Well there you have it, 6 of the most haunted castles in Europe. Visit them this Halloween or any time of year, if you dare!
Ready to plan your ghost chasing adventure in Europe? Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan! We specialize in helping families plan memorable vacations around the globe. Call me at 808-372-7734 and we’ll start planning your adventure today!
My cousin recently told me that the only thing his 7 year old daughter wanted for her birthday was to stay at a haunted hotel. Ever the indulgent father and avid fan of the paranormal, he and his wife packed up and took their only child for a stay at the Jerome Grand Hotel.
Reportedly a haunted hotel in Jerome, Arizona, a historic artist community that really plays up the “haunted town” theme as reflected in area businesses such as The Haunted Hamburger, Asylum Restaurant, and the Spirit Room Bar.
They didn’t have a ghostly experience but had a great time exploring the town, browsing the art galleries, and dining at the various restaurants.
There are many “haunted” hotels across the country. Here’s a list of the top haunted hotels in America according to the Travel Channel and Haunted America Tours. Are you brave enough to book a stay at one of them this Halloween? Let Savvy Nana Travel help you book your spooky vacation this year!
Guests have reported ghostly sightings and blood stains mysteriously appearing and disappearing on the linens in some rooms.
Located on Coronado Island in San Diego the Hotel del Coronado is a historic luxury hotel.
It said to be haunted by a lonely jilted lady, Kate Morgan, who checked in to the hotel in 1892. She was there to meet her estranged husband who never showed up. She was found dead on the beach from a gunshot wound.
Let’s face it the Big Smoke has plenty to offer when it comes to a night out! Sometimes you may feel a little spoilt for choice; with so much to do, you might not know where to start. Whether you’re visiting London for the weekend or your a local, let’s take a look at some fun night out ideas.
You won’t want to leave London without experiencing the theatre. With so many critically acclaimed shows being put on year after year, there really is something for everyone. First things first you’ll want to decide on what kind of show experience it is that you’re looking for. Do you want something that’s a real classic? Or a new show by an emerging writer? Is it a musical that tickles your fancy? Or would you prefer more of a traditional play format? Shows like The Book of Mormon have been popular this year as has the ever classic Wicked. If you’ve got children and it’s a family night out, you could try shows like The Lion King or Aladdin? Great shows stick in your memory forever and can be an excellent night out no matter how old you are. Many theatre tickets are really affordable these days so you won’t have to break the bank to go!
Take a ghost walk
Do you like getting scared by real ghost stories? Why not try something a bit different and go on a ghost walk through London? You could try the Paranormal Activity tour in Farringdon if this sounds like your kind of thing. Come hunt for ghosts and poltergeists through the streets and listen to tales that will chill you to the very bones. The tour takes you to the abandoned gaol cells, which were once home to infamous serial killers. Your tour guides will even help you along the way to make contact with ghosts (if you’re brave enough)!
Try the Ice Bar
Want to go out for a few drinks (but with a twist)? Why not try London’s famous Ice Bar. A bar made entirely of; you guessed it- ice! Sip on some gorgeous cocktails at -5ºC, an experience not to be missed. Ice Bar provides extra warm attire to put on over your clothes so you’ll be comfortable while you party in style. There are so many excellent bars in London to try, so it’s hard to pick one. For an utterly original experience- Ice Bar should be top of your list.
Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise
Want to experience the Thames in a luxurious and fun way? Then the Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise could be perfect for you. You’ll get a delicious three-course meal and bar, providing wonderful Champagnes, beers, and wines. The delightful ChiJazz band will keep you good and entertained with some excellent jazz classics and jazz covers of contemporary songs. For a jazz-tastic night of fun, this is your best bet! It’s hard to fit everything in when in London (you’ll need a few visits to do it all)!
So you’re considering going on an Ocean Crossing Cruise, otherwise known as a Transatlantic or Transpacific Cruise. Ocean Crossing happen twice a year. It’s when a ship is moved from its winter route to its summer route in the Spring and vice versa in the fall.
As its name suggests an Ocean Crossing Cruise does just that, it crosses an ocean. Transatlantic cruises clearly cross the Atlantic Ocean and Transpacific ones the Pacific Ocean. Ships that cross the Pacific general go from their winter routes in the Southern Hemisphere to their summer route in Alaska and up and down the US’s western coast. Atlantic crossing ships come in from their winter routes in the Caribbean to their winter routes in either Baltic or Mediterranean Seas.
I’ve yet to go on an Oceaning Crossing Cruise across the Pacific, but I’ve been on some Transatlantic cruises. Before you decide on which Ocean Crossing Cruise you should take you need to know that there are 2 basic routes; the northern route from the Baltic Sea that stops in Northern ports from England to New York or New Jersey before continuing on to their Caribbean routes; and the southern route that departs from either Rome or Barcelona stopping at ports in Spain’s sunny Costa del Sol and Canary Islands or Portugal’s Azores.
Which ever Ocean Crossing Cruise you decide on here are a few things you can expect:
Lots of days at sea.
Once you leave the shores of Europe and her islands there isn’t much land until you reach North America’s eastern seaboard.
If you’re on the Northern route expect these days at sea to be cold in windy. This means not much pool time, actually not much outdoor time unless you really love cold windy weather.
On the northern route you should also be aware that some of the ports of call could be scrapped due to poor weather or sea conditions.
When we did the South Hampton to New York Ocean Crossing Cruise we first got stuck in Dublin for 2 days due to poor sea conditions and heavy rain. This meant our stop in Belfast was cancelled. The ship must remain on schedule!
Then the seas were too rough to dock in Iceland. We could see Reykjavik, we were that close. But after a few hours of trying the port had to be scrapped. Needless to say folks were pretty annoyed. In case you were wondering, no you do not get a discount or refund because the shipped cancelled ports of call, it says so in your carriage contract. To make up for the disappointment of missing a couple of stops the captain decided to take a side trip thru the ice fields of Greenland. I thought it was pretty cool. We got a peek at the polar ice cap.
Now the Ocean Crossing Cruise on the southern route generally has some pretty great weather the entire cruise. This means lots of pool and other outdoor time. On our Transatlantic cruise last year we had 7 glorious days at sea!
Fewer Ports of Call
Remember the purpose of an ocean crossing cruise is to get the ship from its winter route to its summer route or vice versa in the most efficient way.
Yes they stop at ports that they usually don’t stop at unless it’s an ocean crossing, but once you leave the last port in either Europe or the Southern Hemisphere you’ve got nothing but ocean a head of you until you reach the next continent.
So unlike the very busy port intensive summer and winter routes these ocean crossing cruises are much more laid back and less hectic.
Lessons, Talks, Trivia Games, sales, and other activities
Ocean Crossing Cruises can prove trying for the cruise director’s staff. They’re in charge of keeping cruisers occupied. To keep everyone happy and engaged the staff schedules lots of activities, some of them aren’t scheduled during regular routes.
One example is the Egg Drop competition. I’ve never quite seen this one on any other cruises. It’s pretty silly, but it keeps participants busy for several days building the perfect contraption to safeguard the eggs when dropped from like 9 floors up. The actually event attracts most of the cruises who have nothing else to do but watch the interesting contraptions their fellow cruisers built.
Then there are all sorts of lectures. Everything from Art to History to Geography. Many are pretty interesting and worth while.
My favorite are the lessons, dance lessons, craft lessons such as scrapbooking and napkin folding, and art lessons. I attended the daily water color lessons and came home having learned some new techniques and a few creations I made in class.
The cruise staff does an excellent job of keeping everyone busy and occupied, unless of course you’d rather not participate.[spacer height=”-20px”]
Sailing during a holiday
If your ocean crossing is in the late fall chances are you’ll sailing during Halloween or possibly even Thanksgiving.
This can be a deal breaker for some, specially those who feel that holidays must be spent at home. But if all you’re concerned about is missing some of the festivities, don’t worry. The ship does holidays well.
I’ve been on several ocean crossings during Halloween ( I won’t go if it means spending Thanksgiving on a cruise ship) and it’s been pretty cool.
The ships decorate the main deck and the buffet. They have Monster Bashes and more. Trust me you won’t miss out on the festivities, well ok you don’t get to hand out candy, but you do get to dress up if you desire!
A whole lot of R&R
Because ocean crossings have so many consecutive days at sea expect to catch up on your sleep, reading, and generally practice the delicate art of doing nothing.
If you’re a go, go, go type of person an ocean crossing may not be a great choice for you; but if you love to lounge around, curl up with a good book, or your knitting then these cruises are made just for you.
Expect to gain a few extra pounds
No matter how diligent you are following your diet and exercise regime be prepared to gain a bit of weight.
Those long consecutive days at sea will get you! The buffet and specialty restaurants will most definitely test your will power.
On the other hand it’s a great time to try one of the specialty restaurants you won’t always have the time to try when on a busy port intensive cruise.
So go ahead, enjoy! One of the things I love about these ocean crossings are 2 weeks of yummy food prepared by someone other than me![spacer height=”-20px”]
Ready to book your ocean crossing cruise? Call Savvy Nana Travel! We’ll help you plan the cruise of your life!
You’ve decided to try a Transatlantic or Transpacific cruise, and have actually booked it. Yay! Now let’s talk about packing for your ocean crossing.
It doesn’t take rocket science when packing for your ocean crossing, but there are some things you might forget to bring. So here’s a list of things you should consider packing for your ocean crossing cruise.
Don’t rely on the ship’s library, they’re pickings a usually slim and are even slimmer during ocean crossings. Unless you rush to the library the minute you step on the ship you’ll find that the books at the library go out fast. You could keep checking to see if any good books have been returned, but to ensure you have something to read, bring your own.
It’s not hard to do, just load however many books you can read during your cruise on to your tablet. Technology makes it much easier to bring books where ever you may go.
That ipad, kindle, or tablet won’t do you any good if they aren’t charged. So don’t forget to pack their chargers!
Bring your hobby or crafting supplies
If you love to knit, crochet, paint or whatever be sure you bring along your supplies. You can get a lot of knitting done on an ocean crossing. Not to mention there are on board gatherings for folks who share the same hobby.
I’d pack scissors, knitting needles, and other tools in the checked luggage. TSA will not look too kindly on anyone attempting to bring anything sharp and pointy on board an aircraft.
Prescription and OTC Meds
It goes without saying that you’ll remember to pack your prescription meds, but don’t forget to bring OTC meds too. Of course tylenol, cough syrup, dramamine, and other OTC meds can be purchased at the ship’s gift shop or medical center, but do you really want to pay $4-6 on 4 or 6 tylenol pills? Or would you enjoy spending almost $20 on a small bottle of Robitussin?
So bring your own meds, 7 days at sea is a long time to have a throbbing headache!
Self laundry supplies
If your ship has self service laundrymats pack some travel size detergent, bleach and dryer sheets. I know Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines have self service laundrymats on just about every floor, Celebrity does not. But if you’re ship has them bring your own supplies. Sure they sell them but many times they run out as everyone is thinking the same thing.
Also bring a roll of quarters. Most times the change machine is out of order or has run out of change. Bringing a roll of quarters saves you a trip down to the purser’s desk in search of change.
Work out gear
Don’t forget to brink some comfy work out clothes and shoes. With all the food you’ll be enjoying hitting the gym or running track may not be such a bad idea. It might just start you on an exercise routine you can take home with you!
Halloween Costume or other holiday gear
If you’re on a cruise ship on Halloween or other holiday pack your costume or holiday tshirt or sweater. It’s fun to dress up and join the festivities!
Ready to book your next ocean voyage? Call Savvy Nana Travel. We’ll do the planning, you do the relaxing!
Going on long travel trips when you have hearing problems pours water on your parade. You want to have fun and see the world just like everybody else, but the sounds of large crowds, traffic and winds are all too much for some people. In the home you have a controlled environment so you can control the level of noise. When you’re out in public and especially tourist traps, you have to find new ways of coping. Having hearing problems while in large crowds, can result in headaches, orientation issues and sometimes anxiety attacks. It’s best that you plan for whatever may come on your trip rather than giving up on the idea altogether. Here are a few ways you can protect your ears and enjoy crowded spaces and other great sight locations.
The thicker the better
If you have really sensitive ears, not even basic ear plugs will be enough sometimes. However, you can utilize technology from the sport shooting world to help you adjust the level of sound that goes into your ear. With electronic headphones you have lightweight sound protection from even the loudest noises. These headphones are used in shooting competitions and various competitive firearms tournaments. You set the db rating on your headphones and when a sound goes higher than those levels the headphones will automatically block that sound out. For example, if you don’t want to hear a noise louder than 85db, the headphones will allow any noise below that level to be heard. But if it’s over that level, you’ll hear very little of that sound or none at all.
The longer the better
The one thing you don’t want to be without when on long trips is your hearing aid. It’s the least amount of ear protection you can get and still have your ears and head feel normal. So you never want to be out of batteries while you’re out seeing them world. Instead of taking lots of batteries with you if you click here you’ll find some of the best batteries for modern hearing aids. There are four different types to choose from and each of them are color coded. The blue is a zinc-air battery and designed to work for behind-the-ear hearing aids. These batteries can last up to 20 days at a time while the others hover around the 10-13 days mark. If your trip is for 2 to 3 weeks, these blue (BTE) batteries are the type that you should pack; if you have the right kind of hearing aid, of course.
Avoid the crowd
With just a little planning you can avoid the large crowds at the most popular tourist attractions. Plan to go on the trip not during the holiday season, go during the weekdays and get their early. Whatever kinds of locations you’re planning on visiting, always try to avoid the crowds and not put yourself in a situation where your hearing condition will cause you trouble.
Don’t confine yourself within your home when you have a hearing condition. You can wear electronic headphones that can shut out sounds that are very loud so you’re always within your safe range.