The legend of the Houska castle has been making rounds since the Middle Ages. The tales of this wraithlike fortress are the basis of many paranormal stories. Additionally, this castle, for the better part of its history, has asked questions to the viewer, than giving answers. Why was it constructed in a location that had no strategic value, was devoid of any water source, and was cut off from all commerce routes?
Its function, according to legend, was to watch over a doorway to hell that led down a bottomless pit.
To drive out evil spirits, the locals intended to fill it with rocks. But they failed, so they erected a chapel on top of the area and covered it with heavy stone plates. But even when there were strong draughts, its walls were always damp. However, its wicked reputation was cemented after the Nazis picked it as their residence during World War II.
The Secrets of the Houska Castle
Houska Castle is located on a hill covered in trees and perched on a limestone cliff ledge. In the Czech Republic’s northern Bohemia region, this historic stone building has long retained some prominence.
Do the locals avoid the castle and its surroundings because they think evil may be present? Why are dead birds so frequently discovered in the castle’s interior courtyard? Why was this castle constructed in a place that was once dominated by dense, impassible forests, and at a place that had little to no strategic value to it?
Why did the Swedish mercenary leader and black magician Oronto choose to make this fortress his abode and laboratory in 1639, and what was he doing there that horrified the local farmers so much that they murdered him?
When its location was of zero strategic importance for the German War Effort during the Second World War, why on lord’s good name would the Nazi Schutzstaffel occupy the fortress? Was it because of the influence of the occult?
Houska Castle’s location is the subject of legends that predate the structure itself. Celtic habitation in this region can be traced back to antiquity by archaeological evidence, and Slavic tribes arrived here in the sixth century. Vaclav Hajek mentions a small wooden fort that stood on this location in the ninth century in his encyclopedic Czech Chronicle, which was published in 1541.
Hajek included a narrative about a peculiar fracture in the limestone cliff’s summit, a hole in the ground that is supposedly the cause of odd visits, in the same chronicle.
The locals started referring to it as a “hole to Hell,” and the villagers stopped going anywhere close to it after dark. They thought that bizarre, human-animal hybrids emerged from the gateway at night to terrorize people and destroy property.
Additionally, they held the opinion that anyone who came close to the spot ran the risk of transforming into one of the pit’s animals. They tried to cover the hole with stones, but it swallowed everything they threw down, with no discernible effect.
According to legend, a powerful Duba clan duke eventually offered a condemned prisoner a full pardon for his crimes in exchange for agreeing to be lowered into the bottomless pit on the end of a rope and reporting back on what he found to uncover the mystery behind the alleged Gateway to Hell.
The man quickly consented to this, but after descending the opening for a considerable distance, there was a a period of drawn out silence before the prisoner started screaming hysterically from the unholy abyss. He shrieked and pleaded to be hoisted back up.
By the time the duke’s men brought him back to the surface, however, the convict’s hair had turned entirely white, and they discovered that he was stark raving mad. He spoke gibberish, and unfortunately, soon passed away in shock of what he had seen. According to some reports, this experiment was carried out more than once with similar outcomes each time.
Who built the Houska Castle and Why?
The majority of Houska Castle’s fortifications were erected facing inward toward the inner courtyard of the construction when the square stone building was first created in the 13th century, which is another highly odd feature of the structure. Accordingly, it appeared that the fortress had been constructed to prevent something within from escaping rather than to keep an adversary outside. The castle’s higher stories did not have stairs leading down to the courtyard, either.
Due to the dismantling of the castle’s tower, moat, and other defenses following the Thirty Years War in the middle of the sixteenth century as part of an order by Emperor Ferdinand III to make private castles more approachable and less defendable, this is not easily noticeable. However, at that time, Houska’s clay ramparts were also demolished.
The castle was finally transformed into a Renaissance chateau at the beginning of the 18th century, after which it fell into general decay throughout the Communist era. It is currently being repaired and renovated by its current owners, Jaromir Simonek and Blanka Horova, who describe it as a reasonably unassuming but ancient-looking structure.
The modern fortress, Hrad Houska, was the region’s first gothic-style fortress that is known to exist, and was built between 1270 and 1280 under King Otakar II. To block access to Hell, the limestone fracture that existed before the castle was built was covered with substantial stone plates, and the chapel of the castle was built on top of it.
The Archangel Michael, the commander of God’s troops in the conflict with the legions of Hell, was then honored in the chapel. Michael is portrayed in two scenarios in the chapel’s faded frescoes, which are some of the oldest in all of Europe and date to the early 1400s.
In one, he is engaged in battle with a dragon, a representation of evil, while in the other, he is judging souls at the Last Judgment while holding a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in the other. The Crucifixion and St. Christopher are also depicted, but what is peculiar about the chapel frescoes is that on one of the walls is a figure not to be found in other paintings from the time.
A monster with a woman’s upper body and a horse’s bottom body is depicted here, clutching a bow in her right hand and pointing an arrow with her left hand at a person. Not only is it extremely unusual to see a depiction of a centaur—a figure from paganism—decorated on a church’s walls, but it’s also the only image of a left-handed female archer that is now known to exist.
Researchers believe that this image is related to the legends of half-human beasts that were said to come from the doorway to Hell that was believed to be buried beneath the chapel’s floor. In the Middle Ages, however, left-handedness was identified with Satan himself.
There are more legends associated with Houska Castle beside the entrance to the underworld. As was previously noted, a Swedish rogue leader of brigands and mercenaries named Oronto picked Castle Houska to serve as his headquarters when it was vacant during the 30 Years’ War in the 17th century. Oronto was rumored to have conducted shady experiments in the castle while working as a black magician and alchemist.
Additionally, during Oronto’s rule, his men terrorized the villagers, until two hunters who were ready to take a chance sneaked up to Houska in the middle of the night and shot Oronto through a window, ostensibly as he worked in his laboratory to find the elixir of an endless life.
Two hundred years later, in 1836, Czech poet Karel Hynek Macha spent the night at Houska while on a walking tour of the area. In his nightmare, Macha described his soul plunging into the pit and then being transported into a diabolical mechanized future, Prague 2006, where he wandered in horror and misery.
Along with other unsettling events, Macha described meeting a girl who showed him moving pictures in a small casket and walking in the dark among tall sandstone cliffs punctured with holes that emitted an uncannily similar yellow light to the enormous apartment buildings known as sidliště that currently tower over the outskirts of Prague.
And keep in mind that Macha was telling this story in 1836; how then did these prophecies come to him from his subconscious mind? Was it all just a dream, or what? Or was it feasible that he was sent into the future instead? Some people hold this view.
Of Nazis and Demons: The Dance of the Devils
Additionally, it is known that the German Schutzstaffel occupied Houska Castle from 1939 to 1945, when Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis. However, it is unknown what exactly they were doing there since, in classic SS manner, when German forces withdrew from Bohemia in response to the oncoming Russian and American armies, they destroyed all records and proof of their activities.
Given the known facts about the Occult philosophies that underpinned Heinrich Himmler’s SS and Nazism in general, as well as the knowledge that Hitler channeled significant resources into researching the discovery of supernatural weapons (Wunderwaffe), to use against the Allies, it is not unreasonable to propose that the SS’s reasons for occupying the castle were related to supernatural experimental research.
The castle was of no strategic significance to the German war effort or occupation. In fact, it’s believed that Houska may have served as one of the SS’s clandestine breeding farms, where young ladies of respectable blood were subjected to SS troopers’ able-bodied “stud service” as part of the organization’s continuous “master race” breeding program.
Whatever the castle’s significance was to the Nazis, an astonishingly massive number of landmines and other explosives were discovered near the castle, which is another reason why the current owners will not permit any excavation inside the castle. It is believed that to prevent the demons (or whatever it is that’s down there), the Nazis riddled the entire region with explosives that are still very much lethal.
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Can you stay at Houska Castle?
The stories of Castle Houska don’t stop there, though. Reading through several websites and blogs will show that even current guests at the castle report having strange occurrences of all kinds, followed by instances of really terrible luck when they leave the property. Some claim that simply approaching the building gives them uncontrollable repulsion.
Hana McGee, owner and operator of McGee’s Ghost Tours in Prague, is one of them. Hana recalls feeling a great deal of unease when she entered the courtyard on her first visit to the castle with her business partner Tyler McGee and their dogs last winter.
She may not have been the only one feeling uneasy because soon Bobo, the McGees’ dog, started barking and getting very agitated despite there being nothing in sight to provoke him. Throughout their whole tour of the property, Mr. McGee talked of having the impression that he was being observed or pursued by a predatory being.
The McGees drove back to Prague later that day, parked their car, and left it there while they went on their evening ghost tour. A little more than an hour later, they came back, but the car was gone. Within a few hours, the cops discovered it, already empty of its valuables and in total disarray.
Alternative Theories on Houska Castle
Houska is a gathering spot for experts on the occult, UFOs, and various paranormal occurrences. It also hosts several conferences and events. Many other persons who have spent the night in the castle have different tales to tell. According to some of these people, Houska might have been constructed using Sacred Geometry principles, making it a potential teleportation or time travel portal.
Overall, there are numerous ideas and strange tales concerning this fabled Gothic building and its surrounds, some of which are supported by more evidence than others. Choose for yourself what to believe, is what the tour guide at Castle Houska will advise you after your visit there. Some are even petitioning for the chapel to be demolished and excavations to be conducted for sake of… “scientific research?”
But truth be told, it’s sometimes better to keep the genie inside the lamp.
Enjoying reading about the paranormal? Well, I bet you’ll love the story of The Time The Soviets Drilled Into Hell (literally), and of the Harbinger of Tragedy, the Chernobyl Mothman.
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