Travel the country sides of Europe and you are bound to see a castle. To date there are over ten thousand known castles in Europe and Asia.
Many of the oldest castles in the world are in Germany. With age comes history and not necessarily a pleasant history at that.
Europe’s Middle Ages were plagued with turmoil. The Crusades, witch-hunts (and werewolf hunts) vampire hysteria and war torn through the old world. Leaving in its wake tears in the fabric between this world and the next.
The Witches Castle
One of the most haunted castles in the world is Moosham Castle in Unternberg, Austria. Also known as Witches Castle. Moosham has been the site of not only gruesome witch trials in Austrian history but werewolf hunts as well. If you Google Moosham Castle you’ll find story after story of witch trials and werewolf hunts.
Moosham was first deeded in 1191, before that date not much is known except that it’s believed to have been built on the foundation of a Roman Fortress. Austria was part of the Roman Empire up until it’s fall in 476A.D.
So, if Moosham was built on the foundations of this Roman era Fortress, it’s eerie haunts may go back much further than witch trails in the 1600s and werewolves in the 1800s.
As for the Dark Ages there is no information of what happened in the area between 476 A.D. and 1191 when the castle was deeded. We know the castle was seized by Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg in 1285.
It stayed in the hands of the Burgraves (Germanic Counts) for several generations. Throughout that time there were numerous wars and conflicts that played out in that area:
The third Crusade.
The Crusade of 1197.
The Fifth Crusade.
The Austrian-Hungarian War (all three of them.)
The Flemish Revolt.
The German Peasants War.
The Italian Wars (yep wars, three of them, some people don’t give up.)
These aren’t all of the wars and conflicts in the area between 1191 and 1675. In all there were some forty-five battles in and around Moosham Castle. There were numerous wars that played out in their area soaked the grounds around the castle in blood.
The Witch Trials
If Moosham wasn’t already haunted from all of that turmoil, bloodshed and hardship in 1675, the area was gripped by the fear of witches and the castle was the centre for Austria’s largest and most infamous witch trials.
Dubbed the Zaubererjackl witch trials, these events were horrifically violent even by the eras standard. Victims of the trials were tortured, mutilated and murdered through hangings and decapitation. One hundred and thirty men and twenty-six women were accused and condemned of witchcraft between 1675 and 1690.
Most of them beggars and homeless, these victims were part of a mass hysteria fuelled by fears of disease and plague spread due to post war hygiene and famine. Hannerl was listed in history books as the youngest victim, a mere ten years of age, his only crime was being a homeless orphan. Those that did survive were branded or had their hands cut off so that they could do no harm to the world around them.
Rise of Werewolves
Now the stories on werewolves in Castle Moosham aren’t as detailed. In fact, we don’t know exactly when werewolves showed up in Austria. Records are conflicting at best, what is clear is that’s at some point in the 1800s deer and cattle began showing up around the castle dead and mutilated.
Locals assumed it was a werewolf or wolf like creature. What no one could agree on was whether or not it was local residents or castle residents who were the wolves. Rumors were that the suspected werewolves were rounded up and taken to the castle assumed to have been tortured and eventually killed in the dungeons.
Night of Haunting
You can stay at Castle Moosham, it’s privately owned and open to the public. You can listen for the rumored wails of the victims of witch trials, perhaps you will hear Hannerl begging for mercy.
The growls of werewolves tortured in the depths of its hellish belly. The cries of ghosts of victims from centuries of bloody conquest still fighting to protect their lands. The average guest stays just over an hour, however overnight stays are available.
Could you stay the night?