Houska Castle - The Gateway to Hell
Welcome to extra spooky edition of my Panic Among Us stories. For those of you not in the know - it is Halloween season in the USA. So everything spooky, creepy, weird, dark, and straight up horrifying is out in the open (not to mention the scary amount of sugar that my children will consume - that’s a horror movie all by itself!). I thought, to show my Halloween spirit, I would share a paranormal and demonic story about the supposed “Gateway to Hell” in the Czech Republic - the Houska Castle.
It’s not an ordinary castle - o no - it was built to keep the demons of hell from roaming the earth. I was inspired by this story to create some kick-ass art so scroll down to the bottom to check that out. It’s titled, “The Houska Devil”.
Houska Castle was built between 1253 and 1278 CE during the reign of Ottokar II of Bohemia. As we know from regular history, castles were usually built as fortification and protection but not Houska. It was built to cover a gaping hole in the earth that had a terrifying reputation.
Before the castle was built, this hole sat open and menacing. The residents that lived in the area blatantly refused to leave their homes after the sun had set because they claimed that their skies and forests would be filled with creatures from hell. They would crawl out of the hole at night and attack anyone not in their homes. My question though, if they were really “creatures from hell” then how could simple wooden doors stop them from just going into homes and taking people? I guess even demons have a moral code. Some residents were even plucked from the ground and dragged, screaming and writhing, into the pit. Directly into hell.
In an attempt to see what lie at the bottom of this pit, a local man of authority (a sheriff or something) agreed to pardon prisoners if they would be lowered into the pit on a rope. The first man to be gradually lowered into this hell hole quickly disappeared from view and remained quiet for a few minutes until he began to scream with such horrific terror that the crew who had lowered him worked feverishly to reel him back in. By the time he was brought back up, the once young man had aged at least 30 years. His dark hair had gone stark white and his taught skin was now wrinkled and pale. He blabbered for a few moments about the horrors he witnessed before completely losing his mind. He was carted off only to die a few days later.
Repeated attempts were undertaken with other prisoners but the same result persisted. Did the other prisoners not know what was happening to the men that were dropped down there? Seriously, who would volunteer to see the most evil things possible, go mad, and ultimately die? What the actual fuck, people?
With these wildly unsuccessfully experiments behind them, the locals tried to fill the hole with dirt, rocks, and other debris. They could never hear anything hit the bottom and even with days of work to try and fill the hole - their efforts were in vain.
The Christians that later inhabited the area blamed the crack in the earth on Pagan rituals (which is just fucking ridiculous, why do/did so many Christians believe that pagans worship the devil?). They believed that when Pagans lived in the area around the 6th century that a ceremony took place to honor the devil. The devil himself opened this gateway to hell and let his minions loose. it was later mentioned by author, Vaclav Hajek in some of his writings from 1541. Let me say this again - Pagans DO NOT worship the devil! These Christians also blamed the Pagan presence, history, and reputation on the fact that once the hole was opened the hunting in the forest around it became unsustainable and birds were always found dead from unknown causes.
So, they built a castle.
Now, this castle did not follow the same “rules” that most castles do. it was not built for protection, it was not on any known trading routes, there was not water source nearby, no kitchen was constructed, no stairs were constructed leading up to the second level above the courtyard and it was not meant to house people. There were multiple remodeling jobs throughout the years where this all changed. It even fell into disrepair on multiple occasions but it was eventually revived.
That’s not the only weird part.
The castle was constructed “inside out”. It was most definitely built to keep something in rather than keep something out.
The “gateway to hell” was covered with a heavy floor and a chapel was built over it. The chapel was dedicated to Archangel Michael to help fight against the armies of hell. Today, some claim, that you can hear scratching and “chorus of screams” coming from beneath the floor in the chapel. That would absolutely terrify the shit out of me. Just standing or sitting there, minding my own business and the floor starts fucking screaming!
And the windows. O, the windows are odd. A lot of the windows of Houska Castle are just panes of glass with stone behind them. They appear like regular windows on the outside until you take a closer look.
The chapel was adorned with frescoes that depict the Archangel Michael in two forms:
He is fighting a dragon, which was a symbol of evil during this time.
He’s holding a sword in one hand and scales in the other, weighing the souls at the last judgement.
There are other frescoes as well. The Crucifixion of St. Christopher and the most bizarre one of all is a hybrid creature. The upper body of a woman with the lower body of a horse. She is holding a bow in her left hand and is aiming at a human figure. The left hand is significant here because being left-handed was associated with the devil during this time period. It is believed that this creature was representative of the “things” that would crawl up out of the hole at night.
Interestingly, these frescoes are believed to be the earliest known ones to exist in Europe. Which kinda begs the question - what really inspired them if these are all just legends?
Houska castle is said to inspire fear and mystery. In 1836, poet Karel Hynek spent the night there and had a vivid dream. In this dream he described how his soul left his body and was transported through hell to Prague in the year 2006. He said he met a girl “with a small casket who showed him moving pictures”. A cell phone? a camera? I’m not really sure what a small casket could refer to?. Was he given a glimpse of the future?
During WWII, the castle played home to the Nazis. Their exact purpose for being there is unknown but there are theories (what kind of scary story would this be without Nazi conspiracy theories?). They destroyed all evidence of their work at the end of the war, something they were very good at, unfortunately. There are at least three prominent theories:
The castle was used as a “breeding farm” where young women were mated with able-bodied studs. AKA they wanted to create the master race they opened a baby factory.
OR they were conducting paranormal research and attempting the harness the powers of hell.
OR a prisoner of war camp where they conducted human experiments.
Any are probably correct. The Nazis were bat-shit-coo-coo on so many levels.
Today, the castle is owned by Jaromir Siomonek and Blanka Horova. It is open for tours and other events but the latest owners are very strict about not allowing any excavation on the castle grounds. Maybe they are afraid of unsealing whatever lies beneath the castle? Though they claim it is because of hidden landmines that may still be on the property. BUT they will host tours and parties!
Apart from it’s creepy and disturbing history there are paranormal accounts present today.
There are reports of a headless horse that spurts blood as it wanders the grounds outside the castle. Along those same lines, there is a headless man witness that is also gushing blood from his wound. They make quite the pair don’t they?
There is also a somewhat famous creature that is said to wander the grounds; a part bull frog, part bull dog prowls the ground. I kind of imagine a hopping bull dog with really long skinny back legs.
Of course, what haunting would be complete without a “woman in white” and a few sightings of the giant black dog known as “The Grim”.. That’s probably just flair, though.
I think my favorite ghostly tale of this place is the “Chain Gang”. They appear walking through the castle all linked by chains. Each individual has a horrific injury and is forced to carry a dismembered body part. I don’t really know why that part is my favorite but it just fascinates me. I guess because it’s not a standard “ghost sighting”.
A pair of local ghost tour guides, Tyler and Hana McGee, visited the castle for the first time with their dog. They said that the dog insistently barked and both of them felt a heavy uneasiness during their visit. After their first guided tour through the castle, and other paranormal hot spots, the pair discovered that their car had been stolen. It was later discovered completely trashed and stripped of everything even remotely valuable.
Some say, that visiting Houska Castle will bring bad luck into your life.
So many people have reported heavy, uncomfortable vibes during their visits here.
Houska Castle has been a temporary home for meetings of occult experts, UFO meetings, paranormal investigations, and various other meetings and conferences.
But most people can agree that there is something strange about Houska Castle.
Visit my ART SHOP to see what macabre beauties have been inspired by these gruesome stories.