Located on a forested hill at the edge of a limestone cliff in the Czech Republic, Castle Houska has been giving off an evil essence for centuries. Even before the castle was ever built, the land on which the building stands is said to be cursed.
To start with the land itself, Václav Hájek, whose publication of the Czech Chronicle was first published in 1541, accounts for a story of a large crack that formed at the top of the limestone cliff. The hole formed was immeasurably deep. Legends of the hole began to brew of half-anmial and half-human creatures that resided within and would fly out at night to kill livestock or an unlucky human who happened to wander to close to the area. The local residents of the area deemed the location “the hole to hell” and took care to avoid it. At one time there was an attempt to fill the hole, but the attempt was in vain. No matter how much stone was pored into the hole, the hole just swallowed it up – continuing to be a believed gateway to hell.
A Dubá clan duke once tried to uncover the hole’s secrets by lowering a condemned man down into the black vastness, the man was lured with the promise of freedom if he traveled into the darkness. The prisoner was lowered on the end of the rope. After some time of distance and silence his heart-stopping screams could be heard from the hole. When the man was pulled out, it was said that his hair was stark white and he was a raving lunatic. The prisoner died shortly after. What he had seen within the hole was never told, and it is said that the duke attempted the experiment several times, all accounts with the same out come.
Castle Houska was built on top of the ‘hole to hell’ between 1270 and 1280. The hole was covered with thick stone plates and the castle’s chapel was built onto of those plates in an attempt to seal up the gateway. Faded frescos adorn the chapel’s wall, most scenes depicting a Archangel Michael fighting evil or balancing the souls at the last judgement. However, the most notable painting is of a creature that has the upper half of a woman and a lower half of a horse, a centaur, who is holding a bow with her right hand and aiming an arrow with her left toward a human. It is believed that this painted figure is related to the stories about the half-human creatures that used to reside and fly from the hole located under the chapel’s floor. This belief is attributed to the fact that the figure is of a centaur, which at the time was pagan mythology, and that the creature is aiming with her left hand. The left hand (or left-handedness) during the middle ages, is associated with the devil.
Most present day experiences to the castle can be the onslaught of birds that are continually found dead within the castle’s inner courtyard and strange noises or shadows seen all through out the building and grounds. However, these peculiar instances could be tied to the reason for the castle’s existence. Most castles are built to keep the enemy out. The stone structures are built as fortitudes of protection, harboring those that reside with in. Yet, the original design of Castle Houska, there are no stairs leading from the upper floors into the courtyard. It seems as though this castle was built to keep something in…
During the 30 Years’ War, the castle stood abandoned until it was chosen as a head quarters by a Swedish commander of mercenaries, Oronto. Oronto had the reputation of being a black magician and alchemist, who turned the castle into his own personal laboratory to conduct unholy experiments in the search for the elixir of eternal life. His experiments and solders terrorized the local villages that one night some of the villagers took it upon themselves to sneak into the castle and assassinate Oronto while he was in the midst of working in his laboratory.
The castle today is known as a hotbed for tourists and meeting place for experts on the paranormal phenomenon. Those who are brave enough to survive a night within the castles wall come away with haunting stories of terror and the belief that they just survived a night sleeping next to a doorway into hell.
The history of Houska Castle is so extensive that I could not have possibly capture it all within this post. If you would like to read a full account of the castle, steeped with history that also includes a period where the castle was controlled by the Nazis, I suggest starting at this website and then branching out to other sites. There is just too much history on this castle that sits on top of a gateway to hell that it has not all been documented in one location.