Houska Castle: The Fortress From Hell Located In The Czech Republic

Numerous myths and legends surround Houska Castle in the Czech Republic. The building, about 40 miles north of the capital Prague, is said not to have served as a fortress or a home for noble families but has only one purpose: to shut the gates of hell. At least that’s what the residents of the surrounding villages say.

From the outside, Houska looks like an ordinary European castle. With its rather unspectacular facade and an old, weather-worn roof, the building stands in the middle of the Sudeten mountain range, surrounded by dense forest. But Houska is anything but ordinary. For centuries, people have been speculating about this mysterious place.

Demons, monsters, and strange beasts

Before the castle was built in the 13th century, it is said that strange beings – half human, half animal – were seen flying in the sky above. Animals that apparently only roamed around at night are also said to have left traces of blood in the nearby forests. All of this was traced back to a deep hole in a mountain that seemed to have no end in sight. Soon, people started to believe that this was a hole in the underworld, a direct link to hell.

According to folklore, people who descended into the endless cave encountered monsters, and some were even taken away and never returned. In fact, the cave was so terrifying that it was used to punish criminals. 

Those sentenced to death had a choice: either they let themselves be pushed into the hole and taken straight to the afterlife, or willingly go down and “explore” the cave by themselves. A man who was once convicted of a crime was said to have accepted this offer. The man went in, but after just a few seconds, he started screaming. 

When he was pulled out, he was severely confused and had allegedly aged 30 years. It is said that he, all of the sudden, had gray hair and wrinkles. Only a short time later, the man died under “unexplained circumstances”. Such stories made the inhabitants of the surrounding areas afraid of the mysterious hole in the mountain.

The entrance to hell

The Houska Castle is said to have been built only to close the “Gate to Hell”. The early Gothic building has an inner courtyard and a two-story chapel that is said to be just above the Hell Hole. According to the legends, after the castle was built, no more scary monsters were seen. The massive foundations of the castle were believed to keep infernals and demons from ascending into our world.

There was even no defense system around the castle. Back in that time, this was something unheard of. In addition to that, there was also no kitchen and no access to fresh water. That made it uninhabitable, especially at the time. Residents? Also none. This only further sparked the controversy surrounding this castle.

Nazis and experiments 

However, some people believe that the reason why this castle was built is less spooky. Ottokar II Přemys, who was King of Bohemia from 1253 to 1278, commissioned the castle with another one nearby. According to these stories, Houska fulfilled purely administrative purposes. In other words, royal possessions, lands, and estates were to be managed there.

Later, the German Nazi forces occupied the castle until the end of WWII. This gave rise to other legends, such as that Houska was used by the Nazis for brutal experiments. After the war, the building went back to the descendants of Josef Šimonek, who bought the castle in 1924 and turned it into a summer residence.

Even today, people still report paranormal activities near the castle. For example, near the forest surrounding Houska, cars won’t start, and visitors even claim that they can hear screams coming from the castle. 

Houska has only been open to the public since 1999. The best way to get there is by car, which can be parked about 700 meters from the castle. According to the official website, trains and buses are an option too, but the stops are very far away and mostly only interesting for hikers and cyclists.

Kanita Bajrami

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