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Haunting travels around Europe

Halloween often conjures up spooky tales of the past, and with all the historical sites you can experience on a Viking cruise there’s a fair chance you could visit the origins of one or more of these scary stories. Specially for Halloween we’ve rounded up some of our favourite ghostly sites across the continent that you can explore with Viking. Let us know if you have visited any and if you have, in fact, experienced anything slightly strange…

The Black Forest

Many of the stories written by The Brothers Grimm were set in the bewitching Black Forest along the Rhine River in south west Germany. This forest is densely packed with fir and pine trees and so sunlight doesn’t break through very often, allowing the darkness to become home to, supposedly, werewolves, witches and sorcerers. Legend has it that a headless horseman on a white stallion roams the woodland, along with a king who is said to kidnap women and take them to his underwater lair. Little wonder the Grimm Brothers imaginations came to life here.

St. Michael’s Church Crypt, Vienna

Arguably one of the creepiest places in Vienna, the crypt in St. Michael’s Church was created in the 16th and 17th centuries after the closure of its graveyard in 1508. It was opened to the middle class, having previously only been home to those of nobility, in the mid 17th century and today is home to the remains of more than 4,000 people. The atmosphere in the crypt is spine-chilling, mostly due to the fact that bodies kept here do not decompose thanks to its unique climatic conditions. Some of the mummified bodies are even still wearing clothes!

Bran Castle, Transylvania

Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle was built in the 14th century and used by Saxon and Walachian kings, and is the best known of several locations linked to the Dracula legend. Due to its association with Bram Stoker’s Dracula it has become almost synonymous with vampires. Vlad III, a member of the House of Draculesti which ruled Transylvania many moons ago, was said to be a barbaric ruler, with tales of cruelty that spread throughout Europe. On one occasion, he is said to have killed 20,000 of his own people and impaled them around the capital city, to deter an invading army. Gruesome! Of course those who manage Bran Castle say visitors should ‘make the distinction between the historic reality of Bran Castle and the character of Count in Bram Stoker’s novel. Dracula and vampires exist in the imagination. Or do they?

Palace of Versailles, France

This awe-inspiring site is the former home of French kings. A UNESCO World Heritage Site today, it began as a mere hunting lodge. It didn’t become the grand palace we know today until Louis XIV’s influence. With such a rich, royal history comes tales of spirits and ghosts. Louis XVI’s marriage to Marie Antoninette is one of the greatest events to take place at Versailles. People are said to have encountered Marie Antoinette herself, as well as many other ghostly beings dressed in 18th century costume stalking the hallways.

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