Haunted Holland

28 Oct

Here’s a special pre-Halloween treat for all of you – a post about Utrecht, the most haunted city in the Netherlands! Founded by the Romans in 47 AD, Utrecht was one of the first places in the Netherlands to embrace Christianity, and in the Middle Ages it grew into an important religious centre. The city retains many of its medieval churches and monasteries – wandering the backstreets it is possible to revel in the architectural reminders of past centuries. But there is also a darker aspect to this history. During the horrific witch hunts of the 16th century, thousands of women all over the country were executed – burned, drowned or otherwise tortured to death – on suspicion of witchcraft. Weighing was one of the more common methods of determining witchery, as a popular belief held that any woman who was too light for the size of her frame was obviously a witch (because hags like that have no soul). The nearby town of Oudewater emerged with some honour – no one was ever proved to be a witch here and this is held up as a symbol of the honesty of the locals, who refused to take bribes to rig the weights. It is also seen as the first stirrings of people power and a turn against the church, which was behind the witch-hunts.

An abandoned haunted house stands on an Utrecht street known as Nieuwegracht. There are lots of rumours surrounding this house, one of them being that an exorcism was performed here in 2002. The first strange occurrence was that the seemingly healthy owner suffered a heart attack in the attic. He left the house in his will to his daughter, who turned mad. She only lived in the attic where her father had died, and left the rest of the house in ruins. Half a dozen cats also lived in the house, and when the woman eventually died there was a metre high pile of faeces found in the kitchen. When the house was restored, it was abandoned and lived in by squatters. They left shortly after moving in under mysterious circumstances, including hearing strange noises from the attic. Today the house is uninhabited, but a strange aura surrounds 193 Nieuwegracht. Pictures have been taken then later figures are seen in the windows. If you’re ever in Utrecht, take your own and see for yourself!

Beyond Utrecht, nestled in the trees of Waardenburg village of the Gelderland province sits Waardenburg Castle. This 13th century castle boasts a polygonal shape that dates back to around 1280. The structure that stands today was preceded by a wooden castle, which was built in 1265 by Rudolf Cock. At the time, the castle was known as Hiern Castle; its name derived from the hill it was built on. The castle remained in Rudolf Cock’s family until 1401 when it was given its present-day name: Waardenburg Castle. Throughout history, Waardenburg Castle has developed a reputation for being one of the most haunted castles in the Netherlands. It is believed that the famous sorcerer Dr. Johann Georg Faust once lived in the castle, although there is no historical evidence to confirm this. It was believed that Faust sold his soul to the devil. In exchange, he received his magical powers and became a master of alchemy. Grizzly tales of torture and evil-doings are infamously attached to Dr. Faust’s name. Both locals and tourists claim to see ghostly apparitions climbing the castle stairs and moving things around rooms. There are also claims that human bodies were found in the castle’s cellars. Regardless of whether or not these claims are true, they certainly draw attention to the castle and pique the interest of those touring the Netherlands. No visitors are allowed to tour the castle – which is probably just as well, given its ill-favoured reputation – but it can be viewed from a distance.

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One Response to “Haunted Holland”

  1. Sandra October 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm #

    Interesting!

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