Spooky Places and Stories
The Saint´s Gargoyles
In Cologne´s Old City Centre, you can see several of these gargoyle heads - called "Grinkoepfe" - above the doors.
Once, it is said, an old widow ordered a large amount of goods from a rich merchant. As was usual in those times, the deal was closed with a handshake and the goods paid in advance. The widow expected the merchant to let her know when the goods had arrived, but she never heard back from him. When she finally went to ask about her order, he pretended to have never met her before, let alone received money from her and after a heated argument, kicked her out of his office. "I have no witness except God, but may He repay you for what you´ve done!" the old lady cried. She took the case to court, but the merchant had bribed the jury. They told her that without witnesses that could prove a deal had been made, nothing could be done, sucks to be you, have a nice day. Again, the old lady cried out: "I have no witness except God, but may He repay you for what you´ve done!"
The desperate woman turned to the Archbishop of Cologne, Anno, who at that time was one of the highest authorities in the kingdom. Anno was outraged and decided to get to the bottom of this. He questioned the merchant and the jury, until finally one of them broke down and confessed the truth. Anno´s punishment was severe. He had all of them blinded - except the one who had confessed, he only had one eye gouged out - and had gargoyle heads fixed above their doors as a warning to others not to repeat their crime. Well, that´s one version of the story. In another version, it was the leaders of a rebellion against Anno in 1074 that the Archbishop had blinded and the heads put up above their doors as a warning in a similar way.
Anno - who was quite a bit of a character - was later canonized by the Catholic church, though that probably had more to do with him founding monasteries and building churches and less with him gouging out eyes and putting up gargoyles.
Many dark legends are attached to the Cathedral of Cologne.
It is said that the hill upon which the Cathedral is erected used to be a heathen cult site where human sacrifices werde made. The place was definitely haunted, and when the first church was to be built there, work processed slower than usual. Accidents kept happening and people who passed the building site at night said they´d seen strange lights or pillars of fog or heard devilish laughter. So they called the Archbishop who prepared an exorcizism. He fasted and prayed 40 days and 40 nights, and on the 41st he went to the hill.
A true hell of a thunderstorm broke loose - black clouds darkened the sky, thunder and lightning, pouring rain, howling wind that threatened to sweep him off his feet and in between, furious screams. Shapeless creatures started to rise from the earth. Wherever the Archbishop sprinkled his Holy Water, steam rose as if it had hit a red-hot iron. In spite of all difficulties, however, he managed to surround the hill three times, praying and sprinkling Holy Water. And just as he had finished the third round, the storm suddenly concentrated on the building site and swept the evil spirits away across the River. People in Cologne have an uncomfortable feeling about the Right Bank area of the Rhine to this very day and refer to it as "Schael sick" (untrustworthy side).
The Curse of the Cathedral
Some centuries after the exorcism, when the current Cathedral was to be built, Meister Gerhard the Cathedral Builder made a bet with a stranger who claimed he could build something as large as the Cathedral in a lot less time than Gerhard. Even though the stranger suggested to bet for Gerhard´s soul, and the Builder realized who he was dealing with, he believed he would easily win. After all, he was a master builder and what did the devil know about construction? More than Gerhard gave him credit for, obviously, as he finished his building - a waterway from Trier to Cologne - way ahead. Realizing he had lost his bet and his soul because he had been foolish and vain enough to believe he could beat the Devil, the builder cursed the Cathedral. "As I am not able to finish this cathedral, no-one else shall ever be..."
Soon, work on the cathedral progressed slower and slower until it came to a complete stop for centuries. And even though the cathedral was officially completed in 1880, there is indeed always some scaffolding somewhere, always work going on... so who knows if this is really just a legend?
A Night in the Cathedral
Once, a young boy fell asleep after a mass and was locked in for the night. He woke up to the sound of a small bell, the one that was always rang at the beginning of a service. Puzzled, he realized that it must be the middle of the night - the Cathedral was pitch dark - but the candles at the High Altar were burning brightly and warm. Slowly, a priest whose face the boy had never seen before, approached the Altar and began to read the mass in a strange language. The boy recognized a few words and realized that the priest was speaking Latin. But there was no-one around to attend the service, not even a deacon to assist the priest. As he was an altar boy himself, the boy quickly slipped into the sacristy and threw on a mass gown, then he joined the lone priest. The face of the stranger whose expression had until now been one of sadness lit up. After they had finished the mass, the boy wanted to return to the sacristy to change but the priest stopped him.
"I want to thank you," he said. "A long time ago, I made a terrible mistake and refused to help someone who would have needed me. For a hundred years, I´ve read a mass in this cathedral every night, waiting for a child with a good heart to be my altar boy. I´ve been waiting for you, for a hundred years. Thank you and God bless you." While he was speaking, he grew paler and paler, until he was suddenly gone. The shocked boy had to stay a bit longer until the church doors were unlocked in the morning. He couldn´t get home fast enough. Of course nobody believed his story about the ghost - but from that day on, the boy was fortunate in whatever he did.
The Secret Below
The Roman sewers underneath Cologne are a known fact. But some people believe that the Romans built much more than that - a vast system of catacombs, underneath the ancient cult site where today the Cathedral stands; giant halls that turned into underground lakes when they hit ground water. It is said that the Romans used to send their dead on boats down there into the underworld and there are vast amounts of human remains that haven´t been found until this day.
When the current Cathedral was built, the Roman catacombs were sealed off and all traces of them hidden. Nobody was to know that heathen rites had ever been practised on that holy site.
During the Second World War, air raids destroyed most of Cologne. But the Cathedral remained untouched, although many more important old churches were destroyed. Some say the British pilots had an express order to bomb the Cathedral but when they saw it they couldn´t bring themselves to do it. Others, however, say there was a secret order to avoid the Cathedral - because the CIA was very much aware of what was underneath them. And they had plans for it...
Some time between 1949 and 1951, the Roman catacombs were opened up again - with the consent of the Archbishop, the Mayor of Cologne and Chancellor Adenauer - and nuclear warheads were hidden down there. Everything was held top secret. If the Russians had gained control of Germany, they would not have found the warheads. In the chronicles of the Cathedral in the city library, the years 1949 - 1951 are curiously omitted, and up to this day, excavations are highly restricted in this area. The official reason is the foundation might be harmed, some architects, however, argue that this fear is unfounded. So what else could be the reason...? (www.allmystery.de)
Witches and Witch hunts in Cologne
Right next to the Cathedral, the modern building complex of Museum Ludwig and Philharmonie leaves no sign that this used to be the place where, so it was believed, witches used to gather for their sabbath.
The mid-17th century saw the apex of the witch hunts in Germany, and also in Cologne. There were far fewer witch trials here than in most other places - a total of 96 trials in 200 years; Trier, for example, had as many cases in one single year - and that was a quiet one. The medieval town hall was where it all took place. The apex of the witch hunts in Cologne was between 1627 and 1630.
There were three ways to open a witch trial: a confession, a denunciation or an official charge. In the first case, the accused was either psychically ill or clever enough to prevent being denunciated and take advantage of the lighter punishment usual in such cases. Unlike in regular trials, the accuser was not punished if the innocence of the accused was proven. This made it easy for denunciators. If an official charge was pressed without an accuser, the two "Stimmmeister" were usually behind it - a kind of moral police who watched out for the citizens to fulfill their religious obligations and always had an open ear for gossip and rumours of all kind. 89% of the accused were women, many of them midwives. 37 of the 96 accused were condemned to death. Even at the worst times of the witch hunts, some were judged innocent and let go free, but they usually became social outcasts which in those days was similar to a living death.
It was fortunate for many accused that the citizens of Cologne didn´t get along too well with their archbishop. There was an enormous rivalry between the city administration and the clergy, both of which had their own right of jurisdiction. While the City was allowed to initiate trials and close the easier cases, cases that could involve death penalty had to be passed on to the Archbishop, including all documents. The city magistrate was not too keen on doing that, especially in cases when some of their own names had been mentioned in the course of a trial - such as the case of Christina Plum who confessed to being a witch, but also accused 10 prominent citizens to have partaken in the sabbath. In order to contain the scandal, many witch trials were treated as small delinquencies in Cologne. It saved many lives.
The last witch condemned in Cologne was also the youngest, an 11 year old girl. She was imprisoned for two years until puberty set in - only then could she be condemned and burned at the stake.
Speaking of being burned at the stake: Here is a fascinating video that gives an insight into how that must have felt like. Tim Ireland from Guildford installed a camera in the head of his Guy Fawkes effigy. The camera was then wirelessly connected to a laptop allowing the effigy´s last moments on the bonfire to be downloaded before the hardware melted. The picture is initially obscured by the flames from the torches of the ring of people who surround the bonfire, but the camera clearly captures the locals who emerge from the crowd to throw flares at the guys. After one minute and 20 seconds the picture becomes weak - as if the Guy were “losing consciousness” - but he recovers enough to capture a few of the spectators' direct hits before the camera cuts out.
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of English Roman Catholic revolutionaries who planned to carry out the Gunpowder Plot, an assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The plot intended to kill the king, his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5 November 1605. The plot was foiled shortly before its intended completion, mainly because several of the conspirators had been concerned about fellow Catholics who would be present on the appointed day, and inevitably killed. One conspirator warned his brother-in-law in a letter not to go to the State Opening - and Fawkes, who had been guarding the gunpowder on that dark night in November, was arrested. Soon after, his fellow conspirators were captured and executed. (Hanged, drawn and quartered, by the way - not burned).
In eighteenth-century England, the term "guy" was used to refer to an effigy of Fawkes, which would be paraded around town by children on the anniversary of the conspiracy. It is traditional for children to stand on street corners with their creation asking for a small donation using the term "Penny for the guy." Whilst it was traditional for children to spend the money raised on fireworks, this is now illegal, as persons under 18 may not buy fireworks or even be in possession of them in a public place. The "guy" is later burnt on a bonfire. Some areas have bonfires without burning guys, though.
Katharina Henot is probably the best known witch of Cologne. She was a well-regarded young widow who had been born into a prestigious old Patrician family. Her sister was a nun in St. Clare´s convict where also her daughter was taught, so Katharina often visited the convict to see them.
In the convict, there was a nun who probably suffered from epilepsy. In 1626, it was thought she was possessed. When an exorcism was performed, the nun claimed Katharina had bewitched her and others. The rumor soon spread and even though Katharina tried to contradict it and defend herself, she was finally taken into custody in 1627.
She remained in prison for four months. Her brother tried to get her free without success. Katharina asked in vain to be told on what grounds she was suspected of being a witch so she could explain and defend herself. Instead, she was tortured. Not three times - the limit imposed by the "Hexenhammer" (witch hammer/malleus maleficarum), the official manual for witch trials - but five times.
Finally, she was condemned, still protesting her innocence. One of the "proofs" was a small scar on her forehead. When she named witnesses that this scar resulted from an accident she had had as a child, the jury professed to be dismayed how early this woman, whom everyone had believed a good Christian, had been marked by the Devil. Three days before her execution, she wrote a farewell letter to her family. She used her left hand because her right one had been destroyed by the torture. The fact that she wrote with the left hand was considered another proof of her pact with the Devil. In a witch trial, the accused can´t win. As a special grace, she was not burned at the stake alive - as witches usually were - but was strangled first.
Katharina Henot was the first and only noblewoman to have been accused of witchcraft. Her trial marked the start of the witch hunts in Cologne. Today, it is suspected that Katharina was a victim of a power struggle between the local postal service of the city of Cologne - for which her father had been a postmaster - and the general postmasters of the Taxis family who had been appointed official postmasters of the country.
Katharina´s statue - created by Marianne Luedicke, a descendant of hers - was placed on the tower of the city hall, right next to a statue of Friedrich Spee, the Jesuit priest who was inspired by her fate - and that of others - to write his "Cautio Criminalis", a criticism of witch trials, in 1631. The statues, however, had to be taken down for restoration recently because the stone had been treated wrongly and become so brittle there was danger of them falling down. http://www.cologneweb.com/altstadt/index.htm
The turning point of the witch trials in Cologne came about when 24 year old Christina offered herself as a crown witness against many witches that she claimed to have seen at the sabbath as the handmaid of Katharina Henot. She insisted, however, on having resisted the pressure to denounce God and consort with the Devil. She named several prestigious citizens as witches. Rumors began to fly.
She was finally made to confess under torture that she was a witch herself and wanted to destroy innocents with false accusations. She was executed in 1630 and the documents of her accusations were burned along with her. The scandal was contained; Christina´s case, however, had led to a crisis which soon after brought about the end of the persecutions.
Twenty years later, there was another short witch hunt period between 1647 and 1655. Five people were executed as witches, among them at least two children. In 1662, however, 22-year-old Anna Toer confessed to being a witch because she wanted to die, but wasn´t condemned.
The Chamber of Horrors
Don´t call it "Schreckenskammer" (Chamber of Horrors) when you go there - officially it is the "Goldene Kammer" (Golden Chamber), and the keepers of St. Ursula´s church, where it is located, insist on some minimum of respect towards the human remains and relics displayed there. At least as much respect as arranging them in nice little patterns and using them as a wall decoration *cough*. Even some city guides mention the popular nickname "Schreckenskammer", though, and this is also the name of a pub nearby.
According to a legend that appeared in the tenth century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian king in Britain and was granted a three year postponement of a marriage she did not wish, to a pagan prince. With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she embarked on a voyage across the North sea, sailed up the Rhine to Basle, Switzerland, and then went to Rome. On their way back, they were all massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in about 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain.
According to another legend, Amorica was settled by British colonizers and soldiers after Emporer Magnus Clemens Maximus conquered Britain and Gaul in 383. The ruler of the settlers, Cynan Meiriadog, called on King Dionotus of Cornwall for wives for the settlers, whereupon Dionotus sent his daughter Ursula, who was to marry Cynan, with eleven thousand maidens and sixty thousand common women. Their fleet was shipwrecked and all the women were enslaved or murdered.
The legends are pious fictions, but what is true is that one Clematius, a senator, rebuilt a basilica in Cologne that had originally been built, probably at the beginning of the fourth century, to honor a group of virgins who had been martyred at Cologne. They were evidently venerated enough to have had a church built in their honor, but who they were and how many of them there were, are unknown. From these meager facts, the legend of Ursula grew and developed. Feast day October 21. (catholic.org) - suitably close to Halloween.
This used to be a place of death, long before it was made a cemetery in the 18th century. It was the site of a lepers´ hospice and the city´s execution site, just outside the city walls. This is where Katharina Henot died her gruesome death.
A Woman in White is supposed to haunt this graveyard. It is said that she is a harbinger of death, if you meet her and she leads you to the cemetery, you only have three more days to live.
Detail on the chapel from 1245.
Would you be surprised if these opened by moonlight and vampires emerged?
Ringwraith? Headless Ghost? Grieving Banshee?
The Lake of Evil
There is a lake in Bruehl near Cologne, called the Bleibtreusee, which is rumored to be evil. Many people have drowned there in suicides or bathing accidents. By day, it is a popular bathing spot, but if you go there at night, it is said that you can hear strange voices, screams and maybe even see some dark figures...
Two of the victims are said to be a young mother with her baby. Their bodies have never been found, but in a moonlit night, you may some times see their ghostly figures at the shore, crying.
A friend of mine who is really sensitive to paranormal things, once told me that he was passing a lake near Cologne with his family and had a really strong feeling that something in there was trying to lure him closer and a strong sense of evil. I have to ask him if this happened to be the same lake.
The pictures are not of the Bleibtreusee but of the Groov in Zuendorf, but I thought their mood fits the story.
Cologne´s Underworld: Subterra Incognita
There are vast systems of tunnels and catacombs underneath Cologne. The Roman catacombs with their underground lakes may be just a legend, but the Roman sewers definitely aren´t. Then there is the 19th century sewage system which crosses the Roman sewers at some points. And the Prussian ring of forts and intermediate works around Cologne is also connected by a system of uncharted and forgotten tunnels. In fact, some historians doubted that these tunnels ever existed - until some years ago, some entrances had been found. They were quickly walled up again, though, in order to ensure nobody got lost down there.
Many big cities are rumored or even confirmed to have underground cities underneath them: Paris, New York, Berlin , Tokyo, Seattle, London, Vienna - but it is little known that Cologne, too, has enough tunnels and catacombs for a secret subterranean world to establish itself.
60% of Berlin´s building substance is underground - ancient sewers, abandoned subway tunnels and stations, bunkers and much more; and there are apparently actually people living there either because they are homeless or because they think it´s edgy. http://berliner-unterwelten.de/home.1.0.html, http://www.newyorkunderground.org/about.htm
And there´s Adelheid Streidel - the woman who calmly plunged a butcher knife into the throat of one of West Germany's then most popular politicians, right here in Cologne in 1990. The 42-year-old doctor's assistant said she had committed the act in order to get publicity to reveal what the government had been keeping secret for years...
In 1978, so she claimed, some scientists had told her about gigantic subterranean slaughter factories in which people of the lower social classes were killed and made into canned meat. Others were brain-washed by cutting off their heads and sewing on a new one. Streidel claims to have seen a film document of chancellor Kohl visiting one of these factories, most of which are underneath airports. The scientists had given her ten years´ time to make the facts public and protest against these factories - if that wasn´t enough, she was to kill a politician. "I wanted to kill Mr. Lafontaine so I would have to go before the courts and it would be in all the newspapers," investigators quoted her as saying.
Adelheid Streidel had a history of mental illness since the early 1980s. She was placed into a mental hospital, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Of course, if there was any truth in what she was saying, this would be the most convenient way for a government to both silence her and discredit her information...
Adelheid Streidel is not alone. Winfried Sobottka, a studied business administrator and political activist whose sanity is also questioned by many, is convinced that there is a secret underground concentration camp in Dortmund where human experiments are being conducted to this day.
According to him, his godmother was trained as a "Brown Nurse" in the Third Reich and was made to participate in such experiments. It is a fact that there is a huge bunker system underneath Dortmund, one of the largest ones of World War II (http://www.geschichteinchronologie.ch/eu/3R/bunkerbau-SpiegelTV2003_das-unterirdische-reich.htm#26)
Sobottka claims, though, that when the Dortmund subway was built, secret passageways and rooms were added to connect the most important public buildings and also build the underground camp which also serves to torture and kill political opponents.
The St. Bartholomew´s Day Massacre of Cologne
In 1349, the plague reached Cologne. The narrow and often dirty lanes of the medieval city increased the chances for infection, and the Black Death claimed up to a 100 lives a day. Nothing seemed to help - neither prayers nor penitence, doctors or medicines. People were in the grip of fear and helplessness, and those emotions turned into aggression and hatred. Its victims were minorities - such as the Jewish community who quickly was blamed for the plague. After all, more Christians than Jews fell victim to the sickness. This was due to the strict hygienic rules of the Jewish faith whereas the Christians lived in a rather sad state of hygiene, but people believed the Jews were poisoning the wells.
The worst riots happened on August 24 in "the St. Bartholomew´s Day Massacre of Cologne". The Jewish quarter was attacked and set on fire, those who were trying to get away were pursued and murdered. The magistrate turned a blind eye since both they and the city merchants profited from the fire in which many IOU notes written to the Jewish creditors vanished. The Jews that were driven out of the city moved to Eastern Europe, but many also settled in the villages on the other side of the river, such as Deutz, Muelheim and Zuendorf.
Even the Jewish cemetery - Judenbuechel or "Dude Jüd" (Dead Jew) - which had been granted to the Jewish community by the Archbishop in 1266 was desecrated. The headstones were stolen and used as building material. It wasn´t until 1372 that the graveyard was returned to the Jewish community. It was in use until 1695 when a new Jewish cemetery was opened in Deutz. The Judenbuechel cemetery was abandoned and the human remains taken to another cemetery in 1936. They were reburied in the Jewish cemetery in Koeln Bocklemuend (which is the one shown in the pictures).
The Jewish cemetery actually has a really nice, gently melancholic atmosphere. If you want to see true horror in Koeln-Bocklemuend, and are willing to risk your life, sanity and stomach - check out the nearby WDR studios which produce the popular TV soap "Lindenstrasse", the GEZ headquarter (the institution that collects the TV fees) or the TV studios in Ossendorf where such gems as "Big Brother" are filmed. SCARRRYYYYYY!!!!
The Mysterious Thunderstorm Man
In the night of June 4, 2008, there was a severe thunderstorm above Cologne. Ursula B. who lived in a fourth floor flat in Porz couldn´t sleep and decided to film the rain and lightning from her window. When she looked at the video somewhat later, she noticed a scary face looking in at her. A trick of the light - or a tricky ghost?
In ancient times, mount Drachenfels was connected with another mountain nearby and the mountain ridge formed a dam in the river Rhine. Since the area around was often flooded, people finally hired seven giants to dig a passage through the ridge. And so they did. When they were finished, the giants knocked the earth off their dirty shovels which piled up into seven huge mountains which gave the Siebengebirge (= Seven mountains) its name. A little more to the South, another mountain was formed: mount Himmerich, nicknamed „Riesenschiss“ (giants´ shit) because this is where the giants are thought to have gone to take their dump...
Mount Drachenfels was not called "dragons´rock" without reason. Several stories tell of dragons that lived here.
One dragon used to breathe flames on the ships passing on the Rhine, just to see burn and sink. From high up on the rock, he watched the crew struggle to save themselves or drown. Soon, people were so scared that they started to transport their goods in different ways, avoiding the river. It had been a while since the dragon had sank the last ship when he discovered a vessel nearing. The dragon was elated and breathed a particularly strong fireball on to the ship. Which had been loaded with gunpowder. The crew saved themselves by jumping into the river, just before the ship blew up in a giant explosion that was so strong the shock wave caught the dragon on his rock. Whether he died, left or was simply scared off sinking ships after this experience isn´t known, but no ship was burned and sank again after that...
Another dragon insisted on getting a human sacrifice in regular intervals in turn for not preying on the villagers below. Since volunteers were scarce and they did not want to sacrifice one of their own, the villagers used to kidnap a maiden from the other side of the river to give to the dragon. This dragon was finally slain by Siegfried
The Monk of Heisterbach
Soon after the monastery was founded, there was a young monk who was well-regarded because of his vast knowledge. But in spite of being well-read and studied, he could not get his mind round the words in the Bible "With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years". One day, he was walking the gardens, musing, and completely lost in thought, he entered the forest. He went in deeper and deeper without realizing where he was going until he got tired, sat down near a brook to rest and fell asleep. He dreamed that he was close to the Lord, with the waters of eternity rushing past around him.
When he woke up, he realized how late he was. The bells were already calling to prayer. So he rushed back to the monastery. He was surprised to see strange faces - there was even a strange monk sitting on his own place. The young monk was utterly confused. So were the other monks. They took him to the abbot, who was another stranger. When the young monk asked about his own familiar abbot, an incredulous stare was the answer - no abbot of that name had been at the monastery for hundreds of years!
Someone got an ancient chronicle and indeed they found an entry reporting that a young monk had vanished without a trace. Now the monk understood how "to the Lord a thousand years are like one day". He smiled a peaceful smile, sank down and closed his eyes forever.
The monastery was destroyed after it was abandoned in the early 19th century. I have not found any actual ghost stories but several recent visitors to the ruins have reported hearing monks´ singing a gregorian "Agnus Dei". (www.gespenster-web.de)
Gerald the Devil
In the 13th century, the Count of Ghent had a son by the name of Gerald. On the boy´s 13th birthday, his father had to leave on a crusade and wanted to take his son along to the Holy Land, but Gerald refused to go with him. He beat his father to death and from that moment on, everyone called him Gerald the Devil...
Gerald built a castle with a dark crypt and a Red Tower, where he lived with his wife and son, also named Gerald. The boy has rather dark skin and black hair, however, and is nicknamed Gerald the Moor by people.
Gerard the Devil disliked the colour of his son's skin and hair. So he tortured his first wife to death in the Red Tower, and his second, and his third, and fourth, and fifth, and sixth, and seventh wife too... until the day when Gerald the Moor fell in love with a young girl that was to be wife number 8 of Gerard the Devil. 'Go to the Red Tower, my son,' said the father. 'I have arranged an overseas honeymoon for you!'
In the Tower, two sailors were already waiting to tie up the hands and feet of Gerard the Moor, put him in a bag and throw him in the water. But the son didn't trust his father and didn´t go. So the next person who showed up in the Red Tower was Gerard the Devil himself, coming pay the murderers for the deed he supposed done. The sailors mistook the Devil for the Moor, put him in a bag and threw him in the water. That was the end of Gerald the Devil... but not the end of the story. Gerald the Moor died at the end of the 13th century and since that moment, every 13th year in the Devil's Castle a child is born as a true son of the Devil. The castle is cursed to this very day, because the ghosts of father and son find no rest and haunt each other forever...
Many female corpses were found in the water near the Red Tower and an old legend says that before there will be peace in the Devil's Castle, 6 times 111 women have to fall or jump or have to be thrown from the Red Tower into the water, hands and feet tied together.
The castle is also said to be haunted because it was for many years used as a prison and a mental asylum. Its walls saw tremendous amounts of suffering.
Spooky Prussian Fortress and Intermediate Works
What looks like a crypt at Fort X, Rose Garden.
Orbs in the snipers gallery.
Those who believe in the paranormal are convinced that orbs such as these are manifestations of ghosts or entities. There is probably a perfectly natural explanation for these orbs, but I think this one is much more fun.
The Prussian ring of forts and intermediate works around Cologne is also connected by a system of uncharted and forgotten tunnels. In fact, some historians doubted that these tunnels ever existed - until some years ago, some entrances had been found. They were quickly walled up again, though, in order to ensure nobody got lost down there.
In 2004, police received an anonymous letter claiming a pedophile ring was active in Cologne. Homeless children from Eastern Europe were being brought here and sold into prostitution for 1000 Euro or more per night. Three years before, so the letter stated, two children had died during some perverted sex games and their bodies had been hacked to pieces and buried on the grounds of Fort IX, seen in the pictures. The letter contained enough verifiable information for police to take the allegations very seriously. For two weeks, the grounds were searched. Virtually no stone was left unturned. And in the end it turned out everything had been a hoax - but maybe, just maybe that was only the official story they gave to the press while in fact, everything was true and the ghosts of those two little girls are haunting the fort to this very day...
The tour guide warned us not to come here alone at night since black masses are being held here.
Abandoned Military Base
Random Spooky Pix
Rosy and the mysterious disembodied spirit hand...
Halloween at Burg Satzvey, 2008
Satzvey, a well-preserved moated castle, was having a special Halloween night. This time, Rouge got to come - her red hair was just perfect for the Halloween costume I had just finished knitting.
Entering the castle grounds, we saw an empty coach waiting for owners who might never return...
Torches burnt next to an array of severed heads. There were several smaller graveyards set up on the castle grounds, too.
Market booths had been set up all the way around the castle.
This merchant offered glowing crystal balls.
At the entrance to the courtyards, a butchers´ store had been set up. We preferred to get our dinner from one of the stalls in the courtyard, though. Tarte flambée was a lot more attractive than eyeball soup, brain tatar, fingers or feet.
The Castle Courtyards
A ghost popped up from the well to scare passers-by... maybe it´s Juffer Vey?
„Von der Juffer Vey wurde früher viel gesprochen, aber jetzt weiß keiner mehr etwas Genaues von ihr.“ - "In olden days, people used to talk a lot about Juffer Vey, but nowadays, nobody really knows anything for sure" - that´s the reply you usually get when you ask the locals about this "Juffer" (from "Jungfer", Maid) - a kind of fairy or protective spirit.
The little that is preserved of those lost old legends tells us that Juffer Vey was thought to be at home in a spring in Veytal (Vey valley) - the area around Satzvey; the Vey brook - Veybach - crosses the castle´s lake. Dressed in white, she sometimes appeared to wanderers at night or at dawn, near the moor or brook. There was always water close by. Only 600 yards to the north of Satzvey, there is an area named Juffer Vey after the spirit which has always had a reputation as a dangerous and scary place - probably for a reason, because it was right in the middle of the local moor.
People were scared of Juffer Vey and the area that she reigned over. Various fragments of legends mention young girls, and even entire buildings that had sunken in the moor. In some stories, Juffer Vey is actually thought to be the ghost of a woman (named Vey) who suffered this fate. One story in which Juffer Vey is more of a nature spirit that can take on different shapes, including a deer, a hare and a beautiful woman, says that Vey had seven daughters to each of whom she gave a particular place to live: that´s how Satzvey - which was one of them - got its name. In another legend, the Vey named Satzvey was one of five Veyen (= Veys), ghosts that haunted close to the Vey brook which divided their respective domains.
Scholars believe that the legends of Juffers originated with the gallo-Roman, celtic and germanic protective and mother goddesses that were venerated in the Rhine area. Altars dedicated to these matrons (= divine mothers) dating from Roman times have been found. The picture above shows one on display in the Praetorium museum, Cologne. They were benevolent goddesses of nature, often appearing as a threesome. The Juffers are also often said to appear in threes. The name "Vey" can actually be traced back to the Matronae Fachinehae, a particular triad of matrons that were venerated in the area. With the rise of Christianity, the goddesses became benevolent fairies and at some point turned into scary and mischievous ghosts, which are, however, known to only frighten humans, and not hurt them.
It is said that somewhere on the castle grounds, there is an evergreen shrub that blossoms in certain nights and emits a seductive perfume. These shimmering red blossoms are full of oriental magic and are said to protect bride and groom and their love, as long as they live.
Skeleton Pirate: "Arrr! Why is all the rum gone?!" Rouge: "Shaddap. You haven´t got a stomach anyway *hic*"
There were plenty of places to get food and drink in the courtyards, and all of them were lovingly decorated for the occasion. Apart from the usual wine, beer, coke and so on, you could also have hot and cold mead or mulled beer. No blood, though.
According to the castle´s website, the first written documents date the castle to 1396 with its foundations supposedly older still. Satzvey Castle has been owned by the family of Count Beissel von Gymnich for over 300 years and this noble family still resides here. Obviously.
The Lord and Lady of the Castle presiding over the celebrations... since 1396.
(...and "Beissel"! (= bitey) Can there be a more obvious name for a vampire??)
On the stage, bands were playing medieval-style music (which mostly consisted of wailing bagpipes).
Ghoulish group picture in the courtyard.
The Maze of Horrors
They had set up a maze on the castle grounds in which you passed various ghoulish scenes.
Hitching a ride with the headless horseman
On our way back to the car, we passed this:
"Whee!! A Blythe sized carriage! MINE!"