During the 13th century, a Gothic structure known as the Houska Castle was built upon a cliff.

The mysterious castle has no water source, fake windows, was built far from any trade routes, and all of its remaining defenses face inwards towards its courtyard. The Houska Castle, located north of Prague, is an enigmatic location with little-known history and innumerable legends.

The most famous of all the legends is that the castle was built as a defense against a bottomless pit in the ground, known as the Gateway to Hell. According to the legend, local villagers claimed that demonic half-human and half-animal creatures crawled out of the pit at night.

To keep the creatures in, the pit was covered in stones, and a chapel, which remains today, was built upon it. The chapel was dedicated to the Archangel Michael, who is known as the leader of God’s army against the forces of evil.

The chapel walls are decorated with frescoes that depict the Archangel Michael fighting a dragon and weighing souls at the Last Judgement. Other frescoes show the scene of the Crucifixion and Saint Christopher. The strangest image adorning the chapel walls is that of a female centaur, depicted as a left-handed archer. The images of a centaur, a female archer, or a left-handed individual are extremely rare in Christian settings. The image may directly pertain to the stories about the evil creatures that crawl from the pit.

Historically, it appears that the castle was actually built as an administrative center, but it has served many purposes since the 13th century. The Houska castle had stood empty for many years throughout its existence. It has also been the headquarters for some very real terrors. One of which was the German SS during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. It is unknown what they were doing in the castle, but some of the theories include conducting experiments for paranormal weapons or a “breeding farm” for the Nazi’s master race. Unfortunately, we will probably never know because all documents about the German’s residence in the castle have been destroyed.

It seems that there have been few attempts to discover if the castle pit does have a bottom to it. One legend recounts the story of a man who was lowered into the pit by a rope tied around him. After he had been in the pit for quite some time, he began screaming until he was pulled out again. It looked as if he had rapidly aged and had become utterly insane. He died a short while after. In modern times, the owners have many reasons not to allow excavation of the pit. One of these is the worry that there could be Nazi bombs that will become dislodged and detonate.

Nowadays, people can visit the Houska Castle during a day trip from Prague. There are many historical and ghost-themed tours available. The castle remains a paranormal site that continues to be visited by experts on the Occult, the paranormal, and UFOs.

Even today, many visitors of the castle claim they can hear scratching coming from the pit, along with inexplicable experiences. What do you believe? Is the castle haunted, with demons from Hell only biding their time before the pit reopens, or is it merely an old administrative center with legends run amuck?

Featured image: Chapel at the Houska castle by Scary Side of Earth via Flickr/CC BY 2.0