Prague has long been the site of many epic tales and local legends, and now a new interactive map will help you find ghosts.
Meander through cobblestone streets, gaze at Gothic and Baroque architecture, admire the city at night, and you’ll quickly see how easy it is to create your own stories about Prague. Prague’s reputation for being mysterious has lasted the ages. It’s is immaculately preserved, giving the illusion that you’ve stepped back in time. In a city full of ancient relics, it’s no wonder something could be lurking in the shadows. The dark side of Prague conjures local legends spooky enough to leave those who listen with chills that are hard to shake off, and the ghost stories of Prague are numerous. A new interactive map makes ghost hunting more accessible to the public–are you ready for it?
The Dark Knight Statue
The Dark Knight, aka the Iron Man, is a story of heartache. Upon his return from defending his country, rumors that his beloved had been unfaithful reached him. Thus, he married another. The former lover, so distraught, jumped into the Vltava River, never to surface again. Her father then flung himself from a tower as a result. The Dark Knight, after realizing the pain his hasty decision caused, went into a murderous rage, killed his wife, and later himself. He rests for eternity trapped inside the statue. To the left of City Hall, the statue resides, a warning to those who look upon him to reconsider any action that might seal their fates forever.
The Countess at the Černín Palace
Walk near Černín Palace and pay close attention, especially at night. Some say screams can be heard just after dark, but most will tell you the noises burgeon around midnight. The countess wasn’t just vain, she was cruel. Even demons were shocked by her selfish behavior. Allegedly, she bathed in milk during a time when milk was a true luxury. The devils had enough of her when she started to wear shoes made out of bread while peasants famished. Nine devils dragged her down to hell to suffer eternal punishment for neglecting those in need. As she was taken, her blood-curdling screams reverberated through the long, spacious hallways. Still, to this day, her screams can be heard late in the night.
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The Nun at St. Agnes Convent
Legend has it that the nun can be seen from the gate into the convent at dusk. She’s a rather capricious ghost who can’t seem to make up her mind about whether to be pleasant or depressed. Those who have seen her have diverging stories –she’s either wistfully happy or wailing long into the night. If you find yourself lost late at night on Josefov Street, be warned–she might make herself known to you. She’s never in the same mood; either singing and joyous or weeping covered in blood. Legend says she was killed by her father because she had fallen in love with a man beneath her status. He had planned to send her to the convent to live, but she never made it because she tried to escape. How she ended up in the convent as a ghost is a real mystery. Only her ghost remains as a testament to her spirit and a love that knew no boundaries.
The Ghost of Devil’s Stream
Stroll around Kampa Park, near Devil’s Stream, a bubbling brook just behind the Vltava where ghosts have made their home. One ghost is a woman who washes her linens in the stream each evening at dusk. She has a reputation for scaring off children just as she did when she was still living. Another ghost likes to wet his whistle. Rumor has it he’s a happy phantom, but if denied the beer he requests, he turns rather grim. Once a frequenter of local pubs himself, he is known to stay close to the beer tap. However, bartenders of today have forgotten him. Now he sits at the stream where he rests his feet and pines for a pint. Not long ago, people remembered to set out buckets of water for his feet or a pint for his woes. More recently, he’s seemed to slip further into the stream and collective memory.
The Headless Horseman
Old Town streets are teaming with ghost stories. One such entity has been coined the Headless Horseman. He is notorious for midnight rides on Liliová Street. That is, if you dare to stay long enough to see him. Although some claim his ghost belonged to the Monastery of St Lawrence where he was beheaded, not far from Lilová Street, many have spotted the Headless Horseman galloping atop his stately white horse on empty streets in the heart of old town Prague. Once an esteemed Templar knight, no one knows how his spirit got trapped in the labyrinth of the streets just beyond the Charles Bridge. Some say he was a traitor, while others claim love keeps him there. Be sure to let him pass if you see him coming your way–this ghost seems to be on a mission.
The Unfortunate Barber
Karlova Street is no stranger to the strange. Part of the Royal Route that led to the Prague Castle, more than pilgrimages took place here. Full of alchemical trails, occult rumors, and local gossip, this street was a hot spot for those who were looking for an exciting lifestyle. However, not everyone is destined for success. Once upon a time, a man had a prosperous business and a loving family, yet he was not satisfied. His greed caused him to seek riches from black magic. Some say he dabbled in the occult, others swear it was just alchemy. Whatever the case, he was on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone. His wife and daughters warned him of the consequences, but he wouldn’t listen. He invested all of his money in rituals and practices determined for gold. In the end, the unfortunate barber was forced to sell his house and business. Worse, his wife jumped from a window to her death and the daughters were forced into a life of prostitution to survive. Having wasted everything, his fate to roam Karlova Street is sealed forever.
The Ill-fated Actress
The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene has been on tourist checklists for decades now, if not centuries. But little do visitors know the dark secrets lurking there. The spirit of a once famous actress haunts the convent of St. Mary of Magdalene as if she is trapped there. While she was prized for her beauty in real life, her ghost does not have a face because it lacks a head. This is the reason why she roams the theatre–she is on the hunt for her own head. Her performances at the Nostic Theater in Prague were the talk of the town; there was no shortage of admirers. Her husband was tremendously jealous. After a show, she surrendered herself to a rich count who had been covertly courting her. Her husband waited all night for her, fuming with fiery rage. When she arrived home, he promptly cut off her head. Now her ghost searches for her head without any luck.
The Vyšehrad Soldier
Vyšehrad is notorious for ghost stories. Pagans claim the site as having magical powers, and occults have named it as a vortex of supernatural energy. This is just one of many ghost stories that come from the Vyšehrad precipice. And it’s no wonder –the combination of gothic church and cemetery perched high upon a cliff seem to scream for spine-chilling ghost stories. Here is where a French soldier resides. Once rumored to be heartless in real life, he roams the grounds in his military uniform, unaware that both the war and his life have ended. Apparently, he died in battle and never quite came to terms with what had befallen him. He couldn’t make any sense of the fact that that the war had ended and he had lost his life. Some say he scared new recruits, quite literally, to their death, when Vyšehrad was it used as a military base. Recruits were known to take their lives by jumping off the cliff into the Vltava to escape his terror. It’s said that in order to appease this cold-hearted spirit, a simple salute will pacify him.
The Zlatá Street Black Cat
The story has been told many times before. A girl falls madly in love with a young man who does not meet her father’s approval, however, this does not stop her from meeting him at night after her father goes to sleep. When escaping from her window one night, her father suddenly awakens to see her sliding down the building from a trellis. He goes into a rage and plots to kill this young man. The couple had planned to run away, but the very night of their eloping, the father finds the young man and kills him. The girl is left to wait all night by the river, hoping her beloved will arrive. When he doesn’t, she throws herself off the bridge. Others say she went into the river with her lover’s ghosts to disappear together and be united forever. But her return to land comes in an unusual form–she comes back as a cat and begs for food at her father’s residence on Zlatá Street.
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The Good Friday Turkey
Kampa Park has plenty of ghost trimmings. One legend that started here burns eternal through the apparition of the Fiery Turkey. Rumor has it that the Fiery Turkey can only be seen on Good Friday, mostly near the watermill where his owner once lived. The watermill householder favored the meat of turkey to any other. For Good Friday, he did his very best to fast, but something overcame him and in a spout of ravenous hunger, he slaughtered his pet turkey and gobbled it up before the day was done. Shortly thereafter, he was struck with a gall bladder attack and died almost instantly. The turkey has been seen perched on the belly of his gluttonous owner, squawking loudly into the night as if in warning to those who wish to break their Good Friday fasting. The turkey is harmless, but his screeching will stay with you once you’ve heard it. Rumor has it, the turkey appears to those who have a predilection for fowl, as if to sway them into eating another animal’s flesh.
The Imposters from Nové Město
Here lies a house where one séance changed a couple’s life forever. A husband told his wife he needed a few days alone inside their mansion. He locked himself away in a wing and she went about her business. During the time he was resting, someone had told the wife she witnessed her husband at a séance. She went to the address to find life-size figures of men were placed sitting at a long wooden table, behind each one a portrait. She had no idea what this meant or who these men were. Did they belonged to an occult order, or were they demons in human form? When she spotted her husband, she was devastated and dumbfounded. In a fit, she ripped apart the doll and the portrait. Little did she know that the real male counterparts were lying motionless in their beds under a deep spell. They placed themselves in trance in order to gain powers and eternal youth. When she returned home to confront her husband, who had remained hidden for days inside their mansion. She was aghast to find him covered in blood and headless. The wife haunts the home and tells those willing to listen to her unfortunate tale.
The Unfortunate Duo of Celetná Street
Celetná Street, in the center of Old Town Prague, is the stuff ghost hunters live for. There is no shortage of spirits occupying these streets. One story has stood the test of time. One night, a sex worker did her best to tease a monk. Beneath her coat, she was completely naked. A clever tactic to gain clients, she flashed men on the street to rouse their desires. When she saw a monk approaching, she couldn’t help herself from thinking it might be a good joke on the cold winter night. But instead, she frightened him so much that he attacked her with his crucifix, ultimately murdering her. Upon realizing what he had done, the monk went into such a frenzy that he gave himself a heart attack. Today, the duo can be seen at the sight of the crime on a corner of Celetná Street, left to haunt the streets for an eternity.
The House of the Two Golden Bears
Around the corner from Celetná Street, a portal into mystical myths can be found. The House of the Two Golden Bears is famed for attracting spirits. Some claim the location is a gateway that connects to the cosmos, the big and little bears mere reflections of the big and little dipper constellations. Ghosts and spirits are drawn to this location for this very reason as well. Throughout the building, mystical symbols related to esoteric themes abound. There are walled up archways that are rumored to lead those who dare to follow down a tunnel where alchemical laboratories remain tucked away. Apparently, the tunnels connect to crypts in the churches in the area where ceremonies were performed. In the 1930s, a journalist went into the tunnels. He was lost for a week, searching frantically for the exit. He surfaced from the underground with stark white hair.
The Demons at the Gateway to Hell
A notorious site of haunting, Houska Castle has a history to shiver one’s bones. At the top of a hill next to the Houska Castle lies a chapel said to be constructed to cover a gate to hell. The mysterious pit is suspected as such due to foul smells, strange smoke, and horrific noises. The legend says demonic chimeras, creatures neither fully human nor fully animal, were seen crawling up out of the pit at night to drag down anyone they could get their hands on. Winged beasts also were witnessed flying up, propelled by the pit’s vapors, to terrorize cattle and destroy the crops. The castle itself has almost no fortifications facing the outside–as if an attack from the outside wasn’t feared as much as one from the inside. Not many get this version of events when they opt for a guided tour. Locals would rather keep this portico sealed once and for all.
The Count Vratislav of Mitrovice
The Kostel SV. Jakuba Vetisho church is famed for a 400-year-old arm hanging from a meat hook displayed as a lesson for all future thieves. But that’s not the only thing the church took. When Count Vratislav of Mitrovice returned from Vienna supposedly dead from dropsy, the church immediately buried him. Shortly thereafter, peculiar noises were heard. At first, the clergy thought the soul was not at rest and blessed the tomb several times over. There was a monument build atop the tomb to commentate his life and satisfy his soul. But the church staff continued to hear the count’s screams, not from beyond the grave, but from within it. His cries for help from beneath the dirt were thought to be ghosts, but upon renovating years later, the remains of the Count were found escaped from his tomb, trapped behind the heavy stone monument built in his honor. They had buried him alive. He can still be heard yelling through the corridors of Kostel SV. Jakuba Vetisho.
One of the Last Pagans
Known as one of the last pagans in Prague, Duchess Drahomíra of Stodor didn’t give up her beliefs so easily. Although she converted to the new religion of Christianity, in the recesses of the castle, she performed secret rituals and sacrifices to the Slavic gods. Legend has it that Drahomíra signed a pact with the Devil to stop the spread of Christianity throughout the land. Her plan to hinder Christianity started with killing her religious mother-in-law, followed by convincing her son to kill her son based on his beliefs. When she was finally ostracized from the community and all of Bohemia, she took a carriage out of town. Just after the church bells rang, the carriage master went inside the church to pray, leaving Drahomíra alone and susceptible. The Devil pulled her into a chasm near the church plaza. To this day, a fiery coach drawn by black horses can be seen in the area from midnight to 1 am. A fence marks the territory where the ill-fated woman met her demise.
The Ghosts of St.Peter’s Church at Na Poříčí
Off Vaclav Namesti, Na Poříčí leads to countless legends of Prague. Several ghosts dwell there. Each story as tragic as the last. The ghosts of St.Peter’s Church are equally well known. One story tells the fate of a gravedigger with a penchant for gambling. He had lost all his friends to the plague. When he said he’d give his soul to have his friends back for one more game of cards, a demon seized the opportunity and granted his wish. Pleased to see all his friends again, they played well into the night. Once the sun rose, the bodies went limp and the demon pulled the gravedigger’s body to hell with them. He can still be seen wandering the graveyard, covered in limestone flecks from digging up bodies in the cemetery.
The Old Woman at Týn Church
Týn Church, adjacent the Astronomical Clock, proffers many legends. Here’s the story of the old woman ghost, bound to service through sin. A faithful sexton, after several years of service to the priest, married an old spinster in order to save her from a scandal. Although it was not a happy marriage, the sexton was much too involved in attending to the priest and his Lord to be bothered. However, when he became sick and could no longer provide the care for the priest as he once did, their health deteriorated and eventually, they both died. It was the lack of compassion from the wife that was the true cause of their deaths. Instead of using the money to buy ingredients for soup, she spent it on herself, and when asked to assist with duties, she disregarded her obligation to her husband and the church. When the congregation uncovered the link between the selfish old woman and both the sexton and the priest’s death, they threw her out into the snow to die. Now she can be seen trying to repent by taking care of the grounds as her sexton husband had once done.