Moosham Castle, located just outside of Salzburg, is one of the most haunted spots in Austria and high on the list of the spookiest places in the whole of Europe. The castle itself dates back to 1191 and is famous for its dark and bloody history when it was used during the Salzburg Witch Trials to sentence countless poor and homeless victims to death for witchcraft and sorcery. This terrible period of persecution from 1534 to 1762 has earned it the nickname, ‘Witches Castle’.
Now it would seem witches weren’t the only supernatural creatures to walk its halls; the castle may have also been home to a werewolf or two.
At the height of the Salzburg Witch Trials, between 1675 and 1690, it’s reported over a hundred people were tried and found guilty of being witches. Curiously, the official Moosham Castle tourist website lists the actual number of executions to be far less. Regardless, the final number of unfortunate souls who perished in those walls doesn’t negate the brutality and hopelessness they had to endure. Once imprisoned in the castle, the accused were tortured, dismembered and burned like cattle with branding irons until they confessed to being in league with the devil.
Given the depravity of what happened, it’s not surprising the castle has such a consistent reputation for being haunted. Both staff and visitors have reported countless incidents ranging from people being touched; feeling someone breathing on them, footsteps when no-one is around and doors shutting of their accord. There are also a number of sightings of a strange, white mist that appears in inexplicable places.
While the trials, executions, and subsequent haunting are fascinating, the lesser-known stories of the castle’s past are about werewolves. The stories connected with Moosham date from a much later time than the Salzburg Witch Trials. In the 1800s, there were a series of animal mutilations and murders, very similar to the Beast of Gevaudan attacks in France, near the castle that appeared to be the work of a wolf-like creature. Also similar to the residents of Gevaudan, local villagers firmly believed werewolves were responsible for the killings and suspected these predators were residing in the castle. Ultimately, the authorities dusted off their playbook from the witch trials and turned suspicions towards the villagers, accusing them of being werewolves. Those villagers identified as lycans were brought to the castle, tortured in the dungeons until they confessed and executed.
Perhaps the oppressive aura itself attracted these werewolves of the Witches Castle or, maybe, living in the castle with its ghosts, and dark history had a terrible effect on those inside the walls. Either way, it seems the blood-soaked history of Moosham Castle continues to have an effect even today, hundreds of years after the events.