With Halloween just around the corner, let’s take a look at one of Germany’s creepiest places: Frankenstein Castle.
Frankenstein Castle sits on a hilltop overlooking the city of Darmstadt. It was constructed sometime before the year 1250 by Lord Conrad II Reiz of Breuberg, who founded the free imperial Barony of Frankenstein. Over the coming centuries, the castle was home to various different families and witnessed several territorial conflicts. In 1673, Johann Conrad Dippel – who later became an alchemist – was born in the castle. The structure fell into ruins in the 18th century and was restored in the mid-19th century.
The most famous story is, of course, that of the alchemist who worked in the castle in the 17th century. He was known to experiment with strange potions. He supposedly created an animal oil (which he named “Dippel’s Oil”) that was a so-called “elixir of life”. There are also rumors that the man studied anatomy and conducted experiements on cadavers, some of which he dug up himself from graves. There is no evidence that proves that any of this happened, but local people believe the legends are true.
It is believed that this historic castle and the story of the alchemist inspired Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein.” There is evidence that the author traveled to the region before writing her book. And it’s no wonder that the castle served as an inspiration for her spooky ideas: the structure is surrounded by thick, dark forests shrouded in mystery, legends and folklore. There is a place in the forest where compasses do not work properly. The castle grounds were allegedly also home to a dragon in the early 1800s and a fountain of youth that continues to attract women during a full moon.
When a group of American Airmen from the 435th Transportation Squadron heard these stories in 1978, they had an idea: they would start an annual Halloween festival at this creepy castle. Today, the Halloween festival at Frankenstein Castle is one of the largest in Europe. If you’re in Germany this Halloween and would like to find a place to celebrate this spooky American holiday, head over to Frankenstein Castle – you’ll be sure to get a good scare!
By Nicole Glass, German Embassy