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Houska Castle in the Czech Republic - over the gateway to hell

Houska Castle in the Czech Republic is a Gothic building located a few kilometres north of the capital Prague. According to legend, this castle was built to cover one of the gates of hell, thus preventing terrifying creatures from appearing in our world. Today the castle is open to tourists.


Borrowing Houska

Houska Castle offers both history and myth, and an interesting fact is that the Swedish army got involved during the Thirty Years' War.

Borgen Houska i Tjeckien

The castle of Houska is located in the north of the Czech Republic, about five kilometres north of the capital. Prague.

Visiting Houska Castle in the Czech Republic

The easiest way to visit Houska castle in the Czech Republic is by car or other vehicle, by setting the GPS to "Houska castle". The car park is located a short distance from the castle and you can then walk the last bit, a maximum of 5-10 minutes, slightly uphill.

The castle itself is not particularly impressive from the outside. But even as you approach, you get the feeling that something a bit spooky and ghostly is going on here. This is despite the fact that you are pleasantly welcomed by a cash register, where you can also buy drinks and snacks, and inviting tables and benches in the courtyard.

Once you have paid your ticket, you are also let into the castle with an information text in any language (e.g. German or English). The guy at the counter said "Knock when you want to be let out" and locked the gate behind us. Would we ever get out again ....?

Castle Houska and the story of the gateway to Hell

Houska Castle was built in the 13th century, probably on the orders of Václav I, who reigned from 1230 to 1253. The building was erected in an odd location deep in the woods, where no one lived and there was nothing to defend. Moreover, the original castle is said to have been built with the defences pointing inwards rather than outwards.

The gateway to hell

So why was the castle built? According to legend, its purpose was to cover one of the gates to hell, sealing in the unspeakable that existed there. The hole was thought to be so deep that no one could see the bottom of it, and from here, dark hybrid creatures - mixtures of animals and humans - sometimes crawled to the surface of the earth, where they harmed people and animals.

The castle was later transferred to the aristocracy, where it served as a residence for various important noble families. Between 1584 and 1590 the castle was renovated in the Renaissance style.

Occupation of Swedes

During the Thirty Years' War, Houska Castle was occupied by the Swedish army. According to the castle's history, the Swedish commander was interested in black magic and tried to achieve immortality. Just before he succeeded, according to the legend, he was shot by two local hunters. Today he remains only as a shadow or a ghost ...

Modern history (and experiments)

In the 18th century, the castle stopped being used as a residence and fell into disrepair before being renovated in 1823. In 1924, the castle was bought by the chairman of Škoda, Josef Šimonek, and is still owned by his descendants.

During World War II, however, the castle was occupied by the Nazis, and it is said that the locals believed they were using the "powers of hell" for various occult experiments.

Chapel with frescoes

The castle's chapel is the oldest part of the whole building. There are old frescoes on the walls, which are considered some of the most spectacular frescoes in Central Europe.

One of the most unusual paintings shows a female centaur (half horse and half human) threatening a human with a bow and arrow. The creature is left-handed, which was once associated with evil forces, so perhaps this image represents a beast that has crawled out of the pit of hell?

Tour of the castle's rooms

We then continued our tour of the castle's rooms on our own. The first large room was decorated with a dining table, a tiled stove and a large number of hunting trophies.

Upstairs we were greeted by weapons, helmets and swords of various kinds.

On animal skins on the floors, even more weapons of unpleasant varieties were displayed. How have these been used in the past? What has happened here? My mind is racing ...

On the top floor there are a number of rooms that have been restored in an early 20th century style and look completely different from the rest of the castle. Some art is displayed here, and the rooms are also used for various events.


Beneath the castle is a cavern, consisting of small underground rooms, which feel eerie in general. We don't really know the purpose of the dungeon, but you are definitely reminded of all the supernatural things that seem to have happened in this place over the years ...

Things to see and do in the vicinity of Houska Castle

Want to see more in the neighbourhood? Then visit Kokořín Castle. We can also recommend hiking to the Devil Heads, as well as seeing the town of Melnik. In addition, it is nice to visit the Crystal Valley, which offers nature and breweries in addition to art glass.

All our top tips for the Czech Republic. Click on the image!

Had you heard of the Houska Castle?

Had you heard of Houska Castle in the Czech Republic before? Do you like castles and fortresses with a "spooky" history?

Facts about Houska Castle in the Czech Republic

  • Address: Houska 1, Blatce - Houska
  • Region: Bohemia (Bohemia)
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Location: About 30 miles north of Prague
  • Name: Hrad Houska in Czech
  • Style: Gothic
  • Year of construction: Second half of the 13th century
  • Developer: Probably Václav I (King 1230-1253); according to some sources possibly Ottokar II of Bohemia (1254-1278).
  • Read more: You can find more information about the guarantee at the website of the Czech Tourist Office.

Services and practical information

  • Price: 60 CZK (around 26 kr) per person (2022).
  • Parking: Paid parking is available just below the castle. Walk to the castle about 5-10 minutes on a slight uphill slope.
  • Language: The castle is visited on its own. You will receive written information in the language of your choice (English, German and other languages are available).
  • Food service: Drinks and light snacks can be purchased at the cash desk. Tables and benches are available outdoors.
  • Shop: You can also buy various souvenirs at the cash desk.

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