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Witch Trials, Ghosts and Lovelorn Cooks: Burghausen Castle

Updated: May 7, 2021

Despite the wind, cold, and sleet, we braved the weather and decide to explore another castle. Here is how we did NOT experience Burghausen:

©Bwag/CC BY-SA

This is how we did experience it: dark, gloomy, windy, and verrrry cold:

Burghausen: The World's Longest Castle

This is not an exaggeration. The castle complex stretches on top of a mountain ridge for over a kilometre and is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest castle in the world. Here's a plan of the entire length of the complex.

Burghausen was the residence of the Dukes of Bavaria and dates back to 1025.

Located right at the German-Austrian border, it’s framed by the emerald green Wöhrsee on one side, and the other by the river Salzach coming from Salzburg.

Complete with moats, a witch’s tower, private torture museum, stables, brewery, bakery, arsenal building, treasury, grain tower, and many a ghostly legend, this one surely makes a castle lover’s heart beat faster!

It has 6 courtyards. And at least 2 draw bridges with moats.

There are also quite a few gruesome stories. The legend of the cook, for example. The duchess was lonely because the duke was often away. So, she had a love affair with the cook (his food must have been good), and the duke caught them in flagrante delicto. As a punishment, the duke had him walled up - alive - into a recess in the wall. To this day, they say, the cook's ghost still walks. His name is Dietrich and he wears a cook's hat. One can't help but wonder what happened to the duchess.

Burghausen was one of Bavaria’s main seats of judicial authority. They seem to have been notorious for their cruelty especially in the early modern age (hint: torture museum). Witches were tried and thrown into the witch’s tower (top right) until their execution. Here's a horrifying bit of information: According to the book Augsburger Kinderhexenprozesse 1625-1730 by Kurt Rau, the average age for girls to be dragged to witch trials in Southern Germany was 13! Thirteen! They executed children! Not only girls but also boys. The last witch was thrown into that tower in 1751.

Glad not to be living in those times!

The weather turned nasty and we were the only visitors up there. Which was fine with me! I climbed into one of the guard towers and heard nothing but the wind howl eerily about the walls, carrying up the sound of church bells that chimed sonorously in the city beneath. For a moment I got goosebumps as I got catapulted several hundred years back. This is the same sound that the guards must have heard so long ago.

We took the footpath down the city and didn’t meet a soul. Maybe we time-traveled after all.


© Sofi Laporte.

With the exception of the first picture as indicated, all images are my own.


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