Ghost Stories and Legends from Prague

There are many haunted places in Prague known to house more than a few ghosts. But that doesn’t mean those places have the best ghost stories! So I’ve pulled together all my favourite ghost stories and legends from Prague.

To get the best ghost story experience, I highly recommend joining a Prague ghost tour. There is an overwhelming number of ghost tours in Prague, so here a few of the top-rated ones:

Prague: Ghosts and Legends 1.5-Hour Walking Tour

Prague: Ghost, Legends & Dungeon 1-Hour Walking Tour

Prague Ghost Tour: Dark Shadows of the Old Town

However, if you aren’t interested in a ghost tour, or you’re simply not able to visit Prague right now – but are dying (no pun intended) to hear about the city’s best ghost stories, then read on!

Pragues Charles Bridge at Night, blue light and silhouettes of statues. Ghost Stories and Legends from Prague

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The Best Legends & Ghost Stories From Prague

Bloody Knee: The Friendly Vampire

Ghost Stories and Legends from Prague. Old cemetery path with mossy gravestones on both sides.
Watch your step, you never know where Bloody Knee is hiding

Bloody Knee is my all-time favourite Prague legend – and you’re actually unlikely to hear about him on a ghost tour because he lives in Olšany Cemetery, which is outside of the main touristy areas.

So who is Bloody Knee? A shy vampire who lives in Olšany cemetery. He hides behind trees and gravestones waiting for visitors to trip and scrape their knees (or presumably any part of their body) so he can run up and attack (read: lick them) while they’re incapacitated.

In my mind, he’s quite demure and diminutive, but he might be a terrifying monster, so come prepared if you visit late at night!

PS: We talk more about Bloody Knee and his history in the very first episode of our podcast Dark Travels!

The Golem: Prague’s Protector

statue of a tiny monster man
Prague’s Protector – The Golem

The Golem is by far the most popular Prague legend and one you will inevitably hear more about on a ghost tour of Prague’s Old Town. In the 1600s, the anti-Jewish sentiment was rife in Prague, and it was cultivated by Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor.

Rudolf II was a fanatical Christian and wanted to unite the nation under the church. To do that, he had to get rid of the Jews, and so he encouraged a reign of terror against them.

To protect the Jews of Prague, a local rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel (or Rabbi Loew), decided to do something drastic, something that is forbidden in the Kabbalah; he created life.

To create the Golem, Rabbi Loew had to mould him out of clay and breathed life into him using the true name of God-knowledge passed down to only a handful of people every generation.

Using a shem (religious parchment) to control the Golem, Rabbi Loew set him loose to terrorize the non-Jewish residents of Prague.

It didn’t take long for them to beg Rabbi Loew to make the Golem stop. In return, he made them promise to leave Prague’s Jews alone, to which they readily agreed.

According to legend, Rabbi Loew was unable to completely destroy the Golem, and he still lives in the attic of the New-Old Synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter.

The Lost Native American

One of the most upsetting ghost stories of Prague concerns a Native American man who died in Prague, yearning for his homeland.

At the turn of the 20th century, Wild West shows were very popular in Prague. More often than not, the shows brought along Native Americans for “authenticity” to play the villains.

One of these Native Americans, believed to be a member of either the Apache or Comanche tribe, became ill while in Prague. He developed a lung inflammation, possibly as a complication of Tuberculosis, and died several days later.

In his final days, the man longed to return home one last time, and for his spirit to be laid to rest in his native land. Sadly this wasn’t to be and he died on Štvanice Island in Prague.

Because he wasn’t Christian, no local cemetery would allow him to be buried. Instead, his friends from the Wild West show buried his body along the river Vltava embankment in an area called Na Františku.

If you hear about the Native American on a Prague ghost tour, you will learn that his spirit never returned home, and he is stuck in Prague. He can often be seen along the river in good weather, watching the sunset and dreaming of home.

Over the years, his grave was lost to time and no trace remains. However, if you find even a part of the Native American by chance – a bone, his pipe on sale in a souvenir shop – and bring it to the Southwestern USA, he may finally be able to rest.

The Bridge that Satan Built

Charles Bridge in Prague at night

Charles Bridge will be one of your first stops on a Prague ghost tour. Because Charles Bridge has its share of ghost stories.

Although the story of St John of Nepomuk being drowned is by far the most famous, the bridge also has a connection to Satan himself.

Legend says Charles Bridge first collapsed on the site where Nepomuk was martyred after refusing to disclose to King Wenceslas IV what his wife said in confession.

Charles Bridge has also collapsed several times throughout history due to flooding. For many years, any attempt to rebuild the bridge was unsuccessful and it was considered cursed.

At some point, after many failed attempts to rebuild Charles Bridge, a young stonemason stepped forward eager to prove himself. Let’s call him Jan.

No matter what Jan did, the bridge would re-collapse. Distraught, Jan realized he was in over his head and wondered how to break the curse.

As he pondered this Jan was approached by the devil, who told him he would rebuild the bridge in exchange for the first soul to cross the bridge. Jan readily agreed.

Jan didn’t want some poor soul to suffer for his deal – and he certainly didn’t want to give up his own soul. Instead, he planned to trick the devil by having a chicken or a cat walk across the bridge first.

But the devil was no fool and upon completion, he disguised himself as an old stonemason and told Jan’s very pregnant wife that there had been an accident and Jan was injured. The wife rushed to the bridge and ran across it, looking for Jan – who was at the market buying a chicken.

Jan’s wife died soon after in childbirth, along with their unborn, unbaptized baby. In devastation, Jan threw himself into the river.

The Countess of Černín Palace

If you pay attention at night near the Černín Palace, as the bell tolls midnight, you may be able to hear screams. These belong to the ghost of the Countess of Černín Palace – a lady so cruel that even devils could not stand her.

In times of hardship, she revelled in her own extravagance. When milk was so scarce it was a luxury, she would bathe in it. During a time of famine, she had servants make her shoes of bread. This was what drove the devils to action.

As the Countess screamed in pain, nine devils tore her to pieces and took those pieces down to hell. Now you can still hear those screams at the witching hour, and her ghost haunts Černín Palace wearing her shoes of bread, though now they are permanently on fire.

The Iron Knight

Statue of the Iron Knight in Prague. Black statue that is tied to Ghost Stories and Legends from Prague.
The Iron Knight in Prague – credit:

Ghost stories are so ubiquitous in Prague that one of them is immortalized as a statue in the Old Town!

The Iron Knight (sometimes referred to as the Dark Knight, but not to be mistaken for Batman) is one of Prague’s most popular ghosts. In life, his name was Jáchym Berka, and he was a knight who fell in love.

While Jáchym was away, fighting a war, rumours of his betrothed’s infidelity reached him on the battlefield. Jáchym flew into a rage, and when he returned home he murdered her.

With her dying breath, the young woman cursed Jáchym to spend his life seeking redemption. Upon being cursed, he turned into stone.

As she wished, he spends his life as a stone statue, and ever 100 years he comes to life, hauntings the streets of Prague and begging for redemption. Supposedly his curse will only be broken with the kiss of a virtuous maiden.

The Gateway to Hell

On a hill next to Houska Castle lies a seemingly ordinary chapel. However, this is no ordinary holy building, for beneath its foundations lies one of the most dangerous entryways known to mankind – a portal to Hell itself.

From beneath the seemingly innocent-looking chapel, unnatural smoke can be seen rising up. Disturbing noises and foul smells also pollute the atmosphere.

Locals say they have seen chimeras – horrific beasts with the form of many animals – climb out of the pit and drag anyone they can back into its depths.

There have also been sightings of nightmarish winged beasts that rise up through the smoke and vapour to terrify cattle and spoil the local crops.

It has also been noted that the nearby Houska Castle doesn’t seem to have outward-facing defences as if the architects knew that they were more likely to suffer an attack from the inside … from beneath.

Ghosts of St Peter’s Church at Na Poříčí

There are many ghost stories about the spirits who haunt the Church of St Peter at Na Poříčí.

One of the unfortunate souls who linger on the grounds is that of a former gravedigger. In life, he had had a taste for gambling, regularly meeting with friends to play cards for money.

However, the plague came to Prague, and one by one his friends died and were buried in the graveyard.

Eventually, the gravedigger was alone, and he wished that he could give his soul to have his friends back for just one last game of cards. As it happened, a demon was listening, and he jumped on the opportunity and granted his wish.

The gravedigger was pleased to see his friends again, and they played cards long into the night. But at dawn, his friends’ bodies began to go limp and lifeless, and the demon sprang upon the gravedigger and dragged his body down to hell.

Since that day, the gravedigger can be seen forever wandering the graveyard he used to inhabit, covered in flecks of limestone from digging up and burying bodies in his lifetime.

The Unfortunate Duo of Celetná Street

There are tales of star-crossed lovers, there are tales of unrequited devotion, and then there is the ghost story of the unfortunate duo of Celetná Street.

The story goes that there was once a woman who would sell her body to any man who would pay. She would walk up and down Celetná Street in a long coat, and when men walked by, she would open it to reveal that she was naked beneath it, in order to arouse their ardour.

One night, during a bitterly cold winter, she saw a monk approaching. She thought to herself that it would be a good joke to try and lure him, seeing as he was a holy man and therefore forbidden from pursuing the pleasures of the flesh.

When he was near, she opened her coat to reveal herself to him, but he was so surprised and shocked that he attacked her with his crucifix so suddenly that he accidentally killed her.

When he realized what he had done, the monk had a heart attack and died right then and there.

To this day, the unfortunate couple can still be seen at the scene of the crime on the corner of Celetná Street, their spirits trapped forever.

Duchess Drahomíra of Stodor, one of the last Pagans

The story of Duchess Drahomíra of Stodor is one of the more notorious of the ghost stories and legends from Prague.

In the formerly Pagan Bohemia, when many had converted to Christianity, the Duchess also professed her new devotion to the faith, but in secret, she continued in her Pagan ways.

Deep within her castle, she would perform secret rituals and make sacrifices to the Slavic gods.

It was rumoured that she made a pact with the Devil to try and stop the spread of Christianity in the region. In one of her most evil acts, she ordered two of her henchmen to travel to her devoutly religious mother-in-law and strangle her to death.

Eventually, she became ostracised from the kingdom of Bohemia and fled the city of Prague in a carriage. While on their journey, she and the carriage master heard church bells, and he left the carriage to pray.

Now that she was unprotected and vulnerable, the Devil took his chance to claim her soul. He pulled her into a chasm near to the church plaza, down into the deep pits of hell.

To this day, a fiery coach can sometimes be seen after midnight near the scene of her damnation.

Written by Jeremy Paterson from Cultura Obscura

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