Hrad Houska

Useful Information

Location: Houska 1, 471 62 Doksy,
Kokořínsko Protected Landscape Area.
(50.49096, 14.62392)
Open: Easter to APR Sat, Sun, Hol 10-17.
MAY to JUN Tue-Sun, Hol 10-17.
JUL to AUG Tue-Sun, Hol 10-18.
SEP Tue-Sun, Hol 10-17.
OCT Sat, Sun, Hol 10-16.
Tour every hour on the full hour.
Fee: Adults CZK 150, Children (0-14) EUR 100, Students CZK 100, Seniors CZK 100, Families (2+2) CZK 440, Dog CZK 30.
Hell: Adults CZK 30.
Classification: TopicGateways to Hell
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=435 m asl.
Guided tours:  
Address: Hrad Houska, Houska 1, 471 62 Doksy.
Castellan of the castle, Ing. Miroslav Konopásek, Houska 1, 471 62 p. Okna, Tel: +420-728-351-101. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


9th century hill fort erected.
13th century castle built.
1590 renovated with renaissance modifications.
1823 castle renovated by the current owners, the Kounics.
1924 bought by Josef Šimonek, president of the Škoda car manufaturer and senator of the parliament.
1943 confiscated by the Nazis and used to store Jewish and Masonic books.
1999 opened to the public.


Hrad Houska (Houska Castle) is a haunted castle which is famous for being built on top of the entrance to hell. So the site has a spectacular underground part, which unfortunately is not accessible to the public. In contrary, it was carefully concealed by building the castle chapel on top in the hope to seal the passage with the sacred floor of a church.

This place is quite remote, almost 50 km north of Prague in the middle of nowhere, a rural landscape with forests and strange sandstone formations. The area has hundreds of hamlets, but no cities. The first settlement on this location was a hill fort, founded in 878 by Prince Slavibor of Pšovani, the father of Princess Ludmila, for his son Houska. This is obviously the origin of the name.

The current castle was built in the second half of the 13th century, the architecture is early Gothic, with Renaissance modifications. Strange is the fact that it was built many kilometers from a reliable water source, and according to old documents, it was of no strategic importance. There was no road or city to protect, no trade centers, and the castle actually had no fortifications outside, it is just a tower-like building. But many windows were actually fake, stone frames that looked pretty from the outside, but were actually just reliefs on the wall. The fact that it actually had no kitchen made it almost inhabitable, and last but not least, the castle was actually not inhabited most of the time. So why was this castle built? The construction of a castle is quite expensive, and so this makes little sense. The official theory is that it was built under the orders of Ottokar II. Přemys, King of Bohemia from 1253 to 1278. This castle and a second one nearby called Bezděz were intended as administrative buildings to manage his large royal estate.

Many do not believe this, they are convinced it was designed to stop the hordes of hell from entering our world. This explains why there are no other reasons for its existence. Some even say that the fortifications actually are not missing, they were built towards the inside, to keep the monsters inside. This also explains why there are fake windows, monsters do not need a great view.

One day a hole opened at this place, which was so deep, nobody was able to determine its depth. Prisoners sentenced to death were offered pardons if they dared to venture inside. The first man lowered into the hole began to scream within seconds of his descent. He was quickly pulled out, but his face had aged 30 years and his mind was already irreparably damaged. He screamed the hole was full of half-animal and half-human beasts, and he died two days later in a mental asylum. So people became fearful and constructed a chapel on top of the hole, which they enclosed by a castle. Until today, visitors hear screams and the scratching of claws coming from beneath the floors of the chapel. But after the castle was built, no more scary monsters were sighted.

There is no story of anyone else who ever saw a demon from hell, but there are rumours which are regularly updated. Other events over the years were repeated sightings of a strange hybrid creature between a human, a frog and a dog. Around the castle ghosts of a giant bulldog, a human, frogs, an old woman in dress and a headless black horse were seens. And when the castle was renovated, the skeletons of Nazi officers were found, who made dark experiments in the castle in the 1930s. Actually, the castle was confiscated and used to store Jewish and Masonic books, which were also confiscated after their owners were killed in concentration camps. After the war, in 1948 the castle became property of the people, as Czechoslovakia was a communist country of the Warsaw Pact. It was used as a depot for the National Library. In the 1980s, the communist leaders planned to convert the unused castle into a sanatorium for workers from Spolana and members of the allied troops. It seems this never happened, although the communist government destroyed several historic monuments in the area. Finally, after the end of the Cold War, and what they call the Velvet Revolution in Czechia, the castle was finally returned into the property of Josef Šimonek's heirs.

In the 1990s it was renovated and opened to the public. It soon became quite popular and the owners enjoy the popularity of one of the hauntend place of the Czech Republic. It is frequently listed on ghosthunter rankings, and it was filming location for fake-documentaries of haunted places and other films. The modern legends include the story that cars will not start if they are too close to the castle. And of course, during the renovation works, the bones of strange creatures were found in the vast underground passages. For unknown reasons, neither the passages nor the bones are on display today, nevertheless, the castle is quite interesting. It has numerous frescoes and murals, and it has the Peklem, a hand-carved linden "mechanical hell". This unique artwork was inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, specifically its first part, hell. The sculpture is 12 m long and 2 m high, and it shows eleven depictions of hellish punishments for earthly sins.

There is even a weirder story, which is attributed to Karel Hynek Mácha (*1810-✝1836), a famous Czech romantic poet. He spent a night at the castle, and wrote his experiences in a letter to his friend Eduard. This letter is published, a full transkript is linked below (in Czech). He tells about a Miss Dídó who showed him a cabinet with moving pictures, showing him a scene with the castle, with crowds of people heading towards the castle. They were dressed as clowns, blind, and driven here by monsters with glowing eyes. And there were sandstone dens with glowing eyes in the distance. When he asked Miss Dídó what year was being written, she answered that it was 2006. The castellan Konopásek of the castle explains it with a time travel, he explains the crowds with castle visitors, the clown costumes with people wearing jogging suits, the monsters with cars and buses at the car park, the blind eyes with sunglasses. Several years ago, this letter circulated in the Czech media. Many thought it described the city of Prague with trams and high-voltage masts.

The castle is quite interesting, however, the underground spaces are just legends, and there is no underground space accessible for visitors. If the legendary bottomless pit were accessible, we are convinced they would have renovated it and opened it for the visitors. We actually thought about listing the site at all, but the story is so weird, and we could not resist. At least it's a TopicGateway to Hell.