More than 100 spirits inhabit the historical parts of the Czech capital
Prague is filled with ghosts, at least according to popular legends. But just how many is an open question. Books of legends agree on several, and others just appear in a single source. Some legends seem to have split so that very similar ghosts live right next to each other.
We have mapped out the ghosts, demons, skeletons and popular legends and found that the ghosts flow through the city like a river, coming from around Prague Castle and going down through Malá Strana, going across Charles Bridge to Old Town Square and Celetná Street, and then down to Emausy and Vyšehrad.
THE INTERACTIVE VERSION OF THE MAP CAN BE SEEN HERE. It can be bookmarked on most smartphones and used on the go when exploring the city. But remember that many houses are private residences or businesses, so look from a respectable distance.
Taken altogether, various books of legends have about 135 apparitions, and some people involved with old buildings insist there are even more. One ambassador claims the historical building that serves as the embassy has a ghost in its basement that staff swear to have seen for at least the last 40 years. The ambassador, though, would rather stay off the record so visiting dignitaries won’t be afraid to stop by.
Some theater workers also claim their venues are haunted but don’t want to scare the audience. But keep one eye on the empty box seats, if you dare.
Legends tell of sad ghosts bent on revenge, including unfaithful wives and husbands. There are stranded travelers, headless horseman and headless horses. Dogs, cats, goats, fowl and even a demonic rabbit make their appearances. Some are evil and will drag you to hell at the first chance. Others are hoping for a kind word or gesture that will set them free.
Some are caught up an endless task, seemingly unaware of the passage of time and unconcerned with modern life and people. Others look for someone to seduce into a dance so they can be spun to death.
Some popular legends are a bit supernatural, but not exactly ghosts. These include the Golem, a clay figure that comes to life when a sacred text is put in its mouth. There are hidden armies waiting to be led by magic swords, and treasures that can just be found on certain days when mystic flames appear.
One of the most popular ghosts is the Iron Knight, who actually has a statue on the side of City Hall. The knight killed his fiancée in jealousy but based on lies. He can be freed once a century by the kiss of a maiden. Jealousy again figured into the story of the Turk of Ungelt. He became engaged in Prague and then went home to Turkey to sort out his affairs. When he returned years later he found his fiancée had wed another. He killed her and his ghost carries her head around. He hides in the decorations of the nearby buildings when he is seen.
Another popular one is the Proud Countess, who made shoes out of bread when there was a famine. Demons dragged her to hell and ever since, she haunts the Černín Palace, which is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A headless Templar Knight who rides down Liliová Street is another ghost most authors agree on. He has been upset though that the church he haunts has been deconsecrated. For a long time, it served as a printer’s warehouse, and the ghost gave up haunting due to a lack of respect. But now the place is a center for an important foundation, so maybe he will return.
Further ghosts can be found by exploring the map, which is a work in progress. More ghosts and more links to ghost stories will be added as time goes by.