Situated atop Mount Hohenzollern, a prominent peak in the Swabian Jura mountain range, near the towns of Hechingen and Bisingen, the Hohenzollern Castle is approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg.
But beyond its architectural grandeur and historical significance, the castle is known for a haunting tale that has intrigued both locals and tourists for centuries.
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The Origin of the Legend
I have to start by saying that here are two versions of the legend and the identity of the alleged ghost.
The first legend is about the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle. This version of the ghost is described as a figure draped in a long white veil, holding a large bunch of keys, and possessing knowledge of the hidden Nibelungen treasure.
Intriguingly, she would occasionally reveal hints of her secret, with German legends recounting instances of her knocking on the mountain’s side, opening a mysterious door that would illuminate the surroundings with flashes of gold and jewels.
The second legend is about the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle. In this version, the ghost is identified as Countess Kunigunde of Orlamunde, who murdered her two children to prevent them from inheriting her wealth.
While the two legends have different details, they both refer to a ghostly figure known as the White Lady, who is associated with the Hohenzollern family and is seen in their residences, including the Hohenzollern Castle and the Berliner Schloss.
However, given the similarities between the two legends, they may be different interpretations or variations of the same ghost story.
The Berliner Schloss: A Historical Overview
The Berliner Schloss, or Berlin City Palace, is a landmark of immense historical significance. Located in the heart of Berlin, the palace was the residence of the Hohenzollern family for centuries.
The Hohenzollerns were one of the most influential dynasties in Europe, ruling Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. The Berliner Schloss, therefore, was not just a royal residence, but a symbol of their power and prestige.
The palace has witnessed the ebb and flow of history, surviving wars, revolutions, and the passage of time. However, the original building was severely damaged during World War II and was later demolished by the East German government.
The palace that stands today is a reconstruction, completed in 2020, that seeks to recapture the grandeur of the original building.
The connection between the Hohenzollern family and the Berliner Schloss is not just historical but also spectral.
The palace is said to be haunted by the White Lady, the ghost of Countess Kunigunde, adding a layer of mystery and intrigue to this historic landmark.
The Tragic Tale of Countess Kunlzunde
One prevalent version of the legend identifies the White Lady as the wraith of Countess Kunlzunde of Orlamunde, a young widow hopelessly in love with Albrecht of Zollern and Nuremberg.
However, Albrecht rejected her advances, stating that there were “four eyes in the way.”
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Misinterpreting his words as a reference to her two sons from a previous marriage, the countess, driven by despair and consumed by her desire to marry Albrecht, committed a horrendous crime.
She tragically ended her sons’ lives by stabbing them in the head with a spindle. Devastated by her actions, the countess met a remorseful end, and her spirit forever haunted the castle of Albrecht.
The story of Countess Kunigunde of Orlamunde
Another version of the same legend talks about Countess Kunigunde of Orlamunde, a noblewoman from the early 14th century.
Born into the House of Andechs, Kunigunde was married off to Albert II, Count of Nuremberg, at a young age. However, her life was far from the fairytale she might have hoped for.
After the death of her husband, Kunigunde was left with two young children and a vast fortune. Her desire to secure her wealth and power led her down a dark path.
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In a chilling turn of events, she is said to have murdered her two children to prevent them from inheriting her wealth.
Overcome with guilt and despair, Kunigunde entered the monastery of Plassenburg as a penitent, where she eventually died.
It is believed that her restless spirit, clad in a white shroud, began to haunt the halls of the Hohenzollern residences, forever known as the White Lady.
The White Lady’s Ominous Prophecies
Regardless of which version of the legend you follow, both have one thing in common: the ghosts’ inextricably link with the Hohenzollern family, one of the most powerful dynasties in German history.
Allegedly, the mysterious apparition has been sighted in various Hohenzollern residences, including the Berliner Schloss, the family’s ancestral seat.
And the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle is not a benign spirit; her appearances are said to foretell death, particularly those in the Hohenzollern lineage.
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Over the centuries, the Hohenzollern dynasty members eagerly awaited the ghost’s apparitions, as they believed her presence foretold significant events.
In 1486, she appeared to a hero of the Franconian branch of the Hohenzollern family at Plassenburg.
One of the most famous sightings occurred in the early 17th century when several courtiers saw the White Lady before the death of the Elector Johann George.
In 1877, Margrave Philip Erdmann of Bayreuth reported an encounter with the White Lady. Even the illustrious palace in Berlin could not escape her uncanny visits, as she allegedly predicted the demise of several occupants.
Notably, the death of Frederick I was linked to an incident where a white-robed figure approached him in his chamber.
While it turned out to be his wife, Sophia Charlotte, the shock endured by Frederick’s fragile health led to his subsequent demise.
The most recent sighting was in the early 20th century, just before the death of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor. A watchman reported seeing a woman in white, her face hidden by a veil, walking silently through the palace halls. He tried to approach her, but she vanished into thin air.
These encounters with the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle have cemented her place in German folklore and history annals.
The White Lady in German Folklore and Mythology
The legend of the White Lady transcends the boundaries of the Berliner Schloss and the Hohenzollern family.
She has become a significant figure in German folklore and mythology, her story echoing in the tales of other spectral women in white found in various cultures.
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The White Lady’s story has been told and retold in German literature and art, her tragic tale and spectral appearances serving as a source of inspiration.
Her legend has been used to explore themes of guilt, penance, and the supernatural, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.
The White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle Today
Today, the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle continues to captivate the public’s imagination.
While some view her as a mere legend, others believe in her spectral existence. Her story is often shared during tours of the Berliner Schloss and Hohenzollern Castle, adding a touch of the supernatural to the historical narrative of the palace.
The ghost has also become a tourist attraction, drawing visitors intrigued by the blend of history and mystery that her story represents.
Whether one believes in ghosts or not, the tale of the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, a tragic story interwoven with the rich tapestry of German history.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the story behind the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle?
The White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle is believed to be a ghostly figure draped in a long white veil, holding a large bunch of keys, and possessing knowledge of the hidden Nibelungen treasure. Her apparitions are associated with the Hohenzollern family and are said to foretell significant events, particularly deaths in the family.
Who has claimed to have seen the White Lady at the Hohenzollern Castle?
Numerous people have claimed to have seen the White Lady at the Hohenzollern Castle, including members of the Hohenzollern family, courtiers, and staff working there. Her sightings have been recorded throughout history.
Is the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle a ghost?
According to legend and folklore, the White Lady is indeed considered a ghost. She is a spectral figure associated with the Hohenzollern family and is seen in their residences, including the Hohenzollern Castle.
Are there any historical records or documents related to the White Lady of the Hohenzollern Castle?
Yes, some historical records and documents mention the White Lady, particularly in the annals of the Hohenzollern family. Her sightings and the events they are believed to foretell have been recorded throughout history.
Can visitors experience any paranormal activity at the Hohenzollern Castle?
While there are no guarantees, the Hohenzollern Castle, with its rich history and the legend of the White Lady, certainly holds the potential for paranormal activity. Visitors interested in the supernatural often visit the castle in hopes of experiencing something out of the ordinary.