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Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 Ghost Tour To Prague Expands To Add Frankenstein Castle

2015 GHOSTour to Prague Expands to Add FRANKENSTEIN CASTLE

   NEWS UPDATE! Coming May 3-10, 2015 - GHOSTour to Prague the premiere Haunted Vacation for travelers of all ages, has officially announced the addition of FRANKENSTEIN CASTLE and other locales in Germany to its itinerary.

    GHOSTour takes travelers to supernatural cities with histories rich in magic, murder and the mysterious. Prague is considered the most haunted city in central Europe, where ghost-hunters, paranormal investigators and monster mavens continue to visit and explore. For many years Prague has been a magnet for students of the occult and in the 16th & 17th centuries it was a meeting point for alchemists and astrologers. The architecture of Prague is covered in esoteric symbols which can reveal many secrets to those who know how to read them. With an array of twisting cobblestones and large lamps, the Czech streets are full of magical stories about legends, myths and ghosts.



Frankenstein Castle is a hilltop castle in the Odenwald overlooking the 
city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is alleged that this castle may have been
 an inspiration for Mary Shelley when she wrote her 1818 Gothic novel Frankenstein.
 More details here

    Travelers will experience everything Prague has to offer including the ancient Castles, the haunted neighborhoods and dark alleyways of the Old Town, The Underground City, The Astronomical Clock, Old Royal Castle aka Prague Castle, The Dancing HouseStrahov Monastery, The Alchemy Museum, The Old Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge and the Golem-Monster just to name a few.


  The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj (Czech: Pražský orloj), is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; "The Walk of the Apostles," a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy and a skeleton, mounted on the clock, was supposed nod his head in confirmation. Based on the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born in the New Year´s night.



    PRAGUE CASTLE (Czech: Pražský hrad) is the official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. Located in the Hradčany district of Prague and dating back to the ninth century, the castle has been a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room within the castle. The Guinness Book of Records lists Prague Castle as the largest ancient castle in the world. It occupies an area of almost 70,000 m2, at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide. The history of the castle stretches back to the year 870 with the construction of its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary. The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded under the reign of Vratislav and his son St. Wenceslas in the first half of the 10th century.



     THE CHARLES BRIDGE (Czech: Karlův)  is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town and adjacent areas. 
     This "solid-land" connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. The bridge is 621 m long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil Gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.



   Charles Bridge, originally the Old Town's execution area, was the home of a beheading of 10 local lords, whose heads were stuck on poles for years until their flesh completely rotted away and their skulls picked clean by birds. Legend has it that the 10 lords can be heard at night bellowing sad songs in the dark. A water goblin is said to dwell beneath the Charles Bridge, devouring the souls of those who drown or fall from the bridge.

    The Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, is located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Its torrid history dates from the 13th century, when Jewish people were ordered to vacate their disparate homes and settle in this one area. Over the centuries, with Jews banned from living anywhere else in Prague, and with new arrivals expelled from Moravia, Germany, Austria and Spain joining them, more and more people were crowded in.

   To add to this, inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter, or the Prague Jewish Ghetto as it also became known, were forced to endure structural changes. The latest took place between 1893-1913, when most houses were flattened and the layout of many of the streets remodeled. Fortunately, most of the significant historical buildings were saved from destruction, and today they remain a testimony to the history of the Jews in Prague. They form the best preserved complex of historical Jewish monuments in the whole of Europe.

     There are six synagogues, including the famous Spanish Synagogue and Old-New Synagogue, plus the Jewish Ceremonial Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery, the most remarkable of its kind in Europe. The monuments even survived the Nazi occupation in the 20th century. Adolf Hitler himself decided to preserve the Jewish Quarter as a “Museum of an Extinct Race.” Indeed the Nazis gathered Jewish artifacts from other occupied countries, transporting them to Prague to form part of the museum. Today, these historical sights, all except the Old-New Synagogue, form what is called the Jewish Museum in Prague. Visitors can gain entry to the museum monuments by purchasing a ticket or by visiting on a guided tour. The Old-New Synagogue requires a separate ticket. It is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe, built in early Gothic style in the 13th century, and is the main house of prayer for the Jewish community in the present day.

    Finally, the Jewish Quarter is the birthplace of the author Franz Kafka, who is commemorated with a statue on Dusni Street.  It is difficult to overstate how much a guide can bring to your understanding of the Jewish Quarter. With so many stories attached to it, its history is really quite unique. During the Nazi occupation, some residents of the Jewish Quarter along with Jews from elsewhere in the Czech Republic, were transported to concentration camps. One of these is located to the north of Prague: Terezin Memorial Tour.


  THE JEWISH TOWN – Josefov (Židovské město) -  The Jewish quarter is a small area known as Josefov (named after the emperor Josef II, whose reforms helped to ease living conditions for the Jewish, the Jewish Quarter contains the remains of Prague's former Jewish ghetto.) between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Here are two figures synonymous with this part of the city, Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924) and the mystical humunculus Golem created by Jehuda ben Bezalel, also known as Rabi Löw. Most of it can be walked around in a single day, but any detailed explorations needs time. The Jewish cemetery, Old-new Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue and the Pinkas Synagogue are definitely worthwhile sights.


   MAISEL SYNAGOGUE (Maiselova Synagoga)- Originally a Renaissance temple, built in 1592 by Josef Wahl for rich Mayor Mordechai Maisel. Built on 20 pillars, it was very large and imposing Renaissance building but unfortunately burned down in 1689. Later synagogue was rebuilt as a smaller building in Baroque style. Today synagogue still preserves some of the 16th-century stone carving. A new neo-Gothic synagogue has been built in its place between the years 1893-1905, together with the demolition of the former Jewish ghetto and reconstruction of the main buildings.  Since the 1960s building houses an exhibition of religious objects including five books of Moses handwritten on rolls of parchment by scribes. There is also fascinating collection of Jewish silver, candlesticks, ceramics, textiles and other prints. Very interesting is an enormous glass beaker, made between 1783 and 1784 for the Prague Burial Society and painted with a procession of men and women dressed in funereal black. Ironically, most items in the synagogue Nazis looted from other synagogues across Bohemia as Third Reich planned to build a museum in Prague, dedicated to the Jews as an “extinct race.”


       MUSEUM OF ALCHEMY - Speculum Alchemiae - Revisit the late medieval period and early modern times, when science and mysticism were closely linked, and researchers were looking for a “higher purpose” and “harmony of the spheres,” which could help them discover the secrets of nature. Taste with us the secret of the "Eternal Youth Elixer" and bring a small piece of its magical energy into your life. The newly opened alchemical laboratories were discovered during the reconstruction of one of the oldest historical buildings in Prague on the street Haštalská number 1.
    This building is listed by UNESCO and by miracle this one has been preserved after the demolition of the Jewish quarter at the end of 19th century. Visitors have the first opportunity to see places, where alchemists produced elixir of eternal youth, Philosopher's Stone and non-precious metals changed into gold. Rudolf II’s alchemical laboratory from the 16th century, hidden from unwanted glances of passers-by, will fascinate you with magical atmosphere, introduce you the medieval activities of alchemists, connected to many modern scientific fields.




  
   The Alchemy Museum replicates a 16th century alchemy study above ground with several labs below. These underground sections were unearthed over the last century and were painstakingly uncovered and preserved, revealing that the chambers were indeed used for the alchemical arts and the occult.


  The DANCING HOUSE (Czech: Tančící dům), or Fred and Ginger, is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building on the Rašínovo nábřeží (Rašín Embankment) in Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront plot. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996. The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous, and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles. The then Czech president, Václav Havel, who lived for decades next to the site, had avidly supported this project, hoping that the building would become a center of cultural activity. Gehry originally named the house Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the house resembles a pair of dancers) but this nickname is now rarely used; moreover, Gehry himself was later "afraid to import American Hollywood kitsch to Prague,"  and thus discarded his own idea. The “Dancing House” is set on a property of great historical significance. Its site was the location of a house destroyed by the U.S. bombing of Prague in 1945. The plot and structure lay decrepit until 1960 when the area was cleared. 


   PALACE OF THE ARCHBISHOP - In 1420 a mob of angry Hussites burned down the original palace of the Archbishop, leaving ruins of what was. Ferdinand I of the Habsburg dynasty decided to build a new structure to take place of the original palace and commissioned the new Archbishop Palace, first built in the style of the Renaissance, then Baroque, then in the 18th century the palace was rebuilt in the Rococo style. Standing guard over the entrance to Prague Castle and serving as the seat of the Archbishop since 1562, the small but imposing palace is elegant and beautiful with four wings and courtyards. The interior is Rococo showcasing colorful tapestries from France and portraits of past Archbishops. The famous Ignac Frantisek Platzer designed the lovely facade of the palace. A creepy legend involving murder and torture surrounds the chapel in the palace; the artist who painted the suffering Christ for the chapel altar sacrificed a beggar in order to capture a realistic look of pain.

The Theological Library Hall 
Stucco decoration and paintings from 1720s

   STRAHOV MONASTERY  (Czech: Strahovský klášter) is a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1143 by Bishop Jindřich Zdík, Bishop John of Prague, and Duke Vladislav II. It is located in Strahov, Prague, Czech Republic. After his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1138 the bishop of Olomouc Jindřich Zdík took hold of the idea of founding a monastery of regular canons in Prague, having the support of the bishops of Prague and the Duke of Bohemia Soběslav I and after his death, Vladislav II. After his first unsuccessful attempt to found a Czech variant of the canons' order at the place called Strahov in 1140, an invitation was issued to the Premonstratensians whose first representatives arrived from Steinfeld in the Rhine valley (Germany). Thus a monastery originated which has inscribed itself in the Czech political, cultural and religious history for all time. The religious began to build their monastery first of wood, as well as a Romanesque basilica as the center of all spiritual events in Strahov. The building was gradually completed and the construction of the monastery stone buildings continued in order to replace the provisional wooden living quarters with permanent stone. In 1258 the monastery was heavily damaged by fire and later renewed.


The Philosophical Hall (Library Panorama) built for the books that came from the southern Moravian Louka Convent (abolished in 1784)

   STRAHOV MONASTERY  (Czech: Strahovský klášter) is a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1143 by Bishop Jindřich Zdík, Bishop John of Prague, and Duke Vladislav II. It is located in Strahov, Prague, Czech Republic. After his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1138 the bishop of Olomouc Jindřich Zdík took hold of the idea of founding a monastery of regular canons in Prague, having the support of the bishops of Prague and the Duke of Bohemia Soběslav I and after his death, Vladislav II. After his first unsuccessful attempt to found a Czech variant of the canons' order at the place called Strahov in 1140, an invitation was issued to the Premonstratensians whose first representatives arrived from Steinfeld in the Rhine valley (Germany). Thus a monastery originated which has inscribed itself in the Czech political, cultural and religious history for all time. The religious began to build their monastery first of wood, as well as a Romanesque basilica as the center of all spiritual events in Strahov. The building was gradually completed and the construction of the monastery stone buildings continued in order to replace the provisional wooden living quarters with permanent stone. In 1258 the monastery was heavily damaged by fire and later renewed.


    In additional to Prague, GHOSTour 2015 will also be venturing into the darkest regions of Germany, and a very special attraction on the new itinerary will be Frankenstein Castle, one of many historic castles along the Hessian Bergstrasse. Burg Frankenstein, like a cross between Poenari Castle & Bran Castle in Transylvania, in itself is worth a trip to Eastern Europe.


    POIENARI CASTLE - A stunning shot showing the ruins of Prince Vlad The Impaler's Castle. Vlad III Dracula was born 1431 and died in 1467. These modern ruins of Poienari Castle sit high on a mountain peak and have a gorgeous view. Poienari is in Wallachia, where Vlad Ţepeş' princedom lay. The nearest large town to Poienari is Curtea de Arges. You have to walk over 1,400 steps to get to the top!


    BRAN CASTLE (Romanian: Castelul Bran; German: Törzburg; Hungarian: Törcsvár; Dutch: Kasteel Bran; French: Château Bran), situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is marketed for resale in 2014 as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. 
   As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, the location Bram Stoker actually had in mind for Castle Dracula while writing his novel was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 2,033 m high, located in the Transylvanian Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia. The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. Tourists can see the interior individually or by a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country. As of 2014, the castle is reportedly for sale.



    BRAN CASTLE is perched on a dramatic hilltop near Brasov in central Romania. Constructed in the early 14th century, it is now open to the public, who are able to explore the elaborate rooms and dark passageways. This hand carved Gothic four-poster bed with end table, bureau & storage cabinet is part of the exquisite furniture and art on display in Bran Castle originally collected by Queen Marie. Tourists can see the interior individually or by a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country. 


   MEDIEVAL CRIME MUSEUM - Housed in the former headquarters of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, the Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum) provides a fascinating introduction to the history of law, including how society deals with criminal behaviour and those on the margins of society. The exhibition includes a display of instruments of torture, punishment and execution alongside law books, seals and numerous engravings.

   But Frankenstein Castle is just one of the amazing places visited in Germany. The tour also visits the mystical walled city of Rothenburg, a preserved medieval town not unlike Vlad's birthplace, Sighisoara. It is home to the Medieval Crime Museum, filled with diabolical instruments of pain, punishment & torture, and also the Doll and Toy Museum, with two floors of historic playthings (and if you saw the film "Annabelle" you can guess how creepy this place could be).


     DOLL AND TOY MUSEUM - Address: Schulhof 4, Vienna, Austria - Phone: +43 1 535 6860  Set near the Uhrenmuseum der Stadt Wien in Vienna, Austria - the collection of the Doll and Toy Museum ranks among one of the world's most remarkable assemblages of its kind. Spanning from the 1740s to the 1930s, this site comprises a vast array of various dolls. Most of the items on display were crafted in Germany, which has a strong doll-making heritage. For doll lovers it is a must. The Doll and Toy Museum was opened to public in 1989, but was originally a private collection that took over 20 years to accumulate. There are bears and unique doll houses as well as a great number of mechanical toys on display. If you are a doll collector, next to the museum there is a shop where you can purchase rare dolls or sell one of your own. 




    En route between Germany to Prague, travelers will also get to see possibly the scariest place on Earth... Houska Castle. Where as castles have always been built in strategic places, this one was built in the middle of nowhere. Hidden in the forests in Northern Czech, this fortress was not built to repel attacks or keep invaders out; it was built to keep something in! It was erected to close the gateway to hell. It was built upon a fabled bottomless pit to lock out (or in) winged creatures and demonic beasts from entering our world. Before sealing off Hell's realm, Bohemian rulers granted prisoners pardons if they agreed to be lowered by rope into the hole. The first few prisoners let out deathly howls. 


    HOUSKA CASTLE - An early Gothic castle, 47 km north of Prague, in the Czech Republic. It is one of the best preserved castles of the period. Notable features include a predominantly Gothic chapel, green chamber with late-Gothic paintings, and knight's drawing room. It was built in the first half of the 13th century probably on the orders of Bohemian ruler Ottokar II of Bohemia during his reign (1253–1278) to serve as an administration center from which the extensive royal estates could be managed.
     Later it passed to the hands of the aristocracy, frequently passing from the ownership of one to another. In 1584–1590 it underwent Renaissance-style modifications, losing none of its fortress features as it looks down from a steep rocky cliff. In the 18th century it ceased to serve as a noble residence and fell into a state of disrepair before being renovated in 1823. In 1897 it was purchased by Princess Hohenlohe and in 1924, the times of the First Republic, bought by the President of Škoda, Josef Šimonek. Address: Houska 1, Houska, 472 01, Czech Republic.

    One was pulled up and he appeared to have aged 30 years instantly. He died a few days later. The Nazis took over this same Castle to conduct experiments and dabble in the occult. Years later, German Gestapo officers' remains were found after they were assassinated execution-style. But by whom? The recurring ghosts at Houska are plentiful, including a headless black horse, giant human/frog/bulldog and a woman in an old dress who is frequently seen peaking out of top floor windows. Beneath the cellar there is said to be non-human remains of beasts that emerged from the hole. The GHOSTour guests will be going inside.


    The Sedlec Ossuary (Czech: Kostnice v Sedlci) is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints (Czech: Hřbitovní kostel Všech Svatých) in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel. The ossuary is among the most visited tourist attractions of the Czech Republic, attracting over 200,000 visitors yearly. Four enormous bell-shaped mounds occupy the corners of the chapel. An enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vault. Other works include piers and monstrances flanking the altar, a large Schwarzenberg coat of arms, and the signature of Rint, also executed in bone, on the wall near the entrance.

    Not far from Houska Castle is the rock formation with the secret rooms. Translated as "The Hills Have Eyes" to local villagers, these unique giant boulders were reported to have naturally-formed "rooms" which may have been small homes for the criminally insane. Also part of the itinerary is the famed "Church of Bones," Sedlec Ossuary, the small Roman Catholic chapel beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora. It contains skeletons of over 40,000 people, whose bones have been artistically rearranged to form decorations, furnishings, and even chandeliers for the chapel.

One Of The Decorative Skull Urns In A Niche
SCHWARZENBERG COAT OF ARMS

    Combine all this with independent late-night séances, visits to grave yards, on-board classic ghost & genre films, time allotted for shopping, a mad monster-mash masquerade ball/farewell party and other surprises, and travelers will enjoy one of the most memorable macabre tours in haunted history.

The Sedlec Ossuary entrance with enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vault.

     The trip is a deluxe travel packages valued at $5,999 per person for only $2,499 per person based on double occupancy including round-trip airfare to Prague, transfers, luxury coach transportation, all hotel/castle accommodations, all attractions, admissions, events, parties, special guests & entertainment. The tour flies out of a New York Metro airport, where people from all over the world meet as a group to travel together to Europe. Land-only packages (no airfare) are only $2,099 per person. There are optional single room supplements and group rates available upon request.

    GHOSTour 2015 to Prague and Frankenstein Castle is presented by Tours of Terror, who produce the "Dracula Tour to Transylvania" and have organized similar theme tours to England, Scotland and Ireland in the past. The week-long travel adventure is guided by "Cryptmaster Chiller Chucky" (actor & horror host Charles F. Rosenay).

     For further information, email: ToursofTerror@aol.com, phone (203) 795-4737 or visit: www.GHOSTour.com, where travelers' reports of past tours can also be found. Visit the official Facebook events page here


     Other upcoming Tours of Terror include the Summer Vampire Vacation July 13-20, 2015, the 2015 Halloween Dracula Tour October 27th to November 3rd, 2015 and GHOSTour to England May, 2016.

   The tour-organizers promise...
              "You'll have the time of your life ...
                         even if you're part of the undead!"

GHOSTour
THE HAUNTED WEEK OF HORRORS


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