Johann Konrad Dippel was rumoured to create potions, perform electrical therapies, and partake in gruesome experiments involving stolen body parts from the graveyard.
Born in the Castle Frankenstein in 1673, it’s disputed whether or not he was the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s mad scientist of the same name, who did some cadaver experiments of his own.
What is sure about Dippel is his colourful career as an alchemist. He attached his name to Dippel’s Animal Oil, which he discovered from the destructive distillation of animal parts and claimed as a universal medicine. The animal oil came at the end of a wave of popularity for Iatrochemistry, which had moved alchemy from the search for creating gold to finding new medicines.
The unpleasant taste and smell, as well as the progression of medicine, made Dippel’s oil fall into disrepute by the end of the 18th century. Dippel later helped set up a laboratory in Berlin for making gold and, at one point, he ended up in prison on a Danish island for seven years due to political activities.
In 1734, he finally had a stroke and died at the Castle Wittgenstein near Berleburg, although his friends claimed he was poisoned. By his own hand or that of another, it is unclear.
The Castle Frankenstein is now in ruins, with only two towers, a restaurant and a chapel remaining. However, the perhaps mythical connection to Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” keeps it a popular destination, especially for Halloween.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom and numerous other magical castles were all inspired by a real castle: Neuschwanstein Castle, the awe-inspiring retreat of the “fairy-tale king,” Ludwig II of Bavaria.
Commissioned by the king in homage to Richard Wagner, the fantastical castle was designed by theatrical set designer Christian Jank.
The first stone of Neuschwanstein Castle (which literally means, “New Swan Stone palace”) was laid in September 1869. The technology used to build this castle was considered modern and advanced.
New inventions such as electricity, plumbing, heat and steamboats were used in the construction of the castle, and Ludwig himself was considered responsible for the introduction of many of these inventions to the area.
In 1886, as the massively expensive castle neared completion, the State Commissioner pronounced Ludwig insane and arrested him soon after. The day after he was arrested, Ludwig requested the Commissioner go on a walk in the woods with him.
The commissioner agreed and told his guards to stay behind. Both were found mysteriously dead in a lake later that evening.
Ludwig was never able to see the finalised castle, but his taste for elegant, and extravagant, design resonates throughout the interior of the castle.
After his death, the castle was opened for the public to help pay off the expenses and now attracts over a million people a year.
Of particular delight is the Grotto Room, an artificial cave complete with stalactites and a waterfall; it was intended to represent a cave from Wagner’s opera “Tannhauser.”
In the heart of Transylvania, one of Europe’s largest castles looks like it sits atop a rocky bluff with naught but a thin bridge allowing access.
But this is simply Corvin Castle, which looks like something straight out of a fairytale, largely because restorers thought that it should.
Built in the mid-15th century, the castle was the work of Hungarian military leader John Hunyadi, who built the tall structure over the remains of a keep built by Charles I.
It consists of a series of rectangular halls that are connected by both circular and rectangular towers that were used for both defense and as prison cells. The elaborate architecture was designed in a rich gothic style, that accentuates the already impressive architecture.
The castle was kept in regal condition during Hunyadi’s lifetime, but after he died, the castle fell into swift decline.
It was not until the 17th century that there was more interest in restoring the castle. As the restorations began, the workers redesigned the castle somewhat to reflect what they considered a gothic castle should look like, which explains much of its currently fanciful look.
A number of legends are associated with the castle, the most prominent among them being that Vlad the Impaler spent some seven years in the dungeons of Corvin Castle, a stay which resulted in his eventual madness.
Even though this is unlikely to be true, Corvin Castle still seems like just the sort of place where a Dracula might have been held.