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         by Birgitte 

To reach the main show of the Haunted Castle visitors have to walk through the castle, which was an exceptional approach in that time. It is very dark inside and after you walk through one of the two large entrance doors you see a passage with a sharp turn to the left. At the right side of the bend there is a closed door. When you push down the door handle the door moves towards you and you can hear the sound of chains clanging on the other side.

Around the corner there is a little inner room on the left that contains five moving skulls with moving eyes. They are surrounded by some rubber snakes that look very dated these days. On the other side of the passage there are some bars in the lower part of the wall, just above the floor. When you look down through these bars you see a wailing man that is chained to a large wooden chair (looks like an electric chair to me). This has been added at a later stage in 1987 during a big renovation of the castle (before the wailing man glowing eyes could be seen on this spot). When you move on the passage bends to the right. Just before the corner you can see a spider with the hologram of a skull behind it when you look up (it´s just below the ceiling).

When walking around the corner you enter a little round hall. On the walls you see strange arms and in the middle hangs a chandelier that is held by a large hairy arm that comes out of the ceiling. Under the chandelier stands a curiously truncated pillar. All kinds of horrific sounds can be heard (these stem from the BBC CDs “The essential death and horror sound effects vol. 1 & 2). If you have visited the Hansel and Gretel attraction before paying a visit to the Haunted Castle, you will hear that the sound of the witch’s cat has been “recycled” in the Haunted Castle. An in-joke perhaps.

Every once in a while (I think every 10 to 15 minutes) a little show starts, which is worth the waiting (in my opinion). It starts with the hairy arm that moves the chandelier back and forth. In the ceiling four devil-like creatures called Vlederiks (Vlederikken in Dutch) come down with thunderbolts and lightning. This effect is also quite dated but the creatures are still very interesting to watch. After this the booming voice of a man tells the story of the Haunted Castle. This is unfortunately only in Dutch, so here follows a translation:

A very, very long time ago, when in times of storm and high tides the river would flow right up to the doorsteps of the fortress, the fourth burggrave of Capelle van Kaatsheuvel lived in this castle. He collected fairytales and myths from all over the world and explored the magic arts. He could make flowers sing and could let walls dance.

There was only one nuisance in his life: the evil witch Visculamia. She lived under lock and key in the nearby village of Druinen. She wanted to steal his fairytales away from him.

On one day, when the witch had disguised herself as a young virgin on a foray, she was caught by the gardener of Castle De Efteling. By the three judges of the dutchy she was condemned to die at the stake in the east wing of the castle. On the final moments the witch spoke a malediction in which the burggrave was doomed to eternally search for his last fairytale: his daughter Esmeralda.

And everytime the river tide is high the enchanted crow of Visculamia strikes the clock at midnight. Then the corps of the gardener who betrayed her hangs at the bell-rope in the bell-tower. The judges who condemned her lament out of the attick-window and in the catacombs the burggrave runs after his daughter without ever finding her…

While the flowers sing and the walls dance, the witch hurls maledictions into the tomb that holds the remains of the burggrave. On the southern hill of the castle’s square his daughter’s sould cannot find peace. And this will continue for years. Until the singing of the flowers has closed the eyes of the owls and has sung the evil crow to sleep and the spell has been broken.

Past the “Vlederiks’ Square” you arrive at the end of the passage that is sealed by two large doors that form the entrance to the main show. The doors appear to be made of large stones and both bear a strange-looking symbol. In the wall at the left side (behind you when you face the doors) is an inner room that houses the Oriental Ghost. In the early years he told the story of the Haunted Castle. Just before the fairytale is told on “Vlederiks’ Square” the face of the burggrave’s daughter can be seen in the glass bowl he is holding in his hands. Her face turns into a skull and laughter is heard (I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be the Oriental Ghost laughing). It’s very scary for little children, but I always find the Oriental Ghost rather silly.  

When the entrance doors to the main show open you can walk into a large room behind the afore-mentioned glass wall. Behind the glass you can see the ruins of the castle and a grave yard in front of it. At the left you can see the chapel of which the entrance gate can partly be seen at the front. Because the chapel walls are collapsed, the hanging corps can be seen in the show (the gardener in the story). Before the hanged man stands the altar and at its right the pulpit. Through the windows at the left side of the chapel you can see what the rest of the outsides of the castle looks like (this is a relief).

At the right side of the chapel is the “monks’ hallway”, which ends in the little tower on which the “enchanted crow” of Visculamia resides, who strikes the bell at the beginning of the show.  The witch Visculamia herself can be seen (for a short time only!) at the right side of the tower  where she is burned half-way the show. You can only see her when you walk to the right, which is why I only discovered this myself last summer (I usually stand in the middle of the room, thinking I had a good view on everything that way).

Above  the monks’ hallway lies the attick. Out of one of the attick-windows the three judges who condemned Visculamia lament. In most of the other attick-windows you can see big owls with glowing yellow eyes. In the tomb at the far right of the main show lie the remains of the burggrave who used to live in the castle (this is the tomb Kate climbs out of at the beginning of Wuthering Heights in the Special). At the left side in the graveyard before the ruins lies a grave with a big tombstone which is opened by the burggrave’s daughter during the show. Something has gone wrong here, though. The dates marked on the tombstone are MCCC-MCCVI. This means 1300-1206. As the grave supposedly belongs to the burggrave’s six year-old daughter a C (100 years) is missing in the second date. Above the dates the text PVELLA INNOCENTA (innocent girl) can be read.

The spectators stand on a flight of steps. The treps to the chapel garden (the graveyard) can be seen in the middle (near the big dancing gate). A part of the monks’ hallway has collapsed so that you can look down into the basement (catacombs), where you’ll see two projected figures chasing each other (the burggrave that chases his daughter in the story). On the left side of these two figures (or on the right side if you stand in the left corner of then room) you can see a violin hoverig in mid-air at the beginning and the end of the show that is played by ghost who’s hand is only visible (another hologram). Halfway during the show the daughter shoves aside her tombstone and looks out of her grave (for her father probably). At the same time you can see the skeleton of the burggrave opening his tomb (on the far right) and looking out in the direction of the graveyard.The music that is played during the main show is the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns, which brings you in the right mood.

The power of the Haunted Castle is that there is so much to see (especially during the main show in which everything seems to be moving)  that you should visit it a couple of times to see it, discovering new things every time. The high level of detail makes it worth a visit, even after you have visited it a dozen times before.

People waiting to see the main show in the Haunted Castle in the early years (it's not that popular anymore these days)