When you wake up early to go to work, school or anywhere else, the sun hasn’t risen yet and you step into the dark. While taking the train to your destination, you stare out of the window and all you see is meadows, they are foggy, almost as if there is a layer of smoke floating over the grass. Here and there you will see a silhouette of a windmill, a farm, a castle or one of the other places you will read about in this article.
It means that spooky season has started, and even though Halloween is a tradition that is mostly celebrated in the United States, the Dutch start to enjoy it more and more too. Here are some places in the Netherlands that are spooky all year round, but especially during this season will give you the shivers.
1. Ghost Alley
In the famous Red Light District of Amsterdam, there is an alley called Spooksteeg, literally ‘Ghost Alley’.
The alley has its name because of a not so romantic love story that happened here. In the eighteenth century, Helena lived in the Spooksteeg, together with her father and her sister, Dina. A handsome sailor man fell in love with her fairer sister, and Helena got extremely jealous. As Helena and Dina were daughters of a tanner, they had a cellar, in which Helena threw Dina. She died, and Helena made it seem as if it was an accident, which made everyone think she was innocent, including the sailor man. He ended up marrying her, and Helena never confessed what she did until her deathbed in 1753: this is when she begged for forgiveness. Her husband refused, and wished for her soul's eternal suffering.
A couple of years after Helena died, she started appearing in the street, and sounds of screaming and moaning were heard. It is said that every hundred years on the day of her death, the 24th of July, her screaming is heard.
2. The White Lady of The Broken Castle
In Limburg, in a village called Grubbenvorst, there is a ruin that has been like that for a long time. What was once a castle called Castle Grebbe, got demolished around 1568 during the Eighty Years’ War. At a hill with nothing more than two broken towers and a wall, is where a love tragedy took place.
Gertruda was the daughter of two hostel owners, and one day, a knight came by who was on the run. He needed to hide, so Gertruda’s parents welcomed him in their hostel. He falls in love with Gertruda. Her parents tell her to accept his love, and so she does.
In the meantime, Gertruda has accepted the marriage proposal of another man as well, the son of a smith. The knight gets furious when he finds out, and gets into an argument with the both of them. During the argument, the smith’s son hits the knight with a rock. This proved to be fatal for him, and with his last breaths he curses the girl, and tells her to die and wander around the ruin for eternity. Soon after the knight passes away, the curse takes effect, because Gertruda gets very sick and passes away. Her parents and the smith’s son bury her in a white robe and from that moment, she has been scaring people that pass by the ruin.
Some strange things have taken place after this story. A farmer that was bragging that he would dance with the White Lady, was found dead and during the war a German tank was destroyed in an odd way. Also, many traffic accidents took place around the ruin.
Nowadays, the White Lady is seen as guardian of the town Grubbenvorst, and she is honoured every year with a festival that takes place in October, called het Witte Dame Festival, or ‘the White Lady Festival’. The town of Grubbenvorst gets turned into a mediaeval village and different activities take place, such as theatre shows, music performances, but it is also possible to immerse yourself in an old, mediaeval house to see what it was like back in the day.
3. Prison Gravensteen
In the province Zeeland, in a city called Zierikzee, there is a prison that dates back to 1365, where strange things happen up until this day… The prison is located in an old building with a typical Dutch facade and the inside is made of wood. While walking around here, you will hear the wood squeak under your feet and maybe even hear and see some things.
The biggest criminals were kept here, waiting on death penalty, Their traces are left behind on the walls, where you can see drawings and writings, of which the oldest is from 1577. The prisoners were kept here in very bad circumstances, which you can see in the prison still. Nowadays the prison has tours you can book, and some people have heard humming and seen shadows while walking around here.
4. The Nun of Singraven
This country estate in the province Overijssel looks like a peaceful and majestic place from the outside, but something's not right here. This house used to be a monastery, where nuns lived. One of them got along very well with the villagers, and would once in a while enjoy going to the local bar.
As a nun this was unacceptable, so when the other nuns found out, she got punished. They immured her, alive, and after she died, her voice was still heard throughout the monastery. Through the walls the other nuns heard her scream, until one day, where she stopped and it was quiet. From this moment she started bringing bad luck to the villagers. One of the things she was blamed for, was a new resident that caught flame in this place in a mysterious way. To this day, the nun still appears behind windows, over the watermill or around the estate.
Nowadays, you can visit the land of Singraven. People cycle and go for walks around the land as it has a beautiful area around it, with forest, slumps and meadows. If you dare, you can visit the estate and book a tour, but be careful of the nun, because she might be watching you.
The Guardian of Duin & Kruidberg
In the 20th century, Jacob Cramer built this beautiful mansion, in Santpoort-Noord, a place not too far from Harlem. He was very wealthy and powerful, travelled the world and worked in Indonesia. When Cramer travelled somewhere, he always liked to bring souvenirs, and his house was full of them: from majestic mirrors to impressive paintings, statues and lamps. But with one of the souvenirs that he brought with him, came something else that he wasn’t aware of. From Indonesia, Cramer brought people that worked for him, in his mansion. One of them killed someone, and the ghost of this person travelled with Cramer to the Netherlands.
The ghost wouldn’t rest until the murderer was punished. But when the ghost found out the person was innocent, he was so embarrassed that he wanted to make it up. He promised to take care of all the visitors of the mansion, and so he did. Nowadays, this mansion is a hotel where you can stay. Even though children’s voices were heard in empty rooms, people feel safe here, thanks to the Indonesian guardian.
Abandoned amusement park ‘The Land of Ever’
In the southern province Brabant, there is an abandoned amusement park called Het Land van Ooit (in English The Land of Ever) that was once ‘the land where children are in charge’. It was very popular, and I even remember watching the tv show that was recorded here as a child. Families would go there and kids would have fun in this knight-themed park, with actors that walked around and played roles from the story that ruled the park.
Slowly, the amount of visitors started decreasing. In 2007, the park was declared bankrupt and it closed. Most of the attractions of the park were sold or demolished, and the land was bought by the council. In 2015 it was announced that the park would become a walking area for the public, which it is until this day: now you can walk around the park, and it is quite eerie. What once was a busy park where you could hear children's laughter, is now an abandoned place where all you can hear is the birds chirping, or the wind blowing.
In the middle of national park De Veluwe, stands Radio Kootwijk, a concrete building that was built from 1918, and used as a radio station to connect to Indonesia (back then called the Dutch Indies). During these days the workers had to live somewhere, and that’s why they built a little village with the same name, that counts 95 houses today. Since more developed ways of communication became available, the building closed after three years.
The building has a very mysterious vibe: standing in the middle of a sandy forested landscape gives a certain eerie feeling you can’t put your finger on. There was even a thriller recorded here, called ‘Mindhunters’. Nowadays you can visit the park around it and one of the buildings can be rented for events.
Abandoned swimming pool ‘Tropicana’
In the middle of Rotterdam, along the river the Meuse, was once a tropical swimming paradise for kids. It had a jungle theme, and people from all ages enjoyed going here. Going from the slide, jumping into the pool and eating some fries afterwards: a memorable experience for many in Rotterdam and surroundings.
But today, there are no happy visitors anymore, there is no water in the pool and there are no children going from the slide. The jungle decor is still there, the animal statues are still smiling, as if nothing has changed, but Tropicana has been empty since 2010. This is when they had to close their doors due to different incidents and crimes that had taken place. A part of Tropicana is now used as a restaurant, where you have a view on the Meuse. The swimming pool itself remains empty. You can’t go in, but you can walk around it and peek through the windows to catch a glimpse of this bizarre sight.
Abandoned Jesuit Monastery
In Valkenburg, Limburg, you can find a monastery from the year 1893 that has been abandoned for over 40 years now. At the time it was built, it was the biggest structure in the Netherlands: the front was 93 metres wide and it consisted of 7 million bricks. At this time, it is still an impressive building, it is imposant, has different wings and many levels. The ivy that has spread on some of the walls shows that nobody has been here for a long time.
On the inside there are a lot of elegant stairs, flower-patterned tiles and praying areas. On the walls some unknown people have carved in different messages. ‘After 11 months, for the first time in a cel’ and ‘Clean up, those camps, the horrible atmosphere’. It is dark, and the only light is the light of the moon that shines through the stained glass.
During World War II the SS expelled the Jesuits and established a Reichsschule for boys here (a Nazi school). After the war it became an internment camp for women from ex-NSB families until 1945, when a priest moved in and lived here until 1961. In 1983, the monastery became a retirement home, but this wasn’t for long, because the retirement home moved to another building. From then this monastery was abandoned. Today the stained glass is still intact, but the paint on the walls is peeling off, and the long, gothic hallways remain empty. You can look at the monastery from the outside, but unfortunately it is forbidden to enter.
A non-existent village named Marnehuizen
New houses, stores, a station, a school, a gas station, a cemetery… If you would walk around here, you would think that it is just a regular neighbourhood. But nobody lives here, and nobody ever has, in fact this village doesn’t even exist.
Marnehuizen is the biggest mock-up training village in Europe, and is used to train soldiers how to fight in urban areas. The streets are named after Rotterdam, in memory of the bombardements during World War II. Walking around here feels sinister: there is nothing around the village but meadows, and to think that no one lives here and no one ever will, makes it like a dystopian movie set. You can visit the recreation area next to the park as long as you don’t interrupt the practices, and during open (monument) days you can even visit the park itself.
Doctor Faust from Waardenburg Castle
In this castle that dates back to the 13th century, located in the province Gelderland, a hellish event took place. In the year 1842, doctor Faust lived in this castle, which is situated in the middle of between meadows and forest. The story goes that Faust made a pact with the devil: in exchange for his soul, doctor Faust would have access to all the knowledge in the world for seven years. After these seven years, the devil would come for him. And so he did. One day, the devil came to get what they agreed on and dragged the doctor out of the castle by his hair. Up until this day, there are still bloodstains from this incident visible.
You can walk around the mysterious woods around it and view the castle from outside, or you can visit the castle during an open monumental day.
Abandoned monastery ‘Het Hoompje’
In the province Zeeland, stands a monastery from 1908. Between the trees and bushes that have grown around, a grey building with an orange roof becomes visible and looks like something out of a horror movie. Behind the windows it is black and moss has spread over the walls.
The monastery was once a place where different nuns lived. The last nuns that lived there taught mentally disabled children, and after World War II, it became a police station for a bit.
After that, it was empty. To avoid the monastery from getting demolished, it was put on the list of national monuments. The plans now are to make apartments here, but would you be able to live here? Psychics visited the place and found paranormal activities, such as entities that moved between the bushes and a nun that fled through the wall. Would you dare to pay this monastery a visit?
In Bloemendaal (not far from the hotel Duin & Kruidberg) is a psychiatric hospital that has been abandoned since 2002. The outside looks as if it was once a charming building, but now neglected.
Strange things have happened here since the building was abandoned. Some police officers noticed that a police dog ran away from something they saw. Another dog was looking at something where nobody else saw something, and started growling. Security guards mention that they have felt as if someone pushed them in their backs, and heard children scream ‘help me’. Entities from the patients that have stayed here have never left, and apparently when you are in the building you can feel as if something is watching you. That’s why maybe it is better to view this scary place from the outside.
Wanting to explore more haunted places?
Since the Netherlands is geographically so close to other European countries, there are tons of more eerie and somewhat inhuman macabre spots to explore in them. From satanic spots to werewolves hunting ground - check out our top scary places in Europe here. Or explore the neighbouring country and what macabre dwellings are out in Belgium. And if you're going on a trip to the Czech Republic - be on the lookout for some inhuman entity there too.