Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking For a Good Ghost Story?

Like any culture, the Czechs have their share of ghost stories. In honor of Halloween, I did a little research and found a few particularly famous stories.

The Young Turk
This ghost is said to haunt the plaza of Tyn Court in Prague on the full moon. The Turk was a wealthy guard who fell in love with a beautiful, young blonde. He returned to his homeland to ask his parents’ permission to marry. His bride-to-be waited years without hearing from him and believed he had died or forgotten her. She fell in love with another man, but the Turk returned to Prague on her wedding night. In anger, he cut off her head but instantly regretted it; they say his ghost carries her head in a box.

The Begging Skeleton
Outside the Karolinum, the original building of Charles University, visitors swear they see a thin, tall ghost begging for money. According to legend, a university professor was fascinated by a taller-than-average student and offered him money for his skeleton after his death. Thinking it was easy money – after all, the professor was much more likely to die first – the student agreed. Later that night, the student was killed in a drunken brawl. It’s said that the ghost begs passer-by for money to buy his skeleton back.

St. John of Nepomuk
In the late 14th century, John took confession from Queen Johanna, King Wenceslas IV’s wife. The priest refused to tell the king what she said and was tortured and tossed off the Charles Bridge. His ghost was seen for almost 300 years after, until an artist was commissioned to carve statues of saints along the bridge. When the artist finished the statue of St. John, his ghost was never seen again. Local lore tells visitors that if they have a secret, touching the statue will ensure no one discovers it.

Perchta, the White Lady of Český Krumlov
This 15th-century noblewoman was forced to marry Jan von Lichtenstein, a violent and brutal man. Perchta was tormented by him as well as his mother and sister until a royal intercession allowed her to return home. She did not see her husband again until he lay on his deathbed, asking for her forgiveness. She refused, and he cursed her to roam the Český Krumlov castle forever. It is said that if she is smiling and wearing white gloves, good news will follow. If she looks serious and wears black gloves, however, bad tidings are coming.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

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