Spooky fun in Königswinter The last ghost hours at Drachenburg Castle
Siebengebirge · There are only three more of the popular ghost tours at Schloss Drachenburg, this year offered as an alternative for those who don't like carnival. But Peter Wendland, the master of the ghosts, is already working on new ideas to put the castle in Königswinter in the limelight.
During night-time tours of the castle, the eerie inhabitants have time and again provided proof of their existence and made many a visitor's hair stand on end. On two more days in February, brave visitors will have the opportunity to spend a ghostly hour at Schloss Drachenburg. Peter Wendland then will put to rest the ghosts he has summoned. And at the same time he is already thinking about a new format.
In 2011, the Ittenbach native, who is a social worker, music therapist, naturopath and light artist, launched the evening ghost tour. Peter Wehner has been supporting him for ten years. These events were a hit right from the start. But Covid also put the ghosts of Schloss Drachenburg into lockdown. Now they are allowed to give three more farewell performances, then the haunting will be over. "We hope to continue with a new format," says Wendland.
Spooky encounter in the toilet
On Saturday evening, 20 ghost hunters stand expectantly in front of the cast-iron entrance gate. The moon casts a pale light on the mighty ancient trees in the castle park, behind which the walls rise up, even more imposing in the evening than they already do when illuminated. A ghostly purple and green light shines from some of the windows. From the darkness, shrieks reach the ears of the waiting people, and in the distance a shadowy figure can be made out, shouting menacingly: "Get out of here." Of course, no one is deterred. On the contrary, the group is still joking and giggling.
At the entrance to the main tower, Wendland hands out small lanterns, together with the request to climb the stairs all the way to the top, "no matter what happens, no matter what you hear". The tension mounts - especially as some of the ladies have already had a spooky encounter with a "Moaning Myrtle in Big and Black" in the toilet beforehand. Harry Potter says hello.
To everyone's relief, the ascent of the tower goes smoothly. Once at the top, the visitors can fortify themselves with a "spooky drop" - a white wine from vintner Karl-Heinz Broel from Rhöndorf, bottled especially for the Ghost Hours. "The spirits of the house have poured," Wendland reveals and begins to talk about the castle, its history and its stories.
Wendland has been organising guided tours of the castle grounds for years. No book can tell you everything he has to say. You might even say he is a piece of the living history of Schloss Drachenburg, a walking book of the anecdotes, legends and stories surrounding the Siebengebirge.
The first test of courage awaits the visitors a few dim corridors and creaking doors further on. They have to walk in pairs through a six-metre-long, pitch-black corridor - without a lantern, to boot. Behind the mighty wooden door, there is a suspicious scratching sound, the presence of the spirits can literally be felt. A feeling of unease spreads. "Always go straight ahead, no matter what happens. Otherwise I won't be able to help you," is the final tip.
Doors seem to open and close by themselves
The first visitors bravely venture into the darkness as the door closes behind them. Screams and loud shrieks ring out from the room and give the waiting people goose bumps. Then here’s the cathartic message: "Arrived", followed by laughter. In the end, everyone has made it to the other side in one piece - just escaping the cold hands clinging to their legs. Two hats that the ghosts kept as trophies also find their way back to their owners.
There’s no shortage of other eerie encounters over the next two hours. There are doors that open or close by themselves, chains rattle, screams sound from somewhere, and footsteps shuffle across the old wooden floorboards. You walk through corridors and into rooms that are otherwise closed for visitors. If you want, you can look for caskets in dark rooms, and together you solve riddles with the help of relics from the castle's history. In the light of lanterns and discreetly illuminated by colourful spotlights, the rooms have something mythical about them.
This also applies to the stories Wendland tells. In the exhibition hall, he plays the guitar. For him, the castle has something "philosophical" about it. It is a peaceful place that invites you to sit down and deal with whatever is on your mind. "With the castle, Baron von Sarter has left us something to think about."
Lantern walk in search of the Rhine gold
On the balcony, the ghost hunters enjoy the view over the Rhine valley at night. Their gaze wanders over the golden stags, majestically looking east and west - into the past and the future.
These witching hours are a thing of the past. "Things change, you have to live with that," says Wendland. But he already has plenty of new ideas for the future swirling around in his head. He is planning a "lantern walk in search of the Rhine gold" - based on the many sagas and legends that Drachenburg Castle has to offer. So where will the ghosts end up? Probably at Schloss Burg in Solingen, where Wendland is still offering scary tours.
Original text: Gabriela Quarg
Translation: Jean Lennox