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The dusk had already begun to descend when we were hanging out in the front of a tour company’s office in Prague. Only two other couples were coming on a Ghost Tour with us tonight, so we were waiting for quite a quality tour. The famous Astronomical Clock was just a few meters away, and there was anticipation in the air.
A woman nicknamed “Mandarin” came out of the office, wearing a black robe and carrying a wooden cross decorated with skulls, and introduced herself as our guide for tonight. Prague is quite famous for being a very haunted city with many restless souls and spirits wandering about in its alleys.
It’s said that just in the center area of the Old Town there are approximately over 40 “known” ghosts. And whether you are a believer, a skeptic, interested in the supernatural and unexplained, or just looking for a good, old-fashioned scare, learning about the darker side of Prague is fascinating. Nobody even knows how haunted Prague actually is, but there are plenty of ghosts for sure.
Starting Our Prague Ghost Tour
Darkness had already fallen, and the lights of those iconic, old street lanterns of Prague were casting strange shadows into the streets. We started walking after Mandarin towards our first stop, which turned out to be about 100 meters to the square of the Astronomical Clock. She told us a short story about the Butcher’s Young Apprentice who didn’t even want to be a butcher, but who ended up being the best one of them all.
The tale was interesting, but unfortunately, I missed a lot of it because Mandarin had a pretty quiet, thin voice and she seemed to lack any passion for the storytelling she was performing. Good storytelling is always a big part of a thrilling ghost hunting tour. If there’s not any passion, it affects the atmosphere and makes it dull and uninteresting. I was disappointed, but thought that I’d still give her a chance – maybe it would get better when she’ll “warm up.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t. We were led from one site to another during the hour which the tour lasted, accompanied by the same, mundane storytelling. We visited the sites and were told some of the most famous ghost stories of Prague, like “The Angry Turk from Ungelt and his murdered bride” who killed his bride in jealousy. “The Murdered Nun” who was bricked into the wall of St. Agnes cloister for breaking the convent’s rules, and the tale of the old, Jewish Cemetery, where skeletons rose from the graves to play cards with a man who needed someone to play with but who ended up losing his soul.
I couldn’t help but think about how much more thrilling these stories would’ve been if told properly with passion and dedication. I remembered the ghost tour we once took in Edinburgh where the guide was excellent; she believed in her craft and excited everyone as much as the haunted sites themselves. This tour was just a pale shadow of that experience. We would have wanted to get our fair share of Prague ghost stories, but now we were getting just a handful.
The Legend of the Golem of Prague
The legend of the Golem of Prague is perhaps the most famous ghost story from Prague. It’s also a bit sad story. During the era of Emperor Rudolf II, the majority of Prague’s Jews were continuously being attacked and therefore lived in fear. A Rabbi called Judah Loew was about to change this. He asked for an answer to the problem from the heavens and got it in dreams. Rabbi Loew eventually deciphered his dream answer, and with two assistants, his son-in-law, and his pupil the Rabbi created the Golem to protect all the Jews. According to the Kabbala, he made him out of the clay from the banks of Vltava River and recreated him with a special ritual involving the four elements; fire, water, air, and earth, and reciting Zirufim (special Kabbalistic formulas or spells).
There are several stories of how to wake Golem alive, but in most of them, the Golem needs a piece of written parchment inserted into its mouth or chest. In the parchment Rabbi Loew placed into his Golem’s mouth was written “Shem Hameforash, ” and the Golem came to life.
Rabbi Loew named the Golem “Joseph, ” and it did its duty. Some stories tell that the Golem was so terrifying that eventually, the rulers of the city of Prague promised to bring an end to the persecution and attacking of Jews if only the Rabbi would deactivate his clay creation. However, other stories tell that the Golem eventually went amok, started to spread havoc and it had to be destroyed.
Either way, Rabbi Loew dutifully recalled the Shem Hameforash, and with it, the principle of life by removing the parchment from the Golem’s mouth, and it went back to the lifeless piece of clay from which it had been created. The clay figure was then hidden in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue, and the place was forbidden to enter for eons to come.
When the Old-New Synagogue was explored centuries later, no Golem was found in the attic, but the legend still remains. From our guide, Mandarin, we heard a version that the Golem was broken into pieces and bricked into the outer wall of the Old-New Synagogue. I guess that like in most of the ghost stories, there are as many versions, as there are narrators.
This myth is just unusual in that it’s supposed to have happened in a particular year – 1580. And the Golem “Joseph” was said to be pretty indistinguishable from a human being, it just lacked the ability to speak. Then again, we owe to the pop culture our traditional image of Golem – a bit clumsy lump of clay, only distantly figured as a human. But which one you think is more accurate?
This story was still the most entertaining of all the stories we heard that night.
CHECK OUT A VIDEO FROM OUR GHOST TOUR! Put the sounds on!
Also, check the part at about 1:10-1:12 and tell us what do you think flashes in front of the camera lens?! Maybe it actually was an orb?
The End of Our Prague Ghost Tour
We had originally booked this tour supposing that we’d also go underground during it, as like it had advertised in the flyers. We had another disappointment there. We did go underground, but just for the ending of the tour and quite a tacky ending that was.
We went through an ordinary looking, wooden door and descended a few stone stairs into some kind of cellar. The organizers had decorated it with ghost puppets and skeletons, and it was pitch-black dark. Our guide, Mandarin, showed the way with her flashlight and I had my GoPro with a shooting light attached to it. Like throughout the tour, Mandarin seemed very irritated of my filming and didn’t hide her irritation at all. Unpolite behavior, if you ask me since it was absolutely not forbidden to film the tour in any of their ads, neither mentioned so on their website. She even refused to talk a couple of times during the tour, if she saw that I was filming! That’s also why my video material from this tour is a bit scarce and poor quality. I’m sorry about that.
The apex of this tour was the cellar where we stood in a semi-circle around Mandarin, and she asked us for our preferred way to die. We had five choices to choose from. Everyone was made to pick one, and she drew a tally into the flap board standing beside her while telling us that Death could lurk anywhere and attack anytime. Then her colleague emerged from the shadows behind us wearing a black, hooded cloak, a skeleton mask, and a scythe he knocked to the ground.
This didn’t scare me, but maybe one woman in our little group jumped a bit. A bit funny ending, yes, but not scary. If the general atmosphere of the tour had been better, maybe the end scaring would’ve worked better, too. It’s all about the psychological scare, after all.
Do Your Own Ghost Tour Around Prague With A Map
So, would I recommend this tour for someone wanting to experience some of the darker sides of Prague? No, I wouldn’t. One of the best perks of the trip was the copy of the Prague Ghost Map, where all the 42 ghost spots are marked on a map.
We will be adding a copy of the map here soon, so check back here again!
Save your time and money and embark on your own, private Ghost Tour around the Old Town of Prague. I bet you will get more out of it, can spend as much time as you want on every site, and above all, choose the spots you like to visit.
And pay a visit to the Prague Ghosts and Legends Museum on Mala Strána side of the Vltava River. We didn’t have the time, but maybe next time we will go there, too. It seemed it would’ve been time better spent than this “ghost tour” we were in.
Prague once was the capital of the alchemists, occultists, and other esoteric orders of Europe, especially in the 16th century and a longtime home for the still undeciphered “Voynich Manuscript” and for the “Codex Gigas” (also known as the Devil’s Bible). So, this ancient city still holds some dark secrets, I’m sure.
Are you ready to uncover those secrets and embark on your own Prague ghost tour?
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