Cachtický Castle and the Legend of the First Female Mass Murderer
I like history in the way that it's full of good stories. Some of them true, some not, doesn't matter as long as it's a juicy story. Slovakia is full of ancient castles and each castle has their legends and stories, one of the juiciest stories being the one of Countess Bathory who lived in the Cachtický castle an hour's drive from Bratislava.
Countess Elisabeth Bathorý was left a widower when her husband died in 1604. She developed a nasty habit of luring and kidnapping young women from the near-by villages. There are many versions of what she did to the girls but one of them is about how she had built a room into the castle with a grid floor. The girls, who had to be young and virgins, were tortured an killed in the room so that their blood would trickle down to the floor below into a bath.
She then bathed in the blood believing that it would maintain her youth and "good" looks. For ten years she was able to keep this up until she was sued. By official numbers she killed 80 young women, but it was also presented that she would have killed 650 women and kept score in a book about them. She is to the date the most "productive" female mass murderer which has also resulted in people comparing her to the famous Vlad the Impaler, also known as Count Dracula.
Instead of the obvious death sentence her defense managed to persuade the current king to lower the sentence to lifetime imprisonment. She was kept in the bottom of a tower in the castle of Cachtický and died after four years.
This badass "noble" lady has inspired countless artists to repeat her story through movies, plays, video games, books and music. Whether she actually bathed in blood is not officially proven to be true, but it does give her story a nice freaky angle. Nonetheless her doing what she did has been explained by vanity, but I think she was just plain simple insane.
The day we visited the castle was quite cloudy and since there are no leaves on the trees yet, the castle's surroundings were a bit spooky. Especially since we had totally been drinking the story from Wikipedia before the trip, especially the most horrific versions. But no ghosts showed up, even though just before we left the temperature plummeted big time. We blamed it on the Czechs who have a bad habit of attracting disasters in mountains. True story.
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Another Slovak castle conquered and stories explored. This country has soooo much potential to become a tourist destination with all the castles, wineries and beauuutiful mountains. But unfortunately it seems that the people here don't either see the potential or just don't care. But that's ok, it's nicer for me to go to these places when they are not swarmed by tourists.