Surrounded by dense forest with a history of witchcraft and alchemy, Castle Frankenstein is among the most notorious haunted castles of Europe.

Although the name "Frankenstein" is shared by many other landmarks in Germany, the 13th-century castle's namesake has the special meaning given its alleged ties to Mary Shelley, the author of the 1818 classic novel Frankenstein.

The legend of Castle Frankenstein traces back to 1673 with the birth of Johann Conrad Dippel at the estate. Dippel later became the palace's most infamous occupant and was said to be an eccentric scientist obsessed with outrageous alchemy.

He allegedly conducted gruesome experiments using animal carcasses. But, more macabrely, he also allegedly used human body parts that were stolen from the corpses of the nearby cemetery of Nieder-Beerbach. He also created a mysterious concoction dubbed "Dippel's Oil," which was a distillation of blood, leather, horns, and ivory that he proclaimed to be the "elixir of life" that could cure any ailment.

Dippel's antics allegedly upset the local mayor, who spread rumors that Dippel was the blood brother of the devil and that he was trying to create some kind of virgin-preying monster in his castle's laboratory. Does this story sound familiar? It should — because that's a more macabre telling of Shelley's legend of Frankenstein's monster.

It's believed that the Brothers Grimm told Shelley's stepmother about Dippel's insane background, which is where she may have gotten the idea for the story in the first place. Shelley herself traveled to the German region in 1814, four years before her novel's debut.



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