The white lady of Haapsalu castle is one of the most well known ghost stories in Estonia. It tells the story of young love, torn apart by religion and an evil bishop.
There is a ghost story that a Lady in White is haunting Haapsalu Castle in Estonia. According to the legend, she was walled up alive inside of the walls when the Bishop discovered her true identity. Her crime? She fell in love.
The ghost of the Lady in White is a wide spread thing in Europe. Every country and even region have their own local version on it. Many are haunting the old castles, cathedrals and mansions scattered across the universe. Some are haunting the waterfalls, some haunts whole families. Estonia is no exception and according to legend, their White Lady is found in Haapsalu Castle.
Sitting in the midst at the cusp of the eastern Europe Baltic heritage as well as so far north, the culture of Estonia is somewhat of a mix of the two. Many consider themselves more Nordic than Baltic, being so influenced by both Sweden and Finland, they have a rich and varied lore still alive and well today.
The Haunted Haapsalu Castle
On the western shore, the sleepy seaside town of Haapsalu is best known for its warm seawater, curative mud and peaceful atmosphere facing the Vaiinameri Sea. Salt mud spas frequented by the Russian Romanov family still operate. Everything is made for a relaxing weekend and a nice holiday for sunny days. Just don’t go to the Haapsalu Castle, it’s haunted.
Read More: Check out all of our ghost stories from Haunted Castles around the world
In the 13th century in the coastal city of Haapsalu, a castle and a cathedral was built from 1279 and it’s the only one of its kind preserved today. It was also known as Haapsalu piiskopilinnus, or more simply Bishop’s Castle. It was to be the new seat of the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, were God’s law was the lands law. So it was a sort of royal as well as godly position, and the design of the castle was as well.
It was not a particular popular way of ruling as the last seat they had ruled from in Perona, where the Lithuanians burned his home down to the ground. Although he needed the place quick as his previous residence had been burned down, the whole castle took around 300 years to complete with the attached cathedral and monastery to it.
The position of Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek changed hands all up to the 1500s, and in 1279, the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek was Hermann of Buxhoeveden. It was also then he founded the castle and probably the bishop who is talked about in the legend of the Lady in White in Haapsalu Castle.
The life there, especially in the episcopal castle, was a strict one. Every canon working and living there in the monasteries were meant to live a chaste and virtuous life according to the monastery rules.
Read Also: Check out our ghost stories from all of the churches and monasteries from around the world.
Meeting women in the Haapsalu Castle was therefore strictly forbidden and punishable by death. The castle forbade all access for women and the monks rarely ventured outside to test their vows. But all of these rules is useless, love will always find a way.
The Maiden and the Canon in Love
As legend of the White Lady Haapsalu Castle tells, one of the canon working there fell in love with a girl when he was outside of the castle walls. When it was clear they had to be together no matter what, he brought her with him to the Haapsalu Castle.
As there was a strict no women allowed policy, they had to disguise her so that no one would now her true identity. She went undercover and was working as a choirboy for a while to be able to meet and have a relationship with him.
They were then able to meet and talk and be in each others lives as long as they were able to pass her off as a boy to the rest of the men living there. They had no other choice if they wanted to be together. He had taken a vow to god that couldn’t be broken, and she had no way of following him with being herself.
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Their little scheme worked for a while. That is, until the bishop came back to the castle and their whole world came crashing down.
The bishop had been away for some time while this was going on and when he returned, a young choirboy caught his eye. Something was off, and even though they had been able to fool the rest he caught on to the deceit.
Perhaps he wasn’t the only one who knew, but everyone else had left them in peace as long as it was discreet. These details we’ll never know for sure. The bishop however couldn’t be fooled and he ordered an investigation, finding out the singer’s gender and found her to be a woman.
Starving to Death inside of Haapsalu Castle Walls
When the girl was found out, the bishop summoned his council to decide on their punishment. The boy was sentenced to prison were he was going to starve to death. But the girl got the worst end of the deal according to some.
She was to be put immured inside of the walls of Haapsalu Castle. The chapel was under construction at the time and they made a space where they could wall her up. They gave her a single piece of bread and mug of water before they closed up the wall with her inside and left her to die.
Read Also: This was a crime that happened from time to time. To hear more ghost stories about women being buried alive inside the walls, have a look at The Finnish Maiden of Olavinlinna Castle or Dracula and Ghost Nuns in Whitby Abbey
For several days her cries for help, her banging on the walls rung throughout the castle. No one came to her aid and everyone just passed the wall in silence, ignoring the screams that grew fainter and fainter.
Who know what she must have been thinking. She probably didn’t know she would die the way that she had been living since she arrived at Haapsalu castle, hidden inside of the castle walls.
Eventually, she died. But her soul, according to legend, remained and came back as a ghost.
Haunting the Chapel During Full Moon
Now the White Lady can move through the walls. In Haapsalu Castle there was built a chapel still standing today, and this girl is always seen at the inner wall of it, or standing by the Baptistery window around the place she is said to have been walled up.
Read Also: Check out the ghost story of the old Japanese practice of walling people up inside of walls of buildings in O-shizu, Hitobashira — The Human Sacrifice of Maruoka Castle
Whether some have actually done some digging and looked if there actually is a walled up skeleton inside of the chapel wall, is unknown.
The sightseeing of this Lady in White are always around full moons, particularly in August, when it is said is when the Bishop returned to Haapsalu Castle and she was walled up inside of the walls. Why full moon? Did it all happen during a full moon? Perhaps because of the legends that strange things happen during full moons? Or perhaps it was the imagination of the writer Carl Russwurn who popularized the legend, or perhaps even made it up?
The Lady in White is not said to do anything in particular other than to mourn her lost love and life that were taken from her because of the verdic of one man.
Coincidentally, the sightings of her in Haapsalu Castle happens during full moon in the hot August nights. This sightings is also said to happen when a music festival is held in her honor, called: The White Lady Days.
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