As the days are getting shorter everyone enjoys spending more time at home bundled up on their snug sofa with the sweet scent of hot chocolate filling the room. The TV is on, your feet are up but wait…don’t get too comfortable because we are going on an entirely different journey today. A journey through the darkest alleys of Amsterdam where tortured souls of past lives roam around restlessly at the city’s most haunted places. After all, the history of Amsterdam stretches almost 800 years back and these old and narrow streets have many spooky tales to tell.
Spooksteeg (Ghost Alley)
First stop: Spooksteeg, the oldest part of Amsterdam in the area of the Red Light District. Here one of the city’s oldest ghosts is said to reside. It’s the ghost of a woman called Helena who lived here in the 18th century with her sister Dina and her father. One day a sailor fell in love with Dina, which infuriated Helena. Out of jealousy she threw her sister into the family’s tannery cellar making it seem like an accident when in reality, she killed her. She then went on to marry the sailor but in 1753 she admitted to the murder on her deathbed begging her husband for forgiveness. He was outraged to hear this and cursed her soul to roam restlessly in misery for all eternity. One hundred years after her death screams were heard at Spooksteeg and sights of Helena’s ghost were reported in the dark alley whining and moaning.
Bloedstraat (Blood Street)
We’re staying in the Red Light District and walking to one of our next haunted places, Bloedstraat, which connects the market square Nieuwmarkt to one of the oldest canals of the city, Oudezijds Achterburgwal. It is said that the name of the street stems from the blood of executed prisoners draining down to the canal from Nieuwmarkt. Another legend has it that ghost sightings are linked to the Franciscan monastery that was located on this site in the 16th century where the famous Bloedraad (Blood Council) took place under the reign of the Duke of Alba. Many claim that the spirits of those accused of being heretics and subsequently killed are still roaming this street.
From Bloedstraat we’re heading over to Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam where the Royal Palace is located. During the day you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of this busy square with lots of tourists taking pictures and creative street artists trying to earn a bit of money. At night however, this historic square has a different vibe to it. During the Spanish Inquisition many public executions took place here and thousands were accused of witchcraft and burned at the Dam. Many believe that some tortured souls still haunt this place in the heart of Amsterdam reminding visitors as well as locals of its gruesome past. The Amsterdam Dungeon, built on site of a 16th century cemetery, is located nearby and shining light on this topic.
From the Dam we take a short walk to Singel to the old spinning house (Het Spinhuis), which was founded in 1597 as a penitentiary for women. Today it is a popular hotel but back then convicted women were kept there and forced to sew garments. The most famous story surrounding this place is that of the priest and the young girl, who were not able to see each other after falling in love. The priest was devastated and committed suicide and the girl had to spend the rest of her life at the Spinhuis. It is said that one of the hotel rooms is haunted by the priest’s ghost and even staff members are spooked by this and refuse to enter it.
The ghost of Black Matthew
After visiting all these haunted places during our nightly walk you’ll probably want to warm up in one of the many bars of the city but beware, when leaving to go home you might bump into the notorious spirit of Black Matthew. This creepy story dates back to the 13th century when a shady character called Matthew, a magician, highwayman and thief spent his days gambling and using dark magic and trickery to make sure he’d always win. His luck lasted until one faithful day when he met his match in form of the devil. Now his ghost is roaming the narrow streets of Amsterdam hoping for some luck. You better watch out because he is said to appear all over the city!