Frankenstein Castle is a hilltop castle in the Odenwald mountain range overlooking the city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is thought that this castle was the inspiration for Mary Shelley when she wrote her Gothic novel “Frankenstein” in 1818.
The meaning of Frankenstein is “Stone of the Franks”. The Franks were a Germanic tribe, and “stein” is the German word for “stone”. Thus, the term “Frankenstein” is actually a rather ordinary name for a castle in this region.
Johann Conrad Dippel was born at Castle Frankenstein in 1673. He was a German pietist theologian, alchemist, and physician. Dippel made some impressive contributions to science, including helping discover the dye “Prussian Blue”, which is still used in modern-day textile production.
Popular rumours stated that Dippel performed gruesome experiments on cadavars that he stole from local graveyards. Fixated with the human soul, he documented many experiments of “soul transference”. Dippel also claimed to have invinted an “elixer of life” and a way of exorcizing demons through the use of a potion made of boiled animal bones.
Castle Frankenstein is now in ruins, with only two towers, a restaurant and a chapel remaining. It gained international attention when the SyFy TV-show Ghost Hunters International featured it in 2008. The most interesting part of the show is when sounds are heard coming out of the chapel. The Ghost Hunters team left Frankenstein Castle convinced that there was some sort of paranormal activity going on.
Once home to a mad scientist, the castle now opens its doors on Halloween. Brave visitors nervously crowd outside the castle’s front gate, waiting for their turn inside.
The castle has never been developed into a commercial attraction on a large scale, and local people use the mountain chain on which it is located for sport activities like hiking and mountain biking. The castle is open to the public until late at night.