It's 2021 now and time for "Ponies Around the World" again! And I am so glad I could finally make a creepy "Ponies Around the World" trip again this year. Coronet's virus sadly prevented it last year, as Equestria didn't hold the event to begin with, while I planned to make a trip for it anyway because there wasn't a lockdown during Summer where I live, but ultimately failed that plan because of how much Coronet's virus affected my writing plans. So there was simply no time to plan a trip last year. But now we are in 2021, Coronet is about to get defeated thanks to vaccines and this means it's time to continue my series of Applebloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle visiting a haunted place in Vienna. This year, Derpy joined them for her first "Ponies Around the World" trip!
For "Ponies Around the World 2021", we went onto a mysterious, haunted mountain at the northern border of Vienna, called "Leopold's Mountain" (in german: "Leopoldsberg"). Parts of a medieval fortress, a castle that was built later and a church are on the mountain. When we arrived there, we got the bad news that the fortress is not open to the public anymore, because of a legal fight between the owner and the renter of it, which is why I could take pictures only outside of the fortress walls and why we could neither access the castle, nor the church.
Leopold's Mountain is said to be a cursed place. Near the end of the 19th Century, a serious of ominous accidents, murders and suicides began on Leopold's Mountain and in the region around it. Here are a few of the tragic and strange events that I could find out about during my research:
In August of 1871, a 40-year old, unknown man was found hanging on a tree in a forest near the mountain. He was dressed elegantly and was presumably a rich person. The body of the man had second-degree decay, meaning he had killed himself a few days prior to his discovery.
Less than seven years later, on July 28th, 1878, the river washed a strongly-decayed human body ashore in the village at the bottom of Leopold's Mountain. The body missed its head, both arms and one foot. Due to the strong decay, the gender of the person could not be identified anymore. The absence of important body parts suggests this person was murdered by someone.
Another man called Albin Holzschuch, who worked as a lamplighter, had an accident on the path that connects the village with the peak of the mountain, in July of 1894 at 11 PM. He fell from a low height, but sustained severe injuries; a concussion of the brain, skin abrasions in the face and contusions of one forearm. It was suggested that he missed the path in the darkness of the night while he walked on it, but this is a strange event with a few open questions. If the height he was falling down from was so low, then why where his injuries severe like this? And since he worked as a lamplighter, wouldn't he have carried a lantern to light his way with him? How could he miss the path in the darkness when he had a light? I don't think this can be as easily explained as the newspapers of that time attempted to, although it's difficult to make speculations about what exactly happened, there seems to be more behind this accident.
Only less than three years after this event, on April 7th, 1897, a man's dead body was found in a bush. His body was dry like a mummy and the parts that weren't protected by clothes were skeletonized as birds and insects had picked and eaten away at them. It was determined that he cut his arteries open and then hung himself. Why his body looked like a mummy is unknown, though, and remains a mystery.
In July of 1910, a 30-year old middle-class man shot himself into the head with a revolver. He died before help arrived and a pocket watch with the monogram A.S. was found in his belongings.
Another accident happened in March of 1914. In the train station of the village at the bottom of Leopold's Mountain, a young man came with his legs under the wheels of a moving train. Both of them got cut off. A doctor tried to save him and the ambulance was called, as well, but the man died at the scene of the accident.
The peak of the mysterious series of tragedies happened in October of 1955, when an airplane collided with Leopold's Mountain during thick fog and seven people died in that accident.
These are the seven events I found that are part of a long series of such happenings on or around Leopold's Mountain, but there are many more. The frequency of tragedies in this region is remarkable, the first six events in this list happened over the course of less than 43 years and the plane crash demonstrates that it didn't end with these, all of which is the reason why Leopold's Mountain and the surrounding land is rumored to be cursed. The villagers at the bottom of the mountain attribute the accidents, murders and suicides to the ghost of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who cherished Leopold's Mountain as one of her favourite places and visited it for long walks, often already before breakfast, and who supposedly haunts Leopold's Mountain and is the cause of this curse. They say that her ghost drives people to insanity. This can't be, however, because the cursed events already started before her death, Empress Elisabeth died only in 1898, the first four of the events I listed here happened when she was still alive. The mysterious events were likely also a reason why Empress Elisabeth felt drawn to this place, as she had a certain interest in the occult and paranormal. If the area is really cursed, it must be a different power at work there. But although Empress Elisabeth is not responsible for this curse, there are many people who claim that her ghost appears on the peak of Leopold's Mountain next to the fortress, near the village and on the path that connects the village with the mountain peak. One such report comes from Thomas L., a 43-year old teacher from Vienna, which I'll translate here because it's available in german language only:
"I was hiking with my shepherd near the fortress, when Lauri suddenly raised her hackles, put the tail between her legs, whimpered and came running to me, while she constantly looked over her shoulder back at the spot which she had approached sniffing on the ground a moment ago. She pressed her body against my leg and was shivering slightly. I couldn't see anything suspicious, though, and encouraged Lauri to keep going, but she kept standing next to me and didn't move forward a millimeter anymore. I looked around, even checked behind a bush to see what unsettled my dog so much, but couldn't find anything. Just when I wanted to continue and said to Lauri 'Now come on, you coward', I saw something zip by us, like one fast-forwards a scene on a DVD player. My dog immediately began yapping hysterically, I heard at the pitch that she had tremendous fear. But what exactly did I see? A human shape, even though I couldn't explain the tempo it had been running past us with. But since my dog calmed down relatively quick, I decided to let the matter rest and not to think about it anymore. We continued and didn't experience anything weird anymore. After the hike, Lauri and I visited a friend of mine in Kahlenberg Village. Who then told me about the many unfortunate incidents in previous years and a couple of mysterious occurrences in the region. Among other things, he confessed to me that he once met Empress Elisabeth on the Nose Path (german: "Nasenweg", the path that connects Leopold's Mountain with the village below it, "Kahlenberg Village"). 'She was black and white, like on an old photo, and first she was standing and in doing so, she moved so weird and angularly, totally eerie. Then she started running, faster than living humans can run, like you experienced it, too,' he said. Three days after the sight of this paranormal phenomenon, his grandmother died. Well, everyone still lives in our family and I hope it stays like that."
Another thing that is told about Leopold's Mountain, is, that a creepy, orange glow can be seen in the castle's windows at night from down below in the village, that appears and disappears in the different rooms, like there are castle servants that carry a candle holder from room to room to check them. There are also reports about loud noises coming from the castle during the night that can still be heard in the village below the mountain and were especially heard by young people who threw parties on Leopold's Mountain, but the castle is always locked and no one is inside or living there when the lights and sounds occur. Animals get scared and refuse to go beyond the fortress walls.
We were spared (or denied?) all of these exciting phenomenons when we were there. On two pictures that I took with the nightvision mode of my smartphone's camera, I could see a glowing dot that had changed location between the two pictures, which I suspected to be of paranormal origin at first, but later also attributed to a little insect, when one flew past my phone's flashlight and reflected the light with its body in the same, glowing way. So I can't confirm what exactly this was.
More interesting were sounds of someone walking at two spots near the fortress walls that I heard a few times during the night and also on the next morning. It sounded just like when a tourist or stroller was actually there and brushed with their shoes over the gravel on the ground, but when I instantly turned around to the spot, no one was going there.
Twice I heard a stomp coming from behind me, the first time when I was sitting on a bench near the fortress walls on the peak of the mountain and the second time when I went down the path to the village in the middle of the night. Right after I heard it on the path, I nearly tripped over my left sandal and damaged it slightly, so that I had to stop and fix it before continuing, despite that I didn't change my tempo on the steep path. It was a weird timing for this to happen.
A grunt from the forest to my left while I went down the path at night came from an animal, I assume with 99,9% certainty, but the most interesting thing I could experience happened while we were sitting on the bench next to the fortress walls.
I was reading some newspapers I had taken with me and while I did so, I felt the back rest of the bench vibrate like someone had just pushed or punched against it. This happened twice over the course of a few minutes and I tried to replicate the vibration by moving my back while sitting, even though I am sure I didn't move an inch when the vibrations occurred, but the kind of feeling I produced with that was different. When I then punched against the back rest myself, it felt exactly the same. I don't have a rational explanation for that. For me, this was enough confirmation for it that the place is indeed haunted.
For the curse that is said to be on the place, my theory is that what is responsible for it is much, much older than a ghost from recent times. There have been celtic settlements on Leopold's Mountain as early as 900 B.C. and I think whatever causes that curse goes back to those times. A powerful, celtic ghost? Rituals that unleashed uncontrollable magical forces from a time when magic did exist (if magic ever existed on Earth)? A summoned, demonic being? An ancient god running amok? I don't know enough about the curse to figure out what it is, but I will definitely visit again someday. Maybe I will learn more then.
Sources (in german language and without english version, you need Google Translate if you don't speak german):