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The Cutie Mark Crusaders at Fool's Tower, Vienna by CMC--Scootaloo The Cutie Mark Crusaders at Fool's Tower, Vienna by CMC--Scootaloo
My submission for Ponies Around The World 2016.

For this year, I traveled with the Cutie Mark Crusaders to the Fool's Tower (In German: Narrenturm) in the 9th district of Vienna. The Fool's Tower is one of the most creepy places in Vienna, with a quite dark history and even some myths surrounding it.....

The History of the Fool's Tower:

Emperor Joseph II., who ruled over Austria from 1765 - 1790, made a travel to France where he visited several social service institutions. After he returned to Austria, he decided to reform the medical institutions in Vienna, which led to it that a former poorhouse was converted to Europe's biggest and most modern hospital.
It consisted of three public departments: The actual hospital, a birth house and a mental asylum.
The latter was dubbed "The Fool's Tower", as it should serve to accomodate mentally ill people from all over Vienna.
The Fool's Tower was constructed as a circular building consisting of five floors with 28 rooms each, which were equipped with slit windows. In total, there were 139 cells for the patients. The cells could be entered through the round corridor.
In the middle of the institution, surrounded by its outer part, was a small courtyard. Another building stood there that accomodated the warders and served as a wing for the administration of the building.
Another reason for the construction of the Fool's Tower was the discovery that the local Capuchin monks of Vienna were "housing" their mentally ill brethrens in underground dungeons.
During this time, there was no real place for mentally ill people, they were either getting mistreated by their family or put on display as attractions. Or simply locked away under the earth.....
The construction of the Fool's Tower as Europe's first mental asylum brought an end to this. It marks the time where people with mental illnesses were distinguished in society and not just classified in the general category of "The Poor" anymore.
Despite the treatment mentally ill people should receive there, though, the asylum was still seen as a place to separate those people from the rest of society, as it was feared their illnesses could negatively affect the rest of the population.
Back then, it was distinguished between several disease forms, such as melancholy, madness or senselessness.
Attempts to cure those "diseases" by the doctors back then were made with phlebotomy (blood-letting or bleeding, the process of cutting open veins and let a certain amount of blood being bled out of them before closing them again) or by inducing vomiting, to bring the humors of the body back into balance, which was believed to cause a lot of mental illnesses during these times.
Only ten years after its construction, the tower was already fully obsolete as advances and innovations in the treatment of mentally ill people were made. It continued to house patients until 1866, though.
In 1795, after the death of Joseph II., a wall was built around the building to protect the patients from curious onlookers among the citizens of Vienna.
In 1869, the tower was closed as an asylum.
Later, in 1920, it got adapted as a dormitory for nurses of the hospital. It also served as depot for the university clinics, a workshop and as the official residences of doctors.
Today it is a museum and it hosts the world's biggest pathologic-anatomical collection with over 45,000 exhibits.

The Creepy Facts:

So much for the general history of the Fool's Tower. There are more things to know about it, though, things that give the old building a dark aura.
After the Fool's Tower was built and began to house patients, the cells of the building didn't have any and there was no connection to the sewers yet. The more sane patients with minor illnesses were allowed to walk around freely in the complex, while the dangerous and uncontrollable ones were chained in their cells.
Shortly after the commencement of the Fool's Tower the doors were added and the building got connected with the sewers. The terrible conditions for some of the patients stayed, though, as a traveler who visited the tower in 1789 could confirm:

"A big amount of the poor, imprisoned ones are soldiers. Many of them are not incarcerated, but sit and walk in the corridors. Some are chained in their cells and connected to the walls."

Not creepy enough? When the tower was built, a lightning rod was installed on the roof ridge, to prevent the building from getting hit by lightning during a thunderstorm, some of which can still be seen in the inner courtyard. Rumor has it, though, that keeping the building safe wasn't the only purpose behind these installments.....
In the time the tower was built, a clergyman called Václav Prokop Diviš made experiments with electricity and with healing by electric currents. He published his findings to the medical community.
Many people around this time believed that electricity could have healing benefits.
There are no proofs for it, but many suspect that the lightning rod on the roof was used to catch lightning, which was then used on patients in attempts to heal their mental diseases.....
There are also more rumors about doctors having abused the patients there for general medical or pathological experiments, which receives some credibility, as among medics it is often said that the tower was built at the borders of Vienna so that no one in the inner town will hear the screams of the patients.

The Myths:

After the construction of the Fool's Tower, Emperor Joseph II. quickly made the asylum his private project that he funded out of his own pocket. Historians believe that the reason why he personally took care of the treatment of mentally ill people was because he was a member of the Freemasons or Rosicrucians.
Upon examining the building, it turned out that their alchemistic numerology could be found there suspiciously often:

The circular building has five floors, there are twenty-eight rooms per floor and it has a perimeter of 66 fathoms. On the roof was an octagon once, an octagonal wood construction.
It is said that the emperor visited it several times a week, presumably for secret Freemason meetings.
A lot of the Freemason's numerology is attributed to the Kabbala and in the Kabbala, the number 28 has the meaning "God, you heal the sick" and it is also the number of the lunar month.
There are no actual proofs that he was a member of the Freemasons/Rosicrucians, but many suspect so by the number mysticism that was applied while building the Fool's Tower.
It's even said that he conducted secret alchemistic experiments under the roof of the Fool's Tower.

Is the Fool's Tower haunted?

Despite doing long researches, I couldn't find any reports about paranormal activities in the Fool's Tower, which seems to indicate that the place is not haunted. However, due to the facts that the building contains a museum today, which already closes in the afternoon, and that the employees are probably told to keep it under wraps if something strange should happen, this is no confirmation for it that there are no paranormal activities in the tower.
Due to the limited access the public has to the tower, any paranormal events happening in it have only a very slim chance of being witnessed, much less getting recorded.
While I was there, I couldn't detect much that was suspicious either. I stayed there until late at night around 02:00 AM, made many photos and recorded two videos (all of which will be linked below).
I could even find suspicious pieces of metal protruding from the walls of the tower that could be additional lightning rods, which would bring more evidence for it that the patients in the Fool's Tower were treated with lightning, as some of those are near the windows of the cells. At the side of other cell windows are big holes in the wall like other pieces of those lightning rods were pulled or have been fallen out over time.
Yet on none of these photos or videos I could see anything suspcious that would hint at a paranormal activity inside or around the building. I wasn't able to enter it unfortunately, due to having arrived there late, so I couldn't investigate the inside of the building, which maybe would have brought more results.
Two strange things did happen to me, though. One was when I recorded some EVPs (= Electric Voice Phenomenon, ghost voices on tape) during the night. While recording at one window in the middle of the building, I heard something roam in the low grass to my right, both after asking the second and third question. I can rule out an animal being responsible for it, not only was the grass too low for any animals to hide in there, it was also very bright there for the fact that it was deeply into the night, as the paths around the tower are equipped with very strong street lamps.
When checking the recording later, I heard two breaths on it, after question 2 and question 3 each, and during the same moments I heard the roaming in the grass.
I can't rule out completely that the breathing came from me, but that it occured in the exact same moments I heard something in the grass, and only then, is very suspicious.....
The other thing happened a little earlier, when I was just sitting in the grass observing the building for occurences. While sitting there, I could witness a white round light whizzing behind one of the windows on the fourth floor. Interestingly enough, the window where I saw it is in the same vertical row as the window I stood in front of when I recorded the breathing and heard the roaming in the grass.
Unfortunately, the light was too fast to record it and disappeared again almost instantly.
Coincidence? Maybe. If there was an entity there, though, it might have been the same in both cases.
Either way, I couldn't find definite signs of the place being haunted, as I had hoped, but considering the miserable life the patients had in there, and especially if the rumors about experiments that were done on the patients and about torturings are true, it is to expect that quite a high number of patients died in there and that the doctors covered up the real reasons for their deaths, which makes it not unlikely that something paranormal is going on inside of it.
Without further investigation, though, it will remain a mystery.....

Links and Sources:

The Fool's Tower on Wikipedia:…

Pathologic-Anatomical Collection in the Fool's Tower (no english version available unfortunately):…

More details about the Fool's Tower's history (again, only in german unfortunately):…

Another german article about the Fool's Tower, but it contains some pictures of the exhibits inside:…

Short english article about the Fool's Tower and the surrounding former hospital, not many infos unfortunately:…

Imgur album with all the photos I made. In the picture descriptions are some interesting details and thoughts on them:

The two videos I recorded:…,…

And that's it for this year's Ponies Around The World and Part 2 of my series about the morbid side of Vienna! As you can see by the things I told here, mental asylums like you can see them in many horror movies or horror games were indeed a thing at some point in history, together with all the gruesome things that happen in those movies/games.
Keep this in mind when you play "Outlast" the next time. The things you see in it probably happened somewhere.....

I will continue with this series next year for Ponies Around The World 2017 and if what I wrote here isn't enough scaryness for you, take a look at the start of my series from last year:……

Or a look at some of my submissions from 2014. It was before I had the idea for this series, but they feature a scary place anyway:………

See you next year for Ponies Around The World 2017 with another scary place!
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Submitted on
July 11, 2016
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