The Alleged Creation of the Devil: Unveiling the Top 10 Castles and Bridges

Who knew that the Devil had a flair for architecture?

The Devil might be synonymous with evil, but if these legends are true, he might also be a master architect, mason, and engineer. As things go, there are several castles and bridges across the world whose construction is credited to the Devil.

Most of these castles and bridges are still standing today despite being hundreds or even thousands of years old. If the Devil actually built them, then he’s a very good architect. However, don’t think of hiring him for your next construction project because he definitely doesn’t have the required license and almost always requires a life as payment.

10 Yester Castle
East Lothian, Scotland

Yester Castle in East Lothian, Scotland, was built in 1267 by Sir Hugo de Giffard, a man who was famous for his interest in the pseudoscientific field of alchemy. Legend has it that he completed the castle with an army of goblins provided by the Devil.

This claim is not surprising because Sir Hugo was a controversial person. Some even thought that he was a magician or wizard of some sort, which was why he was nicknamed “The Wizard of Yester.”

A good chunk of Yester Castle is destroyed. But the Goblin Ha’ (Goblin Hall), where Sir Hugo supposedly performed mysterious rituals, remains standing. The hall is reportedly haunted, and many who have dared to enter it have complained of the presence of evil forces within. A stairway that leads from the hall into the nearby hills has even been blocked by locals who say it’s the gateway to hell.[1]

9 Ponte della Maddalena
Borgo a Mozzano, Italy

The Ponte della Maddalena (“Mary Magdalene’s Bridge”) is built across the Serchio River in Borgo a Mozzano, Italy. No one knows when the bridge was constructed, but historians date it to sometime between 1046 and 1115.

However, we know that the bridge was around in the 14th century when it underwent renovations. Even its original name is forgotten. It only took its current name after 1500 when a chapel in honor of Mary Magdalene was erected along the bank of the river.

Legend has it that the bridge was completed by the Devil after its human architect realized that he could not complete it before the deadline. The Devil agreed to finish it in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross it.

The architect later informed the local priest, who suggested that the architect send a pig across the bridge. Realizing that he had been tricked, the Devil jumped into the river and was never seen again.[2]

An alternate story states that the architect sent a dog across the bridge. The angry Devil grabbed the dog and jumped into the water. Neither was ever seen again. It is said that the spirit of the dog—which is now the Devil himself—walks across the bridge in the evenings of late October in search of the soul of the architect who sacrificed him to the Devil.

8 Monnow Bridge
Monmouth, Wales

In Welsh mythology, Jack o’ Kent is a legendary figure famous for always outsmarting the Devil. He is believed to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for supernatural powers or even the power to control the Devil himself.

In one deal, Jack offered the Devil the top or the bottom of the crops being sown in his field. The Devil chose the top but lost out when the crop turned out to be turnips. Jack offered the Devil the same deal the following year, and the Devil chose the bottom. The Devil lost out again when the crop turned out to be wheat.[3]

In another deal, Jack told the Devil to build a bridge over the River Monnow in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross the bridge. The Devil took the deal and completed the bridge in one night.

Then the Devil told Jack to cross the bridge so that the Devil could take Jack’s soul and go his way. But Jack had other plans. He lured a hungry dog with a bone and threw it across the bridge. The dog followed the bone, and its soul was promptly taken by the Devil.

Even after death, Jack continued to outwit the Devil. As per their agreement, the Devil was supposed to take Jack’s soul after his death, whether he was buried inside or outside the church. Not wanting to be outdone, Jack had his tomb inside the church wall. That way, he was neither inside nor outside.

7 Tarr Steps
Somerset, England

The Tarr Steps is a small bridge in Exmoor National Park in Somerset, England. Unlike other bridges we’ve mentioned, it is a clapper bridge, which is a small bridge built by arranging flat slabs over stepping stones. Clapper bridges are built to allow people to cross over shallow streams.

No one knows when the Tarr Steps was built. But estimates vary widely, with dates between 1000 BC and AD 1400. Legend has it that the Devil built the bridge so that he could sunbathe. He never walked over the slabs but just lay on the structure to enjoy the sun.

The villagers were all afraid to try out the new bridge, so they sent an unfortunate cat to see what would happen. The cat disappeared, though some accounts state that the animal was torn into pieces by the Devil.

A parson climbed the bridge and challenged the Devil over his right to pass. The Devil swore and shouted. But he finally retreated and permitted people to use the bridge after the parson stood his ground. However, the Devil forbade anyone from crossing whenever he was sunbathing.[4]

6 Devil’s Bridge
Ceredigion, Wales

This Devil’s Bridge consists of three bridges—with each succeeding bridge built atop the previous one—over the Afon Mynach river in Ceredigion, Wales. The first bridge, which is the original Devil’s Bridge, was built over very difficult terrain—a narrow valley between two hills, which made many doubt that it was built by humans.

The original date of construction remains unknown, but the span is believed to have been built by the monks of Strata Florida Abbey in the mid-1100s. This is why it is also called Monk’s Bridge.

We know that the Strata Florida Abbey was founded in 1164 and the bridge existed in 1188. A second bridge was constructed over the original in 1753, and a third was constructed over the second in 1901. Rumor has it that the first bridge was built after an old lady named Megan entered into a pact with the Devil.

The region had been experiencing heavy rainfall, and Old Megan’s cow was stuck at the other end of the flooded River Mynach. Old Megan could not cross the river because it was boiling, whirling, and hissing.

The Devil appeared to her while she stood by the bank. He offered to build a bridge over the river to allow her to retrieve her cow. In exchange for his services, he would take the soul of the first person to cross the bridge.

The Devil kept his end of the bargain and was expecting a human to cross the bridge. But Megan tricked him and threw a piece of bread on the bridge. Her dog chased the piece and became the first soul to cross the bridge. The unimpressed Devil promptly disappeared.[5]

5 Stone Bridge
Regensburg, Germany

The Stone Bridge in Regensburg, Germany, was built over the Danube River between 1135 and 1146. Three fortified towers were added to the bridge in the 13th century. One was destroyed by ice in 1784, and another was damaged after a war in 1810. This left only one tower. Legend has it that the bridge was built by the Devil.

The builders of the bridge and a nearby cathedral supposedly placed a huge bet over who would be the first person to complete his work. The builder of the cathedral was soon winning the bet, so the bridge builder quickly entered an agreement with the Devil.

The Devil would finish the bridge before the cathedral was completed in exchange for the souls of the first three creatures to cross the bridge. The bridge builder took the deal, and the Devil helped him to win the bet.

The Devil was expecting three human souls, but the builder outsmarted him and sent a dog and two chickens across the bridge. The Devil was angered and jumped on the bridge in an attempt to destroy it. He was unsuccessful but managed to leave a dent in the bridge.

Furious, he killed himself by jumping from one of the towers of the cathedral. This story can easily be passed off as folklore because the cathedral was completed 100 years after the bridge.[6]

4 Ponte da Mizarela
Montalegre, Portugal

The Ponte da Mizarela (“Misarela Bridge”) that runs across the Rio Rabagao in Montalegre, Portugal, is also called the “Bridge of the Devil” or “Bridge from Hell” because it was supposedly built by the Devil. According to folklore, a criminal called upon the Devil to provide a bridge after he became stuck at the bank of the river while trying to escape from a nearby village.

The Devil offered to build the bridge in exchange for the man’s soul. The man agreed and got the bridge, which disappeared before his pursuers could use it.

The criminal soon became repentant and visited a priest for help in recovering his soul. The priest gave him some holy water and ordered him to sprinkle it on the bridge.

The criminal returned to the river and asked the Devil to make the bridge appear again. After the Devil complied, the criminal sprinkled the holy water on the bridge and recovered his soul. The bridge also became a permanent feature.

An alternate folktale has it that the Misarela Bridge was actually built by residents from two villages along the river. The Devil destroyed the bridge 12 times and promised the villagers that the bridge would never stand.

The concerned villagers met with a priest who told them to rebuild it for the last time. They did so, and the Devil tried to destroy it again. But he retreated after the priest threw a piece of bread on the bridge and summoned the powers of God against the Devil.[7]

3 Mukachevo Castle
Palanok, Ukraine

Mukachevo Castle in Palanok, Ukraine, was built sometime in the Middle Ages. Between 1396 and 1414, it was owned by Prince Fedor Koryatovich, who added many of its fortifications. However, the prince was concerned about the availability of water if the castle found itself under a long siege. He ordered his men to dig a well, but they couldn’t reach water even after working for years.

Out of desperation, the prince offered a bag of gold to anyone who struck water. The Devil immediately appeared and confirmed the deal before jumping into the well. This brought forth water almost immediately. Thereafter, he left and promised to return in three days for his gold.

This became a problem because the prince had no bag of gold to pay the Devil for his services. A wizard advised the prince to put few gold coins inside a small bag and present it to the Devil as he had never specified how big the bag must be.

The Devil was dissatisfied with the reward and jumped into the well after a heated quarrel with the prince. Ever since, the Devil has been making sounds to scare people away from the well. However, he has never stepped outside the well because he is ashamed of the ease with which he was deceived.[8]

2 Teufelsbrucke
Schollenen Gorge, Switzerland

Schollenen Gorge in the canton of Uri, Switzerland, has historically been a dangerous route for travelers. According to legend, the people of the canton made several attempts to construct a bridge over the valley but the mules carrying the building supplies kept falling off the rocks.

Frustrated, the people entered into an agreement with the Devil. He would build the bridge and take the soul of the first person to cross as payment. The Devil completed the bridge the next day and waited on the other side for the first person to cross.

A farmer sent his goat, and the angry Devil promptly grabbed it and tore it into 100 pieces. But he was not done. He went down the mountain, took the biggest boulder he could find, and slowly began rolling it up the mountain.

The task was a difficult one, and an old lady soon came upon the worn-out Devil. The old lady quickly realized that the fatigued man was indeed the Devil after seeing his webbed feet. She made the sign of the cross over herself and the boulder, which promptly stuck to the ground.[9]

The Devil couldn’t move the boulder. After several attempts, he went to hell in shame. Today, the bridge is also called the Devil’s Bridge. Meanwhile the stone, which remains where the Devil left it, is called the Devil’s Stone.

1 Valentre Bridge
Cahors, France

The Valentre Bridge that runs across the Lot River in Cahors in southern France was built from 1308 to 1378. That’s 70 years. It’s said that the bridge took so long to finish that the builder got impatient and called upon the Devil to help with the construction. It was agreed that the Devil would do whatever the builder said until the bridge was completed, after which the Devil would take the builder’s soul.

The bridge was almost finished when the builder decided to pull a fast one on the Devil. The builder ordered the Devil to complete the impossible task of fetching water with a sieve.

The Devil soon realized that he had been outsmarted and was being prevented from completing his end of the deal. He got so furious that he sent a demon to destroy the bridge. The demon failed.

However, the upper corner of the tower in the middle of the bridge somehow became damaged. It remained that way until the bridge and its three towers were heavily renovated in 1879.

To keep up with the legend, Paul Gout, the architect in charge of the renovation, added the statue of a demon trying to steal some blocks from the renovated part of the damaged tower. At the same time, he made the Devil think that the demon was still trying to destroy the bridge, at least if the legend was true.[10]


Written by Oliver Taylor

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