Spooky Locations in Spain and Portugal
As Halloween approaches things that go bump in the night are at the forefront of many people’s minds, so what better time to discuss spooky locations around Spain and Portugal?
Both countries enjoy long, complex and, at times, violent histories, so it should come as no surprise that there is no shortage of spine-chilling locations across the Iberian Peninsula and we're here to tell you about some of the ones we find most fascinating:
The Witches of Soportújar - Spain
This witch-themed town is nestled in the Sierra Nevada National Park over 3,000 feet above sea level and forms part of the famous Alpujarras Villages. Its privileged location is unique among the villages and means that Soportújar enjoys views of the majestic mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.
The sign at the entrance to the town features a witch flying on a broom giving you an inkling of what to expect from this small but fascinating village. The origin of the town’s relationship with witches dates back to the 17th century after the expulsion of the Moors by King Felipe III. The town was repopulated with families from the north of Spain and, according to legend, these new families permitted witches’ coven meetings under the watch of other witches at night.
To further the town’s reputation for the occult, there is a nearby ‘Cave of the Witch’s Eye’, a large statue of a witch’s head in the centre of the town, shops selling witch-themed trinkets and a Witch Festival each August. The festival features an extensive calendar of events including children’s arts and crafts, dance performances, magic shows, ‘potion’ making and gastronomic delights. These strong links with witches have led to residents of the town officially being referred to as ‘brujos and brujas’ (witches/wizards).
A haunted Sanatorium near Porto - Portugal
The abandoned Sanitório de Valongo, surrounded by wasteland and forests, is located 20km east of Porto and looks like it has been plucked straight from a horror film. It was built in the 1950s to house the growing number of tuberculosis patients in Portugal and could hold up to 350 patients at any time. After the building and chapel were abandoned in the 1970s, fires and vandalism added to the building's dilapidated appearance and it is rumoured that the souls of hundreds of patients who died in the sanatorium wander the grounds to this day.
Today the sanatorium is a photographer’s dream providing an atmospheric space for photoshoots…but that isn’t the only type of shooting that takes place here! The sanatorium is a popular spot for paintball matches and, of course, paranormal tours.
The Parador de Cardona’s Ghostly Guest - Spain
This beautiful castle was built by Wilfred the Hairy (Wifredo el Velloso) in 886 and has housed some of Spain’s most prestigious Royal families. The castle is so rich in history and boasts such fantastic panoramic views, that guests often do not want to leave, in fact one such guest seems to have refused to do so. Room 712 is rumoured to house a particularly noisy ghost who has made his presence known to many guests and staff throughout the years. There have been dozens of accounts of paranormal apparitions, often of a gentleman dressed in medieval clothing. The most common indication of his presence is a series of loud noises, similar to the sound of furniture being moved, and on several occasions members of staff have discovered furniture dragged to the centre of this unoccupied room.
One of the spookiest stories is the account of a security guard who was hired to patrol the corridors when the Parador was closed to the public for a short while. The guard was accompanied on these walks by his trusty guard dog however, whenever the pair passed room 712, the dog stopped and began barking at the door, this reportedly happened each night.
For your chance of a paranormal encounter with the Parador de Cardona’s longest-staying guest, make sure to ask for room 712 (guests are not normally offered this room, but if you’re feeling adventurous, we can ask for you) or a room on the seventh floor and keep your ears open!
Buyers bullied by a belligerent ghost - Portugal
Who wouldn’t dream of living in their very own castle? The Castelinho de São João do Estoril looks like the perfect fairy-tale home perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean with manicured gardens and a large swimming pool. However, for many years, despite lots of interest from potential wealthy buyers, the owners couldn’t quite secure a sale. This is because the castle is one of Portugal’s most haunted houses.
Buyers who have fallen in love with the look of the castle have changed their minds on visiting this haunted home. One of the most famous accounts is that of wealthy socialite José Branco who reported spotting a strange young girl as he walked along one of the coastal paths near to the castle. The girl stared at Mr Branco without saying a word and, as he stared back at her, Mr Branco felt a sudden compulsion to jump from the cliffs. He immediately left the castle pulling out his bid and, after some research, discovered that a young, blind girl had fallen from the cliffs in the same area in the 18th century. Many people visiting the area have reported seeing this ghostly young girl before feeling the desire to jump from the cliffs.
The castle is situated between the coastal towns of Estoril and Cascais and, if you fancy taking your chances with the chilling child, you can stay at the Pousada de Cascais.
Belchite: A Ghost Town with a violent history - Spain
Belchite is located just south of the city of Zaragoza and was once a quiet, but pretty village. Unfortunately, during the Spanish Civil War, the town was on the border between the opposing forces and was the site of one of the most brutal battles during the war. At different times it was occupied by both sides resulting in damage so extensive that it was reported to be difficult to distinguish where the streets were located.
In the years after the war the remaining inhabitants had to struggle through the ruins until the new town of Belchite was built in the early 1950s. The ruins of the former village now remain abandoned and serve as a monument to those who perished during the war and Belchite is a veritable ghost town, only accessible by guided tours. Today it is rumoured to be one of the most haunted villages in Spain with some visitors claiming to have heard ghostly sounds of war including missiles being shot, shrieks of victims and planes flying overhead. Belchite offers the chance to explore an unnerving ghost town, but more importantly, an important look at the true horrors that befell many Spaniards during the Spanish Civil War.
The closest Parador to Belchite is the Parador de Alcañiz.
A cursed family estate? - Portugal
Just west of the Pousada de Viseu lies Quinta da Pauliceia, one of Portugal’s most haunted houses. It is located in Águeda, a colourful town famous for a large street covered in multi-coloured umbrellas. The house belonged to a wealthy local family who returned to Águeda from Brazil in the early 1900s. Unfortunately the family’s return to Portugal was cut short after the influenza outbreak of 1918 which claimed the lives of every family member except Neca Carneiro. Mr Carneiro devoted his time as a patron of several sport and community associations but sadly passed away himself at the young age of 37 from mysterious circumstances and leaving no children. The house has remained vacant ever since and passers-by report hearing ghostly neighing where horses where once kept, screaming, sounds of shotguns and even the sensation of having their hair pulled.
This spooky Quinta is located around 70km from the Pousada de Viseu.
Whilst we at Keytel wish you a Happy Halloween, it is also important to note that the following day, November 1st, is a very important date in both the Spanish and Portuguese calendars. All Saints Day is a national holiday in both countries and is an opportunity for residents to remember and honour their dead with visits to cemeteries and celebrations of their lives. Coincidentally, November 1st also marks the day in 1755 when Lisbon was struck by a terrible earthquake which destroyed the capital and sent shockwaves throughout the Peninsula, so the date holds extra significance in Portugal.