Seville is epically romantic and equally mysterious. Since Roman times, the ancient fortresses, churches and city streets have witnessed such bloody events as the Spanish Inquisition, countless conquests, religious strife and Civil War. Seville is also a magical city with secrets hidden within its monuments and landmarks. The past still runs deep within the catacombs that tunnel beneath the streets. Sevilla has more violent history and passion than almost anywhere else in Europe, it is also one of the most actively paranormal places. Because of this, researchers and experts from around the world travel here to research amazing phenomenon and hidden mysteries. Here are a few of the most intriguing places and stories we have encountered.
La Casa de las Sirenas
Despite its elegant and bourgeois appearance, La Casa de las Sirenas, located in the Alameda de Hercules hides a brutal story. The owners, the Portilla family were one of the wealthiest families in Sevilla during the late 19th century. Unfortunately the times were not tolerant, and when one of their daughters revealed her interest in other women, Portilla detained his entire family and locked his homosexual daughter in a room in the attic of the house, for fear that the locals would discover the family secret. She could not handle the shame and confinement placed on her, and eventually fell into a deep sadness that ended in her death.
Visitors to the house today hear strange cries and there are nights when a figure appears at the attic window and stays until morning. The building is now a cultural center, and strange sightings and events are constantly reported.
The Faculty of Fine Arts
The Faculty of Fine Arts is one of the most famous paranormal sites in Sevilla. There are countless unexplained events, and the building has been the subject of countless investigations that have made headlines in newspapers of the province. Professors and students of the university have even gone on strike to protest being forced to work in such a haunted place.
Lights that turn on and off, temperature changes and strange noises plague daily life in this university building. These events are thought to be related to the death of James Santiago, one of the buildings maintenance workers, whose soul has been trapped in the building. The morning after Santiago died of a heart attack, a strange presence filled the faculty. All of the plants Santiago planted and cared were aggressively torn, and several students refused to ever return to the building.
This building has been featured in several Spanish television series, but most people who spend significant time here are convinced that the ghost of a young girl roams the building, creating chaos for other inhabitants. Actress Maria Leon in fact described events with no other explanation such as showers that turned on alone and temperature disturbances.
This department store building, situated on Calle Pellón near the Plaza de la Encarnación, has been the scene of many unexplained phenomenon such as the aggressive launching of toys by invisible hands. Customers report being trapped in dressing rooms and employees talk about the sporadic nature of lights and electricity constantly. Currently these stores are closed, but have attracted some directors to use the spaces. One such director, in post production, realized he was missing part of the footage had been recorded that day while the rest of the reel was filled with strange sounds they did not hear while shooting.
Ghosts at the Feria
The Feria de Abril is equally iconic and fun. One of the most important events all year in Sevilla. If I were a local ghost I would not let me lack of a body keep me from going, and it seems there are several local spirits who feel the same. One local story is on a night shift guard who encountered the same wine stealing man night after night in the back of the casetta he was watching. When he asked him his name, he said he worked there and was welcome to take the wine. One afternoon at the start of his shift, the guard was discussing the strange man with a caterer, and asked if he knew the man. The caterer was surprised and asked if he knew the man's name; the guard nodded yes and responded. At that point he ran to his house to get an old photograph, with the guard close behind him. The photo was of three men at the fair, and one of them wearing the clothing of the mysterious man. When asked if he recognized the picture while he held her in his hands, the watchman nodded and apologized for thinking it was a freeloader when he was actually a member of the house. The caterer responded by saying that “This man died years ago in an accident returning from the fair, this photo is the last to be taken of him.
The 'Ghost Voice' of the Old Macherena Jailer
Antonio Jesús Cárdenas and Estefanía Moreno who form the paranormal research group "Sevilla Ghost" investigated the old Macherena Jail, and commented how it is still possible to appreciate the influence of the negative energy in the walls of this old building.
A gloomy and painful feeling is said to be present in the place on Holy Saturday, a day celebrated with a procession to the Virgen de la Soledad church. During the procession past the jail in years past, the jailers would sing to the image of the Virgin, in a sad melody like the groaning of the soul. The reason they say is because on Holy Saturday ghosts, apparitions and voices from beyond can be heard. It was on that day that the jail closed and in the early morning hours within those walls, one could hear the groaning song of one of the jailers enacting the pain of the of souls who suffered and died there. The procession no longer passes by the jail, and likewise the Virgen de la Soledad no longer pays honor to that place.
Castillo de la Aguzaderas
Castillo de las Aguzaderas is located about 57 km from Sevilla, south of the Sevillian countryside. It is a very particular building, and it is the only one located in the area surrounded by hills. It’s unique location was by design, to protect a spring that provided water for the entire area. The name of this castle comes from the rocks it was built on, these rocks are still used by wild boar that inhabited the region to sharpen its fangs.
It is better known as the "Castillo del Guerrero", because of a shadowy figure that apparently still guards the old Castle. Stories have been told by countless visitors, and the most chilling by hikers who have camped in the fortress overnight. They say that at midnight, the shadow of a warrior makes his rounds and casts his shadow on the walls, searching for his long lost love who was killed during the Spanish conquest of this Arab castle. I wonder if he will wait forever or if one day her shadow will appear on the wall beside his?
The House of Villa Antonia
Casa de las Gemelas (House of the twins) is located between the towns of Isla Cristina and Ayamonte in Huelva. The house was built in 1925 by a wealthy family from Isla Cristina. This family lived a very comfortable life there until November 1, 1932 when Maribel, the mother of twin daughters looked up from her afternoon reading to find her daughters gone. The twins, Teresa and Julia were playing in the patio of his house like every afternoon, but with in moments they disappeared without a trace. It was as if the earth had swallowed them up, they disappeared right in front of their own mother. Their father Luis Guzmán, searched for days on horseback but returned without a single clue.
Their mother Maribel was admitted to a mental hospital and upon returning home hung herself in the upstairs bedroom out of grief and madness, and the father drank himself to death in short order. Since that time, noone has returned to live there, and the strong paranormal phenomena reported there bring researchers from all around the world. There are many speculations about the disappearance of Teresa and Julia. Some say they were victims of kidnapping, but on the same day, there were numerous sightings of luminary forms in the area. These sightings continued until December 8th of that same year when a huge glowing orb lit up the sky of Huelva and other surrounding areas, scaring the pants off locals. The phenomenon has not been reported since, but there are cries from the house and a shadowy figure who inhabits the upstairs bedroom from dusk till dawn nightly.
The Haunted House of Cortijo Jurado
Once known as Casa Encantada (the enchanted house), Cortijo Jurado was once a grand mansion built in the 19th century by the Heredia family, one of the wealthiest families in Andalucia. After many young women went missing from surrounding areas, locals concurred that they had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Heredias. The house was said to contain numerous secret chambers within and below the house where these poor women would have been kept and tortured before being killed. Noone has ever discovered a motive, or charged the family for the disappearances or murders, but unexplained voices, sounds lights and shadows have been reported in the building ever since it’s abandonment.
Catherine O’Connor, a producer for the production company Oxford Creative Film, described having her own ghostly encounters while filming on the property, and added that “It would be interesting to trace back the history of the girls that went missing.”
I have tried at length to find out more on the kidnapped girls or the fate of the Heredia family, but have found little. There are rumors that the murders were satanic in nature and that the family came from a particular line of Freemasons, connected to other local families that practiced demonic rituals, but all we know for certain is that all the women were between the ages of 18-21, and were found on the banks of a river nearby the mansion. There is no indication if anyone was inhabiting the place at the time, or at what point the family moved to other properties in the area. The story seems shrouded in history with only the tortured voices within the home left to tell the tale in its entirety. For more on this location, check out the blog post: http://leyenda-verdad.blogspot.com/p/cortijo-jurado-el-cortijo-maldito.html
The Belmez Faces
When Maria Gomez Pereira noticed a stain forming on her kitchen floor one day in August 1971, she did not know that she would become the centre of one of the most fascinating and best documented cases of paranormal phenomenon in the 20th century.
The stain began to develop over a period of time and eventually moulded itself into a face. Terrified by this, Pereira tried to remove it several times by scrubbing it, and eventually she solicited the assistance of her husband Juan and their son Miguel who took a pick-axe to the whole floor and cemented a new one in its place. For about a week, things returned to normal, but then the face reappeared. After that they decided to excavate the kitchen entirely to try and understand why the face was present. It didn’t take workmen very long to find a potential clue, as almost ten feet beneath the kitchen floor they discovered skeletons, many of them without skulls.
When the floor was repoured, the faces reappeared but changed. Instead of a single face, multiple faces began to appear. One would emerge only to be replaced by another, and sometimes this regeneration would happen over the course of mere hours. A full-scale investigation was launched, with samples of the concrete sent to the Instituto de Ceramica y Vidrio (ICV) for study. The ICV could find no evidence of any pigment, dyes or paint used, which ruled out a hoax. The floor was photographed in sections and covered with a jacket that was sealed at the edges. The doors and windows were sealed with wax, insuring that nobody could tamper with the scene, then they left the kitchen alone for three months. When they returned and unsealed the kitchen, the Faces had moved and evolved. Ruling out a direct hoax by painting the images, there were many suggestions for possible causes. One of the prime theories was Thoughtography, a psychokinetic ability that allows a person to project an image onto a surface either deliberately or accidentally. For this to be the case, the thoughtographer would have to be Maria Pereira. However even after her death the faces continued to appear and change.
For more on this phenomenon: http://www.mysterious-planet.com/the-belmez-faces/
The Barrio Santa Cruz (former Jewish neighbourhood), and more precisely Plaza de los Venerables is believed to have been the birthplace of Don Juan Tenorio. He is the fictional ladies man whose story has been told many times by many authors. The first book he appeared in was called El burlador de Sevilla (the trickster of Seville), 1620. As you probably know already, Don Juan is a womanizer who enjoyed seducing women and fighting their men. One day, in a graveyard, Don Juan encounters a statue of Don Gonzalo, the dead father of a girl he had seduced, Doña Ana de Ulloa. He invites the father to dine with him and the statue gladly accepts. The father’s ghost arrives for dinner at Don Juan’s house and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the graveyard. Don Juan accepts and goes to the father’s grave, where the statue asks to shake Don Juan’s hand. When he extended his arm, the statue grabs hold and drags him away to hell. On All Saints Day in Spain, many towns put on a Don Juan Tenorio, and theatres fill to share the tale of this iconic seductor. Romantic dramas have been a tradition on this night since the Roman era, but since Don Juan was born in Sevilla it is particularly significant here. The plot in fact culminates in a cemetery, which makes it the perfect All Saints tradition.
San Jorge Cemetery
Also known as the English Cemetery of Seville, is located next to the Monastery of San Jerónimo de Buenavista. Most of those buried here are Protestants, since these were not allowed to rest in the cemetery of San Fernando, which was reserved for Catholics. If you visit, you will be surprised by the bad condition of the tombs, the vandalism and the abandonment of the place in general. Because of this the cemetery has been a historic setting for satanic rites, the evidence of which are not often discovered for weeks of months. Visitors here report seeing ghostly figures who speak to them and order them to leave as well as the psychophonies of children and mothers crying.
The origin of the cemetery dates back to 1855 when Vice Consul of the United Kingdom in Seville, John Benjamin Williams decided to acquire the land to to bury English sailors who had died in Andalusia. Many say that these souls haunt the place because their bodies could not be sent back to their country of origin.
3 Shrouded Figures
Antonio Costilla, a Spanish gentleman from Sevilla, was out riding his horse in the countryside when darkness fell. Seeing a light shining from a small, secluded building, he rode toward it. He soon realized it was a chapel so he went inside and began praying. He found quickly that he was not alone, there were three other people in the chapel, wrapped in black cloaks and laying on the ground. They said nothing but stared at him with wild, sad eyes.
Antonio was spooked, and left quickly to continue on his way home. Not far along he noticed that the three figures following him. At one moment they would be behind him, and then suddenly they would appear in front. When he arrived home, the figures followed him inside. Even though he insisted to his family that the figures were in the room, they were invisible to everyone else. Costillo died three days later, maintaining until the end that the three figures were standing by his bed, threatening him with their frightful stares and gestures.
Simon Goulart, tells the tale of two young Spanish men who, on their way to the University in Sevilla stopped for the night in a small village, in his book Tresor d’Histoires Admirables. The story goes that all the houses in town were full and they were forced to sleep in an old abandoned house which was said to be haunted. Undeterred, the men stayed there but were woken late in the night by the sound of clanking chains which appeared to be coming from the floor below. One young man went to investigate with a candle and a sword and came upon a ghastly skeleton standing in the doorway covered in chains. The skeleton beckoned for for him to follow, which he did as the skeleton walked ahead dragging its legs as if bound by iron shackles. Suddenly the man’s candle blew out and the room was engulfed in darkness. He made his way outside and saw the skeleton standing beside a well, moments later the bony figure vanished. The young man understood that the skeleton was trying to communicate something to him, and so the next day they exhumed the ground where the skeleton had been standing and found the remains of a body wrapped in chains. Although they had no indication who the person was, the villagers gave the remains a proper burial and the noises and haunting of the building ceased forever.
Sister Ursula was a nun at the Hospital of the Five Wounds which is now the Andalusian parliament building in Sevilla. Sister Ursula is said to still stalk the halls of one of the buildings, and there are frequent and current reports of unexplained events. Ursula, was a chillingly ruthless nun who worked at the hospital in the eighteenth century. They say she treated her patients with the aim of causing pain and agony which she took pleasure in, and that the strange events that still take place in the building are the souls of dead patients, who did not live or die in peace, they are still roaming the halls and hiding from Ursula. Workers in the building claim to see a nun walking the halls, and several workers have quit because of constant pain and headaches they experienced while working there.
Tucked away in a little square between the Plaza Doña Elvira and Calle Agua in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, lies the legend of Susona Ben-Suson. The spot is marked by a tile on the wall bearing a picture of a skull, the place where in years past hung the head of the beautiful Susona, a silent witness to the tragedy that she brought upon herself.
The story took place in 1480, the final years that Sevilla had a distinct Jewish community. In the years that followed, the newly emerging kingdom of Spain sought to strengthen itself by conforming to Catholicism. Many Jews had already left the city or converted to Christianity, but there was suspicion among some Christians that these converts were not truly converted but rather planning a restoration of Judaism. This fear lead to the creation of the Spanish Inquisition which attempted to root out heresy and religious dissent by killing anyone suspected of not truly converting. Don Diego de Suson, a wealthy merchant, was one such convert who was alarmed by the threat to his position and convened a secret meeting to discuss the possibility of an armed insurrection.
His daughter Susona however, had a Christian boyfriend, a young noble, who she feared would be put in danger by an uprising, and she revealed the plot to him. Her boyfriend promptly reported them to the authorities and each of the conspirators was arrested and brought before the Inquisition. Every last one was tried and executed, including her father.
Stricken with remorse and the consequences of her actions, Susona never again left her home. When she died of loneliness and heartbreak, she had her head hung up outside the house where it remained as late as the 18th century, as a testament to her grief and a reminder of the heresy of Christianity.
Casa la Loca
A half-demolished house on a rural road, is still called the home of "the crazy one ". Locals say that a specter walks the old building by night, the ghost of a young girl who was locked up an abandoned because of her love for a forbidden suitor. He was a peasant who maintained the property, and she Gabriela Ciaurriz, was the daughter who was not allowed to marry out of her rank in Sevillan society. Because she could not forsake her love she was locked in the attic of the family home where she died of starvation, insanity and a broken heart.
The house has since been an object of curiosity and fear, but in 2010 the place became even more tragic and strange. In June of that year, José Antonio Cordero Garrido, alias "el Chato" and Juan Lara Gómez, a neighbor from Coria del Río, met in the house to do drugs with a prostitute who died shortly after. Apparently Juan became enraged when he saw "El Chato" and the prostitute having intercourse, and this led him to murder his friend with a hammer when he had bent down to put his shoes back on. After the first blows of the hammer, Juan made sure that he had killed his victim by crushing his head with a stone. Juan Lara spent twelve years in prison for the murder, declaring the whole time that the house had made him do it...the house had made him crazy. One interesting note is that during the trial, paranormal communications with the ghost of Gabriela Ciaurriz were brought to account, indicating that the intensity of the possession in this place is not up for debate. It seems to be a local reality.
A personal not: I stumbled across this house over a year ago and photographed it, not knowing the history of the place. I can tell you that I almost ran back to my car after shooting it because of the horrible energy I felt there. The tragedy was palpable even though I had not yet heard of these events. I actually posted these two photos on social media that week with the title “Witching Hour in Palomares”.
There are many more stories like this to be told, and you are bound to discover new ones yourself as you roam the ancient streets of Sevilla. If you have a ghost story to share with us, please leave it in the comments below!