Halloween: Spain’s most haunted places

Spain may not really celebrate Halloween like the US, but it reportedly has more than its fair share of haunted spots and ghostly sightings. Here are some of the scariest places to visit in Spain if you're on the hunt for paranormal activity.

Belchite ghost town
The skeletal remnants of two ghost town of Belchite in northern Spain are said to be home to more than a few otherworldly spirits. Photo: David Sánz/ Flickr

Preventorio de Aigües, Alicante

This eery site built in the municipality of Aguas de Busot in the 19th century initially served as a luxury hotel. Later, however, it was turned into a sanatorium for children who developed tuberculosis during outbreaks at the end of the Spanish Civil War.

The Aguas de Busot Preventorium was abandoned after the Spanish Civil War. Photo: Kasiber/Wikipedia
The Aguas de Busot Preventorium was abandoned after the Spanish Civil War. Photo: Kasiber/Wikipedia

Today the building is abandoned but is said to be a hotbed of paranormal activity as the ghosts of sickly children still roam throughout. There are also rumours that staff practiced black magic in the building’s church.

Preventorio de Aigües
They say that under the basement there’s a whole network of tunnels and trenches. Photo: Adriano Agulló / Flickr

Los Rodeos Airport, Tenerife 

On March 27th, 1977, two airplanes crashed into each other at Los Rodeos Airport in northern Tenerife and more than 583 deaths were recorded as a result of the accident. Since that day, over the years, several soldiers stationed at a nearby military barracks (Garita sur) have reported seeing the ghostly apparition of a small girl walking past at night. It is said that when trying to identify all the passengers after the crash, one girl was reported missing and her body was never found. Could this be the same girl who still haunts the area to this day?

Tenerife airport crash
A Spanish civil guard looks for survivors among the wreckage of the 1977 double plane crash at Los Rodeos. Photo: STF / AFP

El Parador de Cardona, Catalonia

Spain’s Parador hotels are located in some of the most fascinating buildings in the country such as mansions, former hospitals, castles and monasteries, so it’s not surprising that one of them is considered to be haunted.

El Parador de Cardona is an hour's drive away from Barcelona. Photo: Jerry Michalski/Flickr
El Parador de Cardona is an hour’s drive away from Barcelona. Photo: Jerry Michalski/Flickr

The Parador of Cardona is housed in a huge castle, which was once a fortress that served as a prison and torture centre in the Middle Ages. It is said that spirits of the former prisoners still walk the halls, but most of the paranormal sightings have been reported in room 712. Hotel managers never rent our room 712 to guests unless they specifically ask to stay there.

Parador de Cardona
An aerial view of the Parador de Cardona. Photo: Paradores / WikiCommons

La Casa de las Siete Chimeneas, Madrid

Located in the Plaza del Rey, the House of the Seven Chimneys is currently home to Spain’s Ministry of Culture, but is said to be haunted by several ghosts. The house was built in the 16th century as a love nest for Philip II and his mistress Elena, but Elena was ultimately married off a Captain Zapata before rumors about the affair could circulate. Shortly after the wedding, however, Zapata was killed in battle in Flanders and then after giving birth to their daughter, Elena died too.

Rumours began to fly between the servants that there were stab wounds on Elena’s body and that she was murdered to silence any claims that her daughter might belong to the king instead. It was then that her body went missing. Years later people claimed they saw the ghostly figure of a woman floating above the chimneys. Then, 19th century when the building was renovated by the Bank of Castilla, the bones of a woman were found in the walls of the basement. 

Casa de las Siete Chimeneas
Casa de las Siete Chimeneas. Photo: Luis Garcí / Wikipedia

Isla de Pedrosa, Cantabria

Located off the coast of Cantabria, the Isla Pedrosa has today become known as the Isla Embrujada (Haunted Island) because of the strange things that have been seen there. In the 19th century, the island was used to house sailors and others suffering from exotic diseases. People claim to have seen the so-called ‘bird girls’, two sisters suffering from Progeria whose deformities were said to be caused by the devil. Today, some buildings that house juvenile and reintegration centers have been maintained, but many still lay abandoned, including a haunted theatre, which was once attended by the sick.

Isla de Pedrosa, Cantabria
Isla de Pedrosa, Cantabria. Photo: Vanbasten /WikiCommons

Belchite, Aragón

Belchite is not just one haunted house or building, no it’s a whole ghost town. The town, just south of Zaragoza was completely destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and today remains largely the same as when it was left. Apparently, Franco had wanted horrifying ruins to be a reminder to people that he had the power to punish. Although it remains uninhabited, the skeletal remnants of its church, houses, and school are said to be home to more than a few otherworldly spirits.

Belchite, Aragon
The ghost town of Belchite. Photo: Roberto Latxaga / Flickr

La Boquería, Barcelona

Barcelona’s famous historic market, just off La Rambla, is probably a place that many of our readers have been to. But may not have realised is home to several shadowy apparitions. The market was actually built over the ruins of a monastery, founded by the Carmelites in 1586. One night the building was attacked and set ablaze, killing all the monks inside. Legend says that on the anniversary of the fire each year on the night of July 25th, you can still hear the ghostly voices of the monks singing throughout the market. 

La Boquería at night. Photo: Dom Christie/Flickr

El Fuerte de San Cristóbal, Navarra

The mysterious Fortress of San Cristóbal near Pamplona was a military fortress built during the reign of Alfonso XII to defend the city against attacks. However, its main use was as a military prison, in which the prisoners lived in horrible conditions. On May 22nd, 1938, over 700 prisoners tried to escape en masse and more than 300 died while doing so. To this day, people claim to see have seen all kinds of paranormal phenomena around the fortresses, even though it remains closed to the public.

Fuerte de San Cristóbal
Fuerte de San Cristóbal. Photo: Jorab/Wikipedia

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Following the Dalí trail around Spain’s Costa Brava

Catalonia-based travel writer Esme Fox embarks on a voyage into the mind of Salvador Dalí, visiting various locations and landmarks that the Spanish surrealist created or made his own around Spain's Costa Brava.

Following the Dalí trail around Spain's Costa Brava

Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí is perhaps one of Spain’s most famous and loved 20th-century artists. He is known for his quirky images of melting clocks, elephants with long spindly legs and the portraits of his wife, Gala.

Dalí was born in the town of Figueres in 1904, which is located in northern Catalonia, approximately 50km north of the city of Girona. This is the best place to begin your Dalí tour of the region.

Figueres Day 1  

Arriving in Figueres your first stop should be the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum, this is where some of the artist’s most important works are held. The museum was in fact created by Dalí himself when he was still alive and was inaugurated in 1974. It’s housed in an old theatre, hence the name. Everything in it was designed by Dalí to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his world.

It’s eye-catching even from the outside – pink in colour and studded with yellow plaster croissants, and on the walls sit golden statues and his iconic large white eggs – a symbol which you’ll see repeated on your journey.

Salvador Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres. Photo: Julia Casado / Pixabay

The museum is filled with 1,500 pieces including his sketches, paintings and sculptures. It also houses the remains of Dalí himself, down in the crypt, where you can pay your respects to the artist.

Next door to the museum is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the exquisite jewellery Dalí designed, which shouldn’t be missed. 

Afterward, you can go and see the house where Dalí was born at number 6 on Carrer Monturiol. It’s not currently an attraction, however there are renovation works underway to turn it into a new museum about the artist’s childhood. It was due to open in 2020, but there were significant delays because of the pandemic and it is still nowhere near finished.

Spend the night at the Hotel Duran, where Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala in fact lived while they were renovating the theatre. The hotel restaurant even has a special Dalí room, filled with images of Dalí and all his friends, as well as objects belonging to the artist.

Cadaqués Days 2 and 3

After a winding and hairpin turn journey west, you’ll find yourself at one of the eastern-most points in Spain – the town of Cadaqués. One of the most attractive towns on the Costa Brava, its white-washed buildings gleam against the cerulean blue bay and pink bougainvillea decorates its tiny interior cobbled streets.

In summer in particular, this place gets very busy, so make sure you’ve booked well in advance for your accommodation.

Dalí loved this area in summer too and built his summer house in the tiny neighbouring village of Portlligat. The house is now a museum, but as it’s quite small, booking tickets several weeks or even months ahead of time is essential.

Dalí’s house in Portlligat. Photo: Esme Fox

Dalí designed the house himself, which was created from several fisherman’s cottages joined together and is topped with his iconic white eggs.

Inside, you’ll see the artist’s studio, where many of his most famous works were created, including two unfinished pieces which still sit on the easels. You can also see Dalí and Gala’s bedroom where they kept canaries to wake them up in the morning and crickets to send them off to sleep at night. There’s also an angled mirror ready to catch the sun, ensuring that Dalí was one of the first people in the whole of Spain to see the sunrise each morning.

The highlight of the visit however is the vast garden, which even features a replica of the lion fountain in Granada’s Alhambra palace as well as his famous sofa in the shape of a pair of pink lips. The views from the top part of his garden above the olive grove are so stunning that it’s no wonder Dalí was inspired by the landscapes here.

There’s a replica of Alhambra’s lion fountain in Dalí’s garden. Photo: Esme Fox

On your second day in Cadaqués, head north to Paratge de Tudela located in the Cap de Creus Natural Park. You’ll need a car or taxi to get here. Here, you can hike among the very same landscape that Dalí painted in some of his most celebrated works. Look carefully or take a tour to see the same rock formations featured in his paintings.

For dinner, book a table at El Barroco, a traditional Lebanese restaurant and one of Dalí’s favourites when he lived there. He ate there at least twice a week in summer and it’s said that whenever he had famous guests he would meet them there instead of inviting them into his home. Dalí’s face adorns the door and inside it’s just as surreal with colourful plants, quirky statues and mirrors hanging in the courtyard. And inside it’s like a museum itself, filled with glass cases of bizarre objects and old musical instruments. There are even some photos of Dalí and Gala.

Book a table at El Barroco in Cadaqués. Photo: Esme Fox

Day 4

Make your way 60km south of Cadaques to the tiny charming villages of inland Costa Brava and specifically the village of Púbol. It’s here that Dalí bought an old castle in 1969 and renovated it from 1982 to 1984 for his wife Gala to live in.

Although the castle dates back to the 12th century, Dalí modernised it and added his creative and whimsical touches. It was a kind of love letter to his wife.

Dalí said of the castle: “Everything celebrates the cult of Gala, even the round room, with its perfect echo that crowns the building as a whole and which is like a dome of this Galactic cathedral… I needed to offer Gala a case more solemnly worthy of our love. That is why I gave her a mansion built on the remains of a 12th-century castle: the old castle of Púbol in La Bisbal, where she would reign like an absolute sovereign, right up to the point that I could visit her only by hand-written invitation from her. I limited myself to the pleasure of decorating her ceilings so that when she raised her eyes, she would always find me in her sky”.

Visit Gala’s castle in Púbol. Photo: Enric / WikiCommons

When Gala died in 1982, the castle became her mausoleum and she is still buried there today.

The castle is now a museum where you can tour each of the grand rooms, serene gardens, as well as spot Dalí’s whacky touches. Gala for example asked Dalí to cover up the radiators because she didn’t like to look at them, so as a joke, Dalí covered them with paintings of yet more radiators. 

Day four completes your Dalí trail around the Costa Brava. Go ahead and immerse yourself in the whimsical world of Dalí.