By Katie Arango
A city with as long a history as Barcelona has its fair share of macabre secrets. Strolling around the Barrio Gótico, you can almost feel the spirits of the past 1000 years of its inhabitants. From Medieval witch hunts and torture, to the Spanish Inquisition to exorcisms and countless individual myths and legends, Barcelona’s got it all. Read on for some of our favorite spooky Barcelona stories, if you dare! Muahahaha!
A Ghostly Legend
The most famous ghost in Cataluña is, without a doubt, Comte Arnau. The wealthy nobleman lived in Ripolles way back in the 1200s. As legend would have it, he was quite the scoundrel, racking up major sins in his lifetime including not paying workers and even having relations with a nun. His punishment for all of this bad behavior? To ride around for eternity on a fiery horse, with a pack of wild dogs by his side. If you see him, you’ll recognize him by the flames coming out of his mouth and eyes. His story has survived through today mostly thanks to a ballad from the 16th century, which remains a traditional Catalan song to this day.
Spain’s Deadiest Killer?
Enriqueta Martí might have the distinct honor of being the deadliest murderer in Spain’s history. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing how many people she killed, since her secrets died with her in 1913. Also known as the Vampiress of Barcelona, Enriqueta is most widely remembered for not only her kills, but also for her clever “disposal” of the body parts. Barcelona, back in Enriqueta’s day was a bit of a lawless city, complete with widespread poverty, immigrants and transplants from all over Spain, and general disorganization. Whereas many people saw chaos, Enriqueta saw opportunity. She would steal poor street children or kidnap them from their parents and either prostitute them out or murder them, and use their remains to make tonics, elixers and creams, which she would then sell to the city’s wealthy. It’s unclear if Barcelona’s upper eschelons of society knew that their prized potions and medicines were made of ground up bones, hair, and blood of small children, but they sold very well. When Enriqueta was finally apprehended by police, they discovered many flats around the city with fake walls and floorboards packed with children’s remains. Her main apartment, in case you happen to be in the neighborhood on Halloween night is 29 of Ponent Street (known today as Joaquim Costa Street). Martí died in prison and was buried secretly at a graveyard near Montjuic.
Cursed Places and Spaces
The Gran Teatro del Liceu is Barcelona’s cursed Opera House. Thought to be a setting for executions during the Inquisition, the ghosts of those executed have been wreaking havoc on the Opera House since it’s construction. Built in 1847 where a monastery used to be, it has had its fair share of catastrophic events, including being damaged by a fire in 1861, being bombed by an anarchist in 1893, and burning down in a massive fire in 1994. Just a coincidence?
These days, the opera house is a staple in terms of architecture and cultural life in Barcelona. If you go to see a show there, keep an eye out for the theater’s ghost inhabitants on stage or even in the audience!
There were tons of spooky stories to choose from for this article! What’s your favorite tale from haunted Barcelona?