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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The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain? 

Spaniards often have to deal with stereotypes from abroad which misrepresent them as just party-loving and lazy, but even among the inhabitants of the country’s 17 regions there are clichés that live on to this day which paint people from certain areas all with the same brush.

Spain regional stereotypes
Basques, Andalusians, Riojans and Catalans are all subject to regional stereotypes, as are people from all of Spain's other regions. Photos: Ander Guillenea, Cristina Quicler, Josep Lago, Oscar del Pozo/AFP

If you’ve lived in Spain long enough, you may have heard a joke that kicks off with “the curtain rises and an Andalusian, a Catalan and a Basque walk into a bar”. 

The chiste (joke) then proceeds towards a punchline that will mock one or all of the subjects based on regional stereotypes, usually ones that aren’t positive. 

It may seem like harmless fun but the last time the Spanish Centre of Social Studies (CIS) decided to carry out a survey among the general population asking them about regional stereotypes was back in 1994, perhaps because not everyone was happy with the outcome of the results. 

This pigeonholing based on people’s region of origin has lived on nonetheless, as is the case in pretty much any country around the world.

The huge box office success of Spanish comedies Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Eight Basque Surnames) and Ocho Apellidos Catalanes (Eight Catalan Surnames), which deal heavily with regional stereotypes, is testament to these enduring clichés.

Sometimes stereotypes used in Spain can be due to admiration or affection, other times it’s light joshing, but on occasions it can be prejudiced and offensive.

stereotypes spain

Thousands of people in Gijón (Asturias) try to beat the world record of most people simultaneously pouring cider. But do Asturians really deserve their reputation for being heavy drinkers? Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP

More often than not it’s people from the southern half of Spain who get crossed off as lazy and frivolous, sometimes just because they have a southern Spanish accent, whereas those from the wealthier north may instead be regarded as brutish or rude right off the bat. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that a stereotype is simply a generalisation about how a group of people behaves and although it may be true to some extent, it’s not universally valid and defining of a person’s character.


So without further ado, and with the purpose of our foreign readership in Spain and abroad understanding the idiosyncrasies of Spanish society, here are the main stereotypes Spaniards resort to depending on the region they’re talking about.

Andalusian people: happy, funny, party-loving, lazy 

Aragonese people: noble, stubborn, uncouth 

Asturian people: patriotic, heavy drinkers

Balearic people: friendly, reserved, untrusting

Basque people: separatist, strong, honest, stubborn

Canarian people: friendly, happy, lazy 

Cantabrian people: proud, dry character

Castellano-Leonese people: generous, serious, unassuming

Castellano-Manchego people: pure-blooded Spaniards, brutish

Catalan people: stingy, independent-minded, hard-working, proud 

Extremeñan people: village-minded, lazy

Galician people: closed-minded, superstitious, untrusting, affectionate

Madrileño people: cocky, open-minded, proud

Murcian people: fun-loving, crude  

Navarran people: noble, brutish

Riojan people: welcoming, heavy-drinking 

Valencian people: party-loving, well-groomed, corrupt (mainly their politicians)


So overall people from southern regions are considered lazy but friendly and fun by their northern countrymen, whereas southerners see people from colder northern Spain as having a drier character and more uncouth manner. 

However, even though Spain and its people’s characters, priorities and language are clearly diverse, it doesn’t take long to see that in most cases a Basque or Catalan person has more in common with an Andalusian than with a Brit or German, even though they might not always like to admit it.