Every city has it’s dark side and Madrid is no exception. Here are some of the urban legends and curiosities that you may not know about…
The carcass in Casa de Campo
March 30th, 2016. A man walking his dog stumbles upon a half-buried rotted corpse of a mysterious creature, entangled in chicken wire. Calling the police to the scene and later scientists at the Natural Scientist Museum, the mysterious corpse turns out to be that of a dolphin.
The president of the National Association of Taxidermists, Juan Béjar, explains that the wire mesh could have been used in the process of trying to preserve the bones of the dolphin, he stated “Insects eat the soft tissue and the bones are not lost, as they are in the chicken wire. This process usually takes five or six months, but there is no demand for dolphin bones in the market.”
Luis Espetón, a taxidermist who has worked in fish taxidermy for 20 years, said that: “Dolphins are a protected species. And we are subject to regulations laid out by Seprona and obliged to follow the law. No colleague would take on such a job. No one has ever asked me to do anything like this, and I never would either.”
The police tried to track down where the dolphin had come from but to no avail. To this day there have been no dolphins reported missing in any aquariums and the mystery remains unsolved.
The girl on the curve
It is said that on foggy winter nights sometimes a girl can be seen on the side of the road. One famous urban legend tells the tale of a man who was returning home after a long drive, his eyes closing from exhaustion from his long day, when he spots a girl on the side of the road dressed in white. The man, thinking that perhaps she was a victim of a traffic accident, stops the car and the woman gets into the back seat without a word. He begins to drive and she remains speechless in the back.
Suddenly she says, “be careful on the curve.” The man squints at the road and does not see any upcoming curve when suddenly a sharp curve appears out of the fog. The man frightened looks in the rearview mirror and asks if the girl is alright only to be greeted by an empty back seat.
This is a typical ghost story that is told the world over and still sends chills down my spine.
The haunted Palacio de Linares (Casa de América)
The old Linares Palace was constructed by Mateo de Murga, the Marqués de Linares in the 1800s. The Marqués had a son named Jose, who fell in love with the daughter of a local tobacco maker named Raimunda, from Lavapies neighbourhood.
His father sent him away with hopes that he would forget about his relationship with Raimunda but Jose returned more determined than ever to rekindle the relationship. Upon his deathbed, Mateo de Murgas told Jose that he must not marry Raimunda, for she was actually his love child from an affair that he had had with the tobacco maker’s wife. However, it was too late. They had married in secret.
Jose distraught at this discovery, consulted with the Pope on what they should do. The Pope said that were told they could remain married, but they had to live together in chastity. Devastated, Jose and Raimunda remained in the Palace, but the couple lived on separate floors.
Raimunda gave birth to a baby girl a few months later, but it was murdered and hidden or entombed within the walls to avoid a scandal in the city.
In 1901, the Marquise died due to sorrow. Some people thought of the death as a suicide.
The Palace is said to be haunted by the ghost of the marquises and their child, the Madrid City Hall has documentation from investigators and parapsychologists and recordings of spirit voices including a child’s voice calling for her mama.
Cat’s Hostel, Calle Cañizares, 6
This hostel is situated just near the Plaza de Santa Ana and was said to have been built on a church site where seven nuns have been killed in the past. The property has changed hands many times, owners have bought this property only to resell it quickly after strange things started to happen.
José Antonio Abellán and his wife Mara Colás bought the building in 2001 but resold it after 3 months of strange incidences. One day during the refurbishment of the building, Maria was walking up the main stairs when suddenly the old, empty, wooden lift started to ascend following the pace of her footsteps. Other subsequent owners have also reported the lift ascending and descending by itself. The couple also discovered a still bloody knife in the old chapel. Other strange occurrences included doors that suddenly would not open, lights that flickered on and off all the time, tools that suddenly were misplaced.
the couple decided to resell and the building has been used as a hostel since then. The receptionist of the hostel today says he knows about the ghost stories but claims that there have not been any strange occurrences since.
Doctor Velasco’s Daughter
Doctor Pedro González Velasco was a key figure in Spanish medical history, he created the Anatomy Society and the Anthropological Museum in his own home, just a short distance from Atocha Station. However, he is mostly known for his macabre and fascinating personal story.
From a modest background, he became a distinguished member of the medical profession and built a palace in the corner of Calle Alfonso XII, where he lived with his wife and beloved daughter, Concha. Concha was only 12 years old and afflicted by typhoid fever. Friends of Velasco advised him to send her to get treatment, they administered a laxative to purge the fever but it provoked internal haemorrhage which took her life.
Velasco was devastated, he became obsessed with his dead daughter and had her body mummified, he surrounded himself with her favourite objects and would hold her mummified body and also have her sit with them at the table at mealtimes. Many people claimed to have seen the Doctor riding in his carriage in Retiro accompanied by his mummified daughter dressed in a bride’s wedding gown. This caused much shock and scandal in Madrid society.
His obsession with his daughter became his downfall. His Anatomy Society closed down and he lost his clients. He was convinced to rebury his daughter and after his death, he was buried side by side with his beloved daughter and his wife.
The hauntings of Tirso de Molina
Tirso de Molina metro was built upon the old Convento de la Merced. During the construction works the bulders encountered hundreds of skeletons of the resident monks of the monastery. The disruption of their eternal rest is said to have brought about hauntings in the metro station where hooded monks have been seen on the platform.
The most known urban legend is about a girl who got onto the last train of the evening at Tirso de Molina, according to the legend, the wagon was only occupied by herself and three others, one woman and two men. The woman stared at the girl, unblinking.
At the next stop, a man got onto the wagon and sat next to the girl. He also observed the woman in front who would not stop staring at the girl. The man turned his head and whispered to the girl, “Don’t move, don’t speak, don’t look at her face. Get off with me at the next stop.” The girl, frightened, did as she was told.
Once on the platform, the man apologised to the girl, “I’m sorry to have scared you, but I’m a medium and the woman who was seated in front of us was a ghost and the two men were her companions.”
Since then there have been other reported sightings of phantom riders of the Tirso de Molina train line.