A popular musical group in Spain called “Acetre” has a song, which is interpreted in Portuguese that speaks of a mother who is a witch and a father who is a wolf. These werewolves come from a place that is between Portugal and Spain and they terrorize people from both sides of the border. Their victims are people that are lost in the forest or are disoriented in empty town streets. Although werewolves have not existed for a long time, and no longer scare people, they still live in songs and in the stories told by elders.
Who scares children?
Those people that now dye their hair in the Valley of Jerte still remember that they used to be scarred of the “Zamparrón”. Which as its name suggest in Spanish used to delight in eating small children. It was a monster that lived in the forest and had the ability to stretch its body or to shrink it, to enable it to enter the smallest places, and eat with voracity anyone that crossed its path. The legend says that its most famous deed was to eat a whole military regiment.
Elves and mythological beings enrich the imagination of the people of Extremadura. This is a region of Spain, which is west of Madrid and close to neighboring Portugal. For example, the people of the town of Ahigal remember the “Ehcornáu”, who died with Divine help at the “Cancho de Sangre” in the “Tierras de Granadilla”. Ahigal is a town surrounded by Olive tree groves and re-lives every year these scary legends with a summer route, which is celebrated during nights of full moon. The walk goes along old wells, fountains and road crossings where ghosts may be spotted. Especially auspicious for these apparitions is the night of San Juan (Saint John). During the day we might want to visit Granadilla, which is haunted because its history has many tears and sad events. During the night we might encounter a sad wandering phantom.
Routes of terror that you are invited to travel
Las Hurdes is overflowing with magic not only because of the strength of nature that overflows in every corner of its geography, but also because of the imagination of the people. For example, at the “Malvellido” river, each Thursday at midnight two groups of phantoms run along one of its banks. Each group goes in opposite directions; they are dressed in white and are vey silent. The sinuous dancing light of candles illuminates them. People should avoid seeing the encounter, because those who have had the bad luck to witness it are not here to tell the story. By the day the Malvellido River offers beautiful scenery, such as at its meanders near El Gasco and of course, already in Las Hurdes, we cannot stop admiring the beauty of the Melero at “Riomalo de Abajo”.
Also in Las Hurdes we continue to hear a legend that suggests the apparition of huge figures on horseback that appear to stop the agony of people that are dying, taking their souls. It is said that some people still carry the mark of these terrifying “Genti di Muerti” (Death People in local dialect).
Haunted Houses Apparitions and souls
Almost every town in Extremadura has a haunted house and some can evoke horror stories. Only to stop and admire the monsters and gargoyles of churches and palaces will create terror. In Cáceres, for example, on the “Casa del Mono” (House of the Monkey) we can see three figures: a woman crying, a monkey carrying a baby and an old man. These characters are part of the tragic legend of this place. Also, in Hervás there is an old house that holds terror stories. Another similar house can be seen in “La Codosera”, at Badajoz.
The elves run through the mountains of “Las Hurdes” and “La Vega”, where also the presences of penitent souls are felt. People say that it is common to see a woman with a bell, at sunset, walking the streets while praying.
There are many places that awaken the imagination in Extremadura. There is a “cave of vampires” near the Monastery of Yuste. Today, the most important community “Rhinolophidae Bats” in Spain inhabits this cave.
Original article by Marian Castillo
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in December, 2016