Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ghosts in the Towers- Spain's Legendary Paradores

Looming proudly atop a selection of Spain’s hills and mountains are some of the country’s finest hotels:  The spooky Paradores hotels. These were founded in 1928 by King Alfonso VIII, in his bid to make Spain more attractive to tourists, and are magnificent conversions of some of Spain's oldest and most majestic historic buildings into luxury hotels. Yet taking a vacation at one of these hotels isn’t always just a tale of majesty and repose. Deep within the Paradores’ weather-beaten walls are stories of the tragic deaths of pilgrims, monks, Dukes and Kings who have inhabited them.

The Alhambra is perhaps the most magnificent of the Spanish historic buildings. Once a Moorish palace, it is here that the famous writer Washington Irving was once a bohemian squatter, recording the history of these sweeping buildings and gardens perched high on the hilltop overlooking once-Islamic Granada in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. It is here that the Moorish sultan discovered an affair between his favourite concubine and one of his courtiers. The lovers were parted and the courtier (along with his entire family) were executed. Some guests of the Parador have sworn they hear the ghost of the love-struck courtier still roaming the palace and grounds on still, moonlit nights.

Forbidden love is a powerful theme in the ghost stories of the Paradores. Perhaps the most well known is daughter of an 11th century Viscount. Although promised to a nobleman, she fell in love with a lowly governor (who was also a Moor – a double sin!). Her father locked her in one of the castle's tower (in the now Parador de Cardona), promising to release her when she consented to an 'acceptable' marriage. A woman of her convictions, she refused, and lived a long and lonely life locked away from her lover and the world. Her ghost is said to still inhabit the tower, some 900 years after she died there, and her desperately sad presence is often felt in room 712.

Photographs of mysterious spirits have been captured at the Parador de Jaen, a thirteenth century Arab fortress that was refurbished and opened to tourists in the late 1960s. Although no-one can figure out who these hapless souls are, or why their spirits still roam the halls, the haunted house in Belmez consistently records the impressions of women's faces on the walls and floors. Even when chipped away (as Maria Gomez found out more than 30 years ago), the faces return, with company.





Guest post by Escapio.com

6 comments:

Pam Morris said...

fascinating...what's the info on Maria
Gomez and chipping away the walls? you've got me curious, now!

Jessica Penot said...

I'm curious too. I'm going to have to do some more research.

Lewis Powell, IV said...

Thank you for this lovely post! It's rare to hear stories from Europe outside of the British isles. I know there have to be tons of stories, but finding something in English is difficult.

Jessica Penot said...

Lewis... I'm glad you liked it. Early on I did a lot of French posts after I had just returned from France. I'll have to do some more! Europe is filled with ghosts.

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