Barcelona - Secrets of Occult, Ghost Stories, and Urban Legends in Gràcia

When you stay in an apartment in Barcelona, seeing the main attractions and hitting the beaten path is a given, after all it's the tried and tested way to see the city. With that said though, there's nothing more satisfying than detouring and discovering the hidden history of a city that only a handful of visitors will have encountered or even imagined existed. Gràcia -a trendy district in the north of Barcelona- is full to the brim of such hidden gems.

Fans of paranormal mysteries and dark histories, you're in for a treat...

The Secret Burial Grounds of Gràcia

The Cemetery of Josepets

Church of JosepetsWhilst the flourishing Barcelona had space for its own cemeteries, Gràcia, an independent village at the time, didn't have such luxuries. Villages in those days buried their citizens in and around their churches, something that Gràcia didn't have until they started building the Church of Josepets in 1658.

First Stone of JosepetsThe cemetery would have been behind the building but as the area expanded and houses were built, the bodies were removed and dumped into a common grave inside what is now a training centre to help those in poverty. The hundreds of remains are all still piled up in front of the first brick of the church, under a marked slate. The bodies of the more important people however, are safely buried in the crypt, like Prince George of Hessen-Darmstadt (a Catalan hero)... Though his heart was removed and sent back to Darmstadt.

A Pile of Corpses Resurfaces...

Excavation in BarcelonaImagine being the poor builder, who much to his surprise while working on renovations just off of Plaça de Lesseps in 2007, uncovered a pile of skeletons buried atop one another. How did they get there? Excavations place dates at roughly 300 years ago, giving two popular explanations.

  1. The dates coincide with the War of Succession and it would have been the area where French troops camped and dumped their bodies.
  2. These were victims of the plague; piled up and burnt to kill any disease.

There are likely many more scattered all around the area. Either way, the second theory has more momentum amongst the neighbours who gossip about the ghostly lights seen flickering in the air at night... Must be the flames of the bodies being burnt...

The Poltergeist of Francisco Giner, 43

The Poltergeist HomeBarcelona has the first officially recorded poltergeist attack in Spain. On 10th February 1935, the local nightwatch guard left his family home for his shift. Not much sooner, a faint banging commenced throughout the walls, slowly getting louder and louder. Waking up to investigate, the son switched on the light. In that moment a drawer from the dresser shot across the room. The family screamed for help. When two of the patrol came to inspect the house, the banging continued albeit much fainter. Conclusion? Nothing there.

The noise continued into next day, so the family filed a police report. After combing the house, they didn't find a thing. It stopped... That is until February 12th, 19:30.

This time, the banging was so loud that the neighbours came to investigate. On this night, witnesses said the dining room chair fell and rose again on its own, the lights swung violently, the clock stopped and started repeatedly, a fork disappeared and reappeared, the windows were quivering, and stones began to rain down in the courtyard. The bangs continued before fading into the morning. Oddly enough, when the police investigated, only the children stated seeing a white shadow moving between the clock and chairs... After that day it has never happened again...

The Man Who Sold his Soul

The Devil HouseOn the gypsy street of Josep Torres 20, a wealthy businessman was down on his luck with house reforms bankrupting him. His name was Agustín Atzerias. Things got so bad that he decided to make a deal with the Devil, to whom he sold his soul in exchange for winning the lottery. Of course, he did win the lottery, so owing it all to the big D downstairs, he adorned the house in demon heads, a devil face over the door, and infernal hellish scenes painted across the walls.

The house is currently boarded up and the paintings gone as it awaits reforms to be sold on as apartments. The demon heads may remain for now, but one day the Devil house will be long gone and forgotten about... Mr Agustins Atzeries tormented screams, however... will last forever...


The Vampire of Barcelona

The Vampire of BarcelonaOne of the most famous serial killers in Spain, Enriqueta Martí, started modestly serving an aristocratic family. Wishing for a riches, she would sell her body to the wealthy, but that wasn't enough. She started her own brothel in Gràcia and learnt that the richest like them young... The money rolled in and her perfectly executed plan for wealth paid off. She kidnapped her victims -orphans from 3 to 14- by wrapping them under her black cape and bringing them home, thus the name.

Eventually (and by coincidence) her business was discovered by the police while the son of an influential individual was there. Money exchanged hands and Enriqueta Martí saw no justice, rather, things got worse.

With tonnes of money by now, Enriqueta bought many apartments around the Raval area of Barcelona. Not only would she run brothels from these locations, but the children who she decided weren't 'up to scratch' would be brutally murdered. Their bones would be sold as powders, the fats as moisturizing oils and machine grease, and the blood in potions. By day she dressed down as a beggar to scout for children, and by night she dressed up luxuriously to sell her children and products to the wealthy.

One day, she accidentally kidnapped a child who had family. Obviously concerned, the family notified the police. The police only found the remains of 12 children that day, but Enriqueta had been doing it for 20 years... She was jailed yet never went to trial, and in the end was lynched by inmates. She always maintained that for her it was just business... That the truly twisted were the clients... and perhaps a society that allowed for them to exist...

La Catalana - The Bi-present Nun Who Advised Franco

Hermanas de Jesus PacientePerhaps the strangest tale is of Ramona María del Remedio Llimargas Soler. From a young age she was visited by the spirit of the Virgin Mary who told her she would create a religious foundation to cure the ill - known as "Hermanas de Jesús Paciente" in Gràcia. Spiritually gifted, her powers included divining facts from past, present, and future, as well as bi-location by projecting her image into another location.

Apparently she warned of an upcoming civil war, but was widely ignored. Eventually it happened and was led by Francisco Franco, who eventually took full power over Spain. As an outright Catholic, Ramona appeared to him in his office in Burgos and spoke to him in Catalan (she knew no Spanish), for this he thought she was the Devil and demanded "Send me the Virgin Mary instead". She responded "I will send you not one, but three". Eventually they created a mutual understanding and met frequently, which apparently Franco's aides attested to as well.

Ramona is credited with assisting Franco in a number of ways, including:

  1. Stopping him attending a banquet in Zaragoza where he would have been poisoned
  2. Changing strategies at the horrific Battle of Ebro
  3. Notifying him which of his advisers were Masons (whom he opposed deeply)

So dependent on her was he, that when she didn't appear to him in 40 days, he asked if it was because God no longer favoured him. She wasn't 100% loyal to Franco though, Ramona would also help the Republicans too, and she would frequently use her powers to heal the sick, no matter what background they were from. You can still visit the building of Hermanas de Jesús Paciente today, home to five modest nuns who prefer not to encourage any connection to the dictator. It's also the final resting place of Ramona María del Remedio Llimargas Soler otherwise known as "La Catalana".

Barcelona is full of hidden secrets that many tourists will never encounter. These accounts were just a selection from a tour by the Taller d'Història de Gràcia who give tours of the district. There are certainly many more just waiting to be discovered, so the next time you find yourself in the city, why not go out and look for them? You never know what you might uncover...