Halloween is believed to have its origins in the ancient Celtic festivals called Samhaim, which marked the arrival of winter. For the Celts, the onset of winter represented the coming together of our world and the world of the dead.
Around this time, the belief was that the dead returned to visit their homes and that this in turn would curse animals and crops. The symbols now characteristic of Halloween were therefore used to drive away these evil spirits that, according to many people who witness these phenomena, continue to roam in places that remain difficult to decipher. An enigma. For the more skeptical here are some of those locations.
1. Castle of Our Lady of Fátima
The castle, known locally as castelinho, stands on the waterfront that connects Cascais to Lisbon, and is considered one of the places with the most frightening stories in Portugal.
Legend has it that the first owners of the house were a happy family who had a daughter who loved to play outside. The house includes a rough patch of land on a cliff from where the little girl is said to have accidentally fallen while playing with a doll.
Legend has it that it is sometimes possible to see the girl’s spirit walking over the walls with her doll in hand. In addition, there countless reports from people having seen windows opening and closing for no apparent reason at times when the castelinho was uninhabited. It is also known as Dr. Cebola’s house, in honor of its first owner, psychiatrist Luís Cebola.
2. House of Rocks
The Casa das Pedras or House of Rocks belonged to Commander-in-Chief Manuel de Azevedo Gomes, and to this day belongs to the family. Built in 1903, it is located by the sea, in Parede, near Cascais, and is surrounded by a forest.
It is said that one can hear doors and windows slamming, lights turning on by themselves, footsteps and even ghosts. Records show that the Commander ordered the house from the Italian Nicola Bigaglia, at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Formerly called Quinta do Moledo, it houses a winter garden and evokes the imagery of a medieval castle.
Fernanda Benedita Azevedo Gomes is the current owner and resident of Casa das Pedras. She Born and raised there, the 91-year old woman has stated that she has no memory of such haunting episodes.
Plenty of publications describe Fernanda as someone who remembers the history of her family’s summer home, built by her grandfather in 1903, in a positive way. It is said that her eyes are the color of the sea, and she fixes her sight on the waves as she talks about a man with a passion for the ocean given that he was originally from the island of Pico in the Azores. It is said that he chose to build the house with stones, pebbles and rocks because of that very reason. Fernanda once said that “it was as if he wanted to bring the sea into the house”.
Several generations of the Azevedo Gomes family have lived in the house, like Fernanda’s grandmother, Alice Hensler, who lived there until she was 100 years old. Fernanda’s brother, João Paulo, who is 90, shares the huge mansion with her, which has more than a dozen rooms. The story goes that the only thing missing is the children and grandchildren they never had. They could be filling this mysterious house with joy.
3. Chalet Biestar, Sintra
The Witches’ House, as it is known, is located on the Pena road, in the middle of the Sintra Mountains, perhaps because of its neo-gothic architecture reminiscent of horror movies. It served as the setting for part of Roman Polansky’s thriller “The Ninth Gate”.
Legend has it that there is a secret society that meets in the chalet. There are also rumors about the existence of a book, supposedly written by the devil, which is said to be kept in the basement of the building.
4. Palácio de Seteais Hotel and Bela Vista Hotel
Given the number of haunted hotels that exist in Portugal, I have chosen to mention two of the most impacting stories set in hotels. Starting with the Palácio de Seteais Hotel, located in the mystical town of Sintra. Room number 18 is said to have so many manifestations of hauntings that no one can sleep there.
In room 18 lived and died a guest whose spirit still wanders at night. There are many frightening sounds, from the creaking floor to a man’s voice that can be heard. It is said that recordings were made, both in video and audio, to attest to the veracity of the supernatural manifestations. No pictures exist, but it is said that the sounds were effectively recorded.
The Palácio de Seteais Hotel is beautiful and luxurious, which makes it perfect for special dates, but don’t forget that you may have to share your romantic evening with the ghost if you have the courage to choose room number 18.
As for the Hotel da Bela Vista, it is located in Portimão in the Algarve. It is said that after it was requisitioned in 2011, the terrible noises of the ghostly figure linked to the hotel’s history have stopped being heard. However, the former owner is said to have died in room #108 and her moans were audible in the hotel. In addition, her silhouette would appear in the corridors used by the staff, frightening them to death. Do you dare to stay here?
5. Quinta da Juncosa, Penafiel
A deeply macabre story took place on this farm, which to this days is believed to remain haunted. The Baron of Lages was the owner of this property, and was also a jealous husband. The story goes that on an impulse, driven mad with the thought that his wife had betrayed him, he rode a horse and dragged her along the ground for miles. Then, realizing what a horrible act he had committed, he killed his children and committed suicide.
According to the local people, you can hear the corn being harvested, the barrels of wine bursting in the cellar, and the furniture being dragged. The next day, however, everything is in the same place as the day before. There is also talk of procession lights that can be seen but without any pilgrims. Today, the farmhouse remains abandoned, perhaps because the tragedy continues to haunt the troubled souls of this family.
6. Mont’Alto Sanatorium, Valongo Mountains
Known as Sanatório de Valongo, it received those who suffered from tuberculosis, and was active from 1958 to 1975. 350 people with tuberculosis spent very difficult days here, despite its capacity of only 50 beds.
After the reports of abuse, the place was left to its own devices, abandoned, looted, and later vandalized. At night, it is said to be inhabited by the tormented ghosts of tuberculosis patients who passed through. The place is also linked to several stories of satanic rituals.
7. Palacete Marques Gomes, Vila Nova de Gaia
“Get out of here now, go away!”, is what a brusque, metallic voice says every time someone approaches the Palacete.
And this is just the first thing people hear when they visit this palace by the Douro. There are chilling reports of other strange voices and sounds, as well as dark secrets that make this haunted mansion, one of the most famous in the country.
8. Beau Séjour Palace, Lisbon
The ghost of the Baron of Glory, which is said to haunt the Beau Séjour Palace, is always revealed by those who work there. Staff members claim that “from one day to the next, documents and dossiers change places, even if the palace is closed at night.” Various archival work was done there, but had to be stopped due to sounds and echoes, situations that no matter how hard they tried, no one could explain. These phenomena remain mysterious, undeniable, and continue to happen.
9. Lethes Theater, Faro
The name Lethes was inspired by the legend of the Greek river whose waters have the magical power to erase bad memories.
A woman has appeared to several people working there. They ran away, appalled at what they saw. Even when there is no one inside the theater, in the middle of the night you can hear footsteps.
10. Casa do Diabo, Felgueiras
This house, now in ruins, is said to be haunted by a couple of farmers who lived there and experienced unexplainable situations. One of the creepiest episodes tells the story of a woman who used to make embroidery and that one day she left it in a room, properly folded and ironed. The next day, she found them unfolded and covered in urine.
The daredevils who still risk visiting this place say they feel watched, and there are reports of noises and sightings of a man on the balcony. If these stories have aroused your curiosity, come to Portugal to learn about them.
It is possible to visit some of these places. The question is: do you dare?