What’s not to love about the bustling and vibrant city of Madrid?
This illustrious metropolis makes for the perfect destination for any holiday-maker in search of something a little more sophisticated, unique and even exotic. Boasting an impressive selection of wondrous places rich in art and culture and some of the craziest nightlife on the face of the planet, you won’t know what to do with your time and won’t know where the heck all that time went once it’s time to head home.
But for all its offers of fine wining and dining, all-out partying and cultural hotspots, Madrid is also considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the world.
Home to an affluence of buildings purportedly haunted by grudging ghouls with tragic pasts, Madrid’s paranormal presence is so immense that it makes the recent ghost invasion of Manhattan look pale by comparison. All manner of supernatural stories and countless ghost tours on offer throughout the city have helped maintain Madrid’s certain kind of surrealism.
One of the city’s most renowned myths is one of love, jealousy, politics, incest, alleged murder and suicide…. all of which took (and still takes) place at the Casa de las Siete Chimeneas (The House of the Seven Chimneys). Also often dubbed The House of the Seven Sins, this building was commissioned by Pedro de Ledesma, and built between 1574 and 1577 by architect Antonio Sillero. Now home to the Spanish Ministry of Culture, it’s one of the last remaining structures still standing in Madrid that date back to the sixteenth century.
Once owned by Captain Zapata and his wife Elena (the latter allegedly the illegitimate daughter of King Philip II, and a former servant to King Philip III), in 1557, Zapata was sent out to fight in the Battle of San Quintin only to never return. Then, after mere months of grieving, Elena’s lifeless body was discovered in her bed, apparently with a mysterious grin on her face, which resulted in all manner of hypotheses being flung around as to exactly what kind of foul play might have gone down.
Whilst most of the details surrounding her death still remain unexplained, some people initially suggested that her loss simply got the better of her and she locked herself in her bedroom and died in misery. However, that hypothesis was soon dismissed when her body suddenly went missing, opening the door to an even greater barrage of conjectures.
Philip II was king by that time and ordered an immediate investigation into the whereabouts of the body, but given the rumoring that he had been romantically involved with Elena, the word on the grapevine suggested that his sole interest was to dispel rumors before anyone found out what had really gone on.
Other stories allege that Elena was bearing a child and the king had had her “dealt with” to keep the royal family clear of any public scandal. Fingers even started pointing at Elena’s own father as the prime suspect for her death, particularly when he committed suicide, hanging himself from a beam at home.
Regardless of whatever really happened as a result of the sordid love affair, some years after Elena met her fate, the house’s new residents reported hearing footsteps around their abode whilst neighbors and passers by claimed to have witnessed a young woman dressed in “an airy white dress” with a torch in her hand, walking across the roof before pointing directly at Philip II’s former residence, the old Alcázar of Segovia. Several of these witness reports concurred that the young woman would “stop at the edge near the royal palace, get down on her knees and start beating on her chest until she disappeared.” Other house residents also purportedly heard the sound of a young girl’s cries and the jingling of coins, or more likely “arras” (wedding celebration coins), down in the basement.
Over time, all these stories of ghostly apparitions and occurrences died down until a young woman’s body was discovered in the basement during restoration work carried out in the 19th century. Believed to be Elena’s corpse, a dagger had been pierced though the chest and a handful of coins dating back to King Philip II’s reign were found nearby. Stranger still, further renovation work performed in 1960 uncovered a male skeleton concealed within the building’s walls. Whose body that is still remains unanswered to this day.
Despite the presumed discovery of Elena’s body, everything suggests that she still has some kind of axe to grind as reports continue to come in from locals and tourists alike of visions of a woman in white.
And for some mysterious reason, she tends to put in most appearances on a Saturday night. Mind you, like I said, Madrid’s nightlife is to die for…