It’s that time of year again; time when temperatures become cooler and darkness sets in sooner. It’s the perfect atmosphere to celebrate ghosts and goblins (Halloween – 31 October) and remember those no longer with us (All Saints Day and Day of the Dead – 1 November). Portugal Confidential loves a good fright. So, we’ve packed our wooden stakes, flashlights and holy water, and set out to investigate some strange and spooky places across Portugal. Let us know if you believe these places to be haunted…or share your scary experiences…
Quinta da Paulicea, Agueda
Not far from the city center of Águeda, Quinta da Paulicea sits in the middle of large unkept plot of land surrounded by a wrought iron fence. It is the classic image of what a Hollywood haunted house should look like. It was inhabited by an Águedense family, who had moved to Brazil in the late 1800s, but returned in the early 1900s, naming the home after the city of São Paulo. Much of the family succumbed to the influenza pandemic in 1918, with the exception of Neca Carneiro. He was a patron of the community’s sports and cultural programs but died childless at the young age of 37. The home has sat vacant ever since, due to legal constraints with the family back in Brazil. Although not certified as haunted, there are many reports of supernatural encounters at Quinta da Paulicea. Some have heard the neighing of horses where the stables once stood. Others have been frightened by the sound of a shotgun blast or a gentle pulling on hair. A worker in the garden suddenly experienced such an intense headache that he fled and never returned. Whether haunted or not, this beautiful home has many stories to tell. (Google Map of location.)
Sanitório de Valongo
Souls of the victims of tuberculosis epidemic are said to haunt this sanitarium in Valongo. Built in 1910 to house 50 patients, the disease quickly spread and the number of patients increased to 150 and later swelled to 500. There was no cure for what became known as the “White Plague,” and all of the patients died. With the discovery of antibiotics, the disease was eradicated and the sanitarium closed in 1961. Interestingly, pentagram designs can be found in stone walls throughout the structure. Were they meant to bring blessings?….or invite spirits? Today, the Sanitarium is used as a battleground for paintball enthusiasts. (Google Maps of location.)
Mines of São Pedro de Cova – Gondomar
The village of São Pedro da Cova was largely an agricultural community until the discovery of coal in the 1802. The exhausting and dangerous industry of mining soon took over. Several generations of miners worked here until low oil prices forced the mines to shut down in the 1970’s. All that’s left of the mines are these ruins. Neighbors say spirits of the miners protect the ruins and the mine shafts. Others claim to hear screaming from the deep holes. (Google Maps of location.)
Termas de Água Radium, Sortelha
Legend has it that this beautiful structure, in the Guarda District, was built by Spanish Count Don Rodrigo after learning that the natural “healing waters” might cure his daughter’s skin disease. News of the waters quickly spread. In the 1920s, the site became a restorative spa known as the Hotel Serra da Pena. In actuality, the waters were radioactive, seeping from a uranium mine not far away. Radioactivity was all the rage in the 20’s and 30’s, so the site bottled the spring water and sold it under the name “Radium Water.” Of course, after radioactivity was studied further in the 40’s, it became apparent that the healing qualities of radium water actually carried the opposite effect. The hotel went out of business in the 50’s and has been abandoned ever since. It is said the site is haunted by the many people who drank from the contaminated spring. (Google Map of location.)
Sanatório da Serra da Estrela – near Covilhã
This massive structure was built in 1936 by Portugal’s railway department as a treatment facility for its employees suffering from Tuberculosis. The building was later leased to the Portuguese Society of Sanatoriums on condition of receiving all patients needing treatment. However it was closed in the 1980’s and left to deteriorate for decades to come. Rumors circulate that it is haunted by its many former patients. The Sanatório has now been refurbished and transformed into the luxurious new Pousada Serra da Estrella.
Quinta da Juncosa – Penafiel, Rios de Monihos
This old farmhouse was home to the Baron of Lages and his family. The Baron was very jealous, and suspected his wife of infidelities. Legends have it, the Baron tied his wife to a horse and dragged her around the farm until she died. After discovering his wife was innocent, the Baron killed his children and committed suicide. They say the Baron’s guilt keeps him from resting in peace. Ghosts of the Baron and his wife are said to be seen around the property.
Casa Amarela – Ovar
This home in Ovar (about 50km south of Porto), has sat vacant for many years. It has been reported that even Roma have settled in the home, but left in a hurry, leaving their belongings behind. There are many legends associated with the house. One claims that a man and his daughter built and lived in the home. The father found out his daughter was dating. He flew into a rage and threw the daughter and her boyfriend into a pit in the center of the house where they were left to die. The couple now haunt the house to protect their love. Another version claims the owner of the house was bankrupt. To prevent the bank from taking his home, he killed himself vowing never to leave.
Quinta do Esteiro Furado – Sarilhos Pequenos, Moita
Also known as Casa dos Ingleses (House of the English), this grand residence is located on the Tagus River. It is a massive structure, in ruins. The chapel of the home dates back to 1630. A wealthy business man in the salt industry built the villa with a private dock to ship goods to Lisbon. In the early 20th century, the property was built by two Englishmen who came to Portugal to export cork. At that time, it became a meeting place for high society and business dealings. The Englishmen returned home but not before selling the property. After the death of the new owner, the heirs let the property fall into ruin. It is questionable whether the home is actually haunted. Yet, visitors to the site claim hearing guitar music, feeling a “heaviness in the air”, and experiencing raised heart rates.
Hotel Bela Vista – Portimão (Praia da Rocha)
On the cliffs of Praia da Rocha in Portimão, is this large Victorian style villa. It was built in the 19th century by the Magalhães Barros family. The daughter married a Spanish canner (whose factory is now the current Museum of Portimão). The woman, at an elderly age, died in the villa. It was later leased to a cousin, Henry Bivar de Vasconcelos, who turned the house into a hotel around 1930. Staff and guests of the hotel reported footsteps, moans and cries. Hotel Bela Vista has recently been renovated and re-opend as a 5-star boutique hotel restaurant and spa. (Google map of location.)
Palacio Fonte de Pipa – Loulé
In 1875, lawyer and Deputy Mayor of Loulé, Marçal Pacheco, purchased the land of Fonte da Pipa in order to build a palace similar to those he had seen on his European travels. The architect is the same one who designed the Loulé Municipal Market. Quinta da Fonte da Pipa has its own share of ghost stories, ghosts and strange sounds. It is possible there is nothing material to these stories, but rather fictitious accounts devised to keep unwanted people away from the property. Yet, others maintain paranormal activity could be a result of numerous victims of the pneumonia epidemic of 1916-18 who are purported to be buried on the grounds. (Google Map of location)
Casa de Dr. John Pike – Olhão
Early in the 20th century, poet, naturalist and romantic John Pike built a lovely home in Olhão. However, shortly after inhabiting the home, a tragic accident took place. His elderly mother, who suffered from senility, dropped his young son from a window to his death. Dr. Pike then decided to design, build and relocate to a new home closer to the sea (Quinta de Marim, which is now the Environmental Education Center of the Ria Formosa). Many people have tried to inhabit the Chalet, but at night they hear a child crying and sounds similar to objects being dragged across the floor.
Portugal Confidential utilized the following sites for researching data for this post. Click on these links for more information on Haunted Portugal.