La Candelaria, the mysterious and magical birthplace of Bogota, Colombia, boasts a long and dramatic history, and some believe that the neighborhood's houses, many of which are more than 200 years old, may be home to ghosts and paranormal phenomena. Most people chalk up these stories as myths and urban legends, but residents of the sector assure people that many of them are real – scary real.
Guest post by Claudia Castañeda.
San Vitorio Di Torino Hotel contained 400-year-old human remains
The numerous ghost appearances in the district are attributed to the fact that formal cemeteries didn't exist until relatively recently. For hundreds of years, people buried the dead in their home gardens, as was the case in the San Vitorio Di Torino Hotel, where the discovery of 400-year-old human remains added credence to guests' claims of paranormal activity.
The jealous wife who buried her maid alive
One of the neighborhood's legends describes how a beautiful housemaid worked for a married couple near the Presidential Palace until the wife grew so jealous of her husband's wandering eyes that she sent the young servant girl far away on a mission, hoping she would never return. When the girl finally came back, the wife was so infuriated that she pulled the maid's fingernails off and ripped out her hair and eyelashes. Then she cut her mouth, pulled out her teeth and burned her body with a hot iron before finally trapping the housemaid inside the walls of the house with just enough room to breathe through a small hole.
The spirit of the young girl supposedly remains in the walls of the house, restless and understandably angry.
The Cuervo brothers who found a treasure thanks to the tips of a ghost
Of course not all of the spirits lurking the stone streets of La Candelaria are menacing. There's the story of the Cuervo brothers, sons of a famous Colombian linguist, who committed everything they had to writing a dictionary. Then they had to save money to travel to Paris where they could have their dictionary officially approved.
One of the brothers, who lived in the house of a 17th century viceroy, was awakened late one night by three knocks at the door. Scared, he nonetheless answered the door and was greeted by a ghost dressed in viceroy's clothing. The ghost led the brother up the stairs and pointed to a wall before disappearing. The next day, they tore a hole in the wall where the ghost had indicated and found ingots and golden coins inside – more than enough to afford their trip to Paris.
The newborn baby who was thrown into a well
The history of the goblin Baltazar speaks about a young woman who got pregnant without being married during the colonial era. She didn't want to be criticized so she threw her son into a cistern that still exists in the house. People who have lived there claim they often see the child's ghost, who is supposed to be very playful with children but enjoys scaring the women. They also affirm that during the nights Baltazar gathers the leaves of the court, leaving his footprints on the floor.
The mysterious balls of lights at the city museum
For Fernando Rojas, a guide at the Museum of Bogota, the bizarre is also magical in the city center. He swears he saw balls of lights dancing around like fireflies in one of the museum's halls. According to Rojas, the lights usually appear just before closing time with such intensity that they illuminate the whole room.
The haunted house of the Colombian Service of Intelligence
There is a residential building situated where the Colombian Service of Intelligence operated a long time ago. You can still see the prison cells on the first floor where many tortures and violent deaths happened. For that reason people firmly believe that this is one of the buildings of La Candelaria with the most ghosts. Some of the claims include seeing objects changing places, hearing chains being dragged and sensing chilling cold air drafts.
The Restaurant La Bruja (The Witch)
Another former jail now operates as a restaurant and is called La Bruja. Its manager, Diego Gomez, told us there are two ghosts living there, according to a medium who visited it. One of them is called Maria and the other one is Alfredo. Diego was closing the restaurant one night when he had to return inside to extinguish a light that remained flushed. When he entered the restaurant, everything was scarily dark. That's when he felt a force throw him against a sofa, leaving him out of breath. He affirms that when the spectrum showed himself it was Alfredo, who was looking at him with anger while pressing his neck. Luckily, one of his colleagues went to look for him and the ghost disappeared.
While we'll probably never have an explanation for dancing lights, creaking floorboards and mysterious apparitions, one thing remains certain: for the best in Bogota's haunted history, La Candelaria is the place to be.