The beautiful city of San Juan, Puerto Rico is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year. The country’s capital sits on the island’s Atlantic coast and over the past 5 centuries it has accumulated some of the most spine chilling occurrences and ghostly encounters.
With Halloween right around the corner it’s the perfect time to explore some of San Juan’s most haunted places. Discover Puerto Rico has put together some locations from their city steeped in haunted legends and if you catch yourself there in October, check these places out!
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4 Haunted Places In San Juan, Puerto Rico
Castillo San Cristobal – A place of tragic love tales
Built from 1634 until 1765, for centuries the Castillo San Cristóbal has been standing guard at the eastern gate of Old San Juan. The imposing fortress was built to guard the city from enemies approaching by land, serving as a counterpart to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. It’s also the site of one of Puerto Rico’s most well-known tragic love tales.
Legend states that a young woman named Maria Dolores, whose father was the city’s executioner, fell in love with a young wandering thief named Betancourt. Unfortunately for Maria, Betancourt was caught stealing and was executed by Maria’s father. Betancourt was left hanging in the gallows, where Maria later found him. Devastated by the sight of her deceased one true love, she decided to hang herself next to him. Later that day, Maria’s father came to dispose of Betancourt’s body and found his beloved daughter with him. It is said that Maria Dolores and Betancourt can be seen from time to time wandering around the area where they both met their final resting place.
Teatro Tapia – Featured om Ghost Hunters International
Teatro Tapia is the oldest freestanding drama stage building that is still used within U.S. territory. It’s been the centre for cultural life in the city, still holding plays, shows and concerts. With the vast number of visitors on a weekly basis, there have been numerous reports of haunted happenings. Visitors are said to have seen apparitions, employees have heard unknown footsteps and voices around the theatre. Some have also said to have seen the enormous loading dock doors eerily opening and closing.
History states there once was a woman who fell to her death while performing at Teatro Tapia. She’s allegedly seen to be wandering there and sounds of people singing on stage can be heard from time to time, yet, no one is ever there. The place is so eerie, it was even featured on Ghost Hunters International.
El Morrom – A fort of fallen soldiers
Built in the 1500’s, El Morro is a series of forts overlooking the San Juan Bay. This area is notorious for sightings of a spirit of a woman that chillingly glides along the ramparts, dressed in all white. Moans of fallen soldiers can be heard, and the ghosts of old prisoners have been seen hovering along the grounds of El Morro. These frequented grounds are a playground for the departed.
El Convento Hotel – Convent turned luxury hotel
El Convento Hotel is one of the most stapled historic properties of Old San Juan. Built in 1646, it is the second-oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest member of the Historic Hotels of America. It was released as a monastery by King Phillip IV of Spain with a generous donation from Doña Ana Lanzós y Menendez de Valdez. First to join the cloister, Doña Ana was joined later by her sister Antonia and four other women.
On January 27, 1962, it was transformed into a Europe-style hotel frequented by celebrities. It is said that the ghost of Mother Superior Doña Ana is seen roaming the halls of the property. When found, she is usually praying. A commonly cited supernatural activity is hearing the swishing sounds of the nun’s robes echoing throughout the hotel halls. Some of the guests have claimed that Doña Ana has awoken them when they’ve slept in too late. Others will hear the chants of ghostly prayers.
Take in all these sites with the Ghost Walking Tours of old San Juan. There are several tour providers to choose from, including American Ghost Walks, and they highlight the Old City’s history with paranormal activity, and more recent occurrences.
Happy 500th Anniversary, Old San Juan
Feature Image: El Convento Hotel