Home to thousands of American expatriates, the city of San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato is the textbook example of a Mexican pueblo mágico, or “magical town.” Founded in the 1550s, this beautiful city is steeped in many legends. Here are 7 scary ones.
- The Ghost of the Inquisitor
There is an old house among a row of homes on Calle Cuadrante near its intersection with Cuna de Allende in the heart of San Miguel de Allende that has even the most skeptical locals trembling with fear. The house, at number 18 Calle Cuadrante, dates to the year 1780. A counselor of the Holy Inquisition once lived at this infamous residence. As a member of the Inquisition, this man was responsible for investigating crimes against the Catholic Church and examining those who were accused of heresy and practicing witchcraft. Those connected with the Inquisition used any means necessary to get the information they needed to prove or disprove their cases, and there are many stories about cruelty and torture connected with those involved in the Holy Inquisition’s investigations. During his time at this residence, the counselor was not well liked by his neighbors who would see him infrequently. For some weeks, the people on Calle Cuadrante had not seen the man, so with the proper authorities present, they entered his house, only to find that the man had gotten trapped inside one of the interior walls of his home and died there. Immediately after this macabre discovery the neighbors began reporting strange wailing sounds coming from inside the house. Even well into the 21st Century, a neighbor will claim that at night one can see a figure in the mist peeking out of one of the windows of the house. Others say that when they see that figure in the windows they are drawn to the house and look for a way to enter it as if their lives depended on it.
- El Callejón de las Piedras Chinas
It is said that years ago a band played all night in the main plaza of San Miguel de Allende. When they finished playing in the wee hours of the morning the members of the band passed through El Callejón de las Piedras Chinas, which translates to English, “The alley of the Chinese stones.” They found it strange that at so late an hour they heard a cart go down a very narrow street near the alley. The musicians could see that when the cart stopped a very elegant man with a hat appeared whose face could not be seen clearly due to the lighting at that hour. This man kindly asked them if they could go play at a party. The band refused at first but after this man offered them money, food, drinks, and a return trip to this same alley once they finished, they had no choice but to accept. The band members got on the cart but didn’t feel it moving and couldn’t tell where they were anyway because it was so dark. This worried them a little but in the end, they reached a farm where they played and played for hours on end. Exhausted, they decided to look for the man in the hat but without any success. A man with a ranch hat was the one who finally returned them in the wagon and without realizing it the musicians fell asleep and later appeared on top of a hill. People from the area helped them return to San Miguel and told them that they were not the first that this had happened to. In actuality, they had gone to play for the devil who had deceived them. Since that day, musicians from all over San Miguel de Allende say that they do not walk late at night through that alley, El Callejón de las Piedras Chinas for fear of meeting Satan himself.
- The Friar’s Bridge
There is an old bridge called “El puente del Fraile” or “The Friar’s Bridge” on the old San Miguel – Celaya road. Around the year 1575 right after the time of the conquest of these lands, a friar crossed this same bridge to take religious statues and crosses to the nearby communities. The poor man never made it to his first destination as he was ambushed by Chichimecas and was killed. A long time after that tragic event, several car accidents began to be recorded on the road near the old bridge. The legend grew even more since it is said that before suffering the accidents, people could see a Friar on that old and lonely bridge. Since those initial accidents, the supposed apparitions of the friar have not stopped and recent reports have only made the legend more and more notorious.
- The Big Black Dog in the Alley
Another alley legend from San Miguel de Allende takes place in El Callejón de las Animas, or “The Alley of the Souls,” in English. Many years ago, there was a boy returning from school who decided to go through the famous alley alone, which for him was something normal. On this fateful day he experienced something strange: the boy ran into a big black dog which had red eyes and showed his fangs as if threatened. This made the boy unable to cross the alley as he was very scared. The boy had to cross that same alley the next day and gathered all the courage he could muster. He tried to scare that same dog with a rock but this only made the dog angrier. The boy managed to escape and as soon as he arrived home, he told his mother what happened. The mother then tried to look for the owner of that dog but to her surprise no adult living near the alley had ever seen that dog; only the children on that street knew of its existence. It is said that this dog only looks for children to attack them or to scare them to death. No one past their teenage years has ever seen this large black dog with red eyes and some people think that it is an evil spirit or an interdimensional monster that feeds off the fear of children much like an energy vampire.
- The Mysterious Covered Woman
In colonial San Miguel de Allende there once lived a woman who suffered a serious deformation of her face due to cold. For this reason, she used a black veil to cover her face at all times while in public. It happened that on a cold night the woman was returning to her house when she began to be followed by three men who tried to attack her. The men were drunk and tried to surprise the lady from behind. However, the woman walked swiftly to a light pole and when she felt that one of the men was going to grab her, she remembered the ugliness of her face and began to let out a cackling laugh. The woman took off her veil and showed her deformed face to the drunks, who ran away from her in fright. To this day, people report seeing a woman with a black veil floating around the streets of old San Miguel, waiting to reveal her ugly face to anyone whom she suspects may cause harm to others. In a sense, this mysterious covered lady is doing the public a public service.
- The Wormy Nun
Josefa Lina de la Canal y Hervas was born in 1736 in San Miguel de Allende. She was the first daughter of Don Manuel de la Canal who owned the famous Casa de la Canal. As Josefa grew up, her religious devotion became more and more evident. At the age of 15, Josfa’s father died, and she inherited 70,000 pesos. At her young age she decided to be a nun and to build a convent: The Convento de la Concepción, better known throughout history as “Las Monjas” and today known as the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez, “El Nigromante.” Father Felipe Neri de Alfaro supported Josefa in her plans and recommended that she move to the sanctuary of Atotonilco so that she could contemplate her decision. After eight days of confinement, she was still determined to take her habit and become a nun, so Josefa took her inheritance and began the construction of the new convent. Josefa thus became the founder of the Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception in San Miguel. From the first moments of the foundation of the convent, Josefa worked hard to support her project financially and spiritually. It was inaugurated with the transfer of religious items to the new building, which was not finished yet. The towers and altars were missing which were then finished during the first half of the 19th century. The dome was also missing, which was the work of the master mason Zeferino Gutiérrez. The convent’s design was inspired by the Church of the Invalids in Paris. Days after completing the main phase of the convent, Josefa began to cough up worms. Josefa’s pains were so acute that she fainted. Those who witnessed this claimed that beautiful butterflies were born from those worms. The nun herself died at the age of 33, five years after the convent was inaugurated. The remains of her are still kept in the building that she was so passionate about.
- The Foot-Sucking Witches
Centuries ago, it is told, a group of women who practiced witchcraft gouged out their eyes and hid them in the warm ashes of the stove. With their brooms they flew over San Miguel, looking for the uncovered feet of children. It is said that they smelled the blood of children and that is how they found their victims. Sometimes assuming another form, a witch would enter through the window of a child’s house, and silently approach the child’s bed. She would then start sucking the blood from the feet of the child, sometimes to death. If the sun was about to rise and one of these witches could not drink all the blood, they would leave the children all weak and sick. Well into the 21st Century there are many people who claim that these foot-sucking witches still exist, and they continue their rituals and spells at the various dams around San Miguel de Allende, such as the Ignacio Allende Dam, the Las Colonias Dam, and the Obraje Dam. Some children are so scared after hearing stories of these witches that they go to bed wearing tight shoes to protect themselves from these bizarre foot suckers.