We’re midway through October, and that means one thing: the time for indulging in scary stories is fully upon us. Sure, some people believe that Halloween is about dressing up and partying with friends — and of course it is — but for a special group of Oct. 31-devotees (me!), the true goal of the holiday is to scare the wits out of yourself and others. And Latinos know that there’s nothing the community loves more than a good ghost story. Who doesn’t have a tío that regaled us with spooky narratives of fantasmas and demonios preying on unsuspecting souls?
But every good ghost story needs a haunted house to go with it. From spirits of massacred witches to the specters of tortured poets, Latin America has no shortage of eerie houses to visit that will keep you questioning your beliefs. Still, there are a few places with stories so creepy that they stand out from the rest. So get out your rosario or book your next limpieza, because you just might need it after reading this list of haunted houses in Latin America.
La Casa Matusita in Lima, Peru
La Casa Matusita is often cited as one of the most haunted homes in Latin America — and for good reason. This dwelling in Lima, Peru has a violent and terrifying history that keeps the bravest explorers away from it. Local rumors say that the house is built on cursed land that dates back to Spanish colonialism in the South American country. Legend has it that a woman named Dervaspa Parvaneh was burnt at the stake on this land after she was accused by Lima townspeople of practicing witchcraft. Storytellers say that the inhabitants of the house that was built on this land all suffered gruesome and horrible deaths.
La Casa de Claudia Mijangos in Querétaro, Mexico
The Claudia Mijangos house in Querétaro, Mexico has a similarly gruesome history. On April 24, 1989, Claudia Mijangos murdered her three children in cold blood. She made international headlines with her defense: that she was possessed by a demon who compelled her to commit violent acts. The house, which still stands in the Mexican state, is famous among townspeople for the alleged paranormal activity that occurs on the premises. Neighbors say that a phantom of a bleeding child is sometimes seen at the second-floor window. And according to locals, if you listen closely, you can still hear the sound of children screaming.
La Casa Embrujada de Puerto Montt in Puerto Montt, Chile
In 2017, the Carabineros, or police force, of Puerto Montt, Chile received a terrifying phone call from a local family. According to the family members, they were experiencing a series of violent paranormal attacks in their own home. An unknown entity was “lifting objects” in the air and starting “small fires.” When the police arrived, they soon went from skeptical to petrified. They, too, saw inanimate objects moving and even witnessed smoke coming from the house when no one was inside. One officer told media outlets that he “called upon the devil,” commanding him to leave the home. In response, he felt a “knife that grazed [his] back.”
La Casa Embrujada de Santa Rosa de Copán in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras
Unlike the other entries on this list, there is a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of the haunting of La Casa Embrujada de Santa Rosa de Copán in Honduras. Locals don’t know when the haunting began, but they do hear strange sounds coming from the building at night. Legend in the Central American country attributes the haunting to a local priest who allegedly died in the building alongside several children. The house has such a demonic aura about it that even reporters looking to investigate the paranormal claims flee from fear.
Casa de Haedo Museo in Gualeguaychú, Argentina
One of the oldest structures in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, La Casa de Haedo is said to be possessed by the spirit of Isabel Frutos, locally known as “la niña que murió de amor.” Legend has it that in 1856, 19-year-old Frutos died from a broken heart after she was forbidden from marrying her lover from a lower class. In despair, Frutos refused all food and drink and slowly wasted away. Neighbors still say that they see the ghost of the anguished woman on the balcony of the house, mourning in the afterlife for the love she was denied.
La Casa del Mustang in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
The story of how “The Mustang House” came to be is a strange one. Legend has it that the family that occupied this home in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico was rich but fell on hard times. Looking to regain their prosperity, one of the relatives made a pact with an evil supernatural entity in exchange for wealth. But soon the deal backfired, and strange things started happening on the premises. The family fled, leaving behind a brand-new Mustang car in the driveway. Since then, many have tried to remove the vehicle through different means. But the car, it is said, is immovable.
El Castillo del Gringo Loco in Sangolquí, Ecuador
According to local legend, La Casa del Gringo Loco in Sangolquí, Ecuador belonged to a shell-shocked French man who moved to the South American country at the end of World War II. El Gringo constructed an unusual home near Sangolquí — a structure made up of dark passageways and mysterious tunnels. After his death, the spot became popular for paranormal seances and ouija board readings. But the townspeople of Sangolquí tell people to be wary of the abandoned home. A story floats around describing a group of hooligans who “challenged El Gringo’s spirit” by writing their names upside down on the structure’s walls. Days later, four of them died in a car accident.
Casa de los Tubos in Nuevo León, Mexico
The legend of La Casa de los Tubos in Nuevo León, Mexico is a long and tragic one. According to the folk tale, the house was constructed by a loving father in honor of his wheelchair-bound daughter. Equipped with plenty of ramps to make it easier for her to navigate the home, the construction of the building was plagued by alleged paranormal activity. After the house was completed, the young girl, inexplicably, fell from the roof. After the death of his only daughter, the bereaved man became depressed and eventually took his own life.
La Casa de la Poesia Museum in Bogotá, Colombia
Located in the mysterious Candelaria quarter of Bogotá, Colombia, the story of La Casa de la Poesia Museum is a fascinating and strange one. The house-turned-museum belonged to famous Colombian poet José Asunción Silva. Originally born to a wealthy family in the South American country, Silva’s mental health deteriorated after the loss of his novel in a shipwreck followed by the death of his beloved sister. He died by suicide in 1896 after allegedly shooting himself in the heart. Now converted into a national public museum dedicated to poetry, it is said that the spirit of Silva lingers in the building.