Caribbean islands offer mysterious ports of call, with the most haunted isles featuring restless spirits anxious to tell their tangled and centuries-old stories of brutal foreign reign and savage wars. Here we present Puerto Rico, whose beauty and cultural impact is only matched by its supernatural intensity.
“La Isla del Encanto” (the Island of Enchantment), a USA Commonwealth, is famed for its lively culture, energetic music and dance, vibrant culinary delicacies …. and. yes, its ghosts! Did you know that San Juan, its capital, is the oldest city in a USA territory? Founded in 1521, its long history brings forth some of the most eerie ghost stories and long list of hair-raising legends. Here are just a few of its spookiest places and legends.
We are starting you off with one of the oldest and most haunted spots in Puerto Rico. El Morro was built in the 16th century and consists of a series of forts that overlook the San Juan Bay. This landmark is notorious for sightings of a woman in spirit, dressed in white, that terrifyingly slithers along the ramparts of this massive historic property. You will also hear moans of long-forgotten fallen soldiers and old prisoners that suffered within these walls. The citadel's chapel is also a spot of great haunted intensity, as verified by SyFy’s Ghost Hunters during one of show's episodes.
Every night, it's said that Ghost Ships of every nation that ever attacked this lovely island line up in the dark, to re-attempt the horrors of their deeds. Puerto Ricans are thankful that even in the afterlife, they have not succeeded. Needless to say, these grounds are a playground for the departed.
The Haunted El Morro, where Ghost Ships arrive ever night. Credit: Pinterest.com
The Haunted El Morro, where the moans of long-lost prisoners and soldiers can still be heard. Credit: Storyblocks Videos
Here is another fort that is popular for its haunts! The largest fort ever built by the Spanish conquistadors, the Castillo San Cristobal carries an ancient and devastating love story (as authored in 1910’s “Puerto Rican Legends and Traditions”). The story speaks of a young woman name Maria Dolores, whose father was the city’s executioner. She fell in love with a young wandering thief named Betancourt. You probably can guess where this is going…
Betancourt was caught stealing and later executed by Maria’s father. Left hanging in the gallows, his body was discovered by Maria. In response to her immense grief at her lover's death, Maria hanged herself next to him. Later, when seeking to dispose of the criminal's body, Maria’s father was amazed to find his daughter's body, too. It is said that Maria Delores and Betancourt can be seen from time to time lurking the grounds where both met their final gruesome demise.
Haunted Fort of San Cristobal Credit: San Diego Credit
Built in 1818, the Teatro Tapia is the oldest (still operating) freestanding drama stage in all of Puerto Rico, and continues to hold plays, shows and concerts. But these are not the sole performing arts that dazzle this historic icon. Multitudes of spiritual sightings have been witnessed by its visitors and staff. Reports of actual apparitions, disembodied footsteps and voices are heard throughout the theater. Others have claimed to have seen the theater's heavy and large loading dock doors suddenly open and close on their own. And even when the arena is empty, spectral voices have been heard singing on stage from time to time. Sometimes, visitors will feel something brush against them, while no earthly being is near.
It's hard to nail down the origin of these hauntings, but there is one story of a woman who plummeted to her death while performing at the theater. She can still be seen wandering within the grounds.
This property is so renowned for its paranormal activity, it was once featured in a SyFy ""Ghost Hunters episode.
The Haunted Teatro Tapia illuminates the night in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Credit: Mapio.net
Historic, elegant, and very luxurious, El Convento Hotel is one of the most stapled haunted properties in the old capital of San Juan. Historically, this used to be a Carmelite Convent, which may explain much of its spiritual activities. Many have reported occurrences in the guest room; one involved a popular ghost who happened to be the founder and first Mother Superior of the convent, Doña Ana de Lansos y Menéndez de Valdez. It is said she can be seen roaming the halls of the establishment. Other witnesses of the paranormal have hear swishing sounds of the nun’s robes, which continue to echo throughout the hotel.
Haunted Hotel El Convento - Credit: Historic Hotels
Expect windows to open and doors to rattle at the Haunted Hotel El Convento - Credit: Conde Nast Traveler “15 Hotels that Give ‘YuYu’
Our heads are spinning, and yet, we have only touched the very tip of the mysteries of this most enchanted island. Stay turn for more stories as we keep unearthing this magnificent tales.
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Trip Savvy “Haunted Places in San Juan Puerto Rico” Zain Deane