Murders, disappearances, ghosts, UFOs… Spain has thousands of unexplained mysteries. Pablo Balbontin picks out five tales of the unexpected and unsolved in Andalucia, plus one outside, to add a spooky twist to Halloween month…
The Suicide Triangle
It is a beautiful upland part of inland Andalucia, famous for its walks and much underrated towns. But the three stunning gems of Alcala La Real, Priego de Cordoba and Iznajar have another much more sinister claim to fame. They are the three boundaries of the so-called Suicide Triangle of Andalucia. Researchers have tried to explain why the settlements in this patch of eastern Andalucia has the highest suicide rates in Spain. They have claimed it is something to do with the chemical compounds in the water, the area’s altitude, the isolation, boredom, genetic predisposition, as well as the high unemployment rate. But no one factor makes for a convincing explanation. In this area suicide has become, sadly, part of the folklore.
The Crime of Los Galindos
A gruesome discovery was made at Cortijo de los Galindos, in Paradas, a small village not far from Sevilla. It was July 22, 1975 – the hottest day that summer – when a farm worker found two cremated corpses.
Soon after, the police found two more bodies with their heads crushed. The prime suspect for the murders was Antonio Zapata but he was found dead three days later near the estate. No criminal or scientific theory has ever been able to adequately explain the deaths.
The Child Artist of Malaga
David Guevara was a 13-year-old genius frequently compared to Picasso. On April 6, 1987 he left his home to go to an art gallery just 50 meters down the road where one of his paintings was about to be exhibited.
He vanished on the way there, leaving neither clues nor witnesses to his disappearance. His desperate parents launched a campaign to find him and even contacted mediums. Since then, thousands of theories have emerged including one that the he was kidnapped by a band of art counterfeits who brainwashed him. Some 31 years later the mystery of his disappearance remains unsolved.
The legend of Cortijo Jurado
Cortijo Jurado may be Spain’s most haunted house. The 19th-century mansion in Campanillas, east of Malaga, is home to a sinister legend. Between 1820 and 1920, five young girls disappeared and their tortured bodies were found nearby.
Locals believed they had been ritually sacrificed during black masses held in secret tunnels and caverns under the house. Since then, natives and visitors claim to have seen strange lights, heard noises and to have encountered spectral figures in the area. Since 2002, various different owners have tried to convert the mansion into a hotel but the projects have so far all ended in failure. It remains closed.
UFO in Manises
During the 1970s and 80s, Spanish newspapers were obsessed with UFO sightings across the country. But one incident still raises questions. On November 11, 1976, a commercial aircraft from Mallorca was flying over the city of Valencia when the pilots saw two unidentified red lights. Uncertain of what appeared to flying directly at them, the plane made an emergency landing in Manises. A military jet was scrambled to follow the lights. After a three-hour chase, the Mirage F1 drew close enough to see the lights change into a white disk before the UFO finally disappeared over Africa, never to be seen again.