Updated: January 23, 2023Published: December 30, 2022
Why not delve for a while into the world of historical imagination?
section: aboutspain have tales and legends that have been passed down from generation to generation, and Spain is no exception!
Spanish mythology is full of the most bizarre characters and stories, such as the monstrous creature that eats children who disobey, a love story between a young couple, and even a mouse that takes the children’s teeth when they fall out!
I invite you to explore some interesting stories spreading throughout Spain. Are you one of those who believe in them or one of those who think they are inventions? Let’s find out!
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Spanish Ancient Legends and Popular Myths
The Teruel Lovers
The legend tells the story of a young couple who was deeply in love, Isabel Segura and Juan Diego Marcilla. However, their love story turned out to be impossible because their families had always been against the relationship.
The only condition for them to be together was for Diego to get rich, so he went off to make money and then returned for Isabel.
In Diego’s absence, Isabel’s father found her another husband, whom she married that same year, coinciding precisely with Diego’s return.
This news significantly impacted Diego, who fell dead when he heard about it… Isabel came to give him a last kiss at the funeral, and when she did so, she also died next to Diego’s body.
After this event, the family decided to bury them together, symbolizing and approving, although late, their love.
The remains of both bodies were found in the city of Teruel (Aragon) in the sixteenth century during the remodeling of the Church of San Pedro. Today you can visit them in this place.
In 1619, Don Juan Yagüe de Salas, secretary of the Council of the Town of Teruel, found a document entitled “History of the Lovers of Teruel,” by which the identity of the bodies is confirmed and what happened is known.
The Witches of Zugarramurdi
It was the year 1610 when a small village in the Navarrese Pyrenees, known as Zugarramurdi, was affected by some sinister events that alerted the Inquisition.
Complaints, rumors, and accusations began among the neighbors and reached the Court of Logroño. It was said that the town’s inhabitants were pagans and that they were accountable to the evil one instead of to God. It was also noted that a group of witches met in the caves to make potions, spells, celebrate feasts, orgies under the light of the moon, covens, and demonic dances around a bonfire.
After these accusations came out, a result of 300 exposed cases, where forty women were found guilty, condemning 12 of them to “purify themselves” at stake.
This is the most famous and sinister story of witchcraft in Spain. In fact, today you can visit the museum and the famous Caves of Zugarramurdi.
The “Ratoncito Pérez”
This is one of the most famous legendary characters among Spaniards and a favorite among children!
All Spanish children know that when a baby’s tooth falls out, they must place it under their pillow. This is done because, according to tradition, that same night, while the child sleeps, the little mouse will pick up the tooth and leave a coin for the child in exchange.
Curious, isn’t it?
Are you one of those who want to dig deeper into the story and know all the details about the tooth fairy? Then take a look at this article:
This is a fascinating Spanish myth! A dragon was living in Montblanc, who terrorized the villagers and devoured their animals. Soon, all the animals were gone, which led to time for the dragon to turn in.
The dragon wanted to eat the people, and the villagers decided to sacrifice one person each day and offer it like this to the dragon. One day the chosen person was the princess, and people offered to take her place so she didn’t have to sacrifice her life as she was very kind. The father of the princess, the King, refused to let anyone offer their life for his daughter.
The next day the princess was sent to the dragon, and just as she was about to be swallowed, a knight in shining armor appeared and decided to fight the creature! They were both confronted for a long time, and in the end, the knight could kill the dragon with his spear and spill its blood.
A red rose grew from where the blood had been spilled, which the knight then plucked and presented to the princess. The knight was named St. George.
Since this moment, every year on April 23, a big celebration is held in the streets of Catalonia. During this day, men give roses to the women they love. If you visit Barcelona at that time, you will surely experience a grand public event.
The Legend of the Cross of Cuenca
In the city of Cuenca, located in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, lived a very seductive young man who managed to conquer any woman. However, his gifts were questioned when he met a woman named Diana.
One day, close to All Saints’ Day, the young man received a letter from Diana summoning him to the Hermitage of Cuenca. When he arrived, as he approached the woman, she turned into a terrifying figure that resembled the devil. Trying to save himself, the young man ran to a cross outside the hermitage and hugged it tightly. The devil threw himself on the young man and left an imprint on the cross that can still be seen today.
According to the legend, the young man never got out of there.
Cuenca is a city full of mysteries; in fact, it is possible to take a guided night tour to learn about some of its legends.
The Legend of the Great Mosque of Cordoba
Have you ever seen a small cross on the marble of one of the columns of the mosque of Cordoba?
Legend has it that a young Christian always bought flowers for his sweetheart, a lovely young woman of Muslim origin.
He decided to ask her to marry him, and she accepted and decided to convert to Christianity. Although she would not get it… Some soldiers killed her the same day she was going to be baptized.
In addition, as punishment, the soldiers tied the young man to the pillars of a mosque. It was there that the young man began to form a small cross with his fingernail on one of the pillars. This is the mark that can be seen today!
The Legend of Banyoles Lake
The impressive lake of Banyoles is located in the province of Girona (Catalonia). It is the largest lake in the whole community and one of the largest in Europe.
Like Loch Ness, legend has it that in the lake of Banyoles, there is a dragon-shaped monster with wings, long legs, and a body full of spikes and huge fangs.
According to the locals, the dragon was the cause of the disappearance of livestock, floods, and earthquakes. Nowadays, even tourists have disappeared from the area.
For centuries they have tried to find and kill him, even Charlemagne himself, but no one has ever succeeded!
Would you dare to take a dip in this lake?
Discover all about this lake and the other 6 great lakes in Spain, in the following link:
Every day at the beginning of the night, the little goblins creatures came out of their hiding places to commit mischief. Every night they could become invisible, but chaos was everywhere when they were there.
Did you know that in Spain, for centuries, every village had its goblin? Not every goblin was equal; they all had different sizes. It was said that children would start crying or lose their appetite after seeing a goblin in their bedroom.
Goblins were part of people’s daily lives. It was pretty normal to consider their existence as something commonplace, and depending on the geographical location, they were considered in one way or another. These are some examples of goblins that were very popular in Spain: Trasgu (Asturias), Follets (Catalonia), Doñets (Valencia), Tentirujo and Trastolillos (Cantabria), Pesanta gallega or Manona (Castilla y Leon), and Martinico (Castile-La Mancha).
The Gamusino was an imaginary creature being used for a long time all over the regions of Spain, as well as in Portugal.
The Gamusino was used to trick and play jokes on children, inexperienced hunters, novice fishermen, or people who weren’t related to the rural world. They used to convince the people that the Gamusino was an animal that could only be hunted at night.
Before, I said that the Gamusino was all over the regions of Spain. Still, actually, the myth has a multitude of regional variants and a multitude of names. Although all variants consist of imaginary beings similar to the Gamusino one. For example, in Catalonia, they call it Gambosí; in Asturias, it is called Cordoveyos… like these many other variants of the name.
One of the most famous myths of Spain is the legend of “El Coco.” You might now be wondering who “El Coco” was; he was a horrible creature! This monster eats or kidnaps children if they disobey or cause trouble for their parents.
People incorporate this myth into rhymes which many parents use to encourage children to go to bed by saying, “Go to sleep, child, go to sleep now, the “coco” is coming and will eat you.” Most of the kids in Spain have lived their childhood with this rhythm. It was an easy way to make them behave well.
According to the myths of Spain, the real story of the coconut began with Francisco Ortega, also known as the “Moruno.”
The “Moruno” was a person that was sick with tuberculosis in the 20th century. He was desperate because he was looking for a solution for his disease; he thought the best solution was to look for a “curandera.” The “curandera” told him he would be cured if he drank children’s blood.
To do so, “Moruno” kidnapped a 7-year-old kid in a cloth bag to cut off his armpit and drink his blood. This is how this creepy story was born and had been going on from generation to generation.
“El Coco” is known for walking the streets at night with a black bag (similar to the bogeyman), looking for children who wander the streets or misbehave.
If you want to know more about the legend of “El Coco”, take a look at this post:
The Basilisk was a fabulous creature created by Greek mythology. This mythological species was described as a giant snake loaded with a lethal poison that could kill with a simple glance, which was considered the king of the snakes.
In the 8th century, the Basilisk was considered a snake endowed with a crest shaped like a crown on its head, an animal of varying size. It was a very particular snake and possessed a white mark on its head resembling a diadem. The influence of this creature was so toxic that its breath withered the surrounding flora and cracked the stones!!
St. Isidore of Seville defined the Basilisk as the king of the snakes due to its lethal gaze and poisonous breath.
Gods are very important for the society we live in. In the past years, it has been proven that it’s impossible to live without them, as the divine has been visible in most cultures throughout many periods.
It doesn’t matter if you have faith or not; Gods are very influential on morale and human behavior.
The most important God in the world was Zeus. He was known as the “Dios del Trueno” (God of Thunder). He was considered the father of all Gods and humans. He defeated his father, the titan Kronos, to save the Greeks from immeasurable power and wrath. As a consequence, Zeus became the Ruler of the heavens as well as from Mount Olympus, which was the God in the sky.
Some Greek myths believe that Zeus was one of the Gods that procreated thousands of children with humans and other Goddesses.
Regardless of this and related to Spanish Gods, the most important ones are:
Ataecina: Goddess of the night and the “Moon that kills.” She is characterized by carrying a cypress branch and being surrounded by goats. She is an Infernal goddess, like the Greek Proserpina, a lady of Death. She was one of the most influential goddesses, and we know this because her cult spread throughout the Peninsula.
Andera: The Goddess Hera was the Ruler of the Earth.
Endovelico: He was the God of fire and the protector of nature, but he was also known among the Lusitanians as the God of medicine. To heal his patients, he did a dream and oracles process in sanatorium temples where he was worshipped. Endovelico is represented by the boar, the dove, and the laurel wreath. Also, with a pine branch and flanked by winged genies, one of them with a torch.
Noctiluca: Goddess of the moon. Perhaps the Unnamed Divinity to whom the Celtiberians worshipped on full moon nights, with dances that lasted until dawn.
God: According to a Greek historian of the 1st century B.C. called Strabo, there was a unique God common to all clans and federations, who had no specific name, different from the local gods, and was designated as God.
Did you ever hear of any of these popular legends and myths of Spain before? Do you have any similar ones in your country?
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!