Hell's Alley

Hell’s Alley

What legend is hidden in Toledo’s Callejón del Infierno? There are many legends that make Jews fall in love with Christians or Muslims and vice versa in Toledo and relate more or less successfully to them… The influence of centuries in the relationship between these communities has left a rich trace of history and its reflection in the legends of the city is remarkable. On this occasion, the narration based on the name of an alley that can still be visited today in Toledo.

Cold and hard night toledana when it begins the month of the ánimas. In the closed and covered darkness, only illuminated by scarce lamps and dim lights that appear through the small windows of the homes, the handsome and young galán Felipe de Pantoja walks briskly. It passes quickly near the cathedral, descending through narrow streets towards the Tagus, which with its dark waters, a reflection of the night that threatens rain, embraces, as it did thousands of years ago, the dark sorrow…

In the place that awaits him, with its wide and black vegetation, he is able to see the silhouette of the woman with whom he has been quoted, with beautiful features in spite of her appearance and age. The “Diablesa” they called her, a witch from Toledo where there is one, feared by many and hated by many others but rescued by others, as in the case of D. Felipe de Pantoja.

He approaches her, not a little afraid as he is observed by the eyes that have seen almost everything. La mole de San Juan de los Reyes observes the dark quotation, as they both approach the Baño de la Cava, Felipe asks:

– Witch, your spell didn’t work.

He had been courting Rebecca, the most beautiful Jew in the city, for a long time, not reciprocated. This one, daughter of a respected family of Samuel Levi’s descendants, clearly loved Samuel, a young Jew who came from rich Toledan families. In his despair in the face of unrequited love, Philip turns to “the She-devil” for help.

The She-devil looks with hatred at the young Christian who doubts his good work, answering him:

– At twelve o’clock in the tower of San Román I sprinkled the fig leaf with five drops of water from the Arroyo de la Degollada, sucked three times from the Tagus and with the emerald mantle I prayed facing east for the Marquis of Villena – patron saint of the necromancers – a prayer that I learned in the old book of the “Red Spirits”. I did not fail in the spell, the fate is fixed.

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Insite the young Philip:

– If so, you will accompany me tonight to the Jewry and we will observe together if the spell has had its effect.

A great flash of lightning crossed the vault over Toledo silencing the conversation that was slightly heard about the Baño de la Cava. The night became darker, and that woman said:

– Let’s go now, or the old spirits that roam these places will approach us to know what we are up to.

And so it was, and each of them departed on his own, while a cold rain rocked and plucked rich perfumes from the vegetation that clothed the banks of the Tagus.

The next day, also with night as an ally, Philip and the witch walk through the narrow streets and sheds of Toledo, on their way to the Greater Jewish Quarter of Toledo. They cross the internal walls from which they sometimes protect this community in the city itself, and slowly approach one of the largest and best synagogues present in Toledo soil, now called “Santa María la Blanca“.

Hell's Alley Hell's Alley Hell's Alley El Callejón del Infierno Toledo

Hell’s Alley, today

Since then a narrow, hidden Toledo alley has been called, with its own name plate, like any other street in Toledo, “El Callejón del Infierno” (Hell’s Alley). Today many guided tours narrate this legend and visit this corner.

* Photographs:

  • Álvaro Garcia-Rojo Padilla 2005. See his album on Flickr.com.
  • kharkoma

Version of the legend published by Vicente Mena Pérez in the magazine “Toledo”, year 1925, number 215.

Do you want to know the legend of the nearby Callejón del Diablo in Toledo?

Location of Callejón del Infierno in Toledo:

– Click here to place the Legend in GoogleMaps.

Listen to this legend in the place that happened to “Toledospain.click Guides”