Night of the Dead. The first route of legends (nocturnal) that we entirely write in this page comes to light today. We have not chosen this date at random. We want you to print it, go out with your friends and walk the streets of the ancient city. Now you can do it too…
If you are looking for a company that makes night routes around Toledo, enter here.
Introduction for the person who will narrate the route: this ” night route” has been developed with a small group of people in mind. Maximum 15, or they won’t hear you. The approximate time of walking through the city, at night, may vary, although it is close to two hours. If the weather is good, we recommend walking the streets past midnight (or starting exactly at 12), when the tide of tourists sleeps and we can find solitary streets that invite meditation and the narration of legends. You can read or memorize this route and its texts. Or you can make brief summaries of the legends (which are already summarized). Sometimes, carrying a wax candle, of which the flame is wrapped in red plastic, which are used to ” adorn” the graves precisely on the night of the Dead, helps a lot. And by the way, if you come across a group of people with a candle, you’ll know they’ve been here too. (You can download the full text ready to print on the last page of this text)
(Click on the image to enlarge)
TO MY HEARINGS:
This text that you will hear below is based on the texts and oral traditions that from parents to children have been narrated for centuries in the city you now tread. At times, we may be telling truths. Other times it is the purest imagination of what this has written that will transport us to magical and terrifying places that are hidden in this city. What does it matter… I ask only one thing: do not lose this light that I carry in my hands. It’s after midnight, and the streets of Toledo are treacherous, labyrinthine and dark, if you don’t know the city, it will catch you and it’s possible that it will prevent you from leaving it in a few good hours. You are warned.
We start at Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The group looks towards the facade of the Cathedral.
It is not necessary that our listeners and companions be frightened and flee by the first corner that we turn in this noble city of the Tagus. Although it is not our intention, you should know that tonight we will discover only some of the mysteries contained in this millenary city. We will hear the cries of those condemned by the Holy Inquisition, the howl of the witches conjure their devils, we will feel the profound silence of the streets of Toledo…
Nor is it by chance that we find ourselves here, in front of the Cathedral, surrounded by the two powers that have ruled the city for centuries. The cathedral, with its Gothic needle, and behind us, the Archbishop’s Palace… There, at the back of our right, the Town Hall, which reminds us quite a bit of another famous building: El Escorial.
” She was beautiful, beautiful with that beauty that inspires vertigo, beautiful with that beauty that is nothing like the one we dream of in angels and yet is supernatural; diabolical beauty, which perhaps the devil lends to some beings to make their instruments on earth.
This is how Bécquer narrated the beginning of a famous Toledan Legend that I will now tell you… ” La Ajorca de Oro”
He loved her, she was capricious. He found her crying one day, and asked:
Why are you crying?
She wiped her eyes, stared at him, took a sigh and cried again. She had attended a mass this very morning, and had infatuated herself with a brilliant pendant of gold and diamonds that the Virgin had in one of her hands. She begged her boyfriend that what she wanted was madness, but she also needed to possess in her hands such precious and expensive jewelry. The lover was mad to please her.
-What Virgin has this award?
-The one in the tabernacle murmured Mary.
-The one in the tabernacle! -The young man repeated with an accent of terror. The one of the Tabernacle of the Cathedral! …
-Ah! Why doesn’t another Virgin possess it? -Why doesn’t the archbishop have it in his mitre, the king in his crown, or the devil in his claws? I would tear it off for you, even if it cost me my life or my damnation. But to the Virgin of the Tabernacle, to our Patron Saint, I…, I, who was born in Toledo, impossible, impossible!
Toledo Cathedral! Figures a forest of gigantic granite palm trees that intertwine their branches to form a colossal and magnificent vault, under which they shelter and live, with the life that has lent, the genius, a whole creation of imaginary and real beings.
An incomprehensible chaos of shadow and light appears, where the colored rays of the warheads are mixed and confused with the darkness of the ships, where the brightness of the lamps is lost with the darkness of the sanctuary.
Our lover finally gave in and decided to steal from the Virgin. The cathedral was alone, completely alone and submerged in a deep silence. From time to time, however, they were perceived as confusing rumors: perhaps wooden clicks, or murmurs of the wind, or, who knows, he made an effort to continue on his way; he arrived at the gate and followed the first steps of the main chapel. Around this chapel are the tombs of the kings, whose stone images, with the hand on the handle of the sword, seem to watch night and day over the sanctuary, in whose shadow they rest for all eternity. Go ahead, he muttered in a low voice, and wanted to walk and could not. It seemed that his feet were stuck in the pavement. He lowered his eyes, and his hair stood up in horror; the floor of the chapel was wide and dark tombstones. He closed his eyes and continued as well as he could.
He approached the holy statue and reached out his hand to take such precious jewelry. The prize was already in her power; her tense fingers oppressed her with a supernatural force; all that remained was to flee, to flee with her; But for this it was necessary to open her eyes, and she was afraid to see, to see the image, to see the kings of the tombs, the demons of the cornices, the endriages of the capitals, the bands of shadows and the rays of light that, similar to white and gigantic ghosts, moved slowly in the bottom of the ships, populated by fearful and strange rumors.
At last he opened his eyes, looked, and a sharp scream escaped from his lips. The cathedral was full of statues, statues which, dressed in longs and undressed, had descended from their holes and occupied the whole area of the church and looked at it with their eyes without a pupil.
He couldn’t take it anymore. A cloud of blood darkened his pupils; he uttered a second cry, a heart-wrenching and superhuman cry, and fell on the altar in a vanished state.
When the next day the church clerks found him at the foot of the altar, he still had the golden ajorca in his hands, and as he saw them approaching he exclaimed with a loud laughter: –
The son of a bitch was crazy.
(Fin Leyenda ” La Ajorca de Oro” , transcribed by G.A. Bécquer)
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The ” toledana” , as our cathedral is known, contains many legends and mysteries, beginning with its foundation on successive previous buildings: Romans, Visigoths, Muslims… Because of its immense subways, which communicate with so many other buildings in the city, and because of its enormous number of secrets still to be discovered, and so many others already disappeared, such as that metallic statue of D. Álvaro de Luna, Condestable of Castile, who was located in the chapel where he lies (denominated ” Del Condestable” ), that at the time of consecrating the Body of Christ, by means of a complex spring rose and knelt with tremendous roar. It was ordered to be removed by the Catholic Queen, in the face of the distractions that it caused to the people who attended the Mass. There are also numerous legends of ghosts and apparitions inside the cathedral, being frequent the characters who for various reasons are trapped inside and spend an authentic ” night toledana” between statues, apparitions of bishops, saints and other deceased buried there. Usually they dawn dead or crazy, like the protagonist of our previous legend.
Let’s not put our luck to the test and let’s walk along the nearest street, on our right, along Calle del Cardenal Cisneros , surrounding the body of the Cathedral, where we can admire the ” Puerta Llana” and the ” Puerta de los Leones” , magnificent works of art in themselves.
We advance a little admiring the sturdy walls of the religious building and halfway down this street we turn right to descend the Street ” Pozo Amargo” , until we reach the Square that gives it its name for housing a beautiful Gothic brocal, associated with a famous Toledan Legend, which we are not going to narrate on this occasion… We are more interested in approaching the small shed that is near this square, and there we take shelter to comment on the history of these streets. It is in this area where several witches and witches from Toledo lived. It is here, very close to the cathedral, where many residents of Toledo came to solve their economic problems, love, enmity with others, luck, or hatred. It is here where these women were detained on many occasions and subjected to horrible torments in the hands of the Inquisition of Toledo, and it is in this shed where many of those who pass, especially on nights like these feel ” that something” that awakens many of us startled at night, causes a shiver in the back of our neck when we are alone in a room or when it prompts us to say ” I have felt this before” . Magic has gone through these streets long before us. Perhaps even Satan himself has passed through here on his way to the place to which we will now go…
We go up again where we have come from, turning into Cardenal Cisneros street to the right, we go down a short slope and when we reach the crossroads, without leaving the cathedral wall, we turn left onto C/ Sixto Ramón Parro until we reach the building called ” Posada de la Hermandad” , which has often been associated with the prisons of the Inquisition, although this is not entirely accurate.
The story we will tell in this well-known corner of the city is perhaps one of the best known and read by those passionate about mystery and psychological terror. Edgar Allan Poe narrated in a masterly way the torture of feeling closed in, in the dark, and with a certain death. They were the terrible prisons of the Inquisition of Toledo, those that contained in a room the tools and machines of torment, on which only their mention made confess the most horrible faults, and those that served as an instrument for not a few to pull up impossible confessions of sorcery, witchcraft and blasphemy to so many unfortunates, being many of them condemned to the most horrible of the deaths in ” the brazier of Toledo” located outside the walls, near the Roman Circus.
Poe enclosed in his narration ” The Well and the Pendulum” a condemned man to death in a dark hole, located somewhere in Toledo…, with a deep well.
Note: Since the text is long to be reproduced in these pages, and its intensity does not allow its fractionation, I refer to the address where it is published if you want to narrate completely.
After the narrative, we continue on our way, not without first offering a souvenir tonight, and those who are believers a prayer, for the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who died victims of religious fanaticism and who still do today.
We left for one of the most gloomy places in the city. Go down where we have come a few meters and enter the Calle del Locum , on the left. Halfway down this street, also on our left there are two streets. One of them is known as ” Callejón del Diablo” and the other as ” Callejón del Infierno” . These names are not casual, nor its proximity, since we are in one of the zones of more magical intensity of the whole city. Associated since ancient times with Templar cults and habitual residence of witches and sorceresses, these narrow alleys transport us directly to the deepest Middle Ages. Perhaps, without the modern lampposts and the annoying cables that wound the facades, we could assure that a gentleman with his shining sword quickly crosses between us to reunite with his beloved, in a furtive encounter of those who abound in Toledo legends, can they feel how it has just happened?
It is the ” Callejón del Infierno” that has in its narrowness one of the most intense legends of the city, the one that speaks to us of a gallant who pretended to be a beautiful Jew, Rebeca, and who requests the services of the sorceress nicknamed ” La Diablesa” to elaborate a potion that attracts the love of such a precious young woman, who pretended by another gallant of the same town ignores our protagonist. ” La Diablesa” elaborates a risky and complex ” filter” that will finish with the life of the young Jew who pretends to Rebeca, and so it happens, since ” contracted the face and with the pupils frightened, they found the body of Samuel to the entrance of the district of the Jewry” . Everything seems to foretell that our young man will finally get Rebecca’s love, once the obstacle has been removed. On the same night of Rebecca’s wedding, and in one of the darkest alleys, in which we now find ourselves, he was burning to death by bloody, greenish flames, and amidst frightful lamentations, the ” Diablesa” , without anyone seeing himself stoking the living fire that snuffed out his old body. Since then, and as a reminder of such an event, the place where such a strange tragedy took place was given the name of ” Hell’s Alley” . It was the Devil himself who took the sorceress, taking her tribute for such a powerful potion that ended the life of the young suitor.
Turning the corner, we find ourselves in the ” Callejón del Diablo” , where an old mansion used to stand. It was on a night of Ánimas, towards the 15th century ” with the autumn winds in strong gusts around the corners of Toledo howling” , when before midnight the bells of San Miguel ” el Alto” arrive as if sobbing. ” La Santa Compaña” they say, passing by, touches with its layers all those who are here. Just as in those years, with less light but on the same stage, there was a ramshackle and gloomy mansion, not far from the Temple noble mansion.
That house at night was the terror of the neighborhood. At nightfall there entered characters who performed covens and orgies. The witches prepared their potions on coffins, held by human tibias, and the skulls served as a base for yellow candles illuminating terrible sacred scenes….