Cave of Salamanca – Salamanca, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Cave of Salamanca

A hidden medieval crypt where a famous legend says the devil used to teach black magic. 


The old city of Salamanca, Spain, is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful in Europe. It also has a dark history of secret esoteric meetings made by students at the medieval Salamanca University, one of the oldest in the world.

The Cave of Salamanca is located in a hidden corner of the city, tucked behind the famous Art Nouveau museum, Casa Lis. It is not easy to find if you’re just walking around the old fortress. But once you arrive, you will find a sinister passage leading underground. The “cave” is the former crypt of the church of San Cebrian, which was attached to the oldest part of Salamanca’s fortress before being demolished in the 14th century. Nearby you can also see (and climb) the remains of a defensive tower that was once part of the old city walls.

But the real attraction of the place is in its legend, as it’s said the devil himself, disguised as a sacristan, used to teach black magic here to seven chosen pupils every night. After finishing the lessons, he was supposed to keep one of them, randomly chosen. The story goes that one of the unlucky ones, the legendary Marquis of Villena, was able to escape, but the devil caught his shadow, marking him as unholy for the rest of his life.

The legend probably came from a real sacristan cheating students with fake lessons, and the popular imagination did the rest. But up until the present day, the word Salamanca is associated to witchcraft and black magic in many parts of South America, and the legend inspired all sorts of plays and stories, including a short satirical theater play by the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.

Know Before You Go

The cave is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It is highly recommended to visit at night, when the red lights and mysterious noises come out, and you can really close your eyes and imagine the devil's voice.

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July 23, 2019

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