I always like to write at least one post about buying a fixer upper in Spain. It’s a fun thing to dream about. I suspect that many of the likely candidates would have interesting histories just waiting to be discovered while restoring walls and replacing windows. You might start with a property that needs a little tlc.
Well, quite a lot of tlc.
Who could blame you for a little buyer’s remorse? But then you discover that your renovation project actually has a name and history. You own the Casa de las Cabezas, the House of the Heads, a noble and luxurious home in its day.
Wow! Now you’re inspired to get the house restored to its former glory. You clean and repair the patios.
The dining room is ready for guests.
You even have a den complete with armor.
After months (years?) of work, your show home is complete. Everything is in period style, including the bedrooms…
…but can you really sleep here? The problem is, you’ve discovered the meaning of the house’s name, and you’re not so sure if it’s the home of your dreams or of your nightmares. The house has an alley on one side that you know to be supremely sinister.
The story is that the house was once a fortress of the Muslim ruler Almanzor, and a man named Gonzalo Gustioz was imprisoned here. Gustioz was father to seven sons, and ultimately the heads of his sons were brought to him on a silver platter. Subsequently, the heads were hung one each on the seven arches in the alley.
The basement evokes a frightening past as well.
In 1492, the Jews were driven from Cordoba. Many converted to Catholicism, or were forced to pretend to convert to avoid persecution. Finding these insincere converts was one reason for the Inquisition. The owner of this house, Juan de Cordoba de las Cabezas. was a wealthy merchant accused of using the basement of this home as a secret synagogue. The accuser was the infamous inquisitor, Lucero, and the result was the largest auto-da-fé of the year 1504, where over 200 “heretics” were burned.
If there was ever a home with a tragic and haunting history, this is it. And you own it.
What to do now?
Maybe it’s for the best to open it to the curious and the storytellers, and share its secrets with the world.