About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tell me a story; El perro negro de El Escorial

The following story tells us about an extraordinairy happening at The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial in Madrid. What makes this tale so special is that it has its roots not only in folklore but also, for the main part, in history. The lady, who wishes to remain anonymous on my blog, came in contact with this tale first at the age of 9. Because her godfather was one of the historians working at the Royal Monastery, she had the chance to read many of the historical records.Thus this tale has become an interesting composition of facts and folklore, which I am sure you will very much enjoy.

NOTE: would you also like to see your story get illustrated? please check out my previous blog post here and read the guidelines.


(Please, click picture for bigger and better view)

Story Title: El perro negro de El Escorial
Submitted by: RdT Studio
Madrid, Spain

Special places always hold many stories. That is why special places are always misunderstood. But extraordinary things happen at those places, and that is why they have many legends and unusual records. I like to talk about those, so be my guests for this tale.

The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, in Madrid’s mountain range, is a very special place. The Good King decided to build it to thank God for a victory in battle and enigmatic things happened from the very beginning.

The chroniclers say that when the architects were wandering through the mountains trying to find the most suitable place for the building a terrible storm started. Instead of taking shelter, the architects decided to go on with their duty. Then, a ray struck the ground just in front of them, and that is how the location of the monastery was decided.

Many stories are told about this amazing place; a curious one is that of it being a Hell-Gate. This belief started when the Monastery was in early construction. The first thing to be built was the church and the convent, since the monks of the order of Hieronymus took residence there from the very beginning. One day, a sudden stormcloud came down from the mountain hiding the sun; a thunder deafened the valley and a ray struck the building, into the sacristy, causing a big fire that lasted for several days. After the thunder, the cloud vanished and the sun came out again. Some people said then that the Devil had visited the place that day in complaint for the holy building. This thought was strengthened when some months later, the first monk who attended to suffocate the fire, the clock maker, died of an unknown sickness.

But my favorite story is that which took place just a little after that.

About a month after the fire, the monks began to hear terrifying howls in the night, and the howling happened every night and could be heard from everywhere in the Monastery. As days passed, some of the monks also said that in the moonlight they have seen a huge black dog dragging a thick noisy chain that gave impossible jumps on the scaffoldings. People in the town grew uneasy and began to wonder about the dog, saying things like that it was an adversity omen, the Cerberus set free by the Devil after his failure in destroying the temple by fire, or the Devil himself that, in the shape of a dog, tried to scare away the monks by keeping them from sleeping. The story grew so famous that reached the capital, where opportunistsicpeople took the chance to spread the story the dog was a vengeful spirit send to complain on the taxes imposed to build the Monastery. All this talking worried the King, who decided to investigate the matter by himself.

On the night of June the 21st, the terrible howling of the dog coming from undergrounds of the construction, under the King’s chamber, reached such an intensity that the monks took refuge in the Sacristy to pray. One of them, however, bravely went down and, aided by other three monks, caught the dog by a leather collar it wore. It was a big animal, yet thin, as if it had not eaten properly in a while. It was wearing a collar from which it hanged a thick chain, as if the animal had escaped from his master’s house by breaking it; the collar showed that the animal belonged to a member of the court but not which member, and no one ever claimed for it.

When the dog was shown to the King, to calm his people, he decreed it to be hanged from one of the convent’s windows until it rotted away, so everyone could see that it was nothing but a regular stray dog. This stopped the gossip, and nobody ever heard the dog howling… but, apparently, the King himself.

When the good King was about to die in terrible pain, he asked about the dog to his last adviser. When the man said that the dog had not been seen since it was hanged the King told him: ‘I see it and hear it everywhere, its barking wakes me up in the middle of the night. We must make spells to keep it from returning; it scares me.’

Almost three centuries later, a writer would say, without mentioning his source, that the King also saw the dog several times during his life, when someone close to him was about to die.


  1. My... It looks so scary! Wonderful job, thank you very much.

  2. Comments:Dear Isabella,Copy of what was sent on your blog (which needs editing):
    I just received your elegant shadow puppet. I work for a small museum outside of New york City. We are presently having an exhibition called The Art of Contemporary Puppet Theater. It includes artists such as William Kentridge and Julie Taymor. We would like to sell your shadow puppets at the Katonah Museum of Art (katonahmuseum.org). Perhaps we could order ten at a time and see how well they sell. The exhibition extends thru part of June. What would our price be if you are interested. Our development director, Allison Chernow, will be traveling in Holland the beginning of April and could even pick some up. I will be on vacation for two weeks so if you are interested and want to communicate please get in touch with Allison at achernow,katonahmuseum.org . Thanks, your puppet is gorgeous. We would be thrilled if this works. My email is Yvonnegogo@aol.com Thanks,Yvonne