Hermitage of Santo Cristo – Talaván, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Talaván, Spain

Hermitage of Santo Cristo

Disturbing winged beings decorate the walls of this strange abandoned hermitage. 

Inside a hexagonal chapel, under a cracked dome decorated with flowers, a total of 21 sinister-looking beings with wings and sharp teeth adorn the rickety walls. All of them wear an odd conical hat colored a striking red that stands out from the muted browns of the rest of the image. And they are not the only strange characters represented at this old abandoned hermitage.

The Santo Cristo Hermitage in Talaván, a village near Cáceres, has a unique architectural style with its unusual shape and a rare pyramid crowning the little church. But it’s the inside where you’ll find the oddest peculiarities of this place. Surrounding the dome in the main chapel are the winged beings, created using the sgraffito technique, whose images are far from the ordinary depiction of angels. Below these figures appears a date: March 15, 1628.

The sinister look of these beings has not gone unnoticed to scholars. Some experts consider that they are souls of purgatory, others suggest they are demons that have been represented as a kind of an apotropaic rite; that is, a kind of defense against the devil through its graphic representation. 

As you turn to leave the chapel, the mystery deepens. On both sides of the arch are two circles with the figure of a man and a woman of equally sinister appearance. Especially rare is the image of the man in the left circle, who exhibits some curious feline features and is wearing a bowler hat.

This enigmatic hermitage was abandoned in the 18th century, after which the chapel was used as a cemetery for a time, and today you can still see the broken niches on the right as you enter the temple, littered with random bone fragments. The improvised cemetery was maintained until 1928 when it was replaced by the present one located on the edge of the grounds.

Know Before You Go

The best way to get here from Cáceres is by taking the EX-390 road to the village of Talaván. Keep in mind that this site is in ruins and there is a risk of tripping and even a collapse may occur. It could also be advisable to ask for permission in order to enter into the property. 

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