The Most Haunted Places in São Paulo

Sometimes the real world is even more scary than fiction

São Paulo is famous for many things, and one of them is for having specific places that are haunted. SURPRISINGLY, I was not aware that most of them are in São Paulo downtown, right here where I live. Spooky right? Well, I don’t know about you, but I believe in ghosts, poltergeists, specters, spirits, everything. I confess that took me a little longer to write this new article. Whenever I decided to write a bit more, my mind became slow and I felt so much sleep that was hard to keep my eyes open. Some of the stories I’ll write here are quite odd, not to say creepy. It’s up to you to believe it or not, but the fact is, these stories have passed through time, and still scary a lot of people. Murders, fire, cheat, horror and death are part of it.Welcome to the unknown and the most haunted places in São Paulo.




Horror, fire, torture, death: the place where today is Joelma Building

Let’s begin with one of the most famous buildings in São Paulo. The Joelma Building. Believe it or not, I live right in front of it and never paid too much attention until I was aware of its SEVERAL stories.

Joelma isn’t famous because of its architecture, shape, location. It became famous because the fire that happened in February 1st, 1974. This fire stopped São Paulo for a few hours. Circa 756 persons used to work within the 25 floors of the building on that day. Around 9:00am, an employee of the building heard a noise of glasses being broken, results of a burnt air-conditioning on the 12th floor. By the time he got there to turn of the energy, the electrical wiring was on fire through the wall. Within seconds the curtains were on high flames and the fire immediately was all over the lining of the floor. No need to say that in the next minutes terror and chaos were scattered all over the building. Without any control of the fire, the employees of the building began to run away, still, with elevators.

According to the forensic, the cause of the fire was a short circuit in one of the air-conditioning equipment, causing overheating in electrical wiring, creating the first outbreak of fire, which spread throughout the building. In total, 191 death victims and more than 300 wounded people was the result of this sad event that took place in São Paulo downtown. But it not ends there. One of the tragedies that most impressed was the fact that (and then begins the whole mystery thing), 13 persons tried to escape through one of the elevators, and failed to do it. They died carbonized inside the elevator, and due to the state of the bodies, they were never identified (on those days, there wasn’t DNA analysis). These bodies were buried side by side in the cemetery São Pedro, located at St Francisco Falconi, 837, Vila Alpina, São Paulo.

Some time after the burial of the 13 unidentified victims of Joelma, people who worked at the cemetery started to listen mysterious groans and cries, but no idea from where it was. Frightened, they started to look where this disturbing noise was and found that the groans and cries were coming out of the graves of the 13 victims of the Joelma. Knowing that these 13 victims died carbonized, water was poured over the graves, ceasing the moans and cries…

After that, people started to make prayers for the 13 souls, and ask for goodwills. If you go and visit the cemetery, you can check signs and posters thanking the 13 souls for the reached graces. However, there is a warning, like an epitaph: “Do not light candles in this grave.”

topo Edificio Joelma Joelma Joelma Joelma

AND, there are more stories that surround this building… Long before, in slavery times, the land where Joelma is located was a pillory (place where punishments were applied into the slaves). These people were tortured to death, marking the place with sadness, anger, pain and suffering. After the abolition, many people avoided going near there, frightened because the voices and cries for mercy that were heard … It doesn’t ends here…

Another major tragedy surrounds this place… Known as The Crime Well, this was another horrible tragedy that happened on the same place that Joelma Building is located. On November 23, 1948, after several complaints of the neighbors, police discovered the body of 3 women inside the house that existed before Joelma Building was built. The bodies of Benedicta de Camargo, 56 years old, and her two daughters, Maria Ferreira de Camargo, 23 years old and Cordelia Ferreira de Camargo, 19 years old, were found out inside a well, on the back of the house. These 3 women were shot at cold blood by Paulo Ferreira de Camargo, 25 years old, the son of Benedicta, 19 days before. Why would a son kill his own family? People say that this was an act of revenge against his family due to the non acceptance of his romance with a nurse which was no longer virgin :-O

The thing is, on that time, a woman that was no longer a virgin was completely against the standards, and Paulo was living a scandal not acceptable by his family or the society. Before the crime, Paulo faced constant arguments with his mother and sisters, who were totally against his relationship with the nurse. Being out of control, he decided to solve it. He ordered to built the well behind the house, already as part of his plan. One day, Paulo had dinner with his family as usual. Secretly, Paulo put soporific on his mother and sister’s meal. Drugged, they were fast asleep. In cold blood, Paulo takes his gun and shot them. He put hoods on the heads of the victims, dragging the bodies to the back of the house, and drop them in the newly constructed well. In the days that follow, Paul leads a normal life. But, people begin to strange the disappearance of the three women and called the police to ask them to check what was going on. The disappearance of the three was not normal.

Under pressure, Paulo sometimes said his family was traveling, others said they were sick. Neighbors then tell the police that a few days before they heard noise of gunfire and a strange movement behind the house near the new well. When the police decided to check the location, found the horrible crime scene, with the bodies inside the well. Paulo realized that there was no way out, go to the bathroom, and commits suicide with a shot in the chest. The bodies of Paulo Ferreira de Camargo, Benedicta de Camargo, Maria Ferreira de Camargo and Cordelia Ferreira de Camargo, were buried on November 25, 1948 in the family tomb in the Consolação Cemetery (also a haunted place in SP…).The house where the crime occurred was closed for many years. Later it was demolished to be built the Joelma Building.

Every day I have to cross street in front of Joelma Building, and I can assure you, that haunted place is absolutely not blessed, heavy energy surrounds it. If you wanna take a look, just do it by being on the other side of the street.

Chapel of the Holy Cross of the Hanged: holy or cursed?

Located in one of the most famous neighborhoods in São Paulo (Liberdade), is the Chapel of the Holy Cross of the Hanged, aka Church of the Souls, another haunted place in São Paulo. This chapel is a mark in São Paulo, and has an important and cultural meaning also to Brazil. We all know that mysteries, legends and stories surrounds chapels, cathedrals and churches since long ago. And with this one, is not different. Let’s go back in time almost 200 years ago. Brazil by then was ruled by the Empire and had laws like the “death penalty” where less fortunate people were hanged in public square. And one of the most famous cases of that time was the hanging of the military officer José Francisco das Chagas, known as Chaguinhas.

Capela dos Enforcados/Igreja das Almas

He was accused of being responsible for an uprising which claimed the payment of wages that were already five years late, and the equal rights of Brazilians and Portuguese military officers. He was sentenced to the gallows and executed on September 20, 1821. His conviction shocked the city, and many legends and stories surrounds his death. The main one is that Chaguinhas was fatally clubbed, since attempts of being hanged completely failed in all tentatives due to the rope tear up. The crowd that followed the hanging vociferated for freedom by the injustice practiced against him, and attributed as a “miracle” the fact that the strings teared up in all hanging attempts. The region was the site of the first public cemetery of the city of São Paulo, the Cemetery of the Afflicted, where people buried slaves, beggars, criminals and poor. Within this cemetery was ordered in 1779 the construction of a chapel, the Chapel of the Afflicted. The chapel is there until today.

After the construction of a new cemetery, (Consolatação Cemetery), it was built another church in the land that once was Cemetery of the Afflicted, the Holy Cross Chapel of Souls, built exactly where the hanging used to be – stories tell that the altar is located exactly where the condemned were executed -. It is from there that the legends began to emerge. Many people claim that the afflicted souls are still there and the fact that the remains of their bodies have never being removed from the old cemetery enhances the mystique around the chapels. Others believe that the spirit of Chaguinhas and others still roam there.

Considered holy by many people, Chaguinhas has a great devotion in this chapel due to all of his history. The suspenseful environment present in the chapel brings not only curiosity as a series of legends surrounding the chapel. Walls that cry at night, lights lit by none, and the the belief that the souls of the dead are still there. Some faithful people believe they should light candles to the mercy souls, and this fact is so real, that already happened some fire cases within the chapel, as a major number of lit candles remain inside there. Some blogs of paranormal activities mention the chapel as a place with lots of electromagnetic waves. All this makes the Chapel of the Holy Cross of the Hanged as one of the most visited in São Paulo, bringing people from other states and even countries. Would you lit a candle there?

Martinelli Building: the downfall into a haunted place

I wrote here before about the Martinelli Building, the first skyscraper of São Paulo, and for many years, considered the biggest in Latin America. But I didn’t mention the fact that this building is one of the most haunted places we have in São Paulo. AFTER greatest times as one of the most glamour places in São Paulo, the Martinelli Building met its downfall. It’s owner, Giuseppe Martinelli, didn’t manage to pay for his big project. The building first was projected to achieve 13 floors, and end up with 25. Without being able to keep it, the building was delivered to the Union and changed its name to America Building. With the government’s decay in the following years, the building endured a terrible abandonment due to its cheap rent. As the building is located in downtown, ended up being attractive to the lower classes.

I wrote here before about the Martinelli Building, the first skyscraper of São Paulo, and for many years, considered the biggest in Latin America. But I didn’t mention the fact that this building is one of the most haunted places we have in São Paulo. AFTER greatest times as one of the most glamour places in São Paulo, the Martinelli Building met its downfall. It’s owner, Giuseppe Martinelli, didn’t manage to pay for his big project. The building first was projected to achieve 13 floors, and end up with 25. Without being able to keep it, the building was delivered to the Union and changed its name to America Building. With the government's decay in the following years, the building endured a terrible abandonment due to its cheap rent. As the building is located in downtown, ended up being attractive to the lower classes.

On its basement, the building functioned as a prostitution den and as a cabaret club. The building literally would turn up into a tenement, a vertical slum. In 1947, a brutal crime is committed against a Jewish boy, Davidson, raped, strangled and thrown by into the elevator shaft. The killer known as “Midnight” was arrested and eventually confessed the crime. Over the decadent years, suicide cases began to appear and crimes began to be frequent, so another crime shocked the city: Marcia Theresa, a minor, was raped and killed by five assassins, within one the apartments and also thrown into the elevator shaft. With the intense crises of people taking ownership of the building, the hygiene became increased deteriorating.

It is said that the garbage was dumped directly into elevator shafts, and has reached the height of the sixth floor. Due to that, the whole building had a strong and distinctive odor, which many associated with death itself, which gave a lot of fear going around the building. Picture that? What once was a glamorous building, was turned into a vertical slum, a prostitution den, a place of murders, suicide, and also, haunted. Around the 70’s, the mayor of the city took on a project of completely renewal, installing some public agencies and selling some floors to big companies. During the restoration, it was found in the elevator shafts several bones and human remains.

I wrote here before about the Martinelli Building, the first skyscraper of São Paulo, and for many years, considered the biggest in Latin America. But I didn’t mention the fact that this building is one of the most haunted places we have in São Paulo. AFTER greatest times as one of the most glamour places in São Paulo, the Martinelli Building met its downfall. It’s owner, Giuseppe Martinelli, didn’t manage to pay for his big project. The building first was projected to achieve 13 floors, and end up with 25. Without being able to keep it, the building was delivered to the Union and changed its name to America Building. With the government's decay in the following years, the building endured a terrible abandonment due to its cheap rent. As the building is located in downtown, ended up being attractive to the lower classes. I wrote here before about the Martinelli Building, the first skyscraper of São Paulo, and for many years, considered the biggest in Latin America. But I didn’t mention the fact that this building is one of the most haunted places we have in São Paulo. AFTER greatest times as one of the most glamour places in São Paulo, the Martinelli Building met its downfall. It’s owner, Giuseppe Martinelli, didn’t manage to pay for his big project. The building first was projected to achieve 13 floors, and end up with 25. Without being able to keep it, the building was delivered to the Union and changed its name to America Building. With the government's decay in the following years, the building endured a terrible abandonment due to its cheap rent. As the building is located in downtown, ended up being attractive to the lower classes.

However, after so many tragedies that occurred there, Martinelli became a marked building in São Paulo. Many employees until today report that they often hear voices, elevators goes from floors to floors with no one in, and some say, there is a blond without a face that stays walking around the whole building… Would you stay working until late night there, all alone?

Anhangabaú Valley: the evil spirit

In the 16th century, the Anhangabau Valley was a land of native Indian people. According to an old legend, shrouded by mystery, the valley used to have its river waters damned. Several Indian who bathed on it, died. The name itself gives you an idea of what it means: Anhangabaú river in Tupi-Guarani language means evil spirit, or the river of evil spirit, or still,  where the evil spirit drinks water. At the colonization period in São Paulo, natives were afraid to cross the river: they said they would suffer Anhangá attacks, an evil creature of the forest.

In the 16th century, the Anhangabau Valley was a land of native Indian people. According to an old legend, shrouded by mystery, the valley used to have its river waters damned. Several Indian who bathed on it, died. The name itself gives you an idea of what it means: Anhangabaú river in Tupi-Guarani language means evil spirit, or the river of evil spirit, or still, where the evil spirit drinks water. At the colonization period in São Paulo, natives were afraid to cross the river: they said they would suffer Anhangá attacks, an evil creature of the forest.

The Anhangá is also represented in the form of several animals, including chicken, bat, monkey, mouse, but mostly, as a white deer with eyes of fire and a cross on the forehead between the eyes. When Anhangá has contact with any human form, it brings disgrace, and all the places frequented by this human will be damned. It protects small animals and plants from human beings, that is, back then, there were nothing left for the Indians subsistence. For the more skeptics, the fear of the Indians is justified due to the fact that its waters were salty and used to cause disease. Initially, the river was known as Stream of Souls.

WITH the arrival of the Portuguese in São Paulo, the native people were took as slaves. Many brave warriors fought for its land by right, and were killed. After a brutal bloodshed, their bodies were thrown in the river, spreading innocent blood all over it. With all the mystery and killing, the valley became cursed. Long after, it was built, the Viaduto do Chá, within Anhangabau Valley, an overpass, became known as a “suicide mass place”, since the site was chosen often by people who wanted to take their lives. Nowadays, the Anhangabaú Valley is surrounded by hundreds of tall buildings and some centenarians buildings, and among these are some of the haunted places I’ve mentioned here: the Municipal Theater, the Martinelli building, the Joelma building and the Town Hall (all them near where I live …).

In the 16th century, the Anhangabau Valley was a land of native Indian people. According to an old legend, shrouded by mystery, the valley used to have its river waters damned. Several Indian who bathed on it, died. The name itself gives you an idea of what it means: Anhangabaú river in Tupi-Guarani language means evil spirit, or the river of evil spirit, or still, where the evil spirit drinks water. At the colonization period in São Paulo, natives were afraid to cross the river: they said they would suffer Anhangá attacks, an evil creature of the forest.

Even the Castle of Apa Street is not so far from Anhangabaú Valley. It’s the only urban area of Brazil that concentrates so many supernatural cases in its surroundings. What if that this may be the action of Anhangá against the humans for having destroyed all the nature around the river Anhangabaú? Sensitives say the Anhangabaú Valley emits very bad energy, which would cause its surroundings so many tragedies. Do you think that can be a relationship between these misfortunes, the valley and their spirits? Larger fires occurred on its surrounds; the 23 May Avenue, where the river Anhangabaú passes, is one of the avenues with the highest number of accidents with death in Sao Paulo; because there are several buildings around it regarded as haunted? Would you live nearby as myself?

Consolação Cemetery: the city of the lying

With 76.340 m², the Consolação Cemetery is the first necropolis of the city of São Paulo and a reference in the field of funerary art. WITHIN IT, are scattered not only some of the most important figures highlighted in Brazilian history, but also exposed, in the tombs, some of the most beautiful and significant works of the most famous and varied sculptors of the country. The tourism in cemeteries is a recurrent sightseeing all over the world, and in São Paulo wouldn’t be different. This cemetery had its opening in August 15, 1858. For almost 300 years before that, the city of São Paulo used to bury the body of its people in sacred soil, within the churches. The cemetery was built with the intention to avoid disease in the city and for sanitary reasons. And for being very old, the cemetery as everything that is that old, has many stories.

One of them is about the biggest mausoleum within Brazil, the mausoleum of the Matarazzo Family, one of the most important and famous families in São Paulo. The mausoleum is 20 meters tall and 150 m2. Tall enough as a 3 floors building, and big enough to keep a whole family. Some said that when Ermelinno Matarazzo’s daughter was being buried within the Mausoleum of the Family, one of the gravediggers, the youngest, fainted in the middle of all people and started bleeding to death. He was only 23 years old, and the poor man was only working there for two months … until today, they have not found the cause of death. The people who work at the cemetery say that you can hear mourning around the Mausoleum … others that the gravedigger roam all over the cemetery … and every night he sits at the tomb that is in front of the mausoleum of Matarazzo and just stares…

Another story, is from Maria Cristina Martins, working in the cemetery until today, she is responsible for gardening and painting the tombs, (I saw her there, she indicated to me one of the famous tombs). The story she shares is that in 2010, she suffered an assassination attempt, right there, in the main entrance of the cemetery. But a week before that, she had the impression of being followed by a little boy, all dressed in gothic clothes, with curly hair. Sometimes she saw him, sometimes not. The assassin tried to shoot Maria 3 times, and missed all of them. She said that this little boy who was following her, a guiding angel, was protecting her. 3 TIMES POINTED AND MISSED ALL OF THEM? Maria is surely blessed.

Another tale of a man who used to live long ago in one of the streets that is parallel with the cemetery, when the cemetery was still was open at night: “There I was, going through the cemetery in the dark, scared to walk alone through this huge city, hoping a living soul to appear, when the moonlight reflected a figure walking in the same direction as I was. The figure just kept approaching. The figure soon catched me. My heart started to bit so fast I could hardly breath! All I could think to say was:”- I’m glad you caught me, I’m a little afraid to walk alone here.” The figure said: “- Yeah, when I was alive, I was afraid to walk alone here too.” … If your intention is to be there at night, forget it. The cemetery closes at 6:00pm, but, has guided visits at every Tuesday and Friday from 9:30am -11:00am and from 2:00pm – 3:30pm…

If you like not only haunted places, the cemetery has lots of famous tombs with Brazilian history as I mentioned above, some as Tarsila do Amaral (one of the most famous Brazilian painters), Monteiro Lobato (writer), Campos Sales (President of Republic), etc. BUT, even if the cemetery was open after 6:00pm, I would not dare to walk by…and surely not alone as I was when I photographed it. Note: if you love cats as I do, the cemetery is full of them…

SHORT HORROR STORIES

Faculty of Law, University of São Paulo

So people say, the Faculty of Law in São Paulo is another haunted place. The architecture of the 19th century, long corridors, imposing statues, evil-looking busts and the tomb of a teacher at the main entrance: all this helps to create a ghostly atmosphere in the historic building in the center of São Paulo. But what really seems to bother the students, staff and teachers is the ghost of the teacher Júlio Frank. His body was buried in the yard of the faculty because he was a protestant and back then the cemeteries refused to accept him because of his belief. Even today, people say that listen to some of the most illustrious students of the institution discussing politics in the dark corridors of the college… true or false?

Faculdade de Direito

The House of Lady Yayá

Sebastiana de Melo Freire, aka Yayá, was diagnosed with mental disorders after the death of her parents and the suicide of her older brother. She was locked in her house by the family for over 40 years. Yayá could only occupy two rooms on the site until her death in 1961. People say that her appearance was likely a zombie, because of the mistreatment given her for so many years. After her death, all the relatives that abused Yayá eventually died tragically. To this day, neighbors say they can hear Yayá cries for help. An agonizing story…

The Alley Pinto

Nowadays the Alley Pinto is also known as the College Alley. Along with the House of Photography and the Solar of Santos Marquise, it’s a very significant place: architectural, cultural, historical and part of the Museum of the City of São Paulo. But, long before, it was a passage used in colonial times for the transit of people and animals. And what many people don’t know is that this alley used to be the Institute of Legal Medicine of São Paulo and a Police Station.

Beco do Pinto

No need to say that an odd energy surrounds the place. I’ve been there, and I felt it. Ok, it was during the day, but, didn’t feel easy at all. Not to mention that it’s empty…no one is ever on that alley. What helps establish the haunted vibes is that, in 1979, autopsies belongings were found there, as knives, box cutters, daggers and even small bone fragments… Don’t go there at night.

Municipal Theater

I’ve mentioned here before the Municipal Theater, and just like any good old theater, Municipal is full of stories and the perfect place for ghosts to appear. Some people believe that the spirits of artists who used to perform back in 1900, are still attached to the building.

Several security guards and staff working at night have reported piano keys being driven themselves, and sounds of opera being sung, movements in dressing rooms, even the theater being empty … Somethings are just hard to let it go.

Teatro Municipal

Castle on Apa Street

The Castle on Apa St. This old residence was the scene of a family tragedy on May 12, 1937. After being called to the scene, the police found the bodies of the brothers Alvaro and Armando Reis near his mother, Maria Cândida. The case was never made clear, but according to the police, the main motive would have been a dispute over family business and, in the heat of the moment, Alvaro would have shot his brother. To avoid a tragedy, his mother would have come in front of Armando, and ended up being shot just like her son. Alvaro in shock that had killed both, committed suicide.

There are several reports of people who, as passing by in front of the old house – abandoned – would have heard the family discussions and the requests for help from Armando and Maria Cândida to not be killed… sad family.

Town Hall

São Paulo’s Town Hall

The place, before becoming the Town Hall of the city of São Paulo, was an Indian burial ground. According to local people, a man was seen several times within one of the elevators, when in fact there was none there. Really don’t like to think about this that much, I live RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT … specially about the fact that long before it was an Indian cemetery…

Edifício Joelma

CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS OF THE HANGED

MARTINELLI BUILDING

ANHANGABAÚ VALLEY

CONSOLAÇÃO CEMETERY

MUNICIPAL THEATER

FACULTY OF LAW

THE HOUSE OF LADY YAYÁ

THE ALLEY PINTO

CASTLE ON APA STREET

SÃO PAULO’S TOWN HALL

You may not believe, but, one thing is for sure: some places bring with it the stigma of madness and cruelty of the people who lived there. There are things that are impossible to explain. It was not easy to write this article, not to mention the energy about all these places haunted places in São Paulo I’ve been :-O

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