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The 7 Most Terrifying Legends of Colombia

Sculpture of the famous legend of Colombia Juan Machete

Updated on 03/13/2024

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I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

In a country like Colombia, and in the vast majority of Latin American countries, there are plenty of stories, myths and legends that have been passed on through generations. A legend is a popular tale that, despite the passage of time, has been passed down either orally or in writing. These stories contain fantastic or supernatural elements.

In Colombia, we find incredible stories of people who have committed gruesome crimes, either guided by their pride, greed, or lust and punished for wandering for eternity without rest. In order for you to learn about Colombian culture and these stories, I want to share with you some of the most terrifying legends of this wonderful country.

Juan Machete

One of the most famous legends of the Colombian lowlands is the terrifying story of Juan Machete.

It is said that a long time ago in Macarena (a commune in the Meta department) there lived a man named Juan Francisco Ortiz who had only ambition and power in his heart. Blinded by his ambition, Juan decided to contact the devil. The man offered him his soul, the soul of his wife, and the souls of his children in exchange for power and wealth.

The King of Hell agreed to help him, but first gave him a troubling mission. The demon asked him to take a black cat and hen (other versions of the story say it was a toad and a hen) deep into the forest on a Good Friday. There Juan was supposed to stitch the eyes of the animals at midnight and bury them alive. After he had made the pact, the devil appeared and said to him:

“The pact is made until the day I decide”.

From that moment on, Juan began to be lucky, his business grew rapidly, his lands were fertile and produced food very quickly, and his cattle were reproducing at an incredible rate.

One morning Juan spotted an imposing black bull on his land, with four hooves and two white horns. The man naively thought that it belonged to a neighbor and tried to get him out, but he couldn’t, the bull stayed there.

Juan was not satisfied with any of this, he wanted more wealth and more power. One day when he was inspecting the cattle, a goat spoke to him and said:

“Juan, some workers will appear at your hacienda, hire them because they will be your faithful servants. They will go under the command of a man named Constantinople, baptize him by praying a creed backwards. This will double your wealth and there will be no richer man in the whole region.”

These men, who were servants of the devil, helped Juan. Soon his wealth grew and he became the richest man in the region. But remember that anything that comes in a bad way will sooner or later go away. Years went by, and every day the demon’s words, “The pact is made until the day I make up my mind,” echoed in Juan’s mind.

At some point, the man’s happiness began to wane. His land no longer produced food, a drought caused his animals to die, his house burned down, the devil’s workers disappeared, and finally his family left him too. The only company Juan had left was the black bull, who never left his land. The man took what he had left of riches, went into the forest where he buried them, and later he passed away.

The attacks of Juan Machete

Juan went to pay his debt to the devil and of course his soul never got rest. The human Juan died, but in his place appeared what was known as the Juan Machete.

It is said that deep in the woods of the Macarena, Juan, in a mad state, attacks anyone who approaches the place where he buried his treasure. In the end, Juan was left alone and forever doomed to protect a fortune that he can no longer enjoy.

La Muelona

At the time of the Spanish colony, in the Andean region of today’s Colombia, it is said that there lived an evil woman known as “La Maga”.

This woman was known for practicing dark arts such as divination by lines of hands or playing cards. But her reputation was bad for being responsible for ruining marriages, advising young girls on contraceptive methods, and other kinds of immorality.

It is said that because of their magic, STDs spread throughout the area and hundreds of people were ruined. Eventually, the magician died, but strange things began to happen. Her house was filled with a pervasive and nauseating smell. This meant that no one wanted to go anywhere near the woman’s house.

One night a former client of the woman decided to break into the house with the aim of looking for jewelry and costumes or anything of value. When she turned off the lamp, the place was suddenly filled with bats. The scared woman tried to escape, but suddenly she heard a voice that said to her:

“I will take revenge on the gambling-addicted and perishable men, on the frivolous and shameless women, they will be in hell with me, I am La Muelona!”

The woman, trembling and almost unable to react, ran out of the magician’s house for help. After commenting on what had happened, the authorities decided to burn the witch’s house down. But from that moment on, people across the Andean region began to tell that a being known as Muelona was tormenting people.

The Muelona attacks

Since the witch’s house was burned down, various people have claimed to have seen the creature known as Muelona. It is said that this being haunts the streets and can be found near trees. It usually appears between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

La Muelona has the look of a young beautiful woman with long hair, intense eyes and always showing her teeth, which makes it seem like she is constantly smiling. This being usually seduces its victims and as soon as they approach it, the Muelona hugs the person and crushes them with her powerful teeth.

The story goes that the Muelona usually seeks out unfaithful people, gambling addicts, and alcoholics. Farmers, on the other hand, say that this entity does not attack women who are about to become mothers and people who live in a house where a baby was recently born.

El Sombrerón

This legend is typical of the departments of Antioquia, Huila, and Tolima and tells of an eerie figure who lies in wait at night. The story goes that in the 19th century, two men named Santiago Echevarría and Camilo Restrepo, known as drunks and die-hard gamblers, drank and played late into the night.

Finally, tired, the two men decided to head home. After they had walked for a few minutes, a tall man came out of the deep darkness on the horizon, sitting on a horse, dressed all in black and wearing a large hat. Most frightening of all was that he had a devilish face, with features that robbed him of any semblance of humanity, and that he was also accompanied by two black chained dogs.

The men ran away, trembling and almost without reacting, without understanding anything, out of sheer survival instinct. But suddenly a voice rang out that would make anyone’s blood run cold:

“If I catch you, you will deal with me.”

The hat-wearer began to chase the two men and rode his horse at full speed. The demonic being threw his hat at Santiago, the object grew in size and managed to completely cover the man. After doing this, Santiago passed out and the hat returned to its owner. The creature disappeared, leaving behind an icy and foul-smelling wind.

The hours passed and finally, Santiago woke up not knowing if what he had experienced was a hallucination of his drunkenness or if it had really happened.

The apparitions of the Sombrerón

From that moment on, several people began to report the attacks of this being they called Sombrerón. Legend has it that this demonic creature usually attacks drunks, night owls, thugs, and hardcore gamers.

The sombrerón is also known as the rider without the zamarros or the black rider and is said to have been seen in various places such as the departments of Bolívar, Tolima, Huila, and Valle del Cauca. In addition, he has also been seen in cities such as Jardín, a historic town in the Antioquia department.

La Madre de Agua (The Mother of Water)

This legend is widespread in the departments of Antioquia and Tolima. This story is about a woman tormented by the loss of her son and lover. History takes us back to the time of the Spanish conquest. During this period, it was common for European soldiers to visit the various indigenous communities in order to subdue them and steal their riches.

One day the Spanish soldiers found a settlement ruled by a young Cacique. The native leader was strong and handsome. After a brief confrontation, they managed to overpower the Indian. The Spanish soldiers tried to get the young Indian to tell them where the treasures of his people were, but he did not understand Spanish and was very proud so that under no circumstances did he want to help his attackers. The captain, enraged by the Indian’s behavior, ordered him to be handcuffed and flogged.

What no one expected was that in the distance the captain’s daughter, a young girl, not older than 15 years, very beautiful, with light eyes and blond hair, was watching the handsome Indian with great interest. When the superiors were not watching the Cacique, the young girl went up to the soldier who was torturing the Indian and begged him to let him go. The Spaniard could not refuse the beautiful woman’s request, so he released the Cacique.

At this point, the Indian and the girl fled into the depths and thickets of the forest. Once they were far away, and although they couldn’t understand each other, she kissed the Indian and said to him:

“Let’s run away, take me with you, I want to be yours”.

The Indian, taken with the beauty of the young woman, fell in love immediately and decided to take her with him. The couple settled in a bohío (a hut in the shape of a circle) that belonged to a friend of the native. Months passed and the couple lived happily ever after, even having a baby.

But even in moments of happiness, problems soon cropped up. Feeling rejected and angry, an indigenous woman in love with the cacique decided to contact the young woman’s family. The Spanish captain, full of anger and wanting revenge, set off with some soldiers to the place where his daughter was.

Without any sympathy and with anger and hatred in his eyes, he ordered the parents to be tied to a tree trunk on the riverbank. The Spaniard looked hateful at his little grandson and grabbed him without hesitation and said:

“You will die, you filthy Indian, I do not want descendants to stain my nobility, you are not of my lineage”.

The captain then ordered the little boy to be thrown into the river. The parents tried desperately to help their little boy, but it was useless, they could not even detach themselves from the tree trunk to which they were tied. Sadly, the young Spanish girl’s torture was far from over. Her father took her to the camp, where, without a trace of pity, he ordered the decapitation of the Indian under the watchful eyes of his beloved.

The young woman, traumatized and full of anger, was released. A few hours later she escaped again, went to the river where her son had been killed, jumped in, and took her own life. Her tormented soul could not rest in peace and would soon become the fearsome Madre del Agua.

The attacks of the Madre del Agua

It is said that the young Spaniard’s vengeful spirit haunts the rivers, springs and streams of Colombia. The stories tell that this creature reveals itself to be a beautiful young woman with light eyes and golden hair, but she has a peculiarity, her feet are turned back.

The mother of water is interested in children and young people. It is said that when it approaches, a melodious voice can be heard singing a lullaby. Young people who see her fall in love with her, soon lose their minds and begin to dream about her all the time.

This water goddess uses the love that children feel for her and manipulates it so that they throw themselves into the floods.

The Candileja

This legend comes from the eastern plains (Los Llanos) and tells the story of 3 evil igneous spheres that hunt down immoral, drunk, irresponsible people and even poor travelers who are alone in the early hours of the morning.

It is said that a long time ago there was a family made up of an old millionaire’s wife and her two grandchildren. The woman spoiled the children too much, and as a result, they were very rebellious, made a lot of mischief and they went so far as to ask their grandmother to play the horse.

Over time, the woman’s health deteriorated and she eventually died. When she got to heaven, she met St. Peter himself, who complained to her that she no longer had authority over her grandchildren.

As a punishment, the Guardian of Heaven ordered that the woman be doomed for all eternity to remain on earth in the form of three igneous spheres, which symbolize the grandmother and the two grandchildren.

The attacks of the Candileja

This evil being is characterized by the fact that, although it is a ghost, it has not forgotten the love for its grandchildren. When they see an irresponsible parent or someone abusing a child, they attack them without compassion. In addition, like many other beings, it hates drunk people, which it constantly attacks.

This ghost is not totally bad because when it sees a lost child, it does not attack them but helps them by showing them the way back home.

La Pata Sola (The Single Leg)

One of the most famous legends in all of Colombia (especially in Tolima) is that of the Pata Sola. This story tells of a terrible creature who seduces its victims and then cruelly kills them.

Legend has it that a long time ago there was a family that consisted of a humble farmer, his beautiful wife and their three children. The man worked on the estate of a very rich man who had many workers.

One day the owner of the hacienda got tired of the monotony and hired one of his cowboys to get a beautiful young woman to be his lover. The worker advised his boss to go to the river to watch the women wash clothes. Once there, the boss became aware of the farmer’s wife and she, in turn, showed interest in him.

From that moment on, the owner of the hacienda made it his goal to conquer this beautiful woman. He brought her presents and was attentive to her. Gradually, the woman fell in love with the man and the two secretly began a relationship.

Time passed and the relationship between the simple farmer and his wife had deteriorated. One day this man met with a friend who was none other than the cowboy who advised the boss to go to the river to meet women. The humble farmer told his friend in a sad tone that his wife distanced herself from him, that she treated him badly and that he no longer felt that she loved him the same way.

The cowboy, feeling guilty, decided to tell him the truth about the secret relationship between the boss and the farmer’s wife. The latter, overwhelmed by the news, got up, thanked his friend, and left without saying anything.

The farmer, angry and impotent, decided to check that the relationship really existed. He came home and told his wife that the boss had sent him to the village and that he would not be back until the evening. The man came back a little earlier and when he arrived he saw that his wife was not there. The woman would arrive around midnight, the farmer would ask her where she was and she would answer:

“Dear, I was doing laundry”.

The excuse was ridiculous and the farmer knew it, but the only thing she answered was that she had to go to the village the next day too. This time the farmer went nowhere but hid in front of his house and waited patiently. At dusk he saw his employer walking towards his house, the woman came towards him and jumped into his arms.

The farmer was angry. Without saying a word, he grabbed a machete, and with a look of anger on his face, he slowly approached his employer and his unfaithful wife. As the farmer got closer, the boss became aware of his presence, but it was too late, the owner of the hacienda was beheaded with a single blow with the machete that the man brandished in his anger.

The woman was startled, forced a reaction and tried to flee, but her husband was faster than her. Without any sympathy, the farmer cut off his wife’s leg and killed her because she was bleeding to death in a short time.

The farmer was incarcerated but did not stay in prison for long. When he was released, he returned home, took his children with him, and burned his old house down. The story does not end there, because soon afterwards, it was said that a strange woman with only one leg was roaming the streets and whoever saw her would scream terribly. This was the origin of the Pata Sola.

The Pata Sola attacks

Since then, the Pata Sola is said to hide in the valleys, mountains, and plains of Colombia with the aim of attracting, seducing, and then killing men.

There are two supposed ways in which this entity manifests itself. The first is that she appears as a beautiful woman who seduces lonely men who pass by on the streets. The naive men follow the woman into the depths of the forest, where she transforms into a hideous monster with an abnormally large mouth, feline teeth, and a terrifying look. After her transformation, she attacks her victim.

Another way in which the Pata Sola manifests itself is through terrible screams. It is said that travelers sometimes hear terrible cries for help, and the closer one gets to the source of the screams, the sadder they become. When you reach the crying woman, she turns into a terrible beast who pounces on her victims, sucking their blood and finally crushing them with her feline teeth.

El Silbón (The Whistler)

This legend, very common in Los Llanos, tells of a spoiled man who went so far as to kill his father simply for disobeying his whims.

It is said that a long time ago there lived a young man who was extremely spoiled and capricious, every wish he had was quickly fulfilled by his family. The boy had one quality, he used to whistle when he walked.

One day the family gathered for lunch. When the plate was set in front of the capricious young man, he looked at it with contempt, stood up, and threw the food on the floor while he said:

“How disgusting, I wanted deer meat”.

Then he left the place, leaving his family in mourning. The father of the young man, who spoiled him very much, grabbed his rifle and went hunting for the deer his son wanted so badly. The night came, but unfortunately, the father could not catch the deer.

In the meantime, his son got drunk, as he did every day, and when he got tired he just got up and went home whistling. On the way, he had the bad luck to meet his father, who told him very sad that he had not been able to catch the deer. The capricious young man hit him to the ground with an expression of anger and without any sympathy for his father. Then he grabbed his father’s rifle and shot him. The murderer also grabbed his father’s hunting knife and tore out his entrails without hesitation.

When he got home and gave his father’s meat to his family, they asked him: “Where did you get this meat from?” To which the young man replied unrepentantly:

“This meat is from my worthless father who couldn’t hunt the deer”.

The family was horrified. At this point, the grandfather of the malevolent boy, who was stricter than his son, ordered his grandson to be tied to a tree in front of his house. When he was handcuffed, the grandfather, furiously, began to whip the capricious little boy, and when his flesh was bared, he doused him with aguardiente (other versions claim that he spilled him with salt and chili pepper).

The grandfather then cursed his grandson, making him wander forever, and also made the Tureco dog (a creature that haunts the souls of those who have committed sins in their life) haunt him forever. The young man returned to where he had murdered his father, picked up the bones, and put them in a pouch. He then walked away while whistling, and this gave birth to the evil being known as El Silbón.

The attacks of El Silbón

It is said that hearing the El Silbón is an unhappy omen as it can mean that death is near. A special feature of this being is that its whistling sound is similar to the musical notes do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si. So if you hear such a sound, be careful. If you can hear the whistling nearby, you can rest assured that the Silbón is far away. But if you can hear its whistling in the distance, be careful, it means the being is nearby.

Like many other figures in Colombian legends, El Silbón also attacks immoral people. This creature likes to attack drunk people, whose navel it sucks to get Aguardiente. Other of his victims are misogynist men whom he tears to pieces and whose parts he keeps in his pocket, where he stills keeps the remains of his father.

Legend has it that the best way to save yourself from the Whistler is with the help of a dog, as the barking of these animals terrifies him.

More scary stories

These are just a few of the myriad of Colombian folk legends about ghosts and evil beings. If you want to know more traditional scary stories associated with specific places, I recommend you the article: The Most Terrifying Places You Can Find in Colombia.

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About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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