Tucked away in the foothills of the Macayo Mountains in Aragon, in Spain, lies the village of Trasmoz which is plagued by a strong curse which only the Pope can remove. It was once a busy settlement with a population of nearly 10,000 people. Only 62 of them remain today, with just 30 permanent residents.
Because the curse had been placed by a Pope, it could only be removed by one, but until this day, none has intended to do so. Trasmoz is the only Spanish community to be excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
The downfall of the village is due to the superstitions attached with a curse that was placed on Trasmoz many centuries ago by the Catholic Church. Trasmoz’s history is ridden with legends and pagan rituals relating to witches. The now ruined castle, situated at the center of the village was apparently built by a magician called Mutamín, in the span of a night.
The custodian of the Trasmoz castle, Lola Ruiz Diaz, says that the superstitions of witchcraft and the curse began as a ruse, once started by the inhabitants of the castle. Around the 13th century, they began forging counterfeit currency coins, and to prevent the locals from probing into the constant hammering and scraping, the gossip about witches was manufactured, along with forged cauldrons where fake potions were brewed.
While the forgers were able to profit from the gossip, it gave the Church an excuse to exact a deadly revenge. Back then Transmoz thrived on its iron, silver and timber reserves. Unlike its religious neighbours, Trasmoz was a secular village, and as such did not have to pay taxes or penalties to the Monastery of Veruela, in the neighborhood. When the rumors about witches and and pagan practices reached the bishop of Veruela, he quickly acted by moving the archbishop of Tarazona to excommunicate the village. Following this, the villagers of Trasmoz were no longer permitted entry into the church for confessions or holy sacraments.
The villagers of Trasmoz remained recalcitrant, and instead of repentance they declared an open war with the Monastery of Veruela, which led to the latter diverting the water resource of the village without paying for it. Pedro Manuel Ximenez de Urrea, the Lord of Trasmoz, rose up in arms against Veruela. However, before an actual battle could ensue, the matter was settled by King Ferdinand II, who decided that Trasmoz had been wronged by the monastery.
The Church never forgot this humiliating defeat, and continued to propagate the rumors of witchcraft being practiced in Trasmoz. In 1511, the abbot of Veruela – with explicit permission from Pope Julius II – cast a powerful curse on the whole village and its descendants, by chanting psalm 108 of the Book of Psalms, the most powerful tool the Church possesses to pronounce a curse. Because the curse had been placed by a Pope, it could only be removed by one, but until this day, none has intended to do so. Trasmoz is the only Spanish community to be excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
In the following years, Trasmoz fell into decline. The castle burned in 1520 and remained in ruins for centuries, and after the Jews were expelled from Spain in the 15th Century, the local population dwindled. Today, only 62 people live in the village, only half of whom are permanent residents. Most of the houses are in desperate need of repairs and the streets are always empty. There are no schools or shops in the village.
The only upside to the legends of witchcraft associated with Trasmoz is the impact they have had on tourism. Every year, hundreds of tourists visit the tiny Spanish settlement to see this once bustling witch haven, attend the local festival dedicated to witchcraft, and stop by the small witch-themed museum set up in Trasmoz Castle.
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