Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010
The production crew for “Ghost Hunters,” a cable television series, filmed an episode of the show at Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe Del Morro during a five-day period in early December.
San Juan National Historic Site, a World Heritage Site, showcases the fortifications of Castillo San Cristóbal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which are some of the oldest and largest structures in the National Park Service. Castillo San Cristóbal is the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas and was designed to protect the city of San Juan from land attack. Its construction started in 1634 and took over 150 years to complete. Castillo San Felipe del Morro protected San Juan Bay’s deep water harbor from attack by sea. It took 250 years to complete its construction which began in 1539. These fortifications, along with other structures within San Juan NHS were designated a World Heritage Site in 1983.
Within the fortifications’ deep and dark tunnels, humid dungeons, lonely “garitas” or sentry boxes and massive walls, ghost legends emerge. Attracted by this, “Ghost Hunters” targeted these fortifications as a haunting spot. The show, which explores some of the most reputedly haunted locations in the world, is transmitted by the television cable network SyFy (a division of NBC) and seen in 193countries. Episodes may also be viewed online 30 days after airing.
The filming was done by the crew mostly at dark during the evening. using specialized filming equipment which included infrared and thermal imaging cameras, sensitive audio digital recording devices, electromagnetic field detectors and laser lamps to audio-visually capture the legendary ghosts.
Eric López, the park’s historian, was interviewed by the program producers and shared the best known ghost stories about the fortifications. While the park actually does not claim to have ghost stories, one famous story is that of San Cristóbal’s “Garita del Diablo,” or the “Devil’s sentry box” in English. The Garita del Diablo is a small outpost near the waters edge and isolated from the main fortification of San Cristobal. According to the legend, soldiers sent there on guard duty mysteriously disappeared. It is told the devil devoured their souls and bodies only leaving their uniforms and weapons behind.
Stories of sightings or strange noises have also been told by visitors, such as those who have encountered 18th century dressed soldiers disappearing through the solid walls. Some park employees have also shared hearing unusual sounds and experiencing questionable sightings.
The San Juan NHS “Ghost Hunters” episode is expected to air in March. Park staff will be looking forward to watching and seeing some of the ghosts’ park residents playing “extras.”