Spooky Santa Fe | - October 30, 2012

Santa Fe has a history steeped in blood and conquest, so it's no surprise that more than a few ghosts are kicking, well, floating, around the city. The ancient, crooked streets are filled with spirits haunting historic hotels and Victorian homes, government buildings and other sites. Here's a guide to some of the best known haunted places in Santa Fe, as well as a few spots off the beaten trail where ghosts are known to gather.

La Fonda on the Plaza

La Fonda, a former Harvey House hotel, is said to be haunted by a ghost who favors the dining room of the La Plazuela restaurant. According to legend, a politician killed a notable guest after catching him in bed with his wife while staying there. The politician was hanged for his misdeed, but the man he murdered continues to haunt the hotel today.

La Posada

La Posada a posh resort and spa, has appeared in television shows for its resident ghost, Julia Staab, wife of Aaron Staab, a wealthy Santa Fe merchant. He built the house in 1882 and his wife is rumored to haunt it today, after she died an unhappy woman having lost the youngest of her 12 children. Guests who stay in Room 101, Julia's former bedroom, have reported items mysteriously moving around, cabinet doors slamming shut and other paranormal phenomenon. And her ghostly figure has been spotted at the top of the stairs.

The Oldest House

While the claim that this is the oldest house in the country remains disputed, this site is rumored to harbor the spirit of a witch who lived here with her sister. The two were tried for witchcraft, found guilty and beheaded, and one of them is said to still haunt the house. Her ghost has been seen along the narrow, one-way road just outside the house.

Alto Street and Along the Riverbank

Santa Fe has its own Headless Horseman, which would make Washington Irving proud. He reportedly haunts historic Alto Street brandishing a sword as he rides to the Santa Fe River. According to legend, he lost his head to two witches after complaining about a love potion they gave him. Perhaps his killers were the two witches who lived in the Oldest House?

The Former Grant Corner Inn, 122 Grant Ave.

This historic house, built in 1905, now houses a gallery, but it once was the home of a couple that had a sickly child. After the child died, is ghost has been seen in the house, along with flickering lights in his old bedroom.

The Former St. Vincent Hospital

This creepy building is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts, including a father and his young son who sought treatment at the hospital after a car accident. The child's cries still echo in the corridors, lights flicker and a dark spirit is said to haunt the basement,

PERA Building

Don't look in the basement Built atop a pauper's cemetery, the PERA Building is reportedly haunted by the souls whose coffins were disturbed when the subterranean level was being dug.

The State Penitentiary

In 1980 one of the most violent prison riots in the history of the American correctional system took place at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Inmates started fires and ripped out plumbing fixtures, flooding areas of the prison. Some made their way to the infirmary and took all the drugs they could find while others searched for their enemies and found them. There were hangings, decapitations and other ruthless murders, some performed by blowtorches that have left the floors charred to this day. 33 inmates died, more than 200 inmates were wounded and 12 officers were taken hostage, seven of them treated for injuries caused by beatings and rapes. The scene has been said to be absolutely horrific. Needless to say, the NM State Penitentiary made its way into the history books day unusual activity is reported there, including unexplainable noises, doors that open and close by themselves, lights that turn on and off without apparent cause.

Ghost Tours

Learn more by taking a ghost tour of Santa Fe: