Our series begins with a legend that nearly every Peruvian has heard, La Casa Matusita, one of the world’s most haunted houses.
La Casa Matusita is arguably Peru’s most well known haunted site and a perfect place to begin our new Terrifying Legends of Peru series.
Located right in the historic heart of Peru’s capital city of Lima at the corner of avenues Garcilaso de la Vega and España, this old house has brought many a resident and visitor to a terrible fate.
It is often ranked as one of the most haunted places in all of Latin America.
Warning: this series may contain graphic or disturbing descriptions or images. Read at your own risk. Also, please remember that there are often several versions of these stories and mine may be different from others that you have heard or read. In some cases, I have combined my favorite bits of different re-tellings, which is all part of the creative and evolving nature of myths and legends.
While there are myriad variations of the Casa Matusita tale, most seem to agree on the details of the original story.
Our legend begins in Peru’s colonial era when a young woman named Dervaspa Parvaneh immigrated to Lima from Europe. Dervaspa was of Persian ancestry, and she soon became the subject of local gossip. The townspeople swore that she was a witch with magical powers, though she was only ever known to use these powers to heal the sick.
It wasn’t long before the feared Spanish Inquisition learned of this and arrested the young lady. She was tortured until she confessed to practicing witchcraft and was sentenced to death. As she was burned at the stake, it is said that she cursed the spot where she died with her final breaths.
A rich man built his house some years later on the spot where Dervaspa was burned. The man was influential, pretentious, and cruel to his servants. The servants began to plot revenge against him and waited for the right moment to strike.
One evening, the man invited a group of associates for a dinner party. As they talked, the mistreated servants took advantage of their master’s occupation with his guests, preparing all of the drinks with a hallucinogenic plant hoping to embarrass their master. After serving the man and his guests the drugged refreshments, they waited outside the door in anticipation.
A few minutes passed, and they began to hear laughter. Thinking that all was going according to plan, the servants drew closer. Suddenly, the laughter turned into loud noises and screams of agony. The servants stood paralyzed until the screams stopped. Then, one of them dared to open the door.
In that room, they found their master and his guests ripped to pieces, arms and legs scattered about the floor. In their madness, the master and his guests had murdered each other with their bare hands in the most gruesome way imaginable. The servants ran out of the house babbling senselessly and were promptly locked away in an asylum where they never recovered from what they had seen.
The house remained abandoned for nearly a century after this until one day a Japanese immigrant named Mr. Matsushida moved in with his wife and children. They moved into the second floor, where the brutal killings had happened a century earlier. They turned the 1st floor into a shop which supported their family in the meantime.
One day, Mr. Matsushida came home earlier than expected from his errands out in the city. As he walked up the old staircase leading to the 2nd floor, he heard moans coming from the bedroom. When he found his wife there with another man in his own bed, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen and murdered both of them as well as his 2 children before finally killing himself.
Another tale tells of a local priest who attempted to perform an exorcism when the shopkeeper renting the 1st floor complained of strange noises above. The priest climbed the stairs and entered the dark and unkempt 2nd floor living room. Within minutes, he began to scream that he heard the voices of tortured spirits and when his shouts ceased, he was soon found inside the house.
They say he died of a heart attack.
The final and most recent story about the house happened in the 1960’s. Humberto Vilchez Vera, an Argentine TV personality, took up a dare to spend 7 days and nights inside the haunted 2nd floor. After only 4 hours, he ran out screaming and spent the next 2 years in psychological care.
The True Story?
An interesting theory about the legend of La Casa Matusita is told by the Central Lima locals today. They say that because the old United States Embassy in Peru was right across from the old house, the legend was invented to keep anyone from entering and spying on the embassy from the 2nd floor. If this is the case, the legend has persisted long after the embassy moved away.
In 2016, the Matusita house was taken apart and remodeled by the current owner, putting the future of the legend in question.
Naturally, the remodeling has taken away a large part of the fear and mystery around the place. This action, while probably necessary for safety reasons, may put the legend’s survival in jeopardy.
Yet, perhaps the destruction of one legend, arguably Peru’s most famous, could pave the way for much more to be uncovered.
Join us next week as we journey into the pitch-black mines of the Andes and the murky waters of the Amazon for more tales of fear and mystery.
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