I wouldn’t want to be here alone at night.
That’s the thought that keeps playing over and over in my head as I tour the strange and unexpectedly spooky interiors of La Casa Magica or House of Magic in Santa Cristina d’Aro, a museum of magic (a first for me) owned by distinguished Catalan illusionist Xevi. A respected personality in the world of magic, his illustrious career spans over half a century of live shows, radio, T.V., books, and theater and an audience with the likes of Salvador Dali. It isn’t surprising then that he is impeccably dressed in a regal velvet jacket even when it’s just a bunch of us regular folks he’s leading through the curiously decorated hallways of the house built in the 1850s.
On the outside, the house looks just like any other until I pay attention; a pair of hands on the balcony, a statue of an armed guard outside the front door, a deck of cards impossibly balanced in the air where I would expect potted plants and I know that this is going to be interesting. Xevi and his daughter lead the way and we are in a room with a piano that is playing itself. On the walls are photos of the illusionist from over the decades, caricatures of other personalities who I think are eminent in the field, and many award certificates.
Next door is a chapel that I imagine isn’t exactly where anyone would want to go for a moment of peace. A green-eyed serpent rests in the right hand of a figure reading a book. I have no desire to spend time here and I move on to the other areas of the house.
There is a lot to take in inside the dimly lit rooms; painting and photographs of the likes of Houdini cover the walls, jars of preserved lizards, spiders, snakes and frogs line the shelves, a pair of hands deals cards on a table, and dragons and demons spring at you from unassuming corners. An old wine cellar is home to witches and sinister, horned creatures, and a bloodied head lies next to work tools under a staircase.
This is, without a doubt, the largest collection of curiosities I’ve ever seen and this isn’t even all of what Xevi owns. “I have enough for three museums,” he has already told us. The topmost level is decidedly a nicer place with Marilyn Monroe seated on a chair next to her portrait.
Here’s what happens when you get a little closer.
We are outside again and Xevi is performing a little card trick for us in the garden with the practiced flair of a showman. He promises to let us in on the secret, holding our attention with the swift movements of his hands turning around the large card. “One,” we repeat after him, “four,” and then “three”. He reveals a blank spot instead of the third heart that he hid behind his fingers while holding the card. He looks satisfied to see us fooled and explains that making us repeat after him reinforced our trust in what we were being shown. Who says that a magician never reveals his secrets?
Tip: The museum is open to adults and children but entry is by advance reservation only (call the number listed on their website). Tours are led by Xevi and his daughter.
For general information to help you plan your travels to Spain and suggested itineraries (including off-the-beaten-path places like Palafrugell, Girona and Cap De Creus), check out my Spain Travel Blog. Alternatively, just get straight to the point and find out where to go for the best chocolate in Barcelona 😉
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My visit to La Casa Magica was organized by Visit Costa Brava. All opinions, as always, are independent.
Have you ever visited a museum of curiosities like La Casa Magica? Would you be interested?