The Princess Hen and the cisterns of the Palacio de las Veletas

The Princess Hen and the cisterns of the Palacio de las Veletas

by Aitana Martos, 09/01/2015

A Moor princess, daughter of the Kaid governor of Cáceres, falls in love with a Christian and betrays his people, allowing Christians to regain the square. His father angrily throws a spell on her and her maids, making them chickens leaving the Palace of the vanes during the Saint John’s Eve. Another legend says that the punishment was drowning them in the famous Palace cisterns.

Once upon a time in a town called Cáceres, there was an Arab fortress.

The King Alfonso XI de León tried to regain Cáceres time after time, but it seemed impossible to regain it; and it would have been it impossible without the Princess’s help.

The legend said:

“A proud and arrogant kaid (Arab King) ruled Cáceres. The town consisted of palaces and mansions. The whole town was communicated by means of tunnels. The most important tunnel, called Mansaborá, was connected to all the roads out of the town.

Alfonso XI de León called all the captains to try to regain Cáceres. A handsome captain was sent to the palace to tell the Kaid he should surrender. However, the Kaid didn’t listen to him.

The Captain saw one of the kaid´s daughters, -she was lovely and beautiful- , and he fell in love with her.

When the Captain came back to his camp, a maid gave him a neckerchief (a love symbol). And when the Captain arrived to his camp, he found a letter in the neckerchief. The letter said:

“Come every day to the Mansaborá tunnel, and a maid will come with me”.

The Captain thought it could be a trap, but he was in love. So, he went to the Mansaborá tunnel, where a maid was waiting for him. The maid led him to the Princess.

These meetings happened regularly because they were in love.

One day, the Princess gave the Captain the town’s keys, because she wanted him to visit her more frequently. The Captain swore to use the key only to visit the Princess. This was his intention, but he remembered why he was in Cáceres, and he finally used the key to take the town.

When the Kaid found out the reason for his defeat, he got very angry and cursed her daughter and her maid. The Kaid turned the Princess and her maid into hens; and they would be kept in the cistern until the town was returned to the Arabs.”

Nowadays, people say that in Saint John’s Eve you can hear the Princess and the maid clucking in the Veleta´s Palace. Both of them are waiting to break the spell.



Relation with water: cisterns. Other related themes: enchantment, Saint John’s Eve. It can be connected with the “Saint George and the Dragon” story, as in the performance played during Saint George festivities in Cáceres.


Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain