Villa Winter: The Mysterious Mansion

When you finally arrive in Cofete, you can't fail to notice the elaborate mansion perched above the coast. You also can't fail to be intrigued – and you won't be the first. The impressive structure, with its castle-like turret, was built by German engineer Gustav Winter in the 1930s. Rumours linking Winter to the Nazi party have never been confirmed, but conspiracy theories regarding Villa Winter abound. Winter supposedly wanted to establish agriculture in the area, but little evidence of this has been found and, back then, it was unlikely there were any roads leading to the eerie mansion. Some think the house was built as a secret hideout for high-ranking Nazis, including Hitler himself. Others have suggested that Cofete was the location of a secret U-boat base, that there are secret tunnels through the mountain or that it was in fact built as a clinic to specialise in plastic surgery for German generals requiring a new look.

You can drive your car up to the mansion and then walk the last 100m or so. A caretaker lives here and for a small tip he may show you around the house, though when we last visited there was just a donation box left out at the entrance and a sign stuck to the door explaining that donations are important but only the ground-level courtyard was open. However some rather unsettling groaning was audible from one of the rooms marked 'Private'. Make of that what you will. Some visitors have said that they've been allowed into the basement, where they've seen shackles, cells and bullet holes, but like pretty much everything about the Villa Winter, you can't be too sure. Gustav Winter also built the Jandía Airstrip, possibly to fly in the top brass. What looks like a helipad can be observed just downhill from the villa.

Amid all the stories, there's really only one thing that you can be absolutely certain of: Villa Winter is a fascinating place that will have you digging deeper for the truth. Or at least for a few more yarns…