A Spanish Picture-Gallery
Portraits appeared in a mysterious way on a kitchen floor in Spain. They changed or faded by the time, attracted thousands of visitors and fooled psychologists and scientists.
In the morning of 23rd August 1971, a housewife in the southern Spanish village Belmez de la Moraleda entered her kitchen and stated with fright that over night a face had been painted on the floor. It was neither a ghost nor a hallucination: The housewife, a simple country-woman named Maria Gomez Pereira, could only assume that a paranormal phenomenon had happened in her house. The news spread quickly and soon everybody in the village had heard of the mysterious event and penetrated the house in the Calle Rodriguez Acosta to see the face. It was similar to an expressionist portrait and the traits of the face stood out very naturalistic in their colouring from the concrete floor.
Finally, the Pereira family tried to remove this extraordinary phenomenon that disturbed their rather peaceful and quite life and decided to destroy the mysterious “painting”. Six days after it had appeared, Miguel Pereira hoed up the kitchen floor and filled it up with fresh concrete.
Nothing happened for approximately one week. Then, on 8th September, Maria Pereira entered her kitchen to notice once again the mysterious similarity to a human face that began to manifest exactly at the same place in the concrete of the floor. This time, the outlines of a male face stood up even more clearly.
Now it was impossible to keep the masses of the curious in check. Everyday, people queued up in front of the house to see the “face from the other world”. It stayed some weeks on the floor; and then – although it did not disappear – the traits changed slowly like it would age or would go through some process of decay.
The Belmez mayor recognized the importance of the faces and decided that second one should not be destroyed but should be preserved like a valuable work of art. On 2nd November 1971, a huge mass of people witnessed how the picture was cut out of the floor, framed behind glass and hung up at the wall beside the chimney.
Afterwards the floor of the kitchen was dug up to confirm if there had been something hidden that could have explained the mysterious appearance of the two faces. In a depth of around 2,70 meters the diggers found a number of human bones. This discovery satisfied e.g. the spiritists who were interested in the faces of Belmez because it corresponds to spiritistic persuation that a restless ghost haunts the place where he was burried or where he is active as a poltergeist. But for the inhabitants of Belmez, the discovery was not so much of a surprise because they knew that the houses in the Calle Rodriguez Acosta were built at the spot of a former cemetary.
Two weeks after the kitchen floor was dug up, a third face appeared near the place where the first two had been discovered and after another two weeks a fourth one. The first had undoubtedly female traits. But not less mysterious, smaller faces appeared around the fourth one a little later. At last there were up to 18 faces that could be found. On 9th April 1972, professor Argumosa, who was engaged in this case with enthusiam, had followed the manifestation of a face over a longer period. The gradual appearance of at first unconnected lines on the tile-plastered part of the floor that connected by the time more and more to an impressive and attractive “painting”. It was photographed several times, but at the end of the day it was again already disappeared.
Later, the parapsychologist Hand Bender was invited to help at the researches. After questionning the witnesses on-site, he came to the conclusion that the faces were really of paranormal origin. He also remarked another aspect: The faces had a different effect on the observers. One face that appeared one person as a young man was held by another one for an old man. The faces withstood the trials to be removed by detergents. They seemed to develop and to decay according to a strange self-legality.
Bender undertook an experiment to document the origin of the faces under experimental conditions with a procedure that failed when applied by Argumosa. At first, he and his team photographed the kitchen floor in its normal condition and then covered it completely with a thick plastic awning. With that it should be made sure that none of the still arising pictures would be produced by someone on the outside. However, water gathered under the awning and the Pereira family decided to remove it before other faces became visible. The “haunted house”, however, became a place of pilgrimage for interested occultists from Spain, France, England and Germany which interpreted it differently as demonically or holy. They also brought tape recorders with them to record seances with the “ghosts” they presumed still in the house. On some recordings loud cries, the noise of many voices talking at the same time and the weeping of people could be heard. Perhaps, something very serious had happened in the house in Belmez centuries ago – probably in connection with the cemetary underneath.
But until now, there could not be found a fully satisfying solution: Also chemists who examined the concrete had not been able to explain the appearance of the faces out of this.