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Faces of Belmes

Belmes faces are a phenomenon considered by parapsychologists as paranormal, which consisted in the appearance of pigmentation, identified as faces, skulls and other body parts, on the floor of a house located in Belmes de la Moraleda (Jaen , Spain), at 5 calle Real.

The first news about this phenomenon was published in a local newspaper in November 1971 and was widely covered by the media of that time.

Maria Gomez Camara (1919-2004), claimed that on August 23 of the same year she noticed a large spot with a clear shape of a human face on the cement floor of her kitchen while she was cooking and went out to warn her neighbors. 

Five days later, the alleged face was scraped off, and the bricklayer Sebastian Fuentes Leon filled it with plaster. However, always according to the statements of the main characters, the alleged person reappeared a few days later. 

It was clearly a man's face with open eyes and mouth and long dark lines like sideburns. In the following days, new faces appeared on the kitchen floor and in the hallway of the house, which were added to the original one. They appeared and disappeared, moved or transformed into others, in a continuous movement that could be repeated to a greater or lesser extent.

They wrote the following about it:

September 1971, Belmes de la Moraleda (Spain).

Maria Gomez Gamara returned with shopping to her house, located at 5 Pereira Real Street. The woman cooked lunch for the family and then, in her kitchen, noticed strange spots on the hearth wall. Looking at them more closely, she was surprised to find that it looked like an image of a terrible female face. Attempts to erase these traces were unsuccessful. It also failed to scrape them off. In the end, she called her husband Juan, who broke the hearth with a pickaxe and then built a new one in its place. What was his surprise when a face appeared on the new hearth again. In addition, this time more and more new human faces began to appear.

After a week of unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the "guests" already on the floor, Maria, her husband and son Miguel decided to cover the floor with a new layer of cement.

A few days later, the faces reappeared. The discouraged family decided to destroy the cement floor, but at that time the local mayor found out about this unusual situation and forbade destroying the faces. He ordered to cut out a large fragment of the floor and hand it over for analysis.

From that time on, research began in this house. It turned out that under the house of the Gamara family there were human decapitated remains that dated back to the XIII century. The bones were extracted and properly buried, and the pit was filled in and the concrete floor was filled in again. To everyone's surprise, a few days after the repair was completed, faces reappeared on the floor.

Six months after the first appearance of the faces, the newspaper "El Ideal" published the results of some tests showing that the faces appear to have been painted with nitrate and silver chloride. Like a chemical reaction on a photographic plate, these substances reacted to light, so that the portraits were visible only some time after they were painted, and gradually appeared before the eyes, apparently without any human intervention in this process.

After that, another sample analysis was carried out, in which CSIC indicates that the analyzed samples correspond to the current and crushed concrete, without traces of pigments or silver salts. Which is used as proof of the paranormal origin of persons and the absence of traces of hoax.  Although in the same place CSIC warns that the laboratory is completely unaware of the sampling process, and the samples were collected so carelessly that they were delivered to the laboratory in a sugar bag (from under sugar?) from the dining room.

The disputes did not fade away, and new mysterious faces appeared in the house until Maria's death, making the small town of Belmes de la Moraleda, with 2,000 inhabitants, the most famous not only in the region, but also around the world.

Maria Gomez died in February 2004. And skeptics expected that the faces would stop appearing, which really happened, but coincided with another event - the death of a city photographer who sold photos to tourists. Skeptics immediately decided that he was connected with the appearance of mysterious persons, since, obviously, he was familiar with the properties of silver salts. Of course, it is impossible to point to him as directly responsible for the appearance of the Faces, but the coincidence is significant if we take into account that after his death the phenomenon underwent an important aesthetic (external) transformation.

Shortly after the incident Pedro Amoros, President The Spanish Society for Parapsychological Research (SEIP) has announced that new "Faces of Belmes" have appeared. They differed in appearance from the previous ones, but technically looked identical.

Interestingly, the new faces were actually discovered after Francisco Manez taught Pedro Amros how to make cement smears resembling human faces. Manes, also a parapsychologist, wanted to show Amoros his theory that faces are just patches of moisture that pareidolia (the human ability to recognize shapes in everything) makes them recognize faces or faces. 

Magnes explains that on September 25, 2004:

"Pedro Amoros wet the floor with a mop and we waited for it to dry. As expected, spots resembling faces appeared. I took a brush and moistened the areas that I saw as parts of the faces so that others could see the faces. One of our companions even conducted a test by wetting the places that she thought were part of her face. Although it was a quick and simple demonstration, it was clear how to artificially create "Belmes faces".

A few days after that, Amoros published the news about the discovery of new faces in the neighboring house where Maria Gomez was born.

Already on November 28 , 2004 , the newspaper he writes that the new faces of Belmes, like the old ones, are a real fraud. 

The only difference is that if the first ones were made with silver nitrate, then those discovered in mid-September last year by a self-appointed researcher from Alicante, Pedro Amoros, director of the Spanish Society for Paranormal Research (SEIP), were made using silver nitrate, and more elementary: water and oil.

But the most curious thing is the reason that prompted the creatures to return from here to manifest themselves in the form of "teleplasty": to get a headquarters for a small price to host a Center for the Interpretation of Faces, which allows the phenomenon to be used for commercial purposes.

Interest in the Mysterious Faces began to fade. Even the sensational appearance of faces similar to famous people (such as Franco or Isabel Preisler) did not help.

In May 2007, researcher Francisco Manez and editor of the newspaper El Mundo Javier Cavanilles (who won a lawsuit filed by Amoros on charges of falsifying new faces) published a scandalous book "Los caras de Bélmez". In it, they are trying to show that the case was a fraud from the first day, that all the faces were drawn by the family of Maria Gomez (or with her participation), and the main investigators in the case manipulated the data to keep the secret. They also released the main documents on the case (for example, CSIC reports) in support of their allegations.

Despite all this, the case still has the status of "unsolved", but interest in the place has become minimal.

It is logical that, almost from the moment the phenomenon appeared, the urban paranormal tourism industry developed around the emerging faces. During the 33 years that Maria Gomez lived in the "house with faces", many came to Belmes to visit Maria's house and personally see the footprints on the cement. She did not charge an entrance fee, but due to visits to Maria Gomez's house, there was initially a strong growth in the restaurant and hotel business in Belmes, the flow of visitors, which, although it decreased significantly over time, never stopped. 

Currently, there is no restaurant or even a hotel where you could stay; Even the roof of the Casa de las Caras has collapsed, which casts doubt on whether the city or Maria Gomez's family is profiting from this strange business. Although the house was closed after the death of the owner in 2004, a sign on the door informs about the opening hours on weekends for visits, as well as the contact phone number of Maria Gomez's son and daughter-in-law.

In February 2013, the Belmes City Council opened a "Face Interpretation Center" in the old school building, funded by the European Union.

Interestingly, at the peak of popularity, many publications accused the city council, residents-small business owners and the press of conspiring to popularize the mystery around the House of Mysterious Faces, as it affected a significant item in the budget in the direction of "tourism". In modern publications, on the contrary, they point out that there is a conspiracy of the press, the government and the church to erase from history even the memories of this case. Although, it seems that they did not succeed for sure.

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