It was their daughter who first noticed them, it terrified the girls mum, and developed into a mystery for which scientists, despite every test, have as yet been unable to find any natural explanation. It happened in the village of Belmez, close to Cordoba in Southern Spain.
What their daughter had seen, on a hot morning of August 1971, was a human face, imprinted on the pink floor tiles, a face with troubled features, infinitely sad. No recognisable pigment of any kind had formed the image, and when the family tried to rub the image away, they were horrified to find that the eyes only opened wider and the expression grew even more sorrowful.
Alarmed and frightened, the owner of the house tore up the floor and replaced the sinister tiles with concrete. Three weeks later a second face emerged; this time with even more clearly defined features. The owners of the house got the local authorities involved. They ordered a section of the floor to be cut away workmen dug the floor up, uncovering the remains of a medieval cemetery.
Meanwhile a third face appeared then a fourth then a series of faces all together. The kitchen was locked and sealed. Four more faces, including that of a woman, appeared just as mysteriously in another part of the house. The images have continued to appear and disappear on the concrete floor ever.
The Belmez faces have been responsible for bringing large numbers of tourists to Belmez. The phenomenon is considered by some parapsychologists the best-documented and "without doubt the most important paranormal phenomenon of the 20th century". No one has yet come forward with a really satisfying explanation of the Faces of Belmez. All the experts have been able to suggest is that it is tied in with the cemetery which the house was built on.