The Mystery of the Astronaut Carved into a 16th C. Cathedral – Solved!

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Public Domain / Jentges, Wikipedia / ChurchPOP

Conspiracy theorists love things like this.

The Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin was the first human being to travel to outer space in April of 1961. So then why is there a figure that clearly looks like an astronaut carved into the stone of a 16th century cathedral?

That’s the New Cathedral of Salamanca, Spain in the photo. It was built between 1513 and 1733, when space travel was hardly even dreamed of. This has led some people to speculate about the origin of the carving: is this proof of time travel? Did aliens do it? Or is some other paranormal force at play?

Public Domain
Public Domain

Unfortunately, the truth is far less interesting: while the church really was built centuries ago, it underwent a restoration program in the early 1990s, and the stonemasons decided to add a few modern figures. And why is it chipped and broken even though it’s not that old? Vandalism in 2010.

The vandalism has since been repaired, and here’s how it looks today:

Marshall Henrie, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Marshall Henrie, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

There is also a weird-looking faun holding an ice cream cone (and ice cream cones weren’t invented until the 20th century).

Appolonia1, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 ES
Appolonia1, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 ES

It’s not the only old church in the world that has had modern additions. Calahorra Cathedral in Spain, also from the 16th century, has a cell phone that was added in 1996.

Public Domain
Public Domain

[See also: 11 Beautiful Wooden Churches of Eastern Europe]

[See also: If Hobbits Had Churches: The Gorgeous “Turf Churches” of Iceland]