Cathedral Astronaut Carving
Home Misleading Astronaut Carving on Salamanca Cathedral Wall

Astronaut Carving on Salamanca Cathedral Wall

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on August 1, 2008


Circulating message questions the mystery of a modern astronaut figure carved onto the wall of a centuries-old cathedral in Salamanca, Spain. 

Brief Analysis

There is no mystery. The astronaut was added in 1992 during restoration work on the cathedral.


Subject: Spaceman Salamanca, Spain cathedral


The Cathedral was built in 1102

Cathedral 1


Cathedral 2BUT THERE IS ONE LITTLE “SURPRISE” DETAILCathedral Astronaut Carving 2


Cathedral Astronaut Carving 3

Cathedral Astronaut Carving 4



Detailed Analysis

The above photographs and text are circulating via email and social media. One version of the message circulates in the form of an attached PowerPoint slide show. The photographs show a carving of an astronaut on the facade of a cathedral in Salamanca, Spain. 

The same photographs have also been posted to a number of online forums and blogs on which they have generated a considerable amount of debate. While some commentators have suggested that the astronaut has been added using image manipulation software, other observers have come up with more outlandish explanations, including time travel, alien visitations in ancient times and amazingly precise predictions of the future by the artists who decorated the original buildings.

More down-to-earth observers have drawn the most obvious conclusion, which is that the astronaut carving was added to the building in much more recent times. And, in fact, this more sensible explanation for the “mystery” is entirely correct.

The astronaut, along with other contemporary symbols was added in 1992 during restoration work on the “new” cathedral. According to an article about the restoration (in Portuguese – Click here for Google translation to English), it is a tradition of cathedral builders and restorers to include a contemporary symbol on the building as a means of “signing” their work.

Wikipedia article about the cathedral concurs:

Its main entrance consists of 3 arcs, each leading to the 3 naves (sections) of the church. All three are richly carved. Among the ornate carvings on the façade is the incongruous likeness of an astronaut floating in space; it was added by an artist during restoration work in 1992 as a symbol of the 20th century.

Thus, there is actually no mystery about the Cathedral “spaceman” whatsoever.

The message is also inaccurate in another detail. It claims that the astronaut carving is on a cathedral that was built in the year 1102. However, the carving actually graces the wall of the “new” cathedral. Construction of the New Cathedral of Salamanca began in 1513. The Old Cathedral, located nearby, is the building that dates back to about 1100 AD.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,