The Faces of Belmez: a Spanish ghost story

Back in 1971, faces began to appear on the kitchen floor of Maria Gomez Camara’s home. Their appearance quickly turned the rural town of Belmez into the home of Spain’s most famous haunted house. To this day, the truth behind the paranormal happening is hotly debated as believers and skeptics continue to battle it out. It’s been the subject of numerous studies, reports, investigations and books, and though many feel they are fake and the whole episode is a hoax, the fact is a number of points are yet to be explained, not the least being just how the images were made. So the mystery for some carries on. Listen and enjoy!

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Spanish History 101, Ep. 30: The War of the Spanish Succession

The death of King Carlos II in 1700 left Spain without an heir, but Carlos’ chosen successor, the Frenchman Philip of Anjou, would find taking control of the country a tougher challenge than he originally expected, as geopolitics, dynastic ambitions and the interests of the different kingdoms and regions of Spain got in the way. As well as a handful of nations who got involved to ensure no one would tilt the balance of power in Western Europe too much in anyone’s favor. Philip (or Felipe V) would creat the Crown of Spain and centralize much of the administrative sectors of the country, much to several regions’ frustration. The unification of Spain was now pretty much complete. Listen and enjoy.

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The Balmis Expedition: The world’s first international healthcare mission

Back in 1803, Spain organized a mission to inoculate the inhabitants of its vast empire from the deadly disease smallpox. It was officially known as the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition, or simply the Balmis Expedition, after the doctor who led the medical team. An ambitious project, it employed children to “carry” the vaccine during the lengthy voyage across the Atlantic and then the Pacific. It was ingenious while at the same time questionable from an ethical standpoint. But the system was a success and hundreds of thousands were vaccinated as a result. As an organized international healthcare rescue operation, this mission was way ahead of its time and has received the admiration of experts both then and today. Listen and learn more. Enjoy!

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Let’s Open a Bottle, 15: D.O.Ca. Priorat

(Image: Wine Enthusiast)

Today we look at a region that was a virtual no-name just a few years ago and is now one the world’s most highly regarded wine regions. D.O.Ca. Priorat, a tiny producer in the hills of southern Catalonia, makes outstanding red wines. They are special, there’s no doubt. So listen and learn a little more about why that is. Enjoy!

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