Source: El Correo (Spain)
Date: 21 February 2017
Article by Francisco Góngora
Spain: An 1897 UFO Over the Basque Country
Before there was talk of UFOs, manifestations of luminous spheres in the heavens were a cause for consternation among people. This flying object was seen in the skies of La Llanada in the late 19th century.
The term UFO refers to an unidentified flying object and was coined in 1947 in the media. This acronym replaced "flying saucer". Some authors note that the ancient chariots of the gods, or the fiery chariot of the Biblical prophet Elijah, or manifestation and abductions and forests and swamps, could be the equivalent of the today's extraterrestrial presence. There is no proof of their existence, although many favor the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Before the phenomenon gained notoriety, there were mysterious events in Alava that drew media attention. From March 3 to March 28, 1897, the 'El Anunciador Vitoriano' newspaper published a series of news items about the 'mysterious lights', describing how the 'simple peasants' of Yurre, Antezana and Lopidana, close to Vitoria, were 'concerned and even overwhelmed with fright by a mysterious light that appeared every night in the vicinity. Many residents of Vitoria visited the location nightly to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon.
The newspaper reported that 'a blood-colored luminous sphere would appear between Yurre and Lopidana at ground level, in the dark of night, making no perceptible sound, amid a distressing silence. The object gave off bright flashes, casting a sinister reddish glow against the tree trunks, the pavement of the road and all of the irregularities of the terrain. Smaller, paler light would break off from the light, wandering playfully through the air, or stopping on the tips of dry branches.'
The newspaper provides all manner of details and a truly poetic description: 'The mysterious light does not remain fixed to a given spot, but rather, with a slight waving motion, but never wavering from its given direction, it covers the distance between the point from which it emerged and the town of Otaza, near Estarrona, losing itself in the dense forests of that area." This forest was famous for its enormous trees which disappeared throughout the 20th century.
Another paragraph reads: "The luminous sphere has been seen by many, as it can be seen in the far distance. It so happens that a millwright came upon it on the road, flying over his wagon and filling him with terror. A curious townswoman, it is said, opened her window for a better look at the light, and shut it hurriedly upon seeing it was coming toward her."
It is evident that the authorities wish to avoid any public alarm, advising the peasantry that the phenomenon described could be the "will o' the wisp" produced by decomposing organic substances, and the fields along the Zadorra and Zalla rivers were heavily composted. But people believed that the mysterious light belonged to an entirely different order of things from the will o' the wisp, and attributable to a different cause.
The will o' the wisp, they argued, was bluish or greenish, not very luminous and moving along the ground, occurring only on hot summer nights after heavy rains. They mysterious light of La Llanada, on the other hand, was reddish, highly luminous, moving rather high off the ground and with the characteristic of being spherical, issuing smaller, paler tongues of flame.
Naturally, the event gave rise to all sorts of talk and assumptions, resurrecting nearly forgotten legends about witches, elves, wandering spirits, filling local residents with fear, according to the paper.
On March 14, 1897 the same newspaper published another story on the phenomenon. "The mysterious light continues to attract the interest of the residents of Victoria, a light whose existence we reported in Thursday's issue. Many have visited, or intend to visit, the places where it appears. The place where it has been seen the most, as we have said, is the area between Antezana and Yurre. Its initial manifestation has been noted as being at the fountain of Lopidana.
With further details about the strange phenomenon, we may add that it isn't a single light. On some nights, many were seen in different localities, either in meadows or deep in forests. The journalist then delves into the realm of the fantastic: 'Beside the verdant plain, used by residents of Victoria so often for their picnics, there grows an herb called 'la loca' - an enchanted weed - that sorely distresses anyone stepping on it. The unhappy man who returns by night from Gobeo or another town, and who steps on the enchanted plant, will spin around it over and over, and despite his best efforts to break away, will be unable to do so until the cock crows in Lopidana, and the cliff of Amboto is tinted with the pale hues of dawn."
The newspaper reports popular suppositions: Popular fantasy, unable to find a satisfactory explanation to the phenomenon, has taken flight and given rise to legends. The mysterious light, it is said, is a lost soul allowed to exit purgatory by the grace of God to seek prayers that will speed its entrance into the mansions of eternal bliss.
On one occasion it was visible from the Tower of San Miguel. On March 17, a group formed by some 200 people, beheld a bright white light over the houses as they stood at Calle de la Estacion, near the Hotel Quintanilla. It was looked upon with admiration in the belief that it was the famous and enigmatic "Light of Antezana". Day after day, the newspaper kept feeding the mysterious phenomenon with new accounts aimed at explaining the mysterious glow.
A final news item on the mysterious light appeared on March 27, telling us the following: "The strange Antezana phenomenon, made known far and wide by the local press and that of Madrid and the provinces, is resistant to any explanation that will satisfy troublesome curiosity. As to its cause, you will recall that we said in early numbers that its probable origin was most likely emanations of phosphorated hydrogen appearing in swamps and cemeteries, and more commonly known as the will o' the wisp.
[Translation (c) 2017 S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Guillermo Giménez, Planeta UFO