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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Pigeons find hidden Spain fresco
Partial view of the fresco discovered in Valencia's cathedral
The fresco angels are seen again after more than 300 years
A Renaissance fresco hidden for 300 years has been rediscovered in Spain - thanks to nesting pigeons.

Art restorers working in Valencia's cathedral spotted the birds flying through a hole in what turned out to be a false ceiling and were intrigued.

They stuck a digital camera in the gap and shot pictures that showed a well-preserved 15th century Italian fresco.

It is one of the earliest and most important examples of such Renaissance art in Spain, experts say.

The fresco, which depicts four angels against a starry blue background, was painted by two Italians, Francesco Pagano and Paolo de San Leocadio, in the late 1400s.

They were commissioned by a papal envoy, Rodrigo Borja, a Spaniard who went on to become Pope Alexander VI in 1492.

The fresco was covered up by a Baroque ceiling, believed to have been constructed around 1670, likely as a result of changing artistic tastes.

Normally, baroque artists covering up an existing fresco would scrape it off, art historian Fernando Lopez told the Associated Press.

"This time they did not. They left an air pocket. That is the big surprise."

The president of Valencia's government, Francisco Camps, said the find was "one of the most important cultural discoveries in recent years" in Spain.

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