Europa Nostra Awards winners 2017 with Plácido Domingo, Europa Nostra’s President; Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport; and Aleksi Randell, Mayor of Turku. Photo: Europa Nostra/Felix Quaedvlieg.
Recognition for Spain at Europa Nostra Awards
Spain has been a melting pot for civilisations since the dawn of time. This makes our country unique. It is the third country in the world in terms of the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Such a rich heritage needs attention. This is why there are so many conservation projects under way. Two of them have just been granted Europa Nostra Awards, the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage.
The largest fortress in the Balearic Islands
One of the Europa Nostra Awards went to the private initiative to restore and transform the Cap Enderrocat Fortress, in the city of Palma de Mallorca, into a luxury hotel. The project, led by architect and owner Antonio Obrador, was awarded for its ‘imaginative reuse of a military building’ as an ‘effective way of revitalising a challenging site which is completely respectful of the surrounding landscape,’ the Jury said.
The fortress was built in 1898 as part of the defence system of the city of Palma de Mallorca. It became the largest fortress in the Balearic Islands. Since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1940, it has suffered a slow decline and serious deterioration due to vandalism. The renovation project was implemented over fifteen years with a strict funding plan in order to guarantee that its new function as a hotel could be developed in a sustainable way. There is a real focus on the heritage of the site. There is even a small museum housing an important collection of 1400 photographs from 1910 to 1930. Guided tours of the fortress and its special surroundings can be arranged. ‘The restoration of this site and its successful reuse is a fine model for similar sites in Europe,’ stated the Jury.
An eleventh-century monastery in Burgos
The other Europa Nostra Award for Spain went to the Monastery of San Juan, built in Burgos in the eleventh century. The building is a real survivor, as it was damaged by successive fires in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and by conflict in the eighteenth century. The church’s structure is now largely in ruins, though the exterior sidewalls and some gothic elements have survived, along with the cloisters and the chapter house.
The conservation efforts began in the twentieth century. Since 1968, the site has been home to the Marceliano Santa María Museum, displaying the work of one of the leading Castilian artists of the twentieth century. In addition, the City has transformed the cloisters into an open-air space hosting events, conferences, concerts and other cultural activities. ‘This high-quality work is of an elegant design and does not in any way attempt to replicate anything which has come before. The solution is non-invasive yet offers effective protection of the natural condition of the ruin.,’ noted the Jury.
Europa Nostra has given recognition to 194 Spanish conservation, education and research projects so far. This makes Spain the European country with the highest number of Europa Nostra Awards.