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Uproar over the renovations of San Marcos (the parador in León)

peregrina2000

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The gist of this article is that some pictures have been released showing the renovations to the San Marcos parador. The article describes the public's reaction as scandalized. Look for yourself -- it is the post-industrial chic look. At least there are no exposed pipes, at least that I can see.


The summary of the article gives the gist, so I'll translate that -- "Some photos of the new reception area of the Parador Nacional, which convert the jewel of Spanish Plateresque into a space of steel and concrete, provoke an enormous outrage among León's online community. The Historian of Art, Cesar Garcia Alvarez, stated that the renovations totally ignore "all of the aesthetic values of the of the building with an annihilation of its original aesthetic."

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but is this any way to treat a treasure from the Sixteenth Century? It's likewhat they did to the inside of the stunning Santo Estevo monastery (now parador) near Ourense.
 

C clearly

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Very strange that they would go to this extreme. Who would think this is appropriate?

I just hope that those photos don't fully represent the result.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
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This is a recommnded approach in historic conservation circles, make new look new and not quaint and picturesque as if you are "Disneyfying" it.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This is a recommnded approach in historic conservation circles, make new look new and not quaint and picturesque as if you are "Disneyfying" it.
Don, can you elaborate some more on this? I would really value your opinion. I have no architectural or design training, but I have to say I found the clash between the snazzy post-modern interior design and the ancient buildings in the Santo Estevo parador to be very discordant and jarring. Same goes for the Portuguese pousada in Viseu. I understand that the furnishings in some of the historical paradores are faded and need attention (and Santiago would be a prime example, at least in the low-end rooms I have stayed in), but I don’t understand why furnishing a room, a reception area, a hallway, etc in a way that complements the original architectural features means that we are disneyfying it.
 

C clearly

Moderator
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
This is a recommnded approach in historic conservation circles, make new look new and not quaint and picturesque as if you are "Disneyfying" it.
I can see some merit in this consideration. But let's hope that the full picture still shows respect and interest in the historical elements.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
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C clearly

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Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I don’t think Disney when I look at the earlier furnishings and decor,
I think the idea is that you when you renovate, you need to be careful not to make it a fake and romanticised Disney version of the old. Although maybe that isn't so bad. It can be hard to be authentic and enjoy modern comforts at the same time.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
There has been a lively and evolving discussion about restoration vs reconstruction. It started with the works of Viollet le Duc in France (he rescued many medieval monuments, but gave himself a wide license and was too fond of gargoyles) to present times. The general criteria were stated by Adolphe Napoléon Didron: “for ancient monuments, it is better to consolidate than repair, better to repair than to restore, better to restore than to reconstruct”. I have seen that, when a new section or part of an old monument is needed for some reason, it is done in a modern style, so the two historical moments are clearly distinguished. I can understand the logic, but the result is quite odd and not exactly enticing.
Apparently, there has been a sort of recent comeback to the idea of reconstruction.
For a more complete discussion, see this article in the UNESCO "Courier".
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Well it wasn't all classical in style but that reception area does seem a "modernisation too far"

1601630592403.png
Leon 2016

1601630694916.png

And the dining room was certainly very modern back then:

1601630745655.png
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have seen that, when a new section or part of an old monument is needed for some reason, it is done in a modern style, so the two historical moments are clearly distinguished. I can understand the logic, but the result is quite odd and not exactly enticing.

Light bulb moment! Anyone who has walked the Mozárabe will probably remember the way in which the castle in Baena was restored. Totally what Felipe describes. At the time I had no idea about the rationale for this very jarring result (at least for me). My reaction was that it produced a sense of total incongruity and dissonance, but maybe that’s just because I’m used to the traditional restorations I’ve seen all over Spain. I am personally thankful that the castles in places like Zamora, Xátiva, and so many others I’ve walked by, did not go down this route.


 

natefaith

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Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
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There has been a lively and evolving discussion about restoration vs reconstruction. It started with the works of Violet le Duc in France (he rescued many medieval monuments, but gave himself a wide license and was too fond of gargoyles) to present times. The general criteria was stated by Adolphe Napoléon Didron: “for ancient monuments, it is better to consolidate than repair, better to repair than to restore, better to restore than to reconstruct”. I have seen that, when a new section or part of an old monument is needed for some reason, it is done in a modern style, so the two historical moments are clearly distinguished. I can understand the logic, but the result is quite odd and not exactly enticing.
Apparently, there has been a sort of recent comeback to the idea of reconstruction.
For a more complete discussion, see this article in the UNESCO "Courier".

"Too fond of gargoyles"!!
😂😂😂😂
 

biarritzdon

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Camino(s) past & future
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I'll see if I can find a concise article on the modern view of historic conservation. In the case of the cathedral in Santiago, it was a cleaning job and did not involve construction work, per se. Look at some of the debate controversy surround the restoration of Notre Dame in Paris. The government won out to keep it a careful copy of it's past as not to disturb tourist's expectations. It could have been a very bold statement honoring its past and accepting the new realities of the world. I believe as some cited in this thread Viollet le Duc was responsible for the last resoration and there was a lot of public controvert surrounding his interpretation.
 

AllanHG

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France 2015
Camino Portuguese 2017
The gist of this article is that some pictures have been released showing the renovations to the San Marcos parador. The article describes the public's reaction as scandalized. Look for yourself -- it is the post-industrial chic look. At least there are no exposed pipes, at least that I can see.


The summary of the article gives the gist, so I'll translate that -- "Some photos of the new reception area of the Parador Nacional, which convert the jewel of Spanish Plateresque into a space of steel and concrete, provoke an enormous outrage among León's online community. The Historian of Art, Cesar Garcia Alvarez, stated that the renovations totally ignore "all of the aesthetic values of the of the building with an annihilation of its original aesthetic."

Call me an old fuddy duddy, but is this any way to treat a treasure from the Sixteenth Century? It's likewhat they did to the inside of the stunning Santo Estevo monastery (now parador) near Ourense.
It looks like it’s in the middle of beautiful countryside but is Ourense on a Camino? I hadn’t heard of that town so I looked it up and it seems to be south of the Camino Frances and east of the Camino Portuguese?
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
Many Gothic churches have baroque altars. Each period adds a new touch to "old" things. In this way, buildings live, are current and connect periods, they are alive. I had a similar “problem” with an astronaut at Salamanca Cathedral added at a restoration instead of a missing item (on the outside, at the door). Shock, amazement, reflection, excitement ... that's how it went for me.
Of course - we may or may not like the new elements. The toilets and bathrooms in the rooms (Parador) are probably not as annoying ;)
 

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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
It looks like it’s in the middle of beautiful countryside but is Ourense on a Camino? I hadn’t heard of that town so I looked it up and it seems to be south of the Camino Frances and east of the Camino Portuguese?


Ourense in on the Camino Sanabrés.

 

Camineiro

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
several
It looks like it’s in the middle of beautiful countryside but is Ourense on a Camino? I hadn’t heard of that town so I looked it up and it seems to be south of the Camino Frances and east of the Camino Portuguese?

Allan, there are more than just the Camino frances and the Camino portugues in spain. Ourense is situated on the Camino Sanabres (extension of the Via de la plata).
May be less known and less walked. But an official camino.
 

Kanga

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Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I have seen some wonderful examples of modern interiors. The new San Marcos interior does not look good to me at all. I don't have a problem with modern elements being added, but I hate the idea of the whole building being swamped. I agree with @m108 that old buildings "live" by having bits constantly added - but added is the key. Not overwhelmed.

We have all seen buildings where the interior takes elements from many different eras, and the result is terrific. We all do it at home - take an antique cabinet, sit it next to a mid 20th century sofa, and so on. Get the mixture right and each element enhances the things around it.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
It looks like it’s in the middle of beautiful countryside but is Ourense on a Camino? I hadn’t heard of that town so I looked it up and it seems to be south of the Camino Frances and east of the Camino Portuguese?
Ourense is on the Camino Sanabrés (Zamora to Santiago) as others have said. This parador, however, is about 25 km from Ourense, right on the Sil River and very close to the spectacular Sil River Gorge. Lots of romanesque around, too. But it’s a great post-camino relaxation trip!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
This is a recommnded approach in historic conservation circles, make new look new and not quaint and picturesque as if you are "Disneyfying" it.
I think I know what you mean and I have seen renovations and new American pseudo mansions built in this style and it couldn’t look more tacky and repugnant )to me at least). As I know what I like but don’t know anything about architecture. Couldn’t tell gothic from Baroque if you put a gun to my head. But couldn’t they do a restoration that would keep the historical integrity, look and feel as well as modernize the building at the same time? I am just piggybacking Perigrina’s thoughts that you seem to have some knowledge of this field and I too read what you write as I often learn something of value and interest.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Those illustrations look positively repelling. That's a bad business decision for a hotel, to make the potential customer feel unwelcome at reception. What is it with these people? And people go to stay in the beautiful antique historic interiors, to arrive and discover that it's just another identical airport interior?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well it wasn't all classical in style but that reception area does seem a "modernisation too far"

View attachment 84258
Leon 2012

View attachment 84259

And the dining room was certainly very modern back then:

View attachment 84260
That’s a good point. This parador has not, at least in recent times, had that heavy castilian curly wood furniture with tapestries and knights in armor positioned around the halls that you can find in some “traditional” places (Zamora parador, for instance). So maybe my reaction was caused not just by the fact that it is a ”different” style, but that the difference is so huge and dissonant, at least IMO. And, if I am seeing that reception picture correctly, the new tanatorio style (love it, LT) covers up a lot of the original beautiful architecture. That doesn’t seem to fit the new mantra.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Well, maybe some of the original post was fake news. Doing a little more googling, you can see that the new airport terminal/mortuary photos are the NEW reception area, which is actually in a totally newly constructed part of the building. The old interior apparently remains untouched. This new part is located, according to this article, “in what were the old gardens that you could see from the restaurant in the part near the river.”

 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
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This new part is located, according to this article, “in what were the old gardens that you could see from the restaurant in the part near the river.”
They took out gardens to make that?! (Gardens may not be part of the original buildings, but they certainly add to the ambience.)
 

biarritzdon

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This would be appropriate, new is new and old if it is clearly a restoration.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
I fall into the fuddy-duddy camp also. For me, renovation is not reconstruction and ancient buildings of note should never be reconstructed. Being a building of note is the key phrase. If an old building is ugly or was poorly done in the first place, the wider latitude is and should be available. The objective is to create beauty in the world.
Further, I agree that buildings do live, but they should never be altered to the point that they are unrecognizable or its provenance is subsumed.
These are just my opinions and it is worth what it costs. My career was in real estate investments and owning buildings of note is a responsibility rather than just "owning" it.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
They took out gardens to make that?! (Gardens may not be part of the original buildings, but they certainly add to the ambience.)
I've never been inside the Leon parador. Google has satellite views from earlier years and a more recent view where you see already the building works going on. According to the ileon article, the new reception area is in the very left side of the building, with a formal garden behind it. It looks as if this area had been covered with a roof since at least 2007. The formal garden is now gone but it is still an open space and it may not have been "original" anyway. ☺

San Marco.jpg
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
How can one be too fond of gargoyles?

Mid XIX century, Viollet le Duc was in charge of the restoration of medieval French monuments. He rightly receive credit for rescuing them from decay and ruin (Carcassone was used as a open-air quarry by locals, just imagine). But he frequently made complete reconstructions freely, just according to his ideas and guesses. He was particularly in love with gargoyle and chimeras, so common in gothic art. Problem was, the original medieval stone beasts had long disappeared or decayed beyond recognition. So, he *designed* new ones, and sometimes placed his creations in spaces that just felt good for them, but where it was not sure they had actually existed in the past.
There is a quote that represent well his ideas: To restore an edifice is not just to maintain it, repair it or rebuild it,…but, to reestablish it in a complete state that may never have existed before at a particular moment in history.
 

Kathar1na

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To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
I don't like the look of the new reception area, at least not based on the photos, but reading a bit more about it I have the impression that it replaces a construction from the 1960s.

I was also surprised to read that this whole left part of the building was apparently added in the 18th century while the main part on the right with the cloister is from the 16th century. They just prolonged the façade and copied the design as closely as possible so that one doesn't notice the difference. That's a bit amusing in the context of some of the comments in the thread. ☺

Just for the record: I dislike the Baroque stuff in Gothic churches and I find it a shame that they will rebuild the spire of Notre-Dame de Paris exactly as the "original" from 1859 instead of using the space for something new but appropriate.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
According to various sources, the building footprint as shown in Kathar1na’s picture on the right has about 55 rooms. They are going to build 155 more, so this project still has a fair ways to go. The long wing of rooms that has been demolished, visible in the picture on the left, was built in the 1960s. Its removal has given art historians the chance to see part of the original walls of the building, which had been covered up by the room construction. I have not been able to learn where they are going to build all of those new rooms, but I would guess it would have a similar footprint.
 

David Tallan

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Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Many Gothic churches have baroque altars. Each period adds a new touch to "old" things. In this way, buildings live, are current and connect periods, they are alive. I had a similar “problem” with an astronaut at Salamanca Cathedral added at a restoration instead of a missing item (on the outside, at the door). Shock, amazement, reflection, excitement ... that's how it went for me.
Of course - we may or may not like the new elements. The toilets and bathrooms in the rooms are probably not as annoying :)
Not least of which is the Cathedral in Santiago. When you approach it in the Plaza de Obradoiro it hardly looks like a Gothic cathedral at all. Look how they ruined it! And the choir! You have to head to the museum (if I remember correctly) to see how it should be. Someone in the past completely removed Master Mateo's masterpiece of a choir and replaced it with something contemporary. No respect!

;)
 
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Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I think the idea is that you when you renovate, you need to be careful not to make it a fake and romanticised Disney version of the old. Although maybe that isn't so bad. It can be hard to be authentic and enjoy modern comforts at the same time.
So instead they make it a fake and industrialised version that sits very uncomfortably with the fabric of the building. Personally I strongly dislike the fashion for plonking a modern design on top of a clearly old and historic building. It is perfectly possible to produce a design which is in keeping with the history without turning it into a Disney castle.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
My family and I first "discovered" paradors when we lived in Geneva for three years in the mid-90s. Each winter, we spent Christmas at our home, then headed to Spain for a week or 10 days. We traveled throughout Spain, mostly staying in paradors. Our kids were young and loved the history and ancient nature of the buildings. Fast forward to my retirement and our first two caminos. We took a break from municipal albergues and stayed at the parador in Leon in 2015 and 2017. Our first stay there was fabulous. Our room overlooked the nice garden. The second time we stayed, our room overlooked a gravel parking lot! As a member of "Amigos", I went to the front desk to complain and asked for a garden view. I was told this was only possible if I paid a supplement. No way! So we said we'd never stay at that parador again. Last year, we stayed in Hotel Real Colegiata de San Isidro. It was very "parador like" and we plan to stay there during our 2021 camino.
 

C clearly

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Camino(s) past & future
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finding the classic architecture alongside the the "neo-Brutalist" style will prove jarring....at the least.
Viollet le Duc... There is a quote that represent well his ideas: To restore an edifice is not just to maintain it, repair it or rebuild it,…but, to reestablish it in a complete state that may never have existed before at a particular moment in history.
the fashion for plonking a modern design on top of a clearly old and historic building.
How about the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba? What would have been a travesty at the time, from one perspective, is now perhaps the most stunning and historically-revealing building in Spain. Wandering through it, one is left in awe at the conflict and beauty together.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
I went to the front desk to complain and asked for a garden view. I was told this was only possible if I paid a supplement.

I don’t think it’s unusual for hotels to charge more for better views. About a year ago in Santorini, we snagged a four star hotel room, looking out to the ocean to the east, but not to the Caldera to the west, for about 40% less than a Caldera view. All we had to do was hop down to the hotel bar/restaurant for the sunset views, so I consider that a very good deal.

I agree that a lot of parador rooms are unexceptional and have uninspiring views, but as others have commented, the real pleasure comes from luxuriating in the historic commons areas or enjoying a drink in the café, frequqently in a cloister courtyard or some other equally unique place. We have frequently brought our own set of tapas and drinks to a commons area, where there are usually several arrangements of chair groupings, and have never found the staff to be anything but accommodating and pleasant.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
How about the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba? What would have been a travesty at the time, from one perspective, is now perhaps the most stunning and historically-revealing building in Spain.

Good point, and how lucky are we that the conquerors didn’t totally trash the mosque, as was frequently the case in the Reconquista. I have to admit that I frequently wish that those visigothic or Roman ruins below the Romanesque had been left for us to see, just like the Santiago Cathedral powers did not level the Pórtico de la Gloria. But I guess you can’t blame the people in charge for not thinking about tourists to come thousands of years later, especially when what they were doing was in their minds all for the glory of the divine.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
"Disneyfying"
The only building that I have seen in my life that reminded me, instantly, and with a shock of delight, of a Disney castle, was the Bishop's Palace in Astorga. I have never been inside, but enjoy looking at the fairy palace whenever I walk by. I have never, by the way, been to Disneyland. But Gaudi has demonstrated that it is possible to bring a fantasy to life in a form that is better than a Disney imitation. This is not, however, a comment on what may result today from a fear of "Disneyfying".
 

C clearly

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a shock of delight
Assuming you haven't been there yet, I think that Disney won't come to mind when you see the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba . But for the shock of delight and wonder, you must go inside. It used to be that pilgrims could go in free, first thing in the morning, That is one more excellent reason to walk the Levante.

Edited to add: It is also helpful to have a bit of an idea of the history behind it.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Assuming you haven't been there yet, I think that Disney won't come to mind when you see the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba . But for the shock of delight and wonder, you must go inside. It used to be that pilgrims could go in free, first thing in the morning, That is one more excellent reason to walk the Levante.

Edited to add: It is also helpful to have a bit of an idea of the history behind it.

I was so lucky to be there when it just opened for the day. Before the busloads of tourists arrived,
 

Faye Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I have greatly enjoyed this thread, and now I long to have a coffee with @biarritzdon on some Camino... In undergrad (many long moons ago) a considerable amount of my study was concentrated in art and architectural history, the assessment of postmodern condition, the perils of the simulacrum and so forth... In grad school I was concentrating not on performance theatre anymore but on the surgical theatre and medical teaching as performative forces, but I had colleagues who were interested in some quite particular postmodern examples (the CCA building in Montreal turned out to be one of my favourites that they turned my attention to, and as my great-great aunt was the Mother Superior who had initially turned the Shaughnessy House into a Catholic hospital for Anglohones, I was the more interested there!).
I am laughing about the comments that the new Parador entry looks like a mortuary, for after all, the formal dining room of the Parador in SdC is the original morgue...
...and in all of this I am presently in the chapter on Córdoba in Michener's *Iberia*, and listen with both shock and awe as he pronounces from his own secure position on the aesthetic value of the Mosque/Cathedral....
I sit now on a committee charged with determining the parameters of a new monument to be built in Ottawa, on the river bank beside the national archives.... these questions of scope, history, representation, "authenticity".... they fascinate me.
So everyone, regardless of your pronouncements in favour or against, thank you for a fascinating discussion.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Instead of the black industrial steel look, local stone would have been pleasing.


I sit now on a committee charged with determining the parameters of a new monument to be built in Ottawa, on the river bank beside the national archives....
Please let it not be another investment similar to that red swipe of paint at the National Gallery of a couple decades ago...
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
tapestries and knights in armor positioned around the halls that you can find in some “traditional” places (Zamora parador, for instance)
I am looking forward to my time at the parador in Zamora even more now that you have listed these delights to anticipate. Provided they look original, of course. And I don't have the training to be able to distinguish this.
 

JeffParks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Soon
The only building that I have seen in my life that reminded me, instantly, and with a shock of delight, of a Disney castle, was the Bishop's Palace in Astorga.
Walt Disney was 12 years old when the Gaudi-designed Bishop's Palace was completed. Perhaps Disneyland is the Gaudization of Disney's castle...
 

Faye Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Just for those who are wondering -- and although I think that it's been captured already in a few posts upthread: I keep getting the sense that "to Disneyfy" is being read as "to make it look like Disneyland", but that is not what we are trying to get at.

The concept comes from Baudrillard on the creation of suburbs and shopping districts that are deeply nostalgic for a version of "America" that exists only in our imaginations. A wish for the re-creation of a thing that never was... the same wish that motivates much MAGA desire (only its most powerfully exploited version now, but any political programme can exploit the impulse)... I am working from a nearly 30 year old memory now, but Baudrillard observed that in building Disneyland, the corporation created "Main Street America" mock-ups as they might on a movie set, but that those mock-ups were based on an idealized vision of a place that had never existed. But because viewers of films and visitors to theme parks had never occupied an earlier time (the logic of time being what it is), this version of the past began to be seen as more real than the actual world we live in. The "Little House on the Prairie" books that painted middle America as properly white and Christian, that did not mention that the Ingalls family lived sometimes without paying for it on land that belonged to the Sioux... that did not explain that "Almonzo" was so named because a Muslim family had helped his parent before his birth and so they had named their first son in honour of them in a version of "Al Mansour"... I grew up on Little House and had no way to know when I was a child that it was a Disneyfied version of the world. For it was presented as based on a true autobiography. How was I to know that Laura Ingalls was an unreliable narrator, and that Rose -- her daughter and editor of her papers -- became a committed white supremacist?

Many, many of us will never have access to clarifying information and will continue to seek the Disneyfied version of the past without awareness that the past is never singular.

Thus I can now visit my local giant grocery (as I had to yesterday in the middle of a through hike because it had the only open washroom), and the second level of offices that are cantilevered over the 25 checkout terminals are checkout out with facades meant to evoke a mid 19th C town in middle America (even though I am in Canada). Indeed, I live in a region that I have often characterized as having great aspirations to become Akron of the north. Nobody things the second level is "real" in the store, but they think it speaks to real relationships with farmers, and it obscures the mass-market problems of industrial food, of Cargill and Monsanto versions of food production.

At any rate, this nostalgic view of the world is what Baudrillard called the "simulacrum" -- basically a fantasy that we confuse with reality.

Certainly many many notions that pilgrims will bring to a first-time camino can fall into this category as they seek the original and authentic experience, but do not know exactly what they mean by that. I sometimes wonder if it isn't a little bit like the Disney log-ride, at least from Sarria... but I am not certain that those seekers of "the original experience" would want: highway robbery, bubonic plague, sentenced criminals, starvation and bar fights as constant companions. So what do we mean also when we encounter architecture and say that we are happy that it is in its original form (all the while unaware that the architecture has had its additions and modifications over many centuries and is nothing like its "original")? What of the layers and layers of excavated settlements under the great cities and towns? Why do we not decry that they were built over and buried over the course of the centuries? What shall we make of our happy occupation of a Roman sewer as the main entry chamber of the archeological museum in Astorga? of the morgue for supper at the SdC Parador? What shall we say about the buried hospital that sits atop the buried Roman household, both excavated from under the Île de la Cité in Paris? I love the concrete and steel envelopes we have built to enclose some of our oldest buildings near to where I live (BCE place in Toronto, the library in old Hespler, The CCA museum around the Shaughnessy house in Montreal, the Grange house at the Art Gallery of Ontario). I suppose that I prefer the honesty of the architectural declaration: I am a new component, designed and built to serve the era in which I was built.

At the same time, I prefer local materials and site specific integrations.... The Frank Ghery design for the new AGO in Toronto lacks the vantage point from any direction to show its profile as a great ship.

But if you are able to watch the Netflix series "World's Most Extraordinary Homes" and see the series on Spain and on Portugal you will see that the Iberians wish to be allowed to live in the contemporary, changing world, not held under glass forever.

What I adore about Europe is the constant capacity of its inhabitants and designers to continue to modify what is already there to function under new demands.

Sunday morning musings.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
That is one more excellent reason to walk the Levante.
Alas, Cordoba is not on the Levante. I have read Michener's interesting experience and interpretation of the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba, but shall have to await a later year to walk the Camino Mozarabe, as for that matter, I am waiting for a suitable time to walk the Levante.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
What I adore about Europe is the constant capacity of its inhabitants and designers to continue to modify what is already there to function under new demands.
No problem. And we pilgrims generally prefer our comforts, however modern. But many of us come from countries where more than a couple of centuries of local experience can only be found among the indigenous peoples, who in most places left minimal structures. As pilgrims, we look to a long tradition of religious and pilgrim-oriented architecture to help to link us to the millions of pilgrims of the past: as for the plague, we have that right now, and like the violence on the Portuguese camino recently related and the thefts from pilgrims in albergues, we would rather it didn't happen. But, in this ancient land, on these ancient routes, many of us are seeking a way to understand our calling to be pilgrims, and traditional architecture is one way to do so.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
How about the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba? What would have been a travesty at the time, from one perspective, is now perhaps the most stunning and historically-revealing building in Spain.

I'm not sure I could disagree with you more violently. That baroque monstrosity dumped down with intolerant intent in the middle of one of the wonders of the world almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw it whilst on the Camino Mozárabe. Charles V, when he heard about the desecration, accurately said "Habéis construido aquí lo que vosotros o cualesquiera otros, podrían haber construido en cualquier parte: con ello habéis destruido algo que era único en el mundo" - roughly "you have built here what you or anybody else could have built here or anywhere, but you have destroyed something completely unique". [/SIZE]
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I'm not sure I could disagree with you more violently.
Note that I didn't say it was beautiful or justifiable. I carefully said it was "stunning and historically-revealing".

In an earlier post, the words "delight and wonder" crept in. I agree that "delight" is not the right word, but I stand by the "wonder" aspect.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
The Parador(s) has always been out of my budget range anyway, but if they gave me a free night's stay I could not care less if it was in the original layout or in a more modern one. I would just be happy to be there. ;)

I suppose everything is indeed perspective. If you were to bury side by side Michelangelo's David and a modern statue, let us say the statue of the movie character Rocky they have or had in Philadelphia US, and the statues were discovered by some civilization 100,000 years in the future who has no knowledge of our modern society as all recordings were lost for whatever reason. Does not know who Michelangelo or the movie character Rocky was. They would hold both statues/sculptures in reverence as artwork from an ancient culture. The statues/sculptures would be priceless to them.
One we now consider a work of art, the other...not so much (unless you're a diehard Rocky fan ;) ).
Perspective.
 
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Faye Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
No problem. And we pilgrims generally prefer our comforts, however modern. But many of us come from countries where more than a couple of centuries of local experience can only be found among the indigenous peoples, who in most places left minimal structures. As pilgrims, we look to a long tradition of religious and pilgrim-oriented architecture to help to link us to the millions of pilgrims of the past: as for the plague, we have that right now, and like the violence on the Portuguese camino recently related and the thefts from pilgrims in albergues, we would rather it didn't happen. But, in this ancient land, on these ancient routes, many of us are seeking a way to understand our calling to be pilgrims, and traditional architecture is one way to do so.

Yes, sure... but we must acknowledge then that we are cherry-picking in ways that European inhabitants have not historically been able to do. I am not suggesting that we ought to embrace the violence of the past as though present iterations are acceptable, nor that plagues are the measure of authenticity. I was merely pointing out that when people claim to want an authentic experience, they certainly do not seek those aspects of the past. And if we are accommodated for the most part with a historical trajectory following as it were "the [very] long arc of justice", well then I do not think it inconsistent to allow the locals to build as they see fit (and to let them debate it as well).

None of this changes what is meant by "Disneyfied" (sanitized, standardized, globalized, nostalgic)....

And full disclosure, I am among those annoyed by the gawkers who go to the Cathedral in SdC only in hopes of seeing the botafumero swinging. It may well be a glorious addition to a mass, but I do think that one ought to be going for the mass. It is weird to have one's religious heritage turned into a tourist attraction in this particular manner, even though I am well aware that the Church has for at least 1000 years relied upon the "Grand Tour" to fill its purse (and that much good has come from the infrastructure the purse could provide). I suppose what makes me uneasy is the prevalence of anti-Catholic sentiment in the world along with the gawking at Catholicism's holiest sites.

And these are the inconsistencies we live with. I suppose that is why I like loudly proclaimed discontinuities in architecture, art, music.... for they allow us to speak of various forms of unease, of the ruptures in history, and of the "eternal return of the same" [qua Neitzsche]....

All of which is merely a rumination and not a judgement on my part.
 

Faye Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
The Parador(s) has always been out of my budget range anyway, but if they gave me a free night's stay I could not care less if it was in the original layout or in a more modern one. I would just be happy to be there. ;)

I suppose everything is indeed perspective. If you were to bury side by side Michelangelo's David and a modern statue, let us say the statue of the movie character Rocky they have or had in Philadelphia US, and the statues were discovered by some civilization 100,000 years in the future who has no knowledge of our modern society as all recordings were lost for whatever reason. Does not know who Michelangelo of the movie character Rocky was. They would hold both statues/sculptures in reverence as artwork from an ancient culture. The statues/sculptures would be priceless to them.
One we now consider a work of art, the other...not so much (unless you're a diehard Rocky fan ;) ).
Perspective.

There is also the fascinating problem of the *multiple* statues of "David" in Florence.... the original replicated over and over. Are the copies also art?

And why is the statue of Rocky not art? I am not a Rocky fan, but I can think of many reasons that a character from a story can become a revered icon for a region.

What shall we say of the Roosters in Barcelos? and what of the Magical Rooster story that appears on the Le Puy, on the Portuguese and on the French Route in Spain?

Oh... such fun!

Thank you for the rumination on the question of what makes a piece of public art, well, art.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
There is also the fascinating problem of the *multiple* statues of "David" in Florence.... the original replicated over and over. Are the copies also art?

And why is the statue of Rocky not art? I am not a Rocky fan, but I can think of many reasons that a character from a story can become a revered icon for a region.

What shall we say of the Roosters in Barcelos? and what of the Magical Rooster story that appears on the Le Puy, on the Portuguese and on the French Route in Spain?

Oh... such fun!

Thank you for the rumination on the question of what makes a piece of public art, well, art.
Yes, exactly.
There are/were people who made pilgrimages (it is a pilgrimage) to see and touch the Rocky statue. Same can be said for the David (though not touch) and other pieces if classic art.
Who is right and who is wrong? Which is art and which is not? Who out there has been blessed with the compass that points to true art? I say nobody. It is all art.
Perspective.
 

Faye Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Note that I didn't say it was beautiful or justifiable. I carefully said it was "stunning and historically-revealing".

In an earlier post, the words "delight and wonder" crept in. I agree that "delight" is not the right word, but I stand by the "wonder" aspect.

Indeed, whether we think it justifiable or beautiful, it is a form of testimony to what happened when Charles II provided the funds but not the oversight.... and did so with people who appear, perhaps, to wish to have wished to show their triumph over the expelled Moors in any fashion at all, and the more brutal the better?

In other words, the desecration was most certainly political, but I wonder how — in its time — it would not have been expressed in any manner otherwise. I know that that I am entertaining a tautology here (it is as it is because it could have been no other way, which is evidenced by the fact of its result), but sometimes humans behave in very constrained ways to produce nothing other than what we might expect. The “new” cathedral inside the old mosque was not the result of two cultures mingling, but of one ejecting the other. Had Charles wished for better, perhaps he ought to have spent more time present with the people/on the land he governed.

And so, C Clearly, I think you have pointed out exactly this with your phrasing on the “stunning and historically revealing.”

Sadly, I now have to go to a meeting.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Maybe what happened with the big mosque of Cordoba had to do with the one in Seville. In that case the building of the big mosque deteriorated a lot (earthquake included), so they decided to build a new gothic cathedral leaving the minaret (La Giralda).
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2020)
Words matter when your talking about things like this. I’ve worked extensively restoring art in historical buildings in North America. An art conservator conserves what is there. A restoration re-creates what originally existed.

Often when architects make “restorations“, what they actually want to do is put their own mark on the building. And since modernism is what the prevailing architectural style is, that’s usually what they want to put in. Often it looks wonderful in the plans, but once executed it just looks out of place and wrong. And laymen actually see this, but are just considered ignorant by the architects and designers. I think it’s usually about ego. Also usually modern materials don’t age very well. 30 years later they’re really falling apart, whereas more natural materials, while also falling apart, develop a patina that’s pleasing. Don’t get me started...!

It seems with the OP was actually talking about was really just an addition? But incredibly ugly. Often cost is the primary consideration with these things.
 

Galloglaigh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lycra tribe.
CF (2017/8), VF (2018/9), Old Way (2020), VFnS (2020), CP (rebooked) (2021), VdT (ToDo)
I think it’s usually about ego.

Useful insight to those who lack knowledge about the preservation (or desecration) of these wonderful buildings. I am lucky to have a few in my own home town and have often wondered why bits get added.

I note there is no "I" in ego.
 

filly

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, via de la Plata, Sanabres, camino de Levante, Norte, Primitivo, Ingles, Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra, part chemin in France, der Oekumenische Pilgerweg/via Regia, via Tolosana, Aragones, 2017 April/May Lisbon to SdC
As an Amigo de Paradores and having stayed in them since I was a child (about 60 years!), I will stay in Leon and report back.

I plan to stay in the ‘other’ one in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The only place I know that featured two in one town! That was 14 years ago... so I guess there may be only one now. I thus hope it is the ‘other’ one, on the west side.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
As an Amigo de Paradores and having stayed in them since I was a child (about 60 years!), I will stay in Leon and report back.
The Parador in Leon, San Marcos, is still closed. They plan to open in December 2020.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
have often wondered why bits get added
An interesting discussion and I'm not able - or too lazy - to follow all of it.

Why do bits get added? I think mainly for functional reasons. In the case of the Parador in Leon with this addition to the originally (in the 1960s?) open courtyard and in a few similar cases I can think of, such as the pyramid for the Louvre in Paris, the glass dome of the Reichstag in Berlin, the new tower of Westminster Abbey in London which critics have labelled as sci-fi gothic and steampunk gothic, the reason is functional needs. Because the building has been given a new purpose such as a hotel that needs modern kitchens, modern heating, all sorts of central housekeeping, ventilation shafts and so on, or in order to cope with the increasing number of visitors or to give visitors access to new spaces in old or very old buildings.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
How sad :(

I never got to stay there before the renovations.
No reason to go there now by the look of it.

It is interesting to read some of the remarks on Facebook.
Such as, "It was old, it needed modernizing"!

Is that what we are now doing to historical buildings?
What next, concrete and steel additions to the Colosseum? 😞
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
@Robo with all due respect - concrete was also used to build the Colosseum. And they used it, just like metal pipes and other plumbing installations (electricity, sewage, telephones, internet, kitchen equipment, ....) in Parador. And when converted into a hotel, it was a historic building. This probably didn’t bother anyone, proving that the thing is very relative.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
As to San Marcos, I see two elements: adding modern or ultramodern elements to an old building and destroying original elements of the building or of elements that had been added in the past at a later time.

Here is a recent photo: What had been added in the 1960s has been torn down, ie the roof that covered the whole courtyard and everything underneath it (modern lounges, modern stairways, elevator shafts and other units). I wonder what this courtyard looked like before the building became a hotel. Does anyone know of an image from before 1964? The article where I found this photo says that con la recuperación de este patio se devuelve a San Marcos su concepción original del Siglo XVIII - that the renovation works will return this courtyard to its original 18th century conception. I guess they mean to say that the courtyard will return to its original function but not to its original form.

San Marcos courtyard.jpg
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
I hope they've left this plaque in the cloister. Some things from the past should never be lost.View attachment 84308
I had no idea. I didn't visit San Marcos - not the hotel part, not the museum part and not the church part. I just walked past it. I have now read a bit about this chapter of the building's past. It will not be the same for me should I walk past it again.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
Does anyone know of an image from before 1964?
Found it ☺. A postcard from 1961. The courtyard (marked in purple) is still an open air space. But apart from the façade facing the square, the whole building complex on the left that surrounds this courtyard seems to be quite uninteresting. It dates from the late 18th century, unlike the building complex on the right, with the cloister, which is much earlier.

San Marco.jpg
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I had no idea. I didn't visit San Marcos - not the hotel part, not the museum part and not the church part. I just walked past it. I have now read a bit about this chapter of the building's past. It will not be the same for me should I walk past it again.
I like to drop by, pay my respects as it were. One time one of the gardeners saw me reading and came and stood next to me. I said "Tiempos tristes"; "Malos tiempos" he said, spat, and walked away.

That building has lived many lives, more than we can ever hope for. I'll just hope they'll never modernise its soul (and that the camareros will still pour the occasional oversize brandy with a wink and a buen camino). I met John Brierley there once, he seemed quite cross that I didn't recognize him ;)
 

pepi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 14, 16, 17, 18
Oh, oh...a discussion about architecture can end just as inflammatory as one about religion, so strictly banned in this forum. And it's started by a moderator! I'd call it clickbait. Why not give the architects a chance and judge the final results. I for one look forward to spending my next openminded mid-Camino night in the renovated monument.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (no name; Tours; Francés; sea; no name)
a discussion about architecture can end just as inflammatory
Maybe I didn't read too carefully but I didn't notice much inflammation ☺. I learnt a ton of interesting stuff about a building to which I hadn't paid much attention when I walked past.

I like to stay in old buildings but strangely enough I've never been drawn to staying in San Marcos, San Zoilo or the Reyes Catolicos. In Leon, I stayed on Pax Monastica and would stay there again. Large beautiful comfortable room, contemporary furnishing, modern bathroom. Chapel next to the reception area and used daily by the sisters who own but don't run the hotel. It occurred to me why I liked my room in San Martín Pinario in Santiago and in a few similar monasteries turned hotels in Spain and elsewhere so much more: the guestrooms were tiny; had a tiny bathroom squeezed into the space or had even shared bathrooms; were sparsely furnished, didn't even have a closet sometimes. They were converted monk's cells. I like it more than the opulent large guestrooms in other places. De gustibus, of course. I believe San Martín Pinario is being renovated. I hope their guestrooms don't change too much.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
It occurred to me why I liked my room in San Martín Pinario in Santiago and in a few similar monasteries turned hotels in Spain and elsewhere so much more: the guestrooms were tiny; had a tiny bathroom squeezed into the space or had even shared bathrooms; were sparsely furnished, didn't even have a closet sometimes. They were converted monk's cells. I like it more than the opulent large guestrooms in other places. De gustibus, of course. I believe San Martín Pinario is being renovated. I hope their guestrooms don't change too much.
Same. And I have the same hope as you!
 

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