05. Oct 2010

Out of the dark…
Preserving and valuing history: Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y del Manzano Church, Hondarribia/E

Text: Intervento / Andréa Espírito Santo
Photos und Zeichnungen: Intervento

When we enter old buildings and revisit the past in order to recreate historical facts and features, we sometimes discover beautiful treasures that appear to have lost their value overtime. This may be due to lack of aesthetic taste or lack of initiative to properly maintain an old structure with technical equipment which, although belonging to another era, can help safeguard our cultural heritage and enchant the curious eyes of those who seek its origin.

The municipality of Hondarribia is nestled in Guipuzcoa, in the Basque Country on the east coast of Spain. Its proximity to the French border meant that this small town, blessed with a mild climate and well conserved surroundings, has been subjected to a history similar to that of so many other regions in medieval Europe: war torn, it was forced to build protective walls over the course of the centuries, even before its official foundation. Its prosperous port in the Bay of Biscay, from where numerous different products from Castile and Navarra were shipped to other European ports, represented a coveted prize for conquerors. The importance of the historic centre of Hondarribia was recognised when it was declared a world heritage site for its well conserved medieval architecture and archaeological ruins, such as the Santa María Gate, which provides access to the town centre, and also parts of the wall erected in the 15th century by order of the Catholic monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon (the most recent of various walls built to protect the city). In the historic centre itself, the cobbled streets and buildings with decorative wrought iron balconies lead the visitor on a rich and substantial historical journey all the way to the main attraction, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y del Manzano. Built in the midst of political and military upheaval in the region, with the Kingdom of Castile attempting to conquer that of Navarra, this church is a reminder of the strength of Catholicism and the taxation it imposed on its faithful with the promise of relief from their deepest fears. During a restoration project carried out on the church, the client, Teusa SA, identified a threat to the architectural magnificence of the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y del Manzano Church. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 73.

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