Built in ninth century castle of Matrera near Villamartin in Spain for a long time had stood firm against enemy and endured numerous invasions and sieges; but no one can withstand time and the building became more like the ruins over time.

Over the period of its existence, Matrera has changed its owners for several times, until in 1341 the Spaniards finally recaptured it. Being the last frontier the building has become epicenter of many battles, therefore its walls were damaged numerous times; but the most damage was inflicted by time and nature. Castle was declared National monument since 1949 and Bien de Interes Cultural since 1985.

It was always talked to fortify and restore the castle but no one was in a hurry to begin it, until in 2011 after heavy rains the ground gave away and took half of the Matrera with it and put its existence to risk. Scared by it the government and the Cultural Heritage Organization “Hispania Nostra” began searching for the company to start castle’s restoration. Architect Carlos Quevado took over the project; his design was approved by regional government. It should be noted that this is not the first restoration project for the Spanish architect.

After being under construction for 5 years, in 2016 Matrera was finally introduced to visitors with complete, renovated look. The architect completed the missing parts with new material; by doing so he differentiated old and new parts of the building and also defended it from further destruction. Lime plaster was used for structure’s new portions, similar samples were found in the area. The color of used material is white and creates stark contrast with castle’s darker stones.

According to Quevado project had three main objectives: to structurally consolidate the elements that were at risk; to differentiate the additions from the original structure (avoiding the mimetic reconstructions that Spanish law prohibits) and to recover the volume, texture and tonality that the tower originally had. I think these objectives were successfully accomplished.

It should be noted that this project was a cause of a lot agitation. It was greatly appreciated by architects and on the A + Awards 2016 got the main award in “Architecture + Preservation” category. But the public has criticized it severely. Displeased comments spread quickly in media and restored castle became the subject of ridicule. Local residents weren’t hiding their dissatisfaction and didn’t spare the words to express it. “Hispania Nostra” turned out to be more restrained in its stance, but it also shares the same opinion – the rehabilitation works distorted the cultural heritage.

I wonder, why had this worldwide spread anastylosis technique led to such attitude; maybe society isn’t ready for such project, or it’s not used to such visual contrast between historic and modern, but the fact remains – the number of visitors who’ve come to see the castle has significantly increased after the restoration.



Author: Meri Khamkhadze


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