Matrera Castle Restoration Cádiz, Spanish Historic Building Refurbishment, Architecture, Images

Matrera Castle Restoration, Cádiz

Contemporary Architecture in Villamartín, Spain – renewal design by Carlos Quevedo Architect

5 Apr 2016

Castillo de Matrera Cádiz

Matrera Castle in Spain and the Vilharigues Tower in Portugal

Location: Matrera, Cádiz, Andalusia, southwest Spain

Andalusian Fortress Refurbishment

Renewal design: Carlos Quevedo, Architect

When parts of the Matrera Castle – Castillo de Matrera – slided into the ground in 2013 it prompted a red alert from Hispania Nostra. Officially designated as important cultural heritage, locals set about restoring it. Now the result has caused horror among conservationists, report

Castle Matrera before the restoration:
Castle Matrero

Castle Matrera after restoration:
Matrera Castle Restoration
photo © Fundación arquia

Matrera Castle was built by Omar Ben Hafsun in the late ninth century. In 1256, the town, the castle and the dependent villages, were donated by Alfonso X to the Military Order of Calatrava, who had conquered the area. In the early fourteenth century, it returned to Muslim hands. However, in 1341 it was definiteively re-conquered by Alfonso XI. In 1342, the monarch gave the castle and its territories to Seville. It is situated on the last frontier and was finally besieged by the Muslims in Granada in 1408 and 1445.

Castillo de Matrera desde el Instituto Carlos III, Prado del Rey (Andalucía, España):
Matrera Castle Restoration
photo : wikimedia commons – Date: 16 March 2016 ; Source: Own work ; Author: El Pantera

However, in 2013 the vaults of the tower sank after previous landslides. The collapse caused the complete loss of the three floors of the tower and its vaults, the entire north wall and part of the West. This catastrophe was expected and the municipality of Villamartín had repeatedly warned the Government of Andalusia, which nevertheless had decided to disregard it.

Matrera Castle before restoration:
Castillo de Matrera Cádiz

Subsequently (in 2014) Hispania Nostra placed the Matrera Castle on the Red List, in order to draw attention to the disaster and warn that the deterioration continued. This led to an intervention by the regional government, which has caused horror among conservationists all over Europe. Using a concoction of steel and cement, the tower may have had its profile reconstructed. Nevertheless, to anyone, familiar with the landscape of Southern Spain dotted with more or less romantic ruins it seems unnecessarily harsh. Afterwards, the public has speculated whether the restoration was done to make a statement about the present non-interventionist custodial practice, which basically works to keep any ruin “as is”

Matrera Castle Restoration

The architect in charge of the project has defended the restoration of Castle Matrera in Spain, telling The Guardian there “were three basic aims behind it”. Carlos Quevedo said: “To structurally consolidate those elements that were at risk; to differentiate new additions from the original structure … and to recover the volume, texture and tonality that the tower would originally have had.” Responding to the criticism, he added: “As far as I’m concerned, opinions are always welcome and constructive criticism and debate are always enriching.”

Matrera Castle Restoration

Matrera Castle Restoration

The project has been specifically designed to avoid “aesthetic mimicry involving falsification and loss of authenticity” using for instance original lime wash on the parts set up to preserve the ruin. Such a coating would originally have covered the tower. According to the architect the project thus intends to capture a memory, rather than mimicking the past.

Website: Matrera Castle Restoration

For more than a thousand years, the battlements of Matrera castle have withstood the alternating onslaughts of Moors and Christians, the pummelling of torrential rains and the tendrilled, reclaiming creep of nature.

Today, however, the 2-metre-thick walls of the Andalusian fortress find themselves under a different, if equally ferocious, siege.

A recently completed restoration project, intended to shore up the castle after its ruins were severely damaged by rains three years ago, has provoked an incredulous reaction from some locals and a Spanish conservation group.

Website: Matrera castle in Cádiz – article in The Guardian

Address: Castle of Matrera, 11650 Villamartín, Cádiz, Spain

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Website: Matrera Castle Cádiz