The Recovery of the Castillo de Almenar
This is a transcription of a conference given by Don Juan Jose Jimenez Moreno in a symposium organized by the Asociacion de Amigos del Castillo de Marcilla (Friends of the Marcilla Castle) the 17 March 2002 at Marcilla (Navarra). We present it here as a document of exceptional interest.
|Location map of Almenar, a small town in the Soria province. It was an important defensive location innthe access to he Castllian planes.||
family owns the “Castillo de Almenar”, a Medieval castle
located in the Spanish province of Soria. My great grandparents, Celedonio
Jiménez and Luisa Ledesma acquired the castle from the former owner, the
Count of Gomara. They moved from their nearby hometown of Buberos, to live
in the upper floor.
lower floor was then leased to the local Guardia Civil, who used it
as a garrison and also as a residence for their people and the families
until 1940. My grandparents also lived there, and there was where my
father, Jose Jimenez Borobia, was born.
history of the Castillo de Almenar dates from the early Middle Ages,
when the castle was an important strategic spot to secure the control of
the area, but for us it has become a true challenge and a family project
to which we have dedicated our summer holidays for the past thirty three
great granparents and my grandparents only did basid maintainance works,
but still a very courageous attitude taking into account the hard times of
scarcity they had to go through. It was in 1969, when one of the corners
of the inner precinct collapsed and tumbled down leaving the interior wide
open, that my parents and my uncles had to act.
collapse was the result of a general state of decay, with some areas truly
ruined. The original fortress was disfigured after so many centuries of
peaceful use, different buildings had been built inside the precincts, and
the original spaces had been subdivided. Hundreds of pidgeons had been
nesting in this ancient war machine; even though they were delicious when
marinated by my grandma, the nests had greatly collaborated to the overall
runoff of roofs and walls.
works started with the closing of the great hole in the wall created by
the collapse. It ws a rough work, but it was a first step to reverse the
state of abadonement. After that we centered our efforts on the exterior
precincts, restoring the fallen walls, rebuilding the top of the towers,
and re-roofing them to avoid the decay. The next stage was to demolish the
constructions that had been built on the central court, and to restore it
to its original aspect.
roofs were also restored with most of the original main beams, most of
them in very good shape, although we had to replace the minor rolls and
boards. The old ceramic roofing tiles were also reused for the most part.
the interiors also had to be restored, eliminating “modern” partitions
and low roofs. All he windows and doors also had to be replaced, and the
plumbing and wiring was made totally anew, with present standard of
comfort in bathrooms, and even wood heating in one room.
has been a real tough job that has required much perseverance and
dedication, and it has used our summer holidays and a lot of money. We
have not travelled to Cancun, but we are very proud that we have been up
to the task of restoring and preserving our family heritage.
There are a few clues that are worth mentionning. In the first place, all the members of the family have been personally involved in the works. We have acquired the necessary tools and machines, the cranes, the scaffoldings, the mixers…
more important than the machines, we have found the right people, like
Fructuoso Delgado, the mason who always considered himself as part of the
project, and also warned in advance his other year-round employers that
August was sacred, because he reserved this month to work with us at
Almenara. From this kind of people we have learned to be masons,
electricians, carpenters, painters, and whatever was necessary, even
salvaging and recycling materials foung in dumpsites. We have always ready
to work with austere bearing to manage our always scarce economic and
has been a bit of everything in such a long lasting project, and there
even was a summer when we did notwork in the castle due to small family
dissents. The town people were very skeptical about us in the beginning,
and they considered us eccentric. We had to fight against the inveterate
abit of using the castle’s moat as the public dumpsite. Later on the
City decided to create a park in the land suroounding the castle –which
belongs to us — including a motor road passing under the moat´s bridge…
But everything has changed in the long term; our effort is very much
appreciated and the local people are very proud of “their” castle, and
we receive many disinterested collaborations, normally in old and useful
material like stones, rooftiles, doors, etc.
Central Government we depended on for the initial years gave us many
promises of help, and they even announced the visit of an architect who
never appeared. At least we had the help of a local architect from Soria
who gave us technichal advise in exchange for just one rooftile, that he
considered good enogh payment.
are now under the Castilla-Leon local Government, and we have received an
important grant to fix the roofings. At the present there still are some
official help programs, but we do not apply for them anymore because it is
too complicated, there is too much red tape involved, and becomes too slow.
The timing and procedures, the works and the documentation to be presented
are designed for the standard project, something that you do with
construction companies and large budgets. The grants cover a certain
percentage of the total expenses, but we cannot justify our costs or the
material we salvage, so at the end the grants would no even cover the
costs of the technical project that the Government requires..."
Two views of the Almenar castle dominating the town and the surrounding fields. The castle has two different ramparts and a round tower in every corner.
|The roofs during
and after the rehabilitation. It is noticeable the difference between the
old and the new tiles, although even the new ones are still handmade (or
better, legmade?) of the same clay.
An ample view allows the detection of unwanted visitors well ahead of time.
|This picture of the beginningof the works gives a good idea of the scale of the works "...a real tough job that has required much perseverance and dedication..."|
LHere are the mason that is mentioned in the communication, and Don Juan Jose's mother, also an active participant, all of them with their hands on the job.
|A good photo of the interior central court as it looks after the rehabilitation, with the typical woodframe shown.|
We appreciate any comments. Also some edition would be helpful.