Ruins of the Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza
The Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza was founded in 912 between the Esla and Porma rivers in León, Spain. The present ruins are the remains of a Benedictine monastery that underwent various alterations throughout its history until attaining its full glory following reconstruction in the 16th century. More recently, the monastery has undergone an intervention that included archaeological investigation, consolidation and rehabilitation for tourist visits. The project was designed with a focus on technical, economic and social sustainability, with the aim of ensuring landscape integration, environmental conservation and tourist safety.
Various public authorities funded the project within a broader programme targeting historical buildings linked to the Way of St. James pilgrimage route, including the Spanish Ministry for Development, the Castile and León Regional Government, the León Provincial Government and Gradefes Town Council.
The Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza had lain abandoned since 1835 and had fallen into disrepair. Despite being classified as a monument in 1931, parts of the monastery had subsequently been dismantled and plundered, leaving it in a state of complete ruin, standing among rubble, overgrown by vegetation and stripped of all former splendour.
Rehabilitation for tourist visits involved the restoration of the monastery’s original layout, consolidation of the walls, installation of timber supports in archways, restoration of the original floor level with gravel for better circulation and the erection of signposting that respects the monument.
The intervention project was also intended as a landscape integration project. As such, the monastery ruins are now discretely integrated into the Eslonza valley, with the ruins forming a key element of the landscape.
The intervention was guided by a focus on sustainability, encompassing technical, economic and social aspects. This is evidenced by the use of certified materials, a tight budget and the site’s subsequent positive impact on the surrounding area. Restoration of the ruins has generated an even greater sense of pride in their shared heritage among the local population and is an important source of economic resources for the region’s inhabitants through a programme of guided tours that attracts cultural tourists to the area.
“This is an excellent, minimal intervention with high-quality design on a ruin of archaeological importance. It is a strong, balanced example of how to undertake the delicate consolidation of a ruin in order to preserve it and render the site accessible. Local materials and sustainable resources were used throughout the intervention on the ruin of the Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza. Certain details, such as the arch supports, are particularly well executed. The project also demonstrates the potential of heritage to bolster depopulated rural communities through development, and as such, is a shining example for similar sites in Europe”, the Jury stated.
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