Academic seeks origin of mysterious Spanish cloister
By Emma Pinedo
PALAMOS, Spain (Reuters) - Could a poolside folly at a private Mediterranean resort in Spain owned by a reclusive German billionaire actually be a 12th century architectural treasure spirited away from its original home?
This is the historical mystery being unraveled by a medieval art expert who has been investigating a cloister that has stood since 1958 on a northeastern Spanish estate owned by wealthy German philanthropist Curt Engelhorn and his family.
Gerona University Medieval Art History Professor Gerardo Boto believes the cloister, now nestled in a pine forest on the estate in Palamos, some 120 km north of Barcelona in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, could be the remains of a romanesque monastery that was originally built several hundred miles away in the central region of Castilla y León.
"If its authenticity is confirmed, that could help us rewrite a few aspects about Spanish romanesque," Boto told Reuters on his first visit to the cloister.
The two remaining sides of the cloister with their intricate, pale golden arches sit next to a pool near a 200 year-old Catalan farmhouse, or "masia".
Boto said the cloister was reminiscent of Santo Domingo de Silos, a Benedictine monastery in Castilla y León's northern province of Burgos. The monastery is one of the best examples of romanesque architecture in Spain and its cloister, a secluded quadrangle flanked by archways on its inner side, is one of the most superbly preserved.
"This is as if we were gazing at the oldest son of Silos," Boto said, gazing at the Palamos cloister on a visit accompanied by the press.
A group of experts from Catalonia's regional government have also visited the site recently and are expected to determine in the coming weeks whether the cloister really is an original 12th century gem that has been dismantled twice and trucked across the country for reassembly first in Madrid and then Palamos. Continued...