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Plaza de Eduardo de Castro 24700 Astorga (León) Spain
(4 on 5)
Façades and interiors: Very
How to going: Astorga
is located in the province
of León in the northeast
of the Iberian
peninsula. From León city - 47 Km. -,
take the road N-120. From Madrid
- 320 Km. - take the
Visits: The building is at present the seat of the
"Museo de los caminos
" (Museum of the ways) and show an interesting
collection of sculptures of Renaissance and baroque in polychrome wood
and silverware and gold liturgical elements. The Museum occupies the four
floors of the building.
The visit timing of
the Museum is: from 20 September to 19 March from 11 to 14 and
16 to 18 hours. From 20 March to 19 September
from 10 to 14 hours and 16 to 20 hours. Half an hour before the
closure time the sale of tickets is closed. Closed: All the Sundays
and holidays in the afternoon and Sundays all the day, also the days
25 December and 1 and 6 January.
The visit of the building exterior, interior, and its content is
very interesting. The Gaudí building is an
impressive architectonic work.
Price of the visit: 2.5 Euros. Special prices for
groups and in case of temporary exhibitions. It is also
possible to buy a ticket to visit both the palace and the nearest
cathedral at the price of 4 Euros.
Timetables, prices and other information may change, it is advised to check beforehand.
A diptych is hand in to the visitors. Also other texts on the building, Gaudí,
the city and the region - that some are cited in the
- can be acquired.
The steps of the entrance can be
saved by means of a slope incline weak with railings to
both sides. The ground floor does not have unevenness,
but the building does not have an elevator and the access
to other floors is make through a spiral staircase of ample dimensions
and steps of little height, but that can seriously prevent
or make difficult the visit of people with diminutions. Access
to that other floors not possible for wheelchairs.
Information: Telephones: Palace (34) 987 61 68 82,
Office of Tourism of Astorga (34) 987 61 82 22
Bishopric of Astorga
Astorga is a city very strategically located in the Way
of Santiago. Episcopal city since a remote antiquity, the first known reference
of an Episcopal palace refers to the Xth. century.
Later, we have some news on another Episcopal palace donated by the
queen Doña Urraca to the
bishop Don Pelayo within the walls of the city - year 1120 - in a place
in which before a pagan temple was raised.
This building was being
modified successively, until an important fire occurred the day 23 of
December of 1886 destroyed it totally.
The first steps to
build the palace:
In that time the bishop of
Astorga was the Catalan Joan Baptista Grau i Vallespinós - been born in Reus the
year 1832 -. That bishop, connoisseur of the creative activity of Gaudí,
ordered to him the construction of a new Episcopal palace, commission that
Gaudí accepted in February of 1887. At that time Gaudí
was working in the Palau Güell and the Crypt of the
Sagrada Família (Holy family) of
The next month of March, the Ministry of Grace and
Justice, who had to pay the work, accepted the
appointment. Gaudí sent the signed drawings in June to the
bishop who was pleasantly impressed by them. The 30 of September, the
Conferencia Diocesana de Astorga (Astorga Diocesan Meeting) decided to send the
drawings to the Ministry and the Ministry to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San
Fernando that had to approve them. After various modifications that
bothered to Gaudí, the definitive approval of
the project was obtained the 29 February of 1889.
The work was auctioned in the month of
April and it was adjudged to the sole bidder who was Policarpo
Rodriguez by the amount of 168.520 pesetas (1.012 Euros) of the time.
works began soon, the first stone being placed the 24 of June of 1889,
day of Saint John and saint's day of the bishop. The works
began at a fast pace, and being already very advanced when the bishop Grau
21 of September of 1893.
The difficulties for Gaudí began here.
The works were interrupted because the Conferencia Diocesana de Astorga didn't
understand the liturgical meaning of the work and simultaneously was the
intention to reduce expenses. Gaudí - of strong
character - did not accept any change in its projects and retired all
the Catalan personnel - craftsmen and specialists - who had made to come
from Barcelona. Also probably another fact had to influence in the
Gaudí decision, the
important delay in the collection of his architect fees on the
part of the Ministry of Grace and Justice.
Gaudí and palace vicissitudes:
From the Gaudí resign, other architects were in
charge of works who they were not able to make them progress
substantially. These architects where: Francesc Blanch i Pons - January to
July 1894 - resigned after half a year; Manuel Hernandez y Alvarez
Reyero who was named the same year and held the position without making
nothing significant. Later, the bishop Julian de Diego y Alcolea who
understood better the work of Gaudí, traveled to Barcelona to
request Gaudí to take newly the works responsibility, thing that the
The bishop Miranda who follow Diego y Alcolea
in 1905 commissioned the direction to the architect Ricardo García Guereta
who changed many of the ideas of Gaudí to draw the definitive drawings of
completion - which they differ substantially from the project
of Gaudí, much more bold and imaginative -. the works were very outposts
in 1913 when the bishop Alcolea consecrated the chapel. Nevertheless, in
1914 García Guereta resigned the direction of works when lacked to
finish details of the last floor and decorative elements.
building remained in these conditions, without finishing absolutely, until
in the year 1936 it became power station of the Falange Española in Astorga and
shelter artillery personnel. The flaws
originated by this use were not repaired until some years later.
the building finished during the Sixties.
The palace has the aspect of a castle, mansion and temple with its
impressive exterior constructed with granite stone of white color.
Constructed in a neogothic style, it presents a series of
elements with apparent military function like battlements, towers and
others as viewpoints and terraces.
is oriented from southeast to the northeast and is
surrounded by a moat and railings in stone and iron. The
building body is flanked by four towers,
one in each one of the angles - one of them of a greater diameter than the
other three -.
The building has four floors with an internal disposition
in Greek cross form: the cellar (in mudéjar style), ground floor, main
floor - where it is
the impressive chapel (with a triple apse with windows, flying
buttresses, gargoyles outside and the interior adorned with stained-glass
paintings and religious objects that reinforce the magnificence of the
ensemble), the room of the throne, the office of the
bishop, the dining room, all it organized around the central piece or lobby - and the last floor or attic.
porch with its three splayed arcs - that created serious problems during
their construction, it were to be reconstructed three times -
constitute one of the most spectacular architectonic elements of Gaudí.
In words of Cèsar Martinell, they are together with the inclined
columns "the best advance of the stone architecture from the
pointed time to the present time". In the interior, the granite,
the mosaic, the pillars and the columns are mixed in a spectacular way
allowing, as Carlos Flowers said, an organization practices with a continuous
and flowed space "like in which the
diverse parts are followed one another and chaining without ruptures nor
definitive divisions" besides to adapt with rigor to the symbolic
spirit of the palace.
The illumination is another one of the remarkable
aspects, specially in the main plant that is equipped with a majestic
luminosity that simultaneously creates a gathered atmosphere.
Lamentably, the last floor (attic) was not constructed according to the
drawings of Gaudí, but with those of García Guereta in which these
spaces lose brightness and originality aside with light. These changes
did not affect solely the interior, but also the exterior that was
finished with much more conventional tile roofs, which did not allow to
place the great figures of angels whom Gaudí had anticipated and who at
the moment are exposed in the garden of the palace.
are of gothic style and those of two of the towers display bishop Grau
coat of arms. The gable roof is in a
Greek cross form, and made of slate.
Policarpo Arias Rodriguez
Sadurní Vilalta i Amenós
Pedro Luengo - 2nd. construction master -
Presentation of the Christ-child in the
temple, other scenes of the life of Jesus, personages of the
Old testament, Adam and Eve, the Nativity and other Biblical
figures of Fernando Villodas.
Chapel stained-glass windows. Scenes of life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, the creation of
and Eve and the expulsion of the paradise made by Joan H. Maumejean,
French artist who developed most of his artistic activity in
Barcelona and who was based for this work on drawings of the
Modesto Sanchez Cadenas.
Sculpture. Several figures
specially on the capitals of the ambulatory: Saint Toribio, Saint
Genadio, Saint Isidoro and Saint Ildefonso, a Maria Virgin
Mary with Christ-child of Enrique Marín e Higuero.
Although instead of the
decoration work became after the abandonment of Gaudí, it is
considered probable that it was based on gaudínian criteria,
because it had been make during the period - until 1913 - in which the bishop
was Julian de Diego y Alcolea very identified with these
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