Project: Pilgrimage and City Museum.
Architects:Manuel Gallego Jorreto.
Location: Praza das Praterías
During the post-war period, the pro-Franco authorities developed the Bank of Spain headquarters in Santiago de Compostela. Romualdo Madariaga was the architect of the project, which was built between 1940 and 1945. Its exceptional location, in Praza das Praterías, makes up an urban setting featuring, along with this building, the Casa do Cabido’s baroque façade, the front of the Cathedral’s south arm, raised on top of a stairway, and the Renaissance façade that laterally closes its cloister. Madariaga de Céspedes made a mimetic interpretation by means of a severe and compact neo-baroque volume, with an arcaded ground floor facing the square. The use of granite masonry with a tone similar to that of the historic buildings and a decorative repertoire featuring the local baroque style, help to dilute the 20th-century’s presence in Praterías.
The project to transform the old bank headquarters into the new Pilgrimage and City Museum, designed by Manuel Gallego Jorreto, faced strong determinants, including that of preserving the façade. The architectural opportunity and challenge that involved designing a contemporary building in such a valuable monumental setting, generated an intense civic and architectural debate. The project’s own architect put forward a strong argument in favour of maintaining the presence of Madariaga’s building, referring to the collective memory of Compostela’s residents; during more than six decades, this converted an inferior architecture, compared to its neighbouring buildings, into a substantial part of the cityscape.
Construction was delayed by the discovery of architectural remains during the excavation of the basements, which was solved by setting up an exhibition area that was not originally planned. A large glazed area, shaped like a gallery, opens up the closed interior space towards the Conga and, above all, a large skylight in the roof and a series of interior openings provide dramatic views, from inside the building, of the Cathedral’s impressive Berenguela tower.