Europa Nostra and EIB Institute mission visits San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage in Spain

A team of experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute (EIB-I) went to Spain on 14-15 of December 2021 for a mission related to San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage, selected among the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe for 2021.

San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage, Cantabria, SPAIN

San Juan de Socueva is an ancient hermitage and chapel set into the rocky mountains just south of the municipality of Arredondo, Cantabria, in the north of Spain. The chapel, considered the oldest religious construction in Cantabria, still maintains its religious function and is deeply rooted in the community. Despite being a significant site of religious heritage, the state of conservation of San Juan de Socueva is very worrying.

The delegation of experts was composed of two Technical Consultants contracted by the European Investment Bank Institute, Lourdes Llorens Abando and Mario Aymerich, who is also a member of the 7 Most Endangered Advisory Panel, and Aurelio Gonzalez Riancho, Regional Delegate for Cantabria of Hispania Nostra, Europa Nostra’s country representation in Spain.

7ME 2021 Mission to the San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage, Cantabria, Spain

The visit was hosted by Pilar Bahamonde, President of the Council of Future for Religious Heritage, the organisation that nominated the site to the 7 Most Endangered Programme, together with the General Director of the Cultural Heritage of the Regional Government of Cantabria, Zoraida Hijosa Valdizán.

During the first day, the team visited San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage. The monument is located in a magnificent natural setting, nestled in the mountains, which includes an archaeological area. The team of experts was accompanied by local experts, including the Art Historian, Dr. Enrique Campuzano. They confirmed the poor state of conservation of the chapel, while noticing additional issues regarding access and security in the immediate surroundings of the monument. The European delegation also met with local experts and stakeholders that support the rehabilitation of San Juan de Socueva.

7ME 2021 Mission to the San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage, Cantabria, Spain

The second day was dedicated to the analysis of the available documentation and information about the site. The European delegation of experts asked for additional documentation which will be provided to further continue with the assessment and the elaboration of the project report.

The experts agreed that a mission on site was necessary in order to effectively assess the site and its current condition. The overall outcome of the meetings with local experts and stakeholders focused on the interventions that are needed to avoid further deterioration and modifications of the site. Additionally, experts agreed that a multidisciplinary team – including archaeologists, geologists, artists and architects – should be formed to supervise the forthcoming works. The General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Regional Government of Cantabria guaranteed regional funds for the implementation of the upcoming project, while the Municipality of Arredondo, in agreement with the local bishopric, will manage and ensure proper maintenance of San Juan de Socueva.

The key findings and recommendations of the mission will be published in a report in the first half of 2022.

TO FIND OUT MORE
Watch video of the mission (in Spanish)

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