The countdown is well and truly on – only three weeks now until I depart for Spain’s sunny shore!
I’m now busy undertaking the preparatory work that has been requested of participants by Diadrasis, the project organisers. In the name of inter-cultural exchange, participants have been asked to prepare and present a short overview of our own country’s heritage conservation principles and practices.
With such a diverse group of participants, in terms of countries of origin as well as fields of work and expertise, I’m really looking forward to finding out the similarities and differences in heritage and conservation principles and practices across the group.
I’m very pleased to announce that FJM Property are generously assisting me with sponsorship for the Martos Project 2012. Thanks FJM!
FJM Property is a Western Australian based property development and investment company controlling a diverse portfolio of operations spanning hospitality, retail, manufacturing, property development and property investments.
FJM is a perfect partner for the Martos Project, given the alignment between the Project and FJM’s Old Treasury Buildings project. The site of the Old Treasury Buildings is one of the most significant heritage precincts in WA and has a rich history which spans more that 135 years, however the buildings have now been vacant for over 17 years.
The Treasury Buildings (in the glorious Perth winter sunshine!)
FJM will be restoring this collection of buildings into a mix of hotel, hospitality and retail uses, which form part of the redevelopment of the entire precinct. Works are expected to commence later this year and are scheduled for completion early 2015.
The Property Council of Australia has published an article I wrote on my impending Andalusian Adventure in the WA Property News e-newsletter!
You can read it here.
The Martos Project will centre around the conservation of the sixteenth century fountain, Fuente Nueva, integrated with the planning of the urban regeneration of the surrounding area.
The Fuente Nueva was designed, in the Mannerist style, by architect and sculptor Francisco del Castillo and completed in 1586. The front elevation is divided in three bands decorated with shields. The upper part finish is a pediment with volutes on both sides. There are two separate basins: the smaller upper one for human use and the larger lower one for animals.
In places like the historic centre of Martos, where the topography slopes steeply, public fountains were necessary to supply the population and livestock, as they were the only way to retain water.
The Fuente Nueva depicting the shield of Philip II, flanked by the Shield of Martos and the Shield of Governor Aboz (source: Diadrasis)
The elaborate ornamentation on the Fuente Nueva is typical of the place and era, as the locality was experiencing remarkable prosperity by comparison to surrounding regions, due to the fertile lands.
The fountain has unfortunately fallen into disrepair, with adhoc stabilisation works seemingly having been undertaken in order to retard further deterioration.
Metal ties have been used to retard further deterioration (source: Diadrasis)
Restoring this fountain to its former glory, and re-cementing it as the centrepiece of the local community will certainly be a challenge, but one I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into!
The place will soon be my home-away-from-home, so I thought I better find out what to expect!
Martos is a municipality of about 24,000 people located in the province of Jaén in the autonomous community of Andalusia in south-central Spain. The city is located on a western peak of the Sierra Jabalcuz mountain range – hopefully strolling the sloping streets will counteract some of the inevitable effects of tapas consumption!
The city’s economy is based on agriculture, in particular the cultivation of olive trees. Martos is considered to be the first producer of olive oil in the world.
I’m most looking forward to:
- getting lost amongst the meandering streets of white houses pouring down the slopes between the mountains and the plains
- discovering the layers of Roman, Moorish, Medieval and modern history
- sampling (lots of) the local tapas, gorging on olives and the occasional glass of vino tinto
- beautiful sunny days and warm evenings
- maybe even trying my hand at flamenco, if I can find someone to teach me!
The birthplace of Flamenco (source: The Sunday Age)
Up until a few weeks ago I knew very little about Andalusia (Andalucía to the locals), a region or ‘autonomous community’ in south-central Spain, other than some connection to a favourite Perth bar and tapas haunt Andaluz. Fast forward a month or so and I’m now planning to call this region ‘home’ for six weeks in August and September this year. (If the tapas at Andaluz are anything to go by, I’m in for a treat!)
Andalusia sits between the Portuguese border and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the Mediterranean sea to the east; the Sierra Morena mountain range to the north; and to the south, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar separating it from Africa.
The region is steeped in rich layers of Muslim, Catholic and Romani history, as well as being attributed as the birthplace of flamenco, bullfighting and certain Moorish-influence architectural styles.
As well as my time spent in Martos and Jaén, I hope to explore more of the region if given half a chance – I certainly won’t be able to leave without going to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Alhambra Palace in Granada.
If you have any recommendations of nearby places I should visit or things I should see, I’d love to hear about them!