Barrow Gurney psychiatric hospital

It was one of the most advanced psychiatric hospitals in the United Kingdom, pioneering techniques such as ECT, job therapy and an open villas scheme which gave the patients more freedom.

Spanish Civil War: Somosierra front

One of the bunkers at one of the earliest battlefields of the Spanish Civil War. The National army attacked the zone in order to isolate Madrid and cut its water supply.

Château de Noisy

The main kitchen of the castle, located in the basement and mainly used during its time as a boarding school.

Abandoned hospital

This hospital was specifically built to treat tuberculosis. Later it was reformed and it became a special education centre until it was finally abandoned.


The abandoned village of Valdegrulla is located in the Spanish province of Soria. The last inhabitants left the place approximately fifty years ago.











Thursday, July 21, 2011

Santa María de Moreruela

This time we visit a monastery which was quite important back in its time. It is the Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Moreruela, in the province of Zamora.

The first monastery was built in the C.9th in order to repopulate the land taken from the muslims during the Middle Ages. The monastery went into a crisis during the C.11th, and it was rebuilt the next century by the Cistercians. This defined its architectonic style, which is a mix of romanesque and gothic. A characteristic Cistercian rule was the total absence of ornamentation, so there are no decorated capitals or statues anywhere in the whole complex, including the church, the cloister and other buildings. After its reconstruction, the monastery was founded as Santa María de Moreruela in 1133..

The monastery was abandoned (as many others) with the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1836. Mendizábal was prime minister under the reign of Isabel II, and ordered the expropriation of many ecclesiastical properties for them to be sold. The aim was to give the small bourgeoisie a chance to own some of the underused land the church owned, but in the end the plan had very different consequences. Most of the expropriated land, buildings and art pieces were bougth by the nobilty, increasing even mor their already huge properties and in many cases leaving them languishing in oblivion.

The intention was to balance properties, but result was the loss of much cultural heritage, and in the case of Santa María de Moreruela the monastery was abandoned in 1836, and all its land and goods were sold. This led to the place being neglected, and in a short time the monastery was ruined.

In 1931 the monastery was declared National Monument, but it reamined abandoned until 1994, when the Junta of Castille and León bought what was left to be restored. Since then some work has been carried out. The ruins have been consolidated, but the monastery is almost in the same condition as 80 years ago.

Now only a small part of the cloister reamins visible. These are the outer walls of the buildings surrounding it.

One of the entrances to the monastery.

A gallery under the church buttresses.

The sala capitular, a room where the moks gathered to read Bible chapters, is still well preserved.

The church is the best preserved section of the monastery, the apses being the most impressive part.

The only "ornamentation" we find in the church are the mason´s marks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The house of the forest rangers

Far from any town, deep into a pine forest, we found this old outpost where the forest rangers used to live for long periods of time.

In its heyday it must have ben an important place, because the complex has lots of buildings. It was built for the forest rangers and their families, but there is also a house for a civil engineer, a water reservoir, several warehouses and a huge concrete platform. Sadly, we couldn´t find much information about the place, so its history remains a mystery.

First we entered the smaller building, which turned out to be the civil engineer house. The entrance is located in a backyard which is now totally overrun with ivy.

The building is U-shaped, with the backyard in the middle. This is one of the corridors:

The kitchen was almost destroyed.

We found this water heater in the toilet. It is one of the few items that still remain in the house.

A quirky semicircular room.

Outside we could finally see the main facade of the building, which was concealed by thick bushes when seen from the main path. The atmosphere there was the one of a secret garden...

Back inside, we explored the rest of the corridors.

Next stop was the house of the rangers.

In the backyard there were two stables, a small henhouse and two basins completely invaded by ivy.

But the true invasion was crawling up the house...


The exploration revealed the house was designed to hold up to three families, since there were three kitchens, toilets and enough rooms for everybody.

In addition to the two main floors, there was an attic. Warm coloured sunlight told us it was time to leave the place.

And so we finished our exploration of the place. Nowadays it is being used as an outpost and warehouse by ICONA, the Spanish government organism for forest preservation. Some time ago it was suggested to renovate it and use it as a rural hotel due to its size. Nowadays this project seems to be abandoned, but we hope the building wil be preseved. It is really sad seeing how the history of a place is lost forever, and this great outpost deserves if not being recovered, at least being remembered.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Boarding school for the sons of the boatmen

This is so far one of the best locations we have visited, not only because of the place itself, but also for the great time we had there. It is a palace-castle built in the C12th. In the C14th it became the residence of the St. Bavon abbots, after the French Revolution it was acquired by a private owner, and in 1948 the Government bought it. Since then until it was abandoned it was used as a boarding school for the sons of the boatmen who worked for long periods in the channels.

The palace had a massive garden and an ice house to store food. The next photos show the main facade and the main staircase when it was a boarding school.

And now here come our own photos. Maybe they are not of the best quality (my camera was brand new and I did not know how to handle all its functions...). Anyway, I hope the pics are good enough to transmit part of the magic of the place, which although being in bad condition, has many rooms speaking of its past days.

This is one of the buildings near the palace itself. What once was a luxury house now is a half collapsed warehouse.

Back facade of the castle.

Maintenance stairs.

The main hall, presided by an impressive fireplace. Exploring the palace we found several fireplaces, all of them different and with their own charm.

Obelix is there!

A room in the lower floor.

Clothes stand for the children to leave their coats.

The main staircase it the most representative element of the palace. I can not help feeling sad when I compare it with the old photo and wondering how important the place was. It is always sad to see how buildings are abandoned, but when they are as impressive as this one, it is even worse. They should be preserved...

Electric panel

One of the classrooms. There are still some books and school material.

An interesting washbasin hidden behind a mountain of tables and chairs.

The kitchens are located in the basement, and there are still many of the original items. We also found in the basement the maintenance room, the boiler room and a food storage.

Some of the documents we could see there.

We went up to the forst floor, where we found the rooms and several halls.

One of the most interesting rooms, where we could find something about the history of the boarding school. There we found some files, postcards and letters from the children and teachers liveing there.

A still identifiable photograpic studio.

More rooms which now only keep objects which will never be used again.

And then we got to the upper floor. Here we found a huge archive with all the exams, homework and textbooks used by former pupils.
The way up to the tower. Inside there was nothing interesting. The room was full of pigeons, and the way up was not very safe.

A strange combination of three doors.

This was used to learn how to read... How it reminds me my Micho books...

During the exploration we had a really good time we will never forget, and I only hope we will see it back to life in the future. Buildings also deserve a second chance.