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.