A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Viva Villaran - we need more heroes

Castillo las Cuevas, Cebolleros

As it happens, this is all Vive l'Empereur's fault. He suggested that I get some convincing photos of me doing a real siege in the back yard, to satisfy the non-believers and the realism prophets out there of my credentials and great wisdom. I thought it would be a great joke, ho-ho, to fake some pictures of something like the earthworks at Vicksburg and claim it was me.

The intended joke, and anything else I can think up, vanishes without trace - pales into invisibilty - compared with this, which I just came across by accident. If you haven't seen it before, I recommend you have a look. This is the solitary work of one Serafin Villaran, a welder from Burgos, who decided in 1977 to build a castle for himself, at Cebolleros, near Burgos. He died in 1998, before it was complete, but his family worked to finish it, and it has become a major tourist attraction locally.

What a monument. What an outrageous, heroic, bloody wonderful monstrosity. Apart from the size, the labour, the humbling devotion, the in-your-face refusal to conform to any known style of historical architecture, the whole thing has a delightfully unhinged quality which I just love.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

(1) Wow.

(2) I want one.

(3) How did he get planning permission to build it?

(4) What are archeologists two thousand years from now going to make of it? 


  1. (5) How much trouble would we be in if we showed up with a cannon and threatened to blow holes in it unless they handed over the keys?


    1. Indeed yes. They might ask us to come back tomorrow. If the man himself were still alive, we could at least have demanded some cheap welding.

  2. Monsieur General Foy,

    I can answer #3 and #4 for you. On #3, the local planning committee probably gave him a permit because they figured not only could he not do it, but it probably saved time to simply say yes than worrying about some appeals process. On #4, some archeologist will likely misdate it and say it was from the reign of some local lord after the reconquista circa 1500.

    Looking forward to your handy shovel work.

    1. He maybe knew someone on the council, or maybe he said it was going to be a 2-bedroom cottage - or maybe his case came up on a saint's day.

      The future archeologists may smell a rat in the lack of any kind of earthworks or outer gate, but maybe not. Archeology interests me for all sorts of reasons, not least being that there are not many sciences which set out to destroy what they are looking at. What if they had had archeologists in medieval times (it would have had to be the monks)? We would have nothing to dig up now. A few years ago, a skull was discovered in one of the fields on the farm where I live, Turns out it was a very small, very early Christian burial ground, and the local university moved in and took over the whole place for about a year - overnight security guards and the lot. Would have made a good sci-fi movie. If we asked anyone how things were getting on, they'd say "why do you want to know?"