Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 13 - A Cidade da Cultura Galega

A Cidade da Cultura Galega
To me, it looks a little like something from outer space. Although that was not the plan at all. The "Cidade da Cultura Galega" is a cultural center high in the hills (mountains?) of Santiago de Compostla. It was originally designed to consist of 8 buildings which would be built to hold various cultural facets of Galician culture. At least two buildings have been removed from that original plan since it was unclear what purpose they would serve. The buildings that are currently on site include a library, a concert hall, administrative space with artifacts from the architectural design, and a museum. As you can see from the photos the design was one of rolling buildings which were meant to simulate the hills that were removed in order to place these buildings in this particular location.

Designed to look like the land it replaced
It seems a bit strange to me, to place the cultural center of Galicia high in the hills, a 45 minute walk from the actual center of the city. There is a bus which will bring you to the cultural center which runs approximately every hour, and you can of course drive if you have that as an option. We did not. We walked.

I don't mind walking that's for sure, and yesterday was a great day for a walk, but for many this was more of a hike than a walk. The trip consisted of walking along a winding road which worked its way up the mountain (hill?). It seems like a great concept, but certainly not one that would attract the "peregrinos" or pilgrims that had just completed their journey along the Camino de Santiago!

Model of the "Cidade"
Perhaps though, that is not the idea. Perhaps the idea is to have a cultural center about Galegos and made for Galegos. A library filled with books written by Galegos as well as many other titles from around the world. A museum which teaches Galego culture to children and adults who have lived in the region their entire lives.

Our trip was in the late afternoon, after classes ended. We were unable to go into the museum since it was closing shortly after we arrived, but we were given a tour and a brief history of the architect and a few of the buildings. We saw models of the design as well as the library. It was the library that surprised me most. I understand that this center just opened or was officially inaugurated last year, but the library seemed... empty to me. And as far as I could see there was only one patron using it as a library and not simply touring the center.

Many of the shelves were this full
This center is controversial. Of course none of this information was shared with us during the tour, for obvious reasons, but I have read that many Galicians seem to think it does not and will not serve the purpose it was designed for. These people think that the center was a waste of money and that it will not serve any purpose in the future.

I don't know that there is an answer to whether or not that is true right now since the center was really only opened a year ago and is still undergoing construction, but there were very few people there when we viewed the center.

A room for Galego authors
But as I mentioned, for me, the most unsettling thing about the center was that the land was removed and then replaced with buildings that were made to simulate the land that had been removed. This was done before the design changed and two of the buildings were scrapped from the plan, so the result is one that does not completely recreate the land. Hopefully the center will flourish and those who speak against it will be proven wrong and will see that it is a useful center; hopefully the library will grow and begin to see more use; and hopefully the museum will be the site of many educational trips as well as those of the visitors to the city.

Only time will tell. A Cidade da Cultura Galega has potential in my opinion, I just hope to see it live up to that potential.
Even I climbed ALMOST to the top!
Giant ball of books

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