When we are away we usually make careful plans and are reasonably certain of where we are going and what we are going to see but it is always good to come across something unexpected.
On March 23rd 2013 we were staying in the Spanish town of Siguenza in Castilla-La Mancha. We had driven out of the town and visited the town of Molina de Aragon which on a desperately cold day had turned out to be rather a disappointment.
And so we left Molina de Aragon and headed back along the N-211 which is called the Ruta del Cid and the first village that we came to was Rillo de Gallo and there staring out over the main road was an unusual house.
Unless I was very much mistaken a Gaudi house but I was mistaken because it turned out to be a house built in the style of Antoni Gaudi and, I have to say, looking completely out of place within its surroundings.
This it turns out was the Capricho Rillano built by a Gaudi enthusiast Juan Antonio Martinez Moreno and substantially unfinished which made me wonder if it had the necessary planning or development consents?
So we pulled over, parked the car by the side of the road and walked to the house. It may not have been designed and built by the Catalan master himself but it was still wonderfully impressive.
I knew nothing of this place of course, it wasn’t in the guide books so I researched it later. Juan Antonio Martínez, a resident of Guadalajara, worked without sketches or plans, like Gaudí in his early days and he is not an architect, but an experienced builder.
The imposing façade is inspired by the great works of Barcelona and in particular the Casa Batlló with the same characteristics of pinnacles and helical columns, paraboloid domes, warped roofs of multi-coloured ceramics, iron bars and doors, of overflowing fantasy and even a terrible ceramic snake that climbs a corner of the façade along three floors and crawls onto the roof in the style of the dragon at Park Güell.
The serpent incidentally is based on a local myth about a gigantic snake which is supposedly as a big as a man and has been sighted regularly – presumably after closing time!
It was interesting to explore the exterior of the building (the doors were firmly locked) and observe the details, colourful mosaics that covered the form and shape of the building that used the trencadís technique of broken tile mosaics. In contrast to the sobriety of the adjacent buildings in the village, the tangled and impossible forms and the colours of this building were a welcome surprise.
I liked it. I don’t know if building a house in the style of Gaudi makes it a Gaudi house? I suspect probably not. I could paint a vase of sunflowers but it wouldn’t be a Van Gogh. I could write a play but it wouldn’t be a Shakespeare.
But I liked it all the same. I wonder what Gaudi himself would have made of it?
Having enjoyed the unexpected house we thought it only good manners to explore the village because it is said that El Cid himself passed this was on his way to Valencia. Actually, El Cid just like Don Quixote passed through every town and village in Spain, or so it seems.
I would like to be able to tell you that the place was spectacular but I am afraid that I can’t – it was dull and lifeless, cold for the Spanish, shirt sleeve weather for us and the streets were empty. We followed a map which cost me 80c at the Tourist Information Office (every town and village in Spain regardless of size has a Tourist Information Office it seems) and which showed all of the old town highlights but we didn’t find anything to take our breath away so we started to walk back and then heard some lively conversation from a bodega so we pushed the doors opened, spotted an empty table and went inside.
This explained why the streets were empty because the entire village was in here. It was wonderful and made the long drive absolutely worthwhile – a traditional bar with local Spanish wine and a plate of perfect sticky paella as complimentary tapas – and after we had finished we were very reluctant to leave but we needed to be back in Siguenza in time for the Santa Semana Easter Parade.
Click on an image to view the Gallery…