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UNESCO threatens the cathedral of Burgos with removing it from its List through the doors of Antonio López

The bronze work of the painter and sculptor will cost 1.2 million and is in an advanced state. The Cabildo assures that it does not want to confront anyone but that it will place the gates on the façade or inside the temple.
In 1921, the commemorations of the seventh centenary of the Cathedral of Brugos – the Castilian King Fernando III el Santo laid the first stone of the Gothic temple on July 20, 1221 -, included the burial of the mortal remains of the Cid Campeador, which had been spoiled from the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña during the War of Independence, and from his wife, Doña Jimena. The pompous and solemn act became an event of enormous importance that was attended by the monarch Alfonso XIII, Queen Victoria, several bishops, a papal nuncio and members of the Government.

This year, the Burgos Cathedral, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, turns eight hundred years old. The schedule planned to celebrate the anniversary does not include the burial in the seo of another illustrious person in the history of Spain, but it does include numerous concerts, exhibitions and even the departure from inside the cathedral of the cyclists of the Vuelta in the time trial. initial. However, one of the projects in this program has raised a great controversy: the replacement of the neoclassical wooden doors of the Santa María façade by other contemporary bronze ones designed by the famous painter and sculptor Antonio López.

This proposal, budgeted at 1.2 million euros and financed through private patronage, pretends to be “a milestone, an emblem” for the Burgos cathedral, as the burial of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar’s bones was a century ago . But the work devised as “an authentic cultural, social and evangelizing investment”, according to the Metropolitan Council of Burgos, has met with popular rejection and, more importantly, with that of UNESCO itself, which through its Heritage Center Mundial has claimed that the intervention is not carried out.

The first to oppose the “horror vacui”, “grotesque” and “aberration” was the Burgos painter Juan Vallejo de Lope, who two weeks ago launched a campaign to collect signatures on the Change.org platform demanding the paralysis of the project of the three bronze doors by Antonio López. The one that represents a scene from the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary has already passed through the foundry in Madrid and soon it will be the turn of those dedicated to the childhood of Jesus Christ and the figure of God, which the sculptor is finishing outlining. More than 31,000 people have supported the petition so far.

A few days ago, the UNESCO World Heritage Center issued an unfavorable technical report, prepared by the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in its capacity as advisory body, advising the Cabildo to abandon the proposal presented. ICOMOS-Spain sources consulted by this newspaper point out that its documents “argue the damage to the integrity of the Burgos cathedral and the Outstanding Universal Value that justifies its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.”

Project “reversible”

When the Gothic temple was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, the Cabildo de Burgos undertook to protect and conserve it as a property belonging to everyone, maintaining its integrity according to the criteria of the World Heritage Convention. “Having received the notice that, in the event of being executed, the project would undermine the Outstanding Universal Value of the cathedral; the Cabido de Burgos must assume, if the intervention were to be carried out, the consequences that could arise for the good that custody when failing to comply, “say the same sources.

These consequences could include the removal from the World Heritage List, a drastic measure for which there are already two precedents. In 2007, the Oman Arab Oryx Sanctuary was excluded from the list due to the local government’s decision to reduce the protected area of ​​the site by 90% to use it for oil exploitation; and in 2009 the exclusive condition of the cultural landscape of the Elbe Valley, in Dresden (Germany), was withdrawn due to the construction of a bridge that altered its “exceptional universal value”.

The Cabildo de Burgos has not belittled before this earthquake. In a statement made public this Wednesday, he denounced a “smear campaign” against the new doors project. It also defends that the current gates, dated 1790 and which replaced the originals, are “in poor condition”, that “change is necessary” and that the project represents “a unique opportunity to open art, the cathedral and the city to the world “coinciding with the eighth centenary of the temple.

Regarding the UNESCO recommendation, the cathedral institution emphasizes that it is “not binding”: “It is not the first time that ICOMOS has prepared an unfavorable report on projects that affect cultural heritage and that, however, have finally seen the light “. However, a Cabildo spokesman consulted by this newspaper acknowledges that although the project is “underway and well advanced, that does not mean that if we do not have all the permits we will do it.” The last word is held by the Regional Heritage Commission of the Junta de Castilla y León, which must endorse an intervention that wants to be inaugurated on July 20, the date of the anniversary.

Asked about the possibility of the temple being excluded from the World Heritage List, the spokesperson for the institution assures that “we do not want that or confront or go against anyone; only what can be done with total peace.” “The doors of Antonio López are a work of art for which we have bet and the cathedral will have them”, predicts this same source, which describes the project as “reversible”. If it is not on the façade of Santa María, the new gates will be displayed inside the building, while the neoclassical ones will be exhibited in the Museum of the Altarpiece of the church of San Esteban.

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