Spanish fortress converted into stunning hotel
A 19th century hilltop fortress in Spain has been transformed into a stunning hotel and museum. Located near the city of Girona, this sprawling complex has been completely rejuvenated, retaining many of the existing elements while adding some striking new features.
Sometimes historic buildings can make the best hotels, but it takes a lot of love and care to transform them into something habitable for the modern traveler. Such is the case with a new hotel and museum near Girona in Spain, which has been painstakingly renovated and restored under the directorship of Catalan architecture firm Fuses Viader Arquitectes. The International Arts Center and Hotel at the Sant Julià de Ramis Fortress is owned by Catalan jewellery company D’or Joiers, and the brief, according to the architects, was the “restoration of the Sant Julià’s Castle enclosure – 19th century fortress- and the recovery of its surroundings, through the creation of a facility to host a Contemporary Arts Centre, accompanied of complementary services: workshops for artists, auditorium, hotel and restaurants.”
Retain and reimagine
The multi-purpose nature of the brief gave the architects the challenge of integrating existing elements of the fortress with contemporary new additions to house the variety of functions to be contained in the complex. Given the military and defensive nature of the building, much of it is set into the ground, with interconnected tunnels and arches sunken under the level of the earth. The architects retained these structures, along with the thick stone walls of the fortress, and incorporated them into the visionary project. The architects elected to keep the character of the fortress elements as they were, and then to add elements such as glazing, Corten steel and expansive grass roofs, which are at once legible as new additions but complement the identity of the hilltop edifice.
The complex’s hotel is located on the upper levels of the former fort, which would have acted as the fort’s stronghold, artillery store and offered defensive positions to the people stationed there. The hotel has 15 rooms, state of the art spa facilities, a swimming pool, meeting rooms and a garage. The existing architecture of the fortress makes for cosy and intimate spaces, where guests feel safe and protected, as well as having total privacy. The museum occupies the underground levels, while the entrance to the museum also gives access to workshops spaces, a cafe and auditorium. The building’s landscaping takes full advantage of the fortress’ hilltop location, affording guests and visitors panoramic views out over the rolling countryside beyond.
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