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A little bit of history

History of the monument

 The Torres de Mens (Malpica, La Coruña) in their current state date back to the
reconstruction carried out by Lope Sánchez de Moscoso in 1471, although the previous
existence of a much wider fortress is evident, probably destroyed during the revolt of
the Irmandiños, where a disproportionately large double moat with a counter scarp
remains.


 The circular plan of the walled enclosure shows a castreño settlement that was
succeeded by a Roman castellum, according to the archaeological remains. During the
Middle Ages the place of Mens was important as the site of a Benedictine monastery of
which there are only vestiges, although the valuable parish church, attributed to Master
Mateo, and the belonging to the Archbishopric of Santiago of the fortification, show the
strategic importance of it and explain both the rapid rebuilding of what was destroyed
by the Irmaridians and the fact that the Counts of Altamira used it in the defense of their
border with the ecclesiastical domains.
 

 When the ruin of the House of Altamira occurred, it was acquired by the Abelenda
family in 1872, and after a long period of abandonment due in part to the situation of
undivided ownership of the property (period in which the floors and roofs of the towers
and the mansion sank, and the walls of the enclosure were ruined) the remains of the
buildings were savagely destroyed until, in 1988, by inheritance and by purchase, its
last owner (great-great-grandson of Pedro Maria de Abelenda) took over all the parts
and undertook the restoration works.

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The Reconstruction

Description of the work carried out

The fundamental phase consisted of the reconstruction of all the stonework and securing the garrisons, along with the walls of the house. It is noteworthy that the repair of the walls meant to raise again the eastern canvas in a length of thirty meters by a thickness of three and an average height of eight meters, based on granite masonry carved by old stonemasons of the area with traditional tools; the western wall was seriously damaged by the growth of laurels between the ashlars, with demolished areas, and demanded great consolidation measures and careful rebuilding with the same preexisting stone elements and in the same way they had been built. At the same time, the two stone staircases that give access to the ramparts from the courtyard were disassembled, resettled and restored, taking the opportunity to return the round road to its original state throughout the perimeter. In addition, the old stables were rebuilt and adjoining the East wall.

 The restoration of the three towers of the fortress was a delicate and difficult task, of consolidation and taping of the walls, with reconstruction of the crowns of the ramparts and their walls of respect, hindered by the age of the stonemasons that prevented them from moving safely at such a height, and their insistence on using traditional methods for the transport and hoisting of the stones.

The beam of the towers and the platforms of the floors reproduce exactly the original arrangement because they sit on the existing corbels and corbels and fit into the hollows of the walls arranged in the fifteenth century. All the wall work inside was carried out in old chestnut and oak wood treated with creosote from demolition, so as not to use cement plates that could alter the appearance of the work or overload the walls.

 Two things stand out:

  • First, the care with which the wooden stairs of the main tower were built, in indigenous oak wood, with a flying structure in three eccentric sections that communicate the three floors and allow access to the terrace.

  • Second, the reconstruction of the wooden gallery of this tower, unusual to modern design, but present in the original work.

The "Europa Nostra" award

 

In 1993 the owners of the fortress received the Europa Nostraaward, in recognition of the great restoration work they carried out; this was awarded to an individual for the first time in Spain; since 1949 the Mens Towers were a listed monument and, in 1994, they were declared "Asset of Cultural Interest" (BIC).

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