The medieval castle of La Fosca beach in the Costa Brava town of Palamós is to be re-opened to the public late next year

The works to the monument, which dates back to the 12th century and is at risk of ruin, have been delayed two years over a dispute with owner. The Castle is located over the beach of La Fosca, in Palamós. This town is at the centre of Catalonia’s Costa Brava and it is an important tourist centre.

CNA / Xavier Pi

October 7, 2011 11:25 PM

Palamós (ACN).- The metal fences and danger signs surrounding the castle of Sant Esteve of la Fosca, in the Costa Brava town of Palamós (the Baix Empordà county), will disappear in the coming months. The Catalan Government, Palamós Town Halll and the savings bank 'La Caixa' will restore this medieval monument, which currently is at risk of ruin. The origins of the castle, which dominates the beach of La Fosca, date back to the 12th century. Although initially scheduled to start work in 2009, the restoration of the castle has been delayed over a dispute with the owner. The work will involve an investment of 130,000 euros. The mayor of Palamós, Teresa Ferrés, stressed that the work will allow for a recovery of an historical ensemble, which is "part of our origins."

Sant Esteve Castle (Saint Stephen’s Castle), situated prominently at the end of La Fosca beach is in a state of gradual degradation. In fact, the entire perimeter of the building, which occupies 800 square meters, is surrounded by fences and signs alerting passers by to the risk of landslides. This image, however, will change in coming months.

The Catalan Government, Palamós Town Hall and the Social Work Foundation of the Catalan savings bank 'La Caixa' signed an agreement for the restoration of the monument. The bank will invest 130,000 euros through its program 'Open Romanesque Art', to enable the reopening of the castle to the public. Meanwhile, the City of Palamós will write the project and the Catalan Ministry of Culture will oversee the implementation.

It is anticipated that the works will start in the coming months and extend one year. The restoration of the castle of Sant Esteve has been under discussion since 2009. A dispute with the owner of the land, which was taken to court, has delayed the process for two years. Now, however, the castle of St. Esteve is officially owned by the municipally meaning that work can start.

The mayor of Palamós, Teresa Ferrés, stressed that the works will not only allow visitors to return to the castle but will also create the opportunity for the area to "restore a monument that is part of our origins." Ferrés has specified that, besides strengthening the walls and clearing the area, archaeological work will also be pursued. Still, however, it is unknown if this archaeological work will be in parallel or subsequent to the castle’s restoration.

The Catalan Government’s Director General of Heritage, Joan Pluma, explained that the work will "link the castle to the history of Palamós and Catalan heritage." Pluma added that the allocation of more investment to the monument is not expected at this point. "What we want is to make it able to host visits, we do not intend a full recovery," he said.

Pluma said, "this stage, therefore, is contingent in itself, that is, that it begins and ends." Although, now, further action regarding the castle of St. Esteve is not expected, Pluma has not closed the door for good. "First and foremost we concentrate on this work, this will allow us to think about the future more calmly," he said.

Sources in the 12th century

The ruins of the castle of St. Esteve of la Fosca is strategically located on the protruding edge of a cliff, between the bay of La Fosca and the beach of S'Alguer, in Palamós municipality. It is thus located at the centre of the Costa Brava, a landscape typically Mediterranean with cliffs topped by pine trees, looking at the sea. The building dates from the twelfth century, although there is evidence that was built on the remains of a Roman villa, which in turn was built on an Iberian settlement.

The first documented reference to the castle dates back to 1277, when the Catalan King Peter the Great bought it to create the port and the town of Palamós. The Castle of St. Esteve of La Fosca witnessed the naval battles during the times of the Crown of Aragon (the Catalan-Aragonese Crown). Since then it has gradually lost importance as a fortress.

Re-fortified and hosting machine guns during the Spanish Civil War

During the Wars of the Remences, in the second half of the 15th century, the castle was almost was destroyed completely and was abandoned until the sixteenth century when it was converted into a farmhouse, which was used until the mid twentieth century. During the Spanish Civil War, it was re-fortified with barbed wire and machine guns.

Currently, the entrance to the site has been disfigured by the farmhouse, now a ruin, which was raised being supported on the old building. The rest of a lower tower, rectangular, and partly excavated in natural rock, a wall and the remains of another rectangular tower are the last remains of the castle that can be easily recognizable.