Casa del Cordón: Culture and Banking in a 15th Century Palace

Casa del Cordon Door Knocker

Door Knocker © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

Last Wednesday, after the morning had morphed into the afternoon and the snow had begun to turn to rain, I visited the Casa del Cordón, originally a 15th century Gothic palace where the Castilian Catholic monarchs received Christopher Columbus in 1497 on his return from the Americas.

The Casa del Cordón, which gets its name from the Franciscan cord that surrounds the main door, is now home to both the Caja de Burgos bank and the Cultural Cordón, a prestigious cultural venue for conferences, theatre, film, music and exhibitions. I arrived as it was approaching 2 pm, the time many places close for three hours or so in the afternoon, so I decided to check out the interior of the bank and save the Cultural Cordón for later.

Franciscan Cord Surrounding the Casa del Cordón

Franciscan Cord © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

The bank has a large atrium which is also used as a smaller exhibition space known as the Cultural Caja de Burgos, and last week’s exhibition, The Courtyard of the Senses, was an eclectic mix of sculptures that included some interesting wood carvings as well as a more bizarre bronze head covered with pig fat — something I only learned the following day when I returned with Sean and we spoke to a man with a clipboard who knew all there was to know about the exhibition. He told us that kids had been poking their fingers into the pig fat and smearing it on the eyebrows, cheeks and upper lip of the bronze head. Hopefully none of them licked their fingers afterwards.

Carved Face at the Cultural Cordón

Face © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

The interior of the Casa del Cordón is an interesting mix of 15th century and contemporary styles. Looking up at the ceiling it’s an entirely modern affair filled with dozens of two-foot square windows. Twenty-five years ago, when it was being restored, many of the townspeople weren’t happy with the incorporation of modern architecture but today, as the Cordón celebrates it 25th anniversary, the outrage has subsided and the general consensus is now one of pride at having a highly regarded cultural centre in such an historic building.

Casa del Cordón Ceiling

Casa del Cordón Ceiling © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

Caja de Burgos at the Cordón

Caja de Burgos © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

The following day Sean and I visited the Cultural Cordón to see the Albrecht Dürer exhibition, an amazing collection of drawings, etchings and wood cuts. The interior of the exhibition floor is largely contemporary, including the enormous ceiling light that hangs above the staircase which leads to the lower ground floor.

Ceiling Light at the Cultural Cordón

Dark Spot © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

We’ve yet to visit any of the upper floors of the Cultural Cordón, where theatre, music and film take place, but I now have a copy of the programme, so perhaps we’ll go to see something over the Christmas holidays.

17 responses

  1. What an appealing mix of colors in that door knocker.

    With regard (literally) to the picture of the ceiling, when I scrolled the page down I had an optical illusion in which the rows of squares seemed to widen.

  2. Wonderful photos accompany a very interesting post. I, like Steve, am intrigued by the colors of the first photo (door knocker)…and the “dark spot.”

    • Thanks, David. The colours on the door with the knocker are the result of using and Instagram filter called Lo-fi. Still without a replacement lens all these photographs were shot with my iPhone 4 and processed in the Instagram app. The ‘dark spot’ is just the title I gave the photograph, it’s a ceiling light that has a disc of metal hanging from the main light shade. If you look carefully you can see the cables that hold the two parts together.

    • Thanks, Patricia. That’s great you’ve been to Burgos — it’s a good place yet one that many people fly through, spending only a night here. Many, of course, are pilgrims who are compelled to press on, but often people stop en route to somewhere more well known. I look forward to looking at your blog soon (when I’ve got an internet connection with my laptop — mobile sites aren’t the same!).

  3. The art work there is so different and fascinating. I enjoyed it so much. Loved the ways you took these photos, Mufidah. I saw a lot more on Instagram too. Great! :)