In the intervening years, the Grupo Siro Foundation has succeeded in revitalising and restoring dignity to the ruins of the San Pelayo de Cerrato Monastery, while also contributing to the development of the local community.
Today, the Monastery is a unique monument, and is the headquarters of the Grupo Siro Foundation, a building which exudes over a thousand years of history while revelling in the modernity of a structure that is fully-networked and has state-of-the-art installations.
Generating value in the Community
With the love and attention of people who know the territory well, the San Pelayo Monastery has been restored by local businesses that include experts in masonry, carpentry and metalwork: all traditional trades which have at their core a profound interest in protecting our heritage.
Rafael Manzano Martos
For his role in upholding these values, Rafael Manzano Martos won the Eighth Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture. This was awarded in 2010 in the United States and sponsored by the great American philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus, and was presented by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture in Indiana. This prize is regarded as one of the world’s greatest acknowledgements of a professional career that is rooted in both Traditional and Classical Architecture, as well as Restoration.
At the same time as the prize was being awarded in the United States, Richard H. Driehaus announced a new prize to reward the protection of Spanish urban heritage and Spanish architectural traditions. In 2017 it is to be extended to cover Portugal as well: the Rafael Manzano Prize for New Traditional Architecture.
He has been a Professor at the Seville Superior Technical School of Architecture, where he was also Dean from 1974 to 1978. He has given lectures at many national and international universities.
Antonio Conejero Urbán
In his capacity as expert in Real Estate Business Management, with an MBA from the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra, he has given lectures, seminars and conferences both nationally and internationally, in countries such as Italy, Finland, the United States, Spain, Germany and India.
Among the projects he has completed are: the i+dea building, which is one of the leading private centres for research and development in Europe, the Grupo Siro central offices building in Venta de Baños, Palencia, and other industrial buildings connected to the Group’s business. He has also planned and developed housing programmes in Madrid, Palencia, Valencia and Valladolid, as well as numerous restoration projects such as that of the Palace of the Counts of Buendía and the Complete Restoration of the Plaza del Mercado, both of which are in Dueñas, Palencia.
In addition, Antonio is a Board Member of the Family Business Network and Chair of the FBN Executive Committee and of the Family Forum at the Instituto de la Empresa Familar (IEF).
The origins of the San Pelayo Monastery:
Written records exist showing that the San Pelayo de Cerrato Monastery has existed since 934, when Don Oveco Díaz and his wife, Doña Gutina, wrote abbot Pedro and his religious community in San Benito into their will to inherit Valdeavellanos, so a monastery to be called San Pelayo de Cerrato could be erected in honour of the martyr. Cerrato Palentino was home to a sizeable ascetic movement in those days, mainly cave-dwelling hermits. The same was most likely the case in San Pelayo, which overlooks the Maderón river valley.
The turmoil experienced by San Pelayo de Cerrato throughout history began with the reorganisation of El Cerrato during the reign of King Astur Alfonso III the Great (866-910). After the Premonstratensian Order was founded in 1145, the monastery became part of this congregation. The Provincial Chapter founded the School of Humanities on this site in the 16th Century, where it stood until the 17th Century as a centre of philosophical study.
Although it was one of the most thriving monasteries in Castile during a good part of the Middle Ages, the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages in the 14th Century and the economic decadence that affected Castile towards the end of the 16th Century put an end to the splendour of this monastery.
Its ultimate decline arrived with the seizure and sale of church property during the 19th Century, when all of its possessions began to be sold off – despite having been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. The building itself was also sold, from which almost all of the stone was removed.