Getting off the ship in La Coruña, we are headed to Betanzos, Spain, in Galicia, twenty miles from the port. We are dropped off in the central square of this small town (less than 15,000) and the first thing that gets my attention is the color of the many painted artifacts…….. dark green. The gazebo is dark green, the iron railings are dark green, many doors are dark green, some monuments are dark green, the light posts are dark green….. I ask the guide why all the dark green and he tells me it is the town color…….. Interesting…….
In the center of the plaza is a statue of two brothers, the Garcia Naveira Brothers. Hence, the name Plaza Hermanos García Naveira, who are the men behind many of the public works in Betanzos.
Juan and Jesús García Neveira were broke when they set off for Argentina in the middle of the 19th century. Forty-some years later they returned to their home town, well off, and they spent a large part of their fortune on philanthropic ventures to beautify the town and do ‘good works’ for its inhabitants, with everything done in the latest “Modern” style. They built the Escuelas García Hermanos, that doubled as a school to educate and feed the local children, using all the latest educational methods, and also served as a place where the elderly could go to get a decent hot meal. A public washhouse that dangled over the river and was the height of industrial elegance at the time, was also part of the updating.
All of these dark colors that look black in my photos are actually dark green!
According to the sign on the Palco de Musica bandstand, first built in 1874, the green is called Batanzos Green and is a symbol of identity for the town. So there we have it, the town color!
Now that we know a little about the town let’s move on to the doors!.
We walked from the plaza up to the highest part of the town, where the two of the five churches are….. Why were there so many churches in this small area? They were built for the many pilgrims, who were walking to Santiago de Compostela, only forty miles from here. They were places of rest, shelter and safety along the road.
Santa Maria del Azogue Church had a Betanzos Green Door of course!
This part of northern Spain, Galicia, is different from Southern Spain because the inhabitants identify with the Celtic people, who originally settled here. The stone crosses or “Cruceiros,” which are prevalent in Galicia, were placed on holy ground that originally was sacred to pagan people. So this is where the Christian churches of Santa Maria del Azogue and San Francisco were also built.
The Church of San Francisco, erected in 1387, is right behind the Santa Maria del Azigue. The patron for both churches is Fernán Pérez de Andrade, a knight, whose tomb, decorated with hunting scenes, can be seen inside the church, where we find more green doors and a boar on the roof!
Walking in the town I find more doors, not all green! There is the doctor’s door with a gate and the shell sign for Saint James.
And doors with very low door knobs…….
And faded red doors…….
And doors under repair………
And doors to the pharmacy…….
And doors and arches to the market……..
And doors at the flower shop………
So you can see this is a delightful and thriving village in Northern Spain! On the way out of town we drove past the Jardin del Pasatiempo, also built by the “brothers” to document what they had seen on their many adventures. Considering that most people in the early 1900’s had barely left their streets, this garden park, open to the public, revealed pools, grottos, statues and exotic exhibitions that was the DisneyLand of their time. It was the greatest piece of art work designed for Betanzos. But, sadly it is now closed due to financial restraints.
I hope you have enjoyed the doors of Betanzos! See you next week in Portugal!
This is just one of many photos in the Thursday Door Collection featured by Norm2.0! Won’t you join in or take a peak at all the doors?