Any discussion of restoration in Spain around 1964 inevitably points to a very peculiar moment in the country’s history. The first three decades of the twentieth century had represented an extremely fruitful moment for Spanish restoration, which, through figures like Leopoldo Torres Balba´s (Fig. 1) or Jeroni Martorell, was quite informed regarding international debates. Leopoldo Torres Balba´s in particular was permanently in touch with Gustavo Giovannoni, and he had participated in drawing up the Athens Charter, which was put into practice in Spain with the Heritage Law of 1933.
But in 1936, the outbreak of the Civil War nipped the new ideas in the bud and silenced the people who were implementing them, many of whom (including Torres Balbás) suffered political consequences. The Civil War ended in 1939, leaving in its wake serious destruction of Spain’s architectural heritage and of the cultural world as a whole. The following years saw frenetic reconstruction activity that could have involved a worthwhile opportunity to reflect about restoration principles and criteria. Despite the dramatic situation, the post-Civil War period in Spain could have advanced the theoretical development of the heritage discipline, as it did in Italy with professionals of the caliber of Roberto Pane or Pietro Gazzola. These necessary reflections, together with Pane and Gazzola’s reconstruction and restoration work after World War II, were partly responsible for the role the two men played in the organization of the Second International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historical Monuments in Venice in 1964. Above all, they were key to the revision of the Athens Charter, which ended with the production of the Venice Charter.
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