Romanesque hermitage in Spain

A refuge from modern madness


The Spanish word ermita refers to an uninhabited or isolated place, a location for spiritual retreat. Today what we hold to be a hermitage is an idealized concept of a hermit’s dwelling. But a good number of these isolated sanctuaries were actually churches of medieval communities that no longer exist. The rural exodus in Spain has left many of them in disrepair.

Some of them are cracked open by time, but still remain hermetic and austere. The almost complete absence of windows gives the buildings a sepulchral quality which is often at odds with the open nature of the land. They are both alien and organic at the same time. It seems that what really has withstood the erosion of time is a mental construction: the hermitage as the ultimate refuge from modern madness.