June 20, 2011

Serafin Villarán, Castillo de las Cuevas/Castle of the caves


all pictures courtesy of basajauntxo, Flickr
click to enlarge

Cebolleros is a small community in the province of Burgos, in the north of Spain.

Life and works

This community has got some fame because of its castle, which was constructed single-handedly by Serafin Villarán (1935-1998).

He was born in the city of Burgos, the capital of the province with the same name and had a job as a welder in a factory.


In 1977, when Villarán was some forty years old, he got the idea to construct a castle-like structure. 

He used stones, which he collected in nearby rivers, canto rodado in spanish, pebbles which are rounded and have a smooth surface because of the erosion produced by the flow of the river.


These typical stones, which are fixed together with concrete, give the walls of the construct its special appearance.

It has been reported by a member of the family that Villarán consulted books about castles in Spain, and magazines with pictures of these castles, to enrich his inspiration. Like other builders of castle-like structures he probably began the project without a preconceived plan.

The structure as it is nowadays, has some five storeys. The space on the ground floor is equipped as a bar/bodega, where people can meet. On the other levels one will find rooms which are creatively decorated.. On the first floor there is a lounge and the room on the third level has a big oven, which allows to prepare a lot of food.

The building has several circular towers with battlements. All together its exterior represents the image one has when one thinks of a fairy castle.....  


The interior has been decorated with small coloured stones, arranged in mosaic or applied to lamps and small sculptures of birds and flowers.

 Serafin Villarán

Serafin Villarán died in 1998, before he could witness the final completion of his creative construct.

The project is being continued by his son and daughter, Luis and Yoli. Visitors are welcome and can visit almost all spaces of the building (Entrance is free, but I would suggest to leave a donation to help cover the costs of maintaining the creation). 

Documentation/more pictures
* a collection of pictures (diashow), made between 2003 and 2009 by basajauntxo on Flickr (made in honour of Villarán, who was his uncle)
* a video by Ovarenes (6'05", Youtube, uploaded march 2012)


* the site got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seatlle (Raw Vision, SPACES, San José State University), 2013. ISBN 978-0-615-78565-3.
* entry on SPACES website 
* video by Serflac (2'59", uploaded aug 27, 2015, Youtube)


first published june 2011, revised dec 2013, nov 2014, aug 2015

Serafin Villarán
Castillo las Cuevas
Cebolleros, prov Burgos, Castilla y Leon, ES
open for visits

2 comments:

  1. Hi Henk,
    It's been a little while... but good to stop back in and see what you've been up to. This looks like a fabulous place... but what a lot of stones he must have hauled back from his trips to river beds or wherever. In France there are places where signs say it is illegal to pick up stones and carry them off... I guess too many people were doing what this gentleman was doing. Must be fun to live in a castle though...

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  2. Hi Owen, Spain probably has no regulations about picking up stones from a river, which might increase the chance of development of fantastic buildings. All the best, Henk

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