A Recycled Cathedral?

Click on the photos below to view as a slideshow and descriptions!

I do not think I had ever heard the words “recycled” and “cathedral” together like this until CIEE, the program through which I am studying abroad, sent out the cultural activity invitation. Out of curiosity I registered for the event and waited to see how this strange title could unfold. Before the event, I pictured in my mind an old Gothic or Roman-inspired cathedral. Once I would walk in, I would be surprised to find it to be a bustling bazaar or a form of open-air supermarket.

I was wrong. The group and I traveled to a small town called Mejorada del Campo within the community of Madrid. We walked for a good distance past tranquil townhouses, charming restaurants, and even metal barriers that lined some of the streets to protect the locals when the townspeople would hold bull runs! Suddenly, a tall colorful structure began to appear in the distance. As we drew closer, our director welcomed us to the recycled cathedral and I was perplexed by what I was seeing.

The steps were a dark reddish umber and the main body was a sandy tan, with multiple other others sprinkled in different parts. The two-story structure had massive towers and multiple sections. At first, the cathedral looked abandoned because of the unfinished walls and the support material that was visible in several parts. We went inside and our director, who lives in Mejorada del Campo, explained that the cathedral is actually unfinished and is still in progress. The materials used to construct it are recycled materials from different parts of the town and the rest of Spain, donated by supporters of the work. A light-bulb lit in my head, expressing, “Oooh.”

This amazing and colorful structure was started and is still being constructed by a 92-year-old man named Don Justo. He started the project in the early 1960s and, with his devout faith in God, is still helping with the construction making hand made stained glass windows and mixing cement.

A look from below the domed inner sanctuary of the cathedral.

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