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Salamanca (EFE) a mystery with double keys included.
The maximum security floor of the building awaits the revamped start-up of the center to become the stage for new uses: exhibitions, dramatized readings and micro-theater will give life to those empty coffers since 2003.
The International Center for Spanish is the project with which the University of Salamanca, having crossed the threshold of its 800-year history, wants to position itself in the world as a benchmark in research and dissemination of this language already shared by almost 493 million native speakers. .
It was inaugurated in October 2022 with all the honors, but it still looks far from being ready for operation, as Efe was able to verify on a recent visit to the former Bank of Spain. There is a lack of furniture and content for the more than 5,360 square meters of interior surface.
The idea is that the ground floor and the semi-basement are “the most public spaces”, where cultural activities open to visitors are hosted, while the upper floors -which were the home and office of bank employees- will have more restricted access. to the investigation.
This is how Cristina Martín Bueno, technical architect and director of execution of the work, explained it to Efe, a rehabilitation project that has given a third life to this space in Salamanca, where the Hotel del Comercio was first located and later the Bank of Spain. A story that began at the end of the 19th century in the Plaza de los Bandos.
336 Mismatched boxes and keys no longer owned
Between 1942 and 2003, the building functioned as a bank headquarters and, from that past, the most characteristic elements have been preserved: the grillwork, the gates, the very wide walls and the very narrow walkways that the security guards walked on their guards. .
The desire to preserve and display this legacy is evident when entering the semi-basement and contemplating hundreds of keys, some uneven and no longer owned, that once opened the bank’s 336 safe deposit boxes. “It only worked with the two keys, the bank’s and the client’s, at the same time,” Martín Bueno recalled.
The Government of Spain donated the building in use to the University of Salamanca, and the Junta de Castilla y León financed the “reconditioning” works with an investment of 9 million euros. The USAL now awaits funds to fill the building with content with projects related to the language.
The International Center for Spanish, directed by Professor Nieves Sánchez González de Herrero, was created in 2016, and since then it has carried out its activities in a provisional headquarters, in the Patio de Escuelas Menores. His focus has been from the beginning the openness to the world.
Versatile space open to all
USAL’s intention is for the center to be “at street level”, “open to all”. They hope to receive, for example, a researcher who works on a thesis on the Salamanca writer Carmen Martín Gaite, or an entrepreneur who designs a computer application for teaching Spanish as a foreign language.
They also aspire to make it another point of tourist reference in Salamanca, a city that claims the teaching of Spanish as one of its attractions. And they want it to become a key stage on the cultural agenda, with conferences, book presentations and other events that revolve around the language.
The configuration of the spaces has been designed for “greater versatility”, in the words of the architect, with mobile seats, telescopic stands and dividers that allow the rooms to be adapted to events of different natures and capacities. EFE