Covarrubias expands the cultural offer of the Collegiate Church to attract tourism

The museum of the Collegiate Church of San Cosme and San Damián de Covarrubias is the great unknown of the province, despite the artistic richness that the more than one hundred pieces of its four exhibition rooms treasure, some signed by teachers from the School of Covarrubias, Gil and Diego de Siloé, Pedro Berruguete, Gregorio Fernández or Jan van Eyck.

It is one of the few parish museum centers in the Diocese of Burgos, which has now set out to promote it didactically and touristically so that it is “a motor for cultural and rural development, so necessary in today’s depopulated Spain”, as explained by the new director of the same, Cecilio Haro, parish priest of Mahamud and another dozen towns in the Arlanza region, and recently appointed deputy delegate of Heritage of the Diocese, that is, the right hand of Juan Álvarez de Quevedo. In addition to this task, Haro is in charge of making an inventory of all the heritage of the museums and musealized churches in the southern area of ​​the Diocese.

The Archbishopric has entrusted this Heritage expert, who has trained for several years in Rome, and who is currently studying a Master’s in Heritage and Communication at the UBU, to give visibility to this 93-year-old museum, since it created in 1929 with remains and pieces of sculpture and painting from the altarpieces of the two primitive churches of Covarrubias, that of Santo Tomas and that of San Cosme and San Damián, temples currently open to worship, but which were built on previous ones.

The visit begins in the cloister before the tomb of Princess Kristina. – Photo: Jesús J. Matías

For decades, it could be considered an exhibition store more than a museum, explain Haro and Manuel Heras, the parish guide. It was as a result of the celebration in 2019 of the exhibition Las Edades de Hombre in Lerma when it was used to value other monuments in the Arlanza region and to reform that space with the musealization of it, giving it a more didactic function. and professional with the placement of information panels and ordering it by rooms.

Thus, the museum is made up of four exhibition areas, including an annex to the sacristy. The reform that its new manager is now proposing goes further, because it is intended to position this museum center in the place that it deserves due to its artistic quality, in addition to using new technological tools for its promotion and the dissemination of its content.

Add more attractions. The ambitious project in which Cecilio Haro is already working goes along several lines of action and has a solid base in the work that the Deputy Heritage Delegate himself has carried out in the monastery of San Salvador de Oña during the time that he has governed the destinies of the same. On the one hand, its presence on social networks will be strengthened, a website will be created and marketing campaigns will be launched, in addition to setting up a small merchandising store.

Mudejar coffered ceiling.Mudejar coffered ceiling. – Photo: Jesús J. Matías

Haro understands that in today’s society this virtual presence is not only necessary, but also mandatory for the cultural and tourist promotion that attracts more visitors to the town, without neglecting the edition of the traditional triptychs. This idea also seeks to take advantage of the ‘call’ value that Covarrubias already has and the other two towns that make up the so-called Arlanza triangle, such as Silos and Lerma.

The second stick of the project will focus on the museum’s own facilities. On the one hand, it is intended to rearrange the route to define the entrance and exit, which are currently carried out on the same site as the church, which would imply a small work to adapt some stairs.

In addition, it is proposed to expand the museum with a new room, incorporating into it the space that still remains from the sacristy to exhibit its valuable stalls. Likewise, the visit will be completed (for groups only) with access to the Parish Historical Archive, a space that treasures interesting books and documents, including the founding act, in Visigothic script, of the Infantado de Covarrubias, which precisely on the 24th of November was 1148 years old.

Another of the ideas that Cecilio Haro is working on is to incorporate the church of Santo Tomás into the tourist tour of the groups, thus forming a pack that includes the two temples of the town, the cloister, the archive and the museum of San Cosme and San Damiano.

This project would mean ‘altering’, or rather organizing worship in the Collegiate Church, in such a way that both objectives, the liturgical and the tourist one, do not interfere, especially in the periods of greatest concentration of visitors, spring, summer and October. The latter is a month with a large influx of tourists -1,700 visits have been recorded-, largely due to the start of the school year and other activities of various associations and the programming of excursions to the town.

On the other hand, they want to professionalize the museum, in such a way that the two people who currently work as volunteers in it, become parish workers, which would create two jobs, says the director, who adds that if it were necessary to have more personnel, the Burgos Diocese could make more contracts.

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