The camping Faro de Higuer is unique and special. What is that huge stone arch next to the pool doing? What about the restaurant upstairs? It is a large stone tower that looks like a castle. The central mansion, the thick walls, the reception…
To find out more about the origin of the campsite, we talked to the people in charge.
We start a lively chat in which they make clear their interest and excitement for the history of their campsite. His office is, of course, made of solid stone.
Hello! Let’s see, what can you tell us about the history of the campsite?
Well, we could divide it into 2 parts. The first stage at the beginning of the century and another, very different one at the beginning of the 1990s.
The main source of information about this first period is the book “Arquitectura y Urbanismo en Hondarribia 1890-1965” by Ana Azpiri Albistegui.
Let’s read it.
The projects of Pedro Muguruza and Francisco Sagarzazu: the cemetery, the
hotel and the International Bridge
Of the architects that Sagarzazu worked with, the one who was most in tune with him was Pedro Muguruza, who was very much given to large monumental projects and was in charge of the three that would eventually become the most emblematic of the time, although only one, the hotel, was built. part of another, the cemetery. In them he poured a sense of monumentality that bordered on megalomania. Seeking an aesthetic that would recover the idea of the imperial past, he tested in Hondarribia repertoires and concepts that would later lead him to be one of the men chosen by Franco to make the Valley of the Fallen.
The official commission for the cemetery was given to him in 1924, on this occasion Sagarzazu promoted the project, in contradiction to what he had maintained in 1919. Intended to be located in the vicinity of the Faro de Higuer, a spectacularspot that would inspire a personality like Muguruza’s, the work was oriented from the beginning towards the creation of a the monumentthat would not only cover the needs of its destiny but would also be another of the visitable elements of the city. The whole ensemble oozes that Scurialense sense so much to Muguruza’s taste. The stone, the arches, the columns and the obelisks, contribute to trace the suggestion of eternity that I admired so much about El Escorial. The grandeur of the drawings contrasts sharply with the size and capacity of Hondarribia at the time, but fits perfectly with the vision that both he and Sagarzazu had of what the future of the city should be. They would be in charge of restoring the character lost after the 17th century. The evocation of the grandeur of the Plaza Fuerte was sought in the thick stone walls and in the dramatic compositions, which were probably the features of the idea that made the Mayor change his mind.
Construction began, but in 1931 it was paralyzed and the works were abandoned. Its existence was practically forgotten until the walls began to fall down. and responsibilities were sought.
Reality was cruel to this project, and what was built shows the immense distance
between what was possible and what was planned. A story that reflects very well what happened with
some of the great ideas that had the architect and the mayor as protagonists.
In other words.
That the architect who would later design the Valley of the Fallen started to build a cemetery at the Lighthouse but not just any cemetery, a monumental cemetery that would have served to attract visitors?
That’s right, that’s why the campsite has the wall, the towers and the arch. They started construction but abandoned the work, it is not clear why. We thought that when it was decided to build the Valley of the Fallen they did not want something similar elsewhere.
And what happened next?
Construction remained at a standstill for 27 years. A few years before, the property passed to Don Diego Mendez, a student of Muguruza who together with him were the main architects of the construction of the Valley of the Fallen and it was in 1958 when they inaugurated the mansion that is in the lower part of the campsite. The place was inhabited for a few years as a summer resort but after Franco’s death the Méndez family hardly came and the place fell into oblivion and neglect until 1978 when they decided to rent it. In 1980the campsite was opened, although we have to point out that the way of opening and operating a campsite at that time has nothing to do with how it is done now and there was not so much camping culture.
It was in 1994when Diego Méndez’s family sold the property to the current owners.
At the beginning it was very hard, our idea was clear and we knew that the site had all the possibilities, we bet on it (At this point they tell me laughingly some very curious anecdotes of what they had to do to get this going).
But you see, here we are in 2013! the campsite is already what we always dreamed of, a special place in a stunning natural location, the people who come repeat, many come for recommendations and certainly it is a campsite with one of the best scenery we know.
Yes, I agree with them, the campsite due to its monumental past, the geographical situation, on the sea, at the end of the trans-Pyrenean route, the Jaizkibel mountain, the lighthouse, Hondarribi… It is a surprising, fantastic place and the treatment of the people who work here is excellent. Highly recommended.