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11/10/2002

Follett was `hugely impressed´ by the Old Cathedral

11/10/2002 The British writer was hugely impressed by the Cathedral during his visit to Vitoria,in response to an invitation by the Foundation.

11/10/2002 A passionate story of love, death, faith and ambition set against the backdrop of the construction of a gothic cathedral. Although this sounds like the plot line of a possible novel about Vitoria´s Santa María Cathedral, it is in fact that of The Pillars of the Earth, a novel set in 12th century England with which Ken Follett, one of the world´s most popular authors, captivated millions of readers.

The British writer and expert on the Middle Ages confessed that he was hugely impressed by the Old Cathedral during his visit to the Alavan capital on 10 and 11 October, in response to an invitation by the Santa María Cathedral Foundation.

´This is the first time I have had the opportunity of seeing both a cathedral and its internal building structure at the same time. When I wrote The Pillars of the Earth no cathedral had ever exposed its innards like this,´ he said with admiration during a major press conference.

The next day, Follett opened the cycle of talks scheduled as part of the ´Encounters with the Cathedral´ initiative. The interest aroused by the recovery and archaeological research project currently being carried out within the cathedral was a key element in his decision to come to the city. ´It seemed like a really fascinating project,´ he said.

Initial interest soon turned to admiration during a private tour of the work currently being carried out. ´The information being gathered during the course of the project will enrich us all,´ said the writer, adding that he would include Santa María Cathedral in the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth.

Huge excitement
Follett´s visit to Vitoria aroused a great deal of excitement in the city, with large crowds of fans gathering on the streets to catch a glimpse of the famous author. Dozens of journalists and reporters, mostly from national newspapers and television and radio stations, attended a large press conference held on the altar of the cathedral itself.

The tickets for the talk given in the Europa Conference Centre sold out in just half an hour and the organisers were forced to set up two auxiliary rooms in order to enable viewers to follow the proceedings live using the centre´s video-conferencing facilities. More than 700 people turned up to hear their favourite author deliver a talk entitled ´Why do cathedrals exist?´

The best-selling author demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the Old Cathedral and the problems that have beset it throughout its history. ´The builders lacked theoretical knowledge about why buildings have foundations and what stops them falling down,´ he said. ´So they made mistakes and then had to find solutions, just like what happened here.´

In this sense, Follett praised the methods used in the recovery of the gothic cathedral. ´They touch on the construction mechanisms used in large buildings, something which I paid close attention to in my novel. In addition to their artistic and spiritual contribution, the construction of cathedrals led to major technical developments also. What happened in my novel also happened in Vitoria Cathedral,´ he added.

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