Press Releases


The Vatican praised the restoration work

15/12/2002 Pope John Paul II met with the directors of the Foundation to praise the quality of the project.

15/12/2002 The Santa María Cathedral restoration project took a significant step forward in June 2002 with the publication of the Master Plan, which has been acknowledged by leading experts in the field of cultural heritage recovery as a document of exceptional quality. The Plan is the result of a comprehensive study of the gothic cathedral, carried out in order to enable experts to gain a better understanding of its architectural problems and thus propose effective solutions. The document also aims to enable the recovery of the building´s cultural, social, functional and symbolic importance within the framework of the urban regeneration of Vitoria-Gasteiz´s Historic Quarter.

From the moment of its publication, the Master Plan has been widely acclaimed by a number of different organisations and authorities. During 2002, the Santa María Cathedral Foundation met with a number of leading figures in the field of heritage recovery and conservation in Rome, Madrid and Vitoria, and received much praise for both the method and general outlook of the cathedral restoration project.

´I am impressed by the preliminary research, the conscientious technical preparation of the work itself and the skill shown in combining the building´s liturgical and cultural functions´. These are the words of Archbishop Francesco Marchisano, head of Church Heritage, during an interview in Rome with a delegation led by the Bishop of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Miguel Asurmendi, the city´s Mayor, Alfonso Alonso, and the Alava Provincial Government Minister for Public Works and City Planning and President of the Santa María Foundation, Antonio Aguilar.

This meeting was followed by an audience with H. H. Pope John Paul II. The Vatican expressed its appreciation of the ´high-quality´ of the project being carried out in the cathedral, which it considers to be one of the best ecclesiastical heritage restoration initiatives in the world. The presentation of the project in Rome included a talk at the Cervantes Institute, which was attended by a large number of architects, archaeologists, historians, politicians and Church representatives.

The Master Plan has also been praised by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. During the presentation of the project in the Madrid Circle of Fine Arts, the Secretary of State, Luis Alberto de Cuenca, praised the ´extraordinary quality´ of the Old Cathedral restoration work and defined the activities being carried out as a ´model for Cultural Heritage management and recovery´.

International acclaim
The project´s firm commitment to quality has been acknowledged at an international level. Ricardo Francovich and Gian Pietro Brogiolo, lecturers at the Italian universities of Siena and Padua, described the restoration of the Santa María Cathedral as ´the best historical building restoration project currently being carried out in Europe´.

The head architect at Seville Cathedral (Spain), Alfonso Jiménez, declared the Master Plan for the Comprehensive Restoration of the Old Cathedral to be ´the best and most conscientious project of its kind currently being carried out in Spain in the area of cultural restoration´. For his part, the best-selling writer Ken Follett, author of The Pillars of the Earth, said he thought that ´the restoration projects of all the cathedrals in Europe should follow the example set by Santa María in Vitoria´.

The Master Plan is the result of two intense years of work (1996-1998) by the architects Leandro Cámara and Pablo Latorre, in collaboration with Agustín Azkarate, Professor of Architecture at the University of the Basque Country. The initiative was co-ordinated by the architect Juan Ignacio Lasagabaster, head of the Historical-Architectural Heritage service at the Alava Regional Government.

The Master Plan was published in two volumes (with a total of 800 pages), with an additional folder of 27 plans charting every inch of the building - all presented in a single luxury addition. The Plan has been sent to over 250 universities, public institutions, cultural and scientific centres and libraries in both Spain and Europe for consultation. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the Plan should contact the Santa María Cathedral Foundation on (00 39 945122160) or visit their web site at The web site also contains a copy of the complete Plan, available for consultation.