VÍCTOR CATALÀ SPACE – CINCLAUS
The Espai Víctor Català-Cinclaus is in the chapel of Santa Reparada in Cinclaus. Santa Reparada chapel, which formerly belonged to the author, was bought by L’Escala Town Council. It currently exhibits photographs of the author and her link with the rural world and, in particular, with Cinclaus, where she had properties and also carried out archaeological interventions inside and around the chapel.
The chapel is of pre-Romanesque origin with a nave that was reconstructed between the 16th and 18th centuries. Caterina Albert had a close relationship with this space and in 1918, she had the church restored and thanks to the Avi Xaxu sardana group, in 1980, the Cinc Claus sardana gathering was re-established.
You can currently visit it as part of the Víctor Català route organised by L’Escala Museum.
Santa Reparada Chapel
Thanks to the studies of the mediaeval historian, Joan Badia i Homs, we know that Santa Reparada Chapel in Cinclaus was built in the 10th century on a former Roman construction and that it conserves the pre-Romanesque apse. There was probably an altar in the times of the Bishop of Empúries, but it would seem clear that it was the chapel for Cinclaus Castle when there was one and that it also had a licence to be used as a hermitage. According to Benjamí Bofarull and Miquel D. Piñero, once the castle was built, it presided over the square. The fact that it was used as the castle chapel would have put its existence in danger during the diverse conflicts that there were in these lands between the 14th and 17th centuries.
The first information we have about it tells us that this chapel was dedicated to Sant Joan Baptista and to Santa Eugènia in 1389. This chapel was destroyed in the 15th century during the Catalan Civil War, the war against John II, with the attack on Empúries Castle by the Duke of Lorraine’s army. The chapel nave was reconstructed between the 16th and 18th centuries and the former pre-Romanesque apse still stands with its triumphant arch.
In 1703, it was rebuilt by the Sastre family and was rededicated to Santa Reparada, a name associated to water and protection against shipwreck as Cinclaus was formally surrounded by wetlands and close to Empúries. Santa Reparada also protects from drowning. In 1729, it was given a hermit’s licence in the name of Joan Burlas and in 1737, for Domènec Ros.
The chapel you see today consists of a building with a rectangular nave and a slightly trapezial chevet which has a total exterior length of just under 10 metres, of which 4.26 belong to the chevet. This is a small part of a nave with a rectangular chevet in which, in the western façade, there is a door with a single voussoir semi-circular arch. Above this, there is a rectangular window and in the upper part of the wall, a bell gable with one arch and nicely carved voussoirs. The altar that there is, from the 18th century, was a reused funerary stele made of slate. There is also a baptismal font made of calcareous stone. The choir, made out of pine, is in Renaissance style.
This chapel had Renaissance reforms carried out to the façade, but we should value the fact that the chevet has retained its pre-Romanesque horseshoe arch. According to Joan Badia i Homs, the nave is much later than the apse because Santa Reparada chapel probably has a Paleochristian origin, at least the current apse. In fact, it is contemporary to other chapels and small churches that can be found around Empúries. Badia i Homs considered that this small church corresponds to the earliest period of pre-Romanesque constructions in the Empordà as, particularly in its apse, one can see a way of working that was prior to the year 1000. The bond made of small blocks of stone from the walls of the apse, together with the hard, abundant mortar, laid in such a way that the mortar is as visible as the blocks themselves, corresponds to a construction system prior to the 10th century.
The fact that on the façade there are very blurry remains of different inscriptions that are hard to interpret due to the erosion should be mentioned.
Santa Reparada chapel has a long history because three construction periods can be observed. On the one hand, the apse is higher up than the rest of the nave, later than the initial pre-Romanesque nave dating from the 10th or 11th centuries. Later, it was extended in the 14th century, with the construction of the castle and when this building was demolished at the end of the Reapers’ War or Catalan Revolt by Castile in revenge, this small temple was also affected and was abandoned for centuries.
The grandmother of the writer Caterina Albert, Caterina Ferrés i Sureda, bought it in 1897 and her daughter, Dolors Paradís i Farrés, had it restored in 1918. In 1922, the author Víctor Català organised the dancing of the Contrapàs (a dance that was the precursor to today’s Sardana) during the Santa Reparada gathering, on the third Sunday in September.
The image of Santa Reparada was probably removed when the chapel was closed to worship and later, in July 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the altarpiece and the altar in the chapel were burnt.
From photographs prior to the summer of 1936, we know that the altarpiece that presided over the chapel was Renaissance or Baroque and had an image of Santa Reparada in the middle, standing up, guarded by two images. The altarpiece was crowned by a Mother of God who was sitting with baby Jesus on her knee. In addition to this altarpiece, there was also a Holy Christ. The altarpiece was destroyed but the image of Santa Reparada would appear to have been stored somewhere safe.
The chapel is currently owned by the municipality, after L’Escala Town Council unanimously approved the purchase of the building from the Albert family in 1997. In June 2019, it became part of the Víctor Català Spaces, together with the second floor of the Alfolí de la Sal and the Clos del Pastor.