Saturday, June 10

Rehabilitate the castle and open it to the public: obligations of the ‘squatter’ of the Carlist fort now that it is the legal owner

The Cantabria Heritage Law establishes that the owner of an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) such as the Corbanera Castle, in Santander, must bear the cost of maintaining the monument and its conservation, as well as opening it to the public with a visiting regime agreed with the Government of Cantabria.

Manual to take over a castle or how they have done it with Corbanera: 140 years living inside without being disturbed

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After having lived for more than 30 years inside the castle of Carlist origin, the occupants have obtained the property through extraordinary usucaption (occupying it peacefully, publicly and continuously), but also for having been registered in the place and having their home collected in the Cadastre, apart from paying the IBI regularly, according to a report commissioned from the University of Cantabria by the Santander City Council.

The Government of Cantabria considers in this regard that it cannot rule on a report that it has not received, but that in any case it will remind the property, whoever it may be, of its obligation to maintain the fortress by its own means and the Santander City Council of its obligation to collaborate in its conservation as indicated by the National Historical Heritage Law.

Zoraida Hijosa, general director of Heritage, has declared to Cantabria that the Government will carefully study the report from the University of Cantabria, a report, she has qualified, “on behalf of, paid for and commissioned by the Santander City Council.” In any case, she does not accept the initial approach of the mayor Gema Igual, who has said that it is the Government of Cantabria that has to take responsibility now for the conservation of the BIC.

Hijosa has confirmed that the Government of Cantabria has never received any communication from the Santander City Council of the works that have been carried out so far inside and attached to the outside of the walls of the fortress, some reform or construction works that, either because they require municipal license, either because the City Council has a Police and an inspection service, they had to be controlled and communicated to the Executive, the head of the conservation of the monument.

The property, according to the UC

According to the report written by two UC professors, Juan Baró and Javier Barcelona Llop, the Government’s legal services recognized in 2012 that, in the absence of a property title, registration in the Cadastre and the IBI were enough to recognize the occupants as owners. during decades. Well then, well when they comfortably spent 30 years of residence inside the castle, they obtained the property.

During the BIC declaration file for the castle, the Heritage Service, which has always turned its attention to the City Council when looking for an owner, received a query from the occupant herself, who asked to be exempted from the visitation regime that all BIC compels and did so on the grounds that his home was inside the fortress and for security reasons, as stated in the UC report.

This query led to a statement from the legal services of Patrimony that reported that in the absence of a formal property title “it is usual to invoke as evidence of the status of owner of a property to appear as such in the Cadastre and pay the tax on real estate ”. In other words, in the absence of a title, it is enough to pay the IBI and appear in the Cadastre as registered to be recognized as the owner. This approach is discussed by jurists specialized in Civil Law.

Having elucidated the property, now the thorny issue of obligations arises. The situation changes for the owners when the castle is declared the BIC, which entails some obligations that they would not have if they continue to be in the ‘limbo’ of the occupation.

The Corbanera castle is still standing but it is so deteriorated that it is included in the Red List of Heritage, which is regularly updated by Hispania Nostra, since since the BIC declaration in 2012 there have been no interventions in the fortification.


Article 39 of the Cantabria Heritage Law, under the heading ‘General conservation duty’, establishes that “the owners, holders of real rights and holders of assets that are part of the Cultural Heritage of Cantabria are obliged to conserve and protect them duly” and may be subject to the necessary inspections.

Likewise, it is established that the repair costs for any incorrect intervention made or, failing that, by omission, will be borne by the owner without thereby endangering the conservation of the building.

In the event that the property does not execute its obligation to conserve and protect, this may lead the regional Administration to act in a subsidiary manner and even to carry out a forced expropriation of the property “for breach of the social function of the property”, according to includes in its conclusions the report commissioned by the City Council to the University of Cantabria.


The same article establishes that the owners and possessors of affected cultural property “must facilitate access to them and to other actions undertaken by the Administration”, which is especially indicated in the case of the fortress, access to which has been prohibited for years with a door installed by the occupants. In fact, the guided tours arrived at the place and had to turn around.

Article 42 of the aforementioned Law also deals with access, which includes, under the heading ‘Ease of access, inspection and investigation’, the obligation to attend visits by inspectors and also by researchers accredited by the competent administration, something which has not happened to date.