March 1, 2021

Art and memory in a 15th century tower to remember two pioneers | Culture


Some legacies have their material wealth and their immaterial value. When both come together, they give an idea that they have belonged to people with a large footprint. The first is settled in concrete goods. The second is part of a soul with a purpose and a vocation to endure. Jesús de Polanco (Madrid 1929-2007) and Francisco Pérez González, Pancho (Buenos Aires, 1926-Madrid, 2010) left both riches in inheritance.

In addition to friends, partners and successful entrepreneurs, they were figures that marked an era. They walked together for seven decades. First, in the creation of an editorial empire like Santillana, between America and Spain; then, in the PRISA Group, owner of EL PAÍS and other media such as the SER chain and also the audiovisual firm Sogecable, among other initiatives. They never broke their bond, despite the tensions they were able to overcome, as proof of a common identity around shared dreams and values.

Both made the tower of Don Borja, an architectural jewel of the fifteenth century in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria), a meeting place for art, literature, thought and communication. It must be there: in the land of its origins. Although they were born far from her, they knew how to forge their roots. For years it was the headquarters of the Santillana Foundation, and today it revives as a center of recognition for its work, opened yesterday to the public, with a vocation to become a reference again.

The president of Cantabria, Miguel Ángel Revilla, and the president of Grupo PRISA, Ignacio Polanco.


The president of Cantabria, Miguel Ángel Revilla, and the president of Grupo PRISA, Ignacio Polanco.

"We always end up arriving where they expect us," he said. José Saramago. Precisely the writer participated in one of the editions of Lessons and Teachers, cycle of conferences dedicated to authors of first row that was held there in several successive years at the beginning of the 21st century. That phrase has ended as a motto in the reopening of Don Borja's tower. The need for a just vindication of its protagonists turns the words of the Spanish-Portuguese Nobel Prize into something sensible.

Ignacio Polanco, president of the Timón Group, with capital of both families, opened the opening ceremony: "When both heirs thought of reclaiming the legacy and the memory of Pancho and Jesus, we could not think of a better place than this one, where they joined even more as Cantabrians", assured Polanco , in an opening ceremony in which he participated Miguel Angel Revilla, president of Cantabria.

Don Borja Tower, in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria).


Don Borja Tower, in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria).

But the reopening of doors, with the remodeling by the architect Luis Castillo just finished, is just the beginning, waiting for a new life that will be defined at each step in the activities of the tower. Mainly, with the firm commitment of their children, in addition to close people like the editor Emiliano Martínez, and the work of its director, the poet and cultural manager Marcos Díez.

It is not the first time that Castillo intervenes on the building, that tower of the fifteenth century. He was in charge of the first remodeling in the late seventies of the last century. Now he wanted to finish it off with an obsession: more light. Above all, to highlight the works of art that will be part of temporary exhibitions and the permanent exhibition, given by the Polanco family based on funds from the Rucandio Collection. The heirs of Pancho have moved, in turn, the huge library of about 20,000 volumes focused on Hispanic-American themes that his father had in the Barcenillas Foundation, based in the manor house of the valley of Cabuérniga.

Santillana and other stamps that were part of it, such as Alfaguara, Aguilar or Taurus, have their spaces in the center. EL PAÍS, SER and Canal Plus also feed the above: several adventures that catapulted them throughout the Transition and the consolidation of democracy as influential actors. Media with a multiple identity, led in large part by them, which served to build open, plural and modern education, publishing and communication companies and absolute audience leaders from when they were created, in the case of EL PAÍS and Sogecable, or from the moment when they passed into their domain after being acquired, such as the radio station.
Miguel Angel Revilla met both. "Memories fill me today," said the president of Cantabria. "Pancho and Jesus, working here for the sake of culture. How much Nobel has gone through this tower. For them, this place was a meeting and is to thank the family to follow in their footsteps, their love for art, books, their love for Cantabria. Thank you for rehabilitating this jewel for this purpose, "he said.

An end that begins this summer his career with exhibitions, such as the recently opened, entitled Dialogues, and with artistic encounters such as the protagonist on Saturday the architect and artist Juan Navarro Baldeweg and the painter and sculptor Guillermo Pérez Villalta. Or that there will be around the edition on July 18 and 19, within a forum organized by the Guild of Publishers of Spain, very inspired by the meetings promoted by Pérez González at the Menéndez Pelayo International University.

A work that rescues two pioneers of the global edition in Spanish around the debate and the pleasure of culture. Two drivers, in addition, of the configuration of free, independent and demanding communication groups with democratic quality, as an inexcusable condition to the progress of countries and open societies. Something that, although a good day seemed fully consolidated, today resists surrounds

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