August 18, 2008

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Fitero and the travellers of other times

D. Esteban Orta Rubio.
Historian. Society of programs of study Historians of Navarra

With this lecture, Esteban Orta offered a vision of Fitero in the central decades of the 19th century, through the descriptions of five travelers who visited or temporarily resided in this Navarrese town. Four of them were well-known personalities in the Spanish arts and literature of the time: FRANCISCO DE PAULA MELLADO, GUSTAVO ADOLFO BÉCQUER, JUAN MAÑÉ Y FLAQUER, and PEDRO DE MADRAZO; the fifth was a spa doctor, TOMÁS LLETGET Y CAYLÀ, who wrote a Monografía de los Baños y aguas termo-medicinales de Fitero (Monograph of the Baths and Thermo-Medicinal Waters of Fitero), published in 1870. 

Esteban Orta Rubio, who was introduced by Professor Ricardo Fernández Gracia, began by showing the reason why this small town has been so much visited by travelers from different eras. It is none other than to house in it, or in its municipal area, the famous Cistercian monastery and the renowned mineral baths. Faced with the need to delimit the topic within the time limits of a lecture, he chose the time when Fitero reached its maximum economic and demographic importance, that is to say between 1840-1890, and after a short exhibition on the demographic evolution in these years, he went on to show, aided by abundant photos, engravings and drawings of the time, the accounts and descriptions of each of the travelers.

Engraving of the primitive baths of Fitero, XIX century.

Engraving of the primitive baths of Fitero, XIX century.

Although the figure of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer stands out above the others, the lecturer preferred to place greater emphasis on the testimonies of the other travelers, as they are less known to the general public. He underlined the differences between the visions of the romantic era, embodied in Francisco de Paula Mellado and Bécquer, and those of the other three, much more realistic, daughters of a Spain that was struggling to incorporate itself into the accelerated changes of the last third of the 19th century.

He also showed how the different chronicles complement each other to give us a suggestive vision of the territory, landscape, Economics and art of this enclave located on the borders of Navarre, Castile and Aragon. The clearest example of complementarity is found in Juan Mañé y Flaquer and Pedro de Madrazo. While the Catalan journalist, in his book El Oasis. Viaje al País de los Fueros, focuses mainly on the description of the spa; the historian and art critic, Pedro de Madrazo, in his monumental work España. Sus monumentos y arte. Its nature and history, delves into the jewel of the Cistercian monastery.

Francisco de Paula Mellado, Memories of a trip through Spain

Francisco de Paula Mellado, Recuerdos de un viage por España, Madrid, 1849.

Esteban Orta ended with a suggestive description of Fitero, very little known, which was drawn by Dr. Tomás Lletget y Caylà, in the first chapter of his book on the spa. In it, various aspects that help to better understand issues such as housing, food, clothing, productions and ways of life in a village of the Ribera de Navarra between the end of the reign of Isabel II and the beginning of the Revolutionary Sexennium are shown.

Tomás Lletget y Cayla, Monografia de los baños y aguas termo-medicinales de Fitero (Monograph of the baths and thermo-medicinal waters of Fitero)

Tomás Lletget y Cayla, Monografia de los baños y aguas termo-medicinales de Fitero, Barcelona, 1870.