Abandoned buildings are fascinating and can often be beautiful too. One such example is Villa Encarnación, or La Gotera, in the town of Arriondas. We drove past it several times during our trip to Asturias, each occasion making it even more mysterious. We asked the manager of the cottage we were staying in about it one day. She remarked it had been derelict for at least thirty years, her entire life as it happens. But what was the story behind it and where did the animals that roamed the estate come from?
She didn’t know how the horses and donkeys came to be there but thought the house might have belonged to a wealthy American family who moved back to the States and forgot about it. This would make sense as you do see buildings in Northern Spain that are beyond repair and just left to decay. Saying that, there was something intriguing about this house so I had to find out more when I returned to the UK.
Rumour has it Villa Encarnación was built at the beginning of the 20th Century for Don Manuel del Llano Margolles and his wife Dona Encarnación. The couple had four children. Their two sons (Don Manuel known as “Manolo Sevilla” and Don Jacinto del Llano aka “Ángel del Llano Fernández”) remained in Arriondas until they were forced into exile after The Civil War. Their daughter Regina died and her sister Encarnita moved to Manchester in England with her husband.
Villa Encarnación was said to be magnificently furnished and during the war eighty years ago it became a hospital. After which a “battalion of workers” who were mostly Spanish occupied the house – a commander, a captain, several lieutenants including a doctor, a corporal and cooks. The house fell into decline from then on but the estate was acquired by a new owner who purchased it from the grandson of Manuel Margolles and Dona Encarnación.
This magnificent relic is reported to have been left a shell for more than fifty years. Back in 2013, author David Madrazo listed Villa Encarnación as one of the most magical places to visit in Asturias. Of course you can’t set foot on the grounds but imagining what it would have been like a century ago is remarkably satisfying. As for the horses and donkeys that visit regularly, we thought they might be from the El Paraíso del Burro sanctuary but that’s situated 4 kilometres away.