An empty 100-year-old church in the northern Spanish town of Llanera is setting the best example for all abandoned buildings — by being transformed into an incredible skatepark.
A group of skateboard fans called Church Brigade have teamed up with Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel to convert Santa Barbara church in Llanera into a rainbow-coloured skatepark.
It’s been given the description “the Sistine chapel of skateboarding,” which is pretty apt.
Think half pipe instead of pews; ollies instead of prayers and an explosion of brightly coloured murals on the walls and ceiling.
It’s taken five years for Church Brigade to see their project through to completion. “It was pretty much in ruins when we started the project,” said Ernesto Fernández Rey. “The walls were stained, paint was peeling and there was dust everywhere.”
According to The Guardian, the church was built in 1912 and was once frequented by workers from a nearby munitions factory. However when the factory closed down, following the Spanish Civil War, the church found itself empty.
It was Fernández Rey who first came across the empty building and considered using it to house a business. But his passion for skateboarding took over and the fact that the area receives 200 days of rain a year was also a major factor.
Initial efforts to raise money to build a ramp turned into a massive project, which took a big step forward when Okuda San Miguel approached the group to ask if he could paint murals inside the church. “I fell in love right away,” he said in a video interview about the project.
The artist then took charge of fundraising, setting up a crowdfunding space and recruiting corporate sponsors. “It’s like my personal Sistine chapel,” he said.
“It’s a big surprise,” said Fernández Rey of the incredible transformation. “But it is a really beautiful place to spend some time.”