The castles are gigantic stone fortifications whose ramparts and loopholes take us back to the past. However, these fortresses, in most cases, do not maintain their original aspects, but over the centuries they undergo enormous architectural modifications to adjust to the needs of the moment. It is not the same to serve as a border fortress than to become the comfortable residence of the feudal lord.

The Montseny Ethnological Museum (Arbucles, Girona) has managed to combine the latest computer graphics technology and archaeological studies to rescue the three fortresses, in the style of the famous Russian matryoshkas, that encloses the castle of Montsoriu. More than 400 years of history that experts have recovered and will soon convert into virtual and augmented reality.

The impressive fortification – it is considered among the most beautiful in Catalonia – rises between the limits of the municipal areas of Arbucies and Sant Feliu de Buixalleu and on a hill 649 meters high. Its strategic location served to visually dominate an area that spans from the Mediterranean coast to the prelittoral depression of the Montseny and Les Guilleries massifs, in the provinces of Girona and Barcelona.

Although the first remains of the stone giant are dated to the second half of the 10th century, the first reference to it corresponds to the year 1002. But hardly anything remains standing of those stones, beyond the current keep, remains of the Pre-Romanesque chapel, the perimeter of the walls, a cistern and the traces of some walls and paraments.

Around the year 1200 it was expanded with the construction of a second walled enclosure or parade ground, the tower of Les Bruixes and an outer fortified enclosure, which included a tower and a moat. A set of defenses that made up an impregnable perimeter of 650 meters and that the chronicler Bernat Desclot described in 1285 as “one of the most beautiful and noble in the world”.

Its last great transformation took place between 1347 and 1348, when important architectural reforms were carried out that turned Montsoriu into a mixture between a great Gothic castle and a palace, seat of the powerful Viscounts of Cabrera. The promoter of the works was Bernat II (1298-1364), great admiral and advisor to King Peter the Ceremonious. The third enclosure was built at this time, giving the complex its current appearance with four lines of almost concentric walls. It became one of the most powerful in the western Mediterranean and was able to resist a siege of almost two years.

To create the 3D working model, museum archaeologists and 3D Stoa specialists led by Digivision have applied photogrammetry techniques and digitally stitched together thousands of photographs of the actual fortress. With this, a digital model was obtained that allowed drawing thousands of lines and points to complete the parts that do not survive. Thus, it was possible to recover the appearance of the fortress from the year 1000, the late-Romanesque and the great Gothic castle-palace.

The works have also included the recovery of the interior, such as the kitchen, the parade ground or the chapel. “Analyzing the archaeological data, with research work and comparing pictorial testimonies and architectural and furniture elements, the details that we present now are finished and that allow a real approach to this great medieval monument, as if it were a movie set” , they affirm from the museum.

The recently inaugurated Espacio Cabrera interpretation center, a 600-square-meter building located in Arbucies and integrated into the structure of the Montseny Ethnological Museum, which has exhibition rooms, research workshops and a multipurpose projection room, allows learn about the history and evolution of this fantastic fortification. “It is one of the great castles in Europe, in few places like Montsoriu can you understand the evolution and spirit of these fortresses, dominating a spectacular territory, with its rooms for nobles, bedrooms, kitchens, cellars, cisterns, silos, chapels and fortified terraces. Everything that made it impregnable ”, they add from the museum.

In addition, the space visitor can travel in time thanks to historical reconstructions with actors, virtual models, digital images and the Los Cabrera film production. The power of a great saga, focused on three areas: the architectural evolution of the castle, the territorial area of ​​the Viscounty of Cabrera and the history of this powerful family. This project represents “a first step for the development of virtual reality and augmented reality points, the enhancement of the Montsoriu castle in the metaverse, the development of virtual reality experiences in the museum or in the castle itself, which bring people closer to all audiences to this exciting story”, according to the Girona museum.

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