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Spain: 'Scrap Cathedral' creator dies


Justo Gallego, a former monk who spent the last sixty years of his life building a cathedral from scraps and abandoned material has died at 96, but left his unfinished project to a charity that says it will complete his work.

The project began in 1961 after tuberculosis forced him to leave the Trappist order. The cathedral he built with his own labor and bricks, wood and more scavenged from building sites stands on land belonging to his family in Mejorada del Campo, near Madrid.

As his project, which now has a crypt, two cloisters, twelve towers and no roof on the main dome, became well-known, he also received donations that helped move the work along. It will now continue under a group called "Messengers of Peace.

Known as 'The Cathedral of Justo,' it has columns made of stacked oil drums and windows assembled from shards of colored glass. Despite the makeshift nature of his work, an engineer hired by the charity says that only some 'small surgical interventions' are needed. The building, of course, has no permit.

In one way, the building is far ahead of its time; the engineer pointed out that “Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it.” The site was visited by British 'starchitect' Sir Norman Foster in 2009 when he was in Spain to receive an award; he reportedly told Gallego that he, and not Foster, should have been honored.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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