I am not a big fan of Spanish movies, sorry for that, but when I saw El Orfanato (The Orphanage) I was completely blown away. And it became more curious when I found out, that the mansion used for this picture, was located in Llanes. A city where I was going to move to some weeks later. A personal connection with the mansion started, which became stronger over time.
a large history!
The mansion, tourist know as El Orfanato, is officialy called El Palacio de Partarríu (Villa Parres). Partarríu can be translated from Asturian as “ends at the river” and it did get this name for the reason that the large estate ends at the banks of the river Carrocedo. The house itself was designed by the architect Valentín Ramón Lavín Casalís from Santander, being one of his first projects. It brought him fame and as such opened the door for more projects for the rich of the area. Such as a school at La Arquera, at the entrance of Llanes, and La Quinta Guadalupe for Íñigo Noriega, now the indianos museum and archive. As La Quinta Guadalupe, also El Palacio de Partarríu is cataloged as a Casa Indiano.
The history of the indianos starts at the end of the 19th century beginning 20th century, when lots of Asturians fled the poverty of Asturias and searched their luck in the Latin America countries. A few of these Indianos came back very rich a few years later and constructed for themselves rich houses, as well as public infrastructure. The rich architecture they brought into the region is called indiano.
Yet, Don José Parres Piñera who ordered to build the house, does not have an Indiano background, he never left his country. He made career in national politics, with an important position in the ministry of justice and marine, and as governor of Burgos among many other positions. However the architectural features of the house makes it an example of indiano architecture. Beside the typical palm tree you can find with many of these houses, there are the big windows and the tower that presides over the main façade. Story goes that towards the end of the construction, the family asked to make the tower larger, so that it become higher than the one of a nearby casa indiano.
Tragedy struck twice
El Palacio Partarríu is situated on a big piece of land at the entrance of Llanes, and the construction of this magnificent building finished in 1898. Unfortunately Don José Parres Piñera never lived in the house, as he died 10 years earlier on the 9th of november 1889. None the less the property has stayed in the family until today. During the civil war the building was seized to house a hospital. I believe somewhere in the eighties after a tragedy in the family, one of the brothers of the current owners died as a young boy in a bike accident, the family did not spend their summers in the house.
El Orfanato, the movie.
Since that moment the house is empty and would stay anonymous untill the exterior of the house served as the set for the psychological thriller movie El Orfanato in 2007, by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible). El orfanato is a movie about a young family who adopt a boy with Aids and who disappears at a welcoming party. The search becomes dramatic for the woman and slowly she starts to learn the dramatic history of the house which was once an orphanage in the past. The movie was so successful that it turned the mansion in a tourist attraction, every visitor to Llanes like to visit.
I see ghosts ?
So, did I. On my way to a tourist guide course I always passed the house and always I wished to see it from the inside. My wishes became true a few months later. And it was during this visit that at one moment I was alone in a room and felt the urgent need to pick up something and see what it was. The object was a photo negative on glass, which pictures a funeral with the priest in the middle rich dressed woman and people in poor clothing, with in front of them the open grave. It brought some shivering upon me, because why from all the objects, I felt the need to pick that up. A closer connection with the house was born.
It was not my last visit to the house, I had the possibility to visit the house many more times later on and each time it gave away more of its mysteries.
Llaniscu de Corazón
Useful information …
The property and house is private property and not open to the public.
GPS … +43.414334 | -4.753280