Silo de Córdoba, the City’s Forgotten Monument

The silo’s marvelous main façade

photography by: Omri Westmark

Erected in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War as a countermeasure against any future famine, the Silo of Córdoba is far more than merely a grain storage facility. Featuring a medley of lavish ornaments, the massive silo is surprisingly still one of Córdoba's tallest buildings. Despite its gargantuan size and historical merit, the monumental edifice remains well off the beaten path as tourists rarely frequent this part of town.

In the late 1930’s, Spain was embroiled in a bloody civil war that claimed the lives of over half a million people. Besides the colossal death toll, the country also suffered from a large-scale famine. Amid the growing food insecurity, the then authoritarian regime led by Francisco Franco commissioned the construction of a series of grain storage facilities across the country.

 

Inaugurated in 1951 following 8 years of works, Silo de Córdoba was one of post-war Spain’s largest food storehouses, with a whopping capacity of 15,000 tons. At its heyday, 4,000 workers took part in the daily operations of the silo, including sorting, cleaning, disinfecting and loading the various grains. The shipments of cereals were carried out by either trucks or trains, as the building sits right next to the city’s main railway tracks, one of which used to branch off to the north and link the complex with the railroad network.

 

In stark contrast to its purely utilitarian function, the silo is awash with quaint ornaments. Designed by Carlos Ynzenga and Ignacio Fiter Clavé, an agricultural engineer and architect respectively, the edifice incorporates both Neo-Mudéjar and Rationalist styles. This seemingly impossible synergy between multi-ornamental architecture and utter functionality results in an eye-catching monument that vastly differs from its modern-day counterparts.

 

Up until the recent completion of Torre del Agua (a residential tower on the outskirts of town), the 48-meter-tall silo was Córdoba’s second tallest building, surpassed only by the famous Mosque–Cathedral. The silo’s storage cells, which span across the 7 floors of the building’s main part, account for roughly three quarters of the height, while the interconnected tower at the eastern façade is 5 stories taller than the rest of the structure. The beautifully decorated tower is crowned by two turrets, each of which features a large Star of David, a reference to the city’s rich Jewish heritage.

 

After fifty years where the silo served as the city’s largest food warehouse, it was ceded to the regional government of Andalusia which spared the building from a probable demolition. As of today, the edifice has replaced the cereals with archeological artifacts, being the main repository of the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Córdoba for the last couple of years.

 

While its days of glory are long gone, Silo de Córdoba still retains much of its original charm and beauty. The silo is part of a fenced complex which is also home to a couple of smaller buildings as well as an orange orchard. Take note that uninvited visitors are treated as trespassers, albeit no watchmen guard the wide-open entrance so it is up for you if you wish to take the risk or not.

The massive edifice looming over the city’s railway tracks

photography by: Omri Westmark


The derelict monument as seen from a nearby parking lot

photography by: Omri Westmark


The complex’s entrance is unguarded

photography by: Omri Westmark


The building’s northern façade

photography by: Omri Westmark


A cornice on the northern façade was designed to protect workers and cargo from inclement weather conditions

photography by: Omri Westmark


The massive edifice sits alongside a charming orange orchard

photography by: Omri Westmark


The building’s eastern façade, featuring a 12-story tower

photography by: Omri Westmark


The tower is topped by a pair of ornate turrets

photography by: Omri Westmark


The hexagram ornaments, probably inspired by the city’s Jewish history

photography by: Omri Westmark


The building’s southern façade, facing the railway tracks

photography by: Omri Westmark


Ducts, from where grains were once discharged into hoppers

photography by: Omri Westmark


An extension on the main building’s west side that was added a few years after the building was already completed

photography by: Omri Westmark