Centuries of history revealed here as discoveries continue..
As I approach the narrow streets of old town Inca on this summer day, I know I am about to discover a world I have been eager to encounter.
I am visiting Noelle and Robert this morning and my excitement rises with every step I take towards Can Monroig.
What is about to be revealed inside behind the huge wooden door, is a space that has stayed in my memory forever.
My curiosity continues to grow in unexpected ways as I make more discoveries in this home that itself honors history in the most powerful way.
The hosts' creative spirit escapes the thick walls of their headquarters based here in the middle of Inca, Mallorca. Can Monroig, both their old house and center of operations, is believed to have been a Jewish Synagogue in the XIVth century.
But this was all unknown until they poured their energies into the restoration of the house some years back. This ongoing search for truth and history in this space intersects with many of their passions, and along the way they are connecting with interesting people from different backgrounds - historians, archeologists...so the list goes on. Something new is always being unveiled in Can Monroig.
Noelle is French and a multidisciplinary artist who weaves, paints and sculpts, and Robert, half British, is well versed in architecture, sustainable restoration and original building methodologies. Together they form a charismatic couple who finish each other’s sentences. Their story and artistic careers are intertwined with rich life and travel experiences here and abroad, adding more depth and significance to their ongoing search for knowledge.
Can Monroig's austere façade does not do justice to its majestic interior. This is however a typical trait of Mallorcan posessió.
I enter through the arched doorway and what is revealed inside is huge. The main space is double height and connects to the adjacent rooms through large stone arches, some are medieval, byzantine and even gothic. There are nooks and deep-dug hidden holes that reveal washing basins, ovens, and other amazing antique curiosities. Noelle and Robert are trying to put the pieces together of this history puzzle surrounding this former synagogue.
Then there is the patio used for concerts and events, which is charming beyond words. The textures here fascinate me, and Noelle and Robert explain the meaning of the deep blue theme and interpretation of tones used centuries ago. The kitchen is heaven and the long dining table so inviting. There are little bits of greatness everywhere I look. Downstairs, there’s a fascinating domed room where it feels like you're stepping in a dream. It's painted deep blue and has acoustical properties perfect for music performances.
There are antique beds with turned wood posts, Noelle’s art made from old dolls, and living rooms with gorgeous newer pieces, filled to the brim with interesting books and artifacts.
There are Noelle’s chairs, reconditioned from existing furniture, with layers of fabric, making them more like sculptures or pieces of art.bMeanwhile, the fabrics she weaves that are like paintings, full of texture and earthy tones, as they hang around doorways and walls.
I walk into a studio, full of architectural plans, and I am just fascinated with what they achieve in their work using traditional methodologies for their renovations, all allowing the structures they restore to breathe and blend in naturally with their environment. Noelle and Robert, for example, won't use concrete but will always - where possible - use original materials, by deploying crafts they have learned throughout the years of being furniture restorers.
Among their various projects, they curate a series of cultural events right here in their home in Can Monroig. On the side, they work in sustainable restoration projects for clients throughout Mallorca, while also scouting soulful houses which they would love to restore, and continuing to deepen their knowledge of everything they do.
I feel truly grateful to be allowed access to this property, and as I embrace the magnificence of the walls and stone textures inside, am transported to those worlds that existed here centuries ago, particularly in a country that has done so little to keep certain parts of its history alive.
We talk about Noelle's and Robert's future potential, as well as their creative paths up to this point, and it fills me with joy to have connected with these Mallorcan people who have such rewarding careers.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS BY
CARMEN RUIZ DE HUIDOBRO
LINKS: CAN MONROIG