Since 1961 Justo Gallego had had just one aim and that is to build a cathedral in Mejorada del Campo in the Community of Madrid, Spain. Opinions are still divided regarding Justo – is he devout or simply a madman? He has no permit to erect the building and there are no architectural plans. He is building the cathedral private land that came to him in an inheritance.

His story begins in 1925 for that’s when Justo was born. He is still able to remember the Spanish Civil War and as a young man he entered a Trappist monastery, devoting his life to worship. However he contracted tuberculosis and had to leave the monastery for fear  of infecting the other monks.

During his illness he had prayed to Our Lady of the Pillar (Nuestra Señora del Pilar), the Virgin Mary in traditional Spanish lore. During his prayers he vowed that if he recovered he would build a shrine in her honour. Shortly after leaving the monastery he started building his cathedral dedicated to Our Lady.

Being a law-abiding man, he applied to the authorities for a building permit but, as can be expected, the authorities didn’t think he was serious and so a permit was never issued. In addition Justo had no construction experience at all. No professionals have worked on the building at all, but Justo has had some help from six of his nephews and a local helper.

Justo starts work at 6 am and his working day tends to last for ten hours. That’s six days a week – being a devout man he attends church on Sundays.

He has financed the building of the cathedral himself and has recycled goods and used used and waste materials. Some of his building materials have been donated by well wishers.

Today, the cathedral remains unfinished but nevertheless has become a popular tourist attraction that is well worth visiting when you’re next in Spain.

Main image: Credit Rodolfo Contreras.

Read more and see photographs on the BBC website.

How to find Mejorada del Campo

Mejorada del Campo

Mejorada del Campo,




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.

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