The Siloé Gallery
We have opened THE SILOÉ GALLERY in the heart of the town of Burgos, where we exhibit our varied and seductive collection of facsimiles for all to see. This is a space dedicated to anyone who wants to get to know this wonderful world of facsimiles and, through their visual appeal, delve into the exciting history of books.
You can find us next to the Voynich Museum, at 3, Travesía del Mercado Street, in Burgos.
In this Gallery you will be able to see and leaf through, among many others, all the titles published by SILOÉ distinguished by the Ministry of Culture with its Award for the Best Book Published in Spain in the field of Facsimiles, and which to date number no less than 18. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to see, touch and even smell our replica of the subjugating VOYNICH Manuscript, the most mysterious book of all time. Or you can get to know and delight in the Beati of Liebana, including the oldest of them all, the Beatus Emilianensis, laden with over a thousand years of history.
We cannot fail to mention here, right from the start, the book which was our first edition and for which we feel a special “weakness”, that of the Bestiary of Don Juan de Austria, which, as well as being the only bestiary in Spanish, is also possibly the most illustrated in the world. And if we are talking about Castilian Spanish, we cannot fail to mention the increasingly well-known and highly valued CARTULARIO DE VALPUESTA and its Gothic and Gallican Becerros, which offer us nothing less than the first babbling of our language, the first words to be written in Spanish.
Until the invention of the printing press, culture was practically confined to the monasteries, where the spirit of written culture was guarded and cultivated with special zeal, while copying the most beautiful works of that long and exciting period in the medieval scriptoria. The most valuable codices and manuscripts of the time were perfectly housed in their libraries, thus preserving and transmitting the fundamental nucleus of Western culture. At Siloé – and forgive us for being immodest – we try to take the baton from those medieval copyists and, with our replicas, with these facsimiles, we also try to safeguard and make known the best of that distant and vibrant cultural past.
We will be delighted to show you the heartrending BESTIARIES, which were not only the most widely read books in the Middle Ages after the Bible, but whose texts were also compulsory reading for the schoolchildren of the time. Along with the aforementioned Bestiary of Don Juan de Austria, you can also enjoy the spectacularly decorated Westminster Bestiary, the original of which is to be found in London, in the Abbey of the same name.
And you should not miss the aforementioned BEATOS DE LIEBANA, or simply the Beati, which occupy an essential place in the history of both Spanish and European medieval book illumination. These are superb manuscripts – most of them richly illustrated – which contain the commentaries written in the 8th century by monk Beatus of Liebana on the Apocalypse of Saint John. In this Gallery you can enjoy contemplating three of the most distinguished copies: the Beatus Emilianense or Beatus I, the Beatus of Geneva and the Beatus of the Corsinian Library.
And speaking of books that are not to be overlooked, mention has to be made of our edition of the Codex Calixtinus of Salamanca. The famous CODEX CALIXTINUS is considered one of the great codices of Christianity. And despite its somewhat austere appearance, it contains the delightful “Pilgrim’s Guide” which for many is the first great European travel guide. If you have done, or are thinking of taking the Way of St James or Camino de Santiago, you simply cannot overlook this gem.
As time goes by, especially from the 13th century onwards, culture gradually began to move from monasteries to universities and many kings became patrons of written culture; the subject matter of the codices ceased to be solely religious. They opened up to other fields such as heraldry, social sciences and the humanities. To illustrate these changes, there is nothing better than the splendid facsimile of The Book of the Knights of the Confraternity of Santiago – an extraordinary replica of the oldest equestrian armorial in Europe – or the exceptional Manuscript of Villard de Honnecourt, the only treatise on architecture in the Middle Ages, which, admirably documents the great “mystery of the cathedrals” from back in the remote 13th century.
In the last centuries of the long and fascinating Middle Ages, and although religion and the Church still dominated practically the whole of the lives of the people at the time, other personal and direct ways of communicating with God, of praying to Him, of approaching Him, flourished and developed. And thus the existence of yet another great witness to how culture overcame the walls of the monasteries and invaded the most diverse social spheres emerged. These are the so-called medieval BOOKS OF HOURS, on which there is abundant literature and of which, at SILOÉ, we have already published three beautiful facsimiles that exemplify like few others the most important characteristics and the most brilliant artistic aspects of this large and rich group of manuscripts. We invite the kind visitors of this exhibition to take a close look at the Book of Hours of the Piarists of Saragossa, the incomparable Luis de Laval Book of Hours, or the Book of Hours of Bishop Fonseca, the facsimile of which, incidentally, the President of the Spanish Government gave to Pope Francis on his visit to the Vatican in October 2020.
In the 15th century, there was one invention that radically revolutionised the world of culture, THE PRINTING PRESS. It is the time of the mythical INCUNABULA. Our most representative facsimile of that time is the magnificent Liber Chronicarum, “the incunabulum of all incunabula“, a majestic work that covers the history of the world from its creation until 1492. Impressive in its size and illustrations, it is one of the most vibrant samples of the history of culture, printing and books.
Shortly afterwards, in the 16th and 17th centuries, an unusual interest in travel emerged, undoubtedly encouraged by the great geographical discoveries of the previous century. Such concerns were also expressed in books. The indefatigable travellers who visit us can enjoy the splendid Atlas by Pedro Texeira, an extraordinary replica of the Atlas of the Coasts of Spain and Portugal by the same author. This Atlas, which had gone missing for three long centuries, was rediscovered in a somewhat haphazard way and was disseminated with considerable pomp and circumstance thanks to our luxurious facsimile. You will also discover, to mention just one more of our books, the Maps by Heinrich Bünting, one of the oldest and most famous cartographic rarities.
The 17th century brought with it the golden age of modern literature and the promising rise of scientific thought. These books were well presented, both in their textual aspect and in their graphic apparatus. Certain magnificent engravings stand out, generally etchings, a technique that flourished powerfully in this period to illustrate all kinds of works. One of the most eloquent examples can be found in our edition of the superb HISTORIA NATURALIS by Johannes Jonstonus, a collection of 7 splendid volumes covering all the knowledge of the natural sciences of the time, and which, on the one hand, is considered the last great encyclopaedia of the Renaissance in this field, and on the other, one of the most ambitious projects in the history of SILOÉ.
All of the above are but a few examples of the many things you will find in this cultural haven that we have called THE SILOÉ GALLERY. We look forward to seeing you there with many more facsimiles. And we also have more surprises and secrets, such as La Esgueva de la Moneda, curious archaeological remains from the past of the town of Burgos. Do not miss it, you’ll be delighted, and… we shall be expecting your visit!