In 1912, when Asturian architect Manuel del Busto designed Church of Santa Barbera, in the Spanish town of Llanera, the skateboard hadn’t yet been invented. So even in his wildest dreams, the architect likely never imagined this place of worship would one day be filled with half-pipes instead of pews, kickflipping skaters instead of a devout congregation, and rainbow-colored murals instead of Jesus paintings.
But that’s become the unlikely fate of this long-abandoned church, which fell into disrepair after the Spanish civil war. Now, after decades of neglect, the Romanesque revival structure has been transformed into a street art skatepark. Called the Kaos Temple, its walls and vaulted ceilings are painted in kaleidoscoping rainbow patterns by Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel.
“I fell in love immediately,” San Miguel says in a video interview of his discovery of the Church Brigade, a local skate crew who had posted videos online of their occupation of the abandoned church. San Miguel proposed a mural project and set up a crowdfunding site for the Kaos Temple. It was picked up by Red Bull Studios and fully funded, and finished murals were unveiled this month.
Massive skulls and monkey faces in colorful patterns peer down from vaulted ceilings; painted constellations form silhouettes of doves; and rainbows curve over the large arching windows that fill the space with sunlight. “It’s like my personal Sistine chapel,” San Miguel says.