Basque pelota is an ancient sport. The rules are simple, but mastering the game is no easy task. During matches, the ball and players share the limelight on the fronton court.
. Rubber and leather smash against this fronton wall time and time again before bouncing back into the game, awaiting a blow sending them back against the wall.
But frontons can have many more uses than just being hit by a ball. At least, that’s what the history of the Beti Jai fronton court tells us. This historic building is tucked away in the streets of Madrid. It was rescued from oblivion through renovations by Ferrovial.
Construction on the Beti Jai began in 1893, and it was used as a pelota court until 1918. Its court saw the best players in the city. But even back then, Leonardo López Quevedo, an engineer obsessed with airships, used the court for aeronautical tests.
Later, little by little, the building fell into disuse. The Spanish Civil War saw it used as a police station. It would later be a rehearsal space for bands, a repair shop for automobiles, a prison, and a workshop for plaster and cardboard items.
By the end of the twentieth century, it was in a state of disrepair, yet its structures and the balcony platforms still intimated the grandeur of another time. Finally, in 2016, came the time for its renovation. The first step was to reinforce the structure and remove the parts where collapse was imminent. Afterward, the outer facade was restored, with its original composition, aesthetics, and finish kept intact. The existing remains were recovered, including coats of arms, protective coverings, pilasters, and the banister.