Museum of the German – Camelle, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Museum of the German

Camelle, Spain

Open air sculptures by an eccentric and loin-clothed hermit. 


When Manfred Gnädinger came to Camelle, Spain, he was clean-shaven and even attended Mass every Sunday. But some time during the early 1960s, everything changed, beginning with his wardrobe and appearance.

The changes began when Gnädinger rented a small plot of land facing the Atlantic Ocean and began constructing a small 7 by 10-foot cabin. Adding to his spread, he also planted a small garden and began a strict vegetarian diet. As his home progressed, so did his evolution, and by the mid-1960s, he was heavily bearded with long hair, and wore only a loincloth in any kind of weather.

He soon became well known in the community and adopted the name “Man,” a shortened version of the name bestowed upon him at his arrival, the Man from Germany. Working to become one with nature, Man swam every day in the ocean and began creating strange sculptures on the beach near his home. Some echoed the work of famous Spanish architects like Gaudi. Others were much more abstract and were made out of driftwood, stone, and even animal remains.

His work steadily progressed, and people started to go out of their way to see the strange man and his unusual beach sculptures, having to pay Man only 1€ to view his work. Sadly, in 2002, an oil tanker called the Prestige spilled its contents and came ashore near Man’s house. Almost overnight, Man found his entire livelihood destroyed. He died only a month later, and many believe his sadness killed him.

In 2010, many of his beach sculptures were destroyed, but there are still some traces of Man and his outdoor museum in Camelle.

Know Before You Go

Once in the region, explore Death's Coast (Costa da Morte), which is beautifully raw.

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November 18, 2011

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