Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Out With the Old
Actually, not so much as one would like. While the old ‘Sacred Mountain’ has never been properly excavated, most of the remains from prehistoric times, when uncovered, have been destroyed as fast as possible. The archaeologists, if alerted from Granada University, can take an agonizingly long time to perform a dig and so, my friends, it’s better to brush the dirt back over it with a large bulldozer.
In more modern times, there are equally few remains of the Moorish town which was sacked by the Christian forces in 1488 or, for that matter, of the town that followed. The sixteenth century castle, described as ‘inmutable’ or ‘unknockdownable’ in a 1928 Spanish encyclopaedia, had disappeared entirely by the late nineteen fifties. Other buildings were purposely dismantled by their owners to sell off the doors, rejas, wood beams and so on, before their departure in search of work and a better future during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. Mojácar was a place of ruins by 1960.
As we know, tourism brought it back from the brink: residential tourism to begin with, later followed by what the mayoress unfortunately described enthusiastically on television last month as ‘cheap, cheap, cheap hotels’.
This is a photo from around 1950 taken from somewhere below the Castillo. In the foreground on the right you can see the 'Ermita' and, across the Plaza Nueva, Mojácar's first bar - later to become the Indalo Hotel (and then a bar again...). The large blank white wall in the centre of the picture is the side of the old theatre (entrance opposite the church out of picture on the left). the other large building, centre left, was known as the Casa del Cura.
However, the race to make money often means destroying the old to replace it with a modern tee-shirt shop or perhaps a humourous ashtray emporium. In Mojacar, the old Arco de Luciana was demolished about ten years ago (in actual fact, it was just a tunnel under a bedroom next to La Sartén where generations of customers emptied their bladders). We still use this destruction for political reasons. More importantly, the town’s fountain was ‘remodelled’ back in 1987 to general indignation; the ‘Castillo’ was turned into a bunker around the same time (and several thousand-year-old graves were quickly cemented over); the Plaza Parterre, a dull empty square behind the church, was re-vamped by the last town hall (using every form of architecture known to science in its outing); the Plaza Nueva was systematically knocked down in favour of un-typical architecture over the years since 1968; the beautiful theatre went in around 1975 in exchange for some serious tee-shirteries; and of the six ‘ermitas’ - small churches that were built in the fervent times of the seventeenth century – apart from one which is now incorporated into a private house – the final surviving one is, as I write, falling down in the main square.
The Ermita is in private hands and has no protection on it whatsoever. It will be gone by Christmas, I imagine, and the site will soon be taken by another bar, or a tattoo parlour or a pottery shop.
*The Mojácar town hall said on Wednesday October 31st that the owner has been told to repair the building by Christmas. One waits for events.
The Ermita today, October 31st. The façade has already fallen.
There is little remaining of Mojácar’s origins, beyond the narrow streets and the harsh sunlight. The ‘Moorish Gate’ down below the ‘El Torreón’, built in fact in the seventeen hundreds, also has no protection. It could be knocked down by the owner today if he wanted.
The Palacio de Chamberí on the beach is now remembered as an uneasy frontage to a large box-like hotel, while three arrestingly hideous versions of it languish nearby as apartment blocks. Then there is the grove of trees cut down by our ‘ecologist’ mayor three years ago. Other recent improvements include the giant electric pylons marching across the riverbed and the famous view from the Mojácar mirador. From the same viewpoint we can also observe the smudge of grimy smog from the giant power station in nearby Carboneras that hovers over the sea every afternoon: a cloud that, of course, hovers equally over the town. Then there is the neon, the noddy-homes, the scruffy and unnecessary beach-furnishings and the potholes.
Juan Grima, noting the destruction and the disinterest, said that the town church will be a supermarket in twenty years.
Curiously, as the town is killed, there is no concern: only complacency.
Apparently, the arch is not 'original' (i.e. pre XVI century), but it is the old route into the pueblo.