2012 World Monuments Watch
North of the Port of Valencia and just three kilometers from that city’s historic center, the lively architecture of the Barrio del Cabanyal-Canyamelar dots the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The coastal settlement, famously depicted by the Dutch painter Anthonie Van Den Wijngaerde in 1563, was once a fishermen’s village with rows of thatched cottages and farmhouses parallel to the sea, multiplying as the coastline was extended with infill from port improvements. A fire in 1875 caused great destruction to the site, after which the urban landscape was rebuilt on the original street grid. The buildings were designed using an eclectic approach, their styles ranging from historicist to modernist and later rationalist designs. The barrio was landmarked in 1993.
Years of municipal neglect and lack of inclusive urban planning have left the district in a vulnerable state. Today, over 500 buildings within the landmarked district are in danger of being demolished to give way to an extension of Blasco Ibáñez Avenue, which is intended to provide direct vehicular access from Valencia’s urban center to the coast and port. The Asociación de Vecinos Cabanyal-Canyamelar and other local organizations are advocating for an open dialogue about the impacts on the barrio. It is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will foster the development of alternative access options, to avoid the displacement of so many families and businesses, and to preserve the neighborhood’s historic environment.
Since the Watch
Thanks to the continuing efforts of the Asociación de Vecinos Cabanyal-Canyamelar, in April 2012 the site was included in the “Lista Roja del Patrimonio” of Hispania Nostra. In July 2012, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional endorsed the 2009 decision by the Ministry of Culture to halt the project, which would have demolished a large section of the neighborhood. The ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2014, and residents anticipate a plan that would allow the rehabilitation of the neighborhood without compromising its historic fabric. The “Cabanyal Living Archive” (Cabanyal Archivo Vivo), a citizens’ initiative, was awarded a 2013 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage Award by Europa Nostra. July 2014
Watch Day 2012
A tour through Barrio del Cabanyal-Canyamelar took place on Watch Day to celebrate the built heritage of the area and to gather local advocates. In addition to residents and members of neighborhood associations, leaders from various international organizations participated in the walk.