Saturday, 15 June 2013

Heritage and modernity in Nerja's townscape

This morning I went into the centre of Nerja with the aim of exploring the large and newer district that is bounded by the the rio Chillar. Unlike much of the Costa del Sol, whose skyline is is dominated by tall apartment blocks, much of the development of Nerja has taken the form of Andalucian style smallish family residences, grouped along the hillsides in artificially created villages. There's variety in the way groups of houses are arranged, and designed, so that although overall appearance is similar, nothing is in uniform rows laid out on a grid pattern. Even though such a grid lay-out is found in the older part of town, as in many settlements since Roman times, nowhere is it strictly rectangular, perhaps reflecting the way housing extended first along ancient, not always straight paths. 

The most recently developed part of the town, I wanted to explore reflects acquiscence to more recent demands to optimise valuable space and build upwards. A less than rectangular grid street plan suggests  piecemeal development but all buildings are taller, and there are several sizeable supermarkets built into the ground floor of six storey apartment blocks, with a few ten storey hotels or apartment blocks. This district lacks the visual interest and beauty of the older part of town, but it allows residents to access the nearby beaches and shops easily, is clean and easy to maintain, and I found a health food store where I was able to buy a jar of tahini to make hummous - something I did as soon as I returned.

I spent the heat of the afternoon preparing my Sunday sermon, and then walked out to the village of Maro along a quiet main road - a section of the national Mediterranan highway, the N340 - thankfully nowadays by-passed by the autovia del Mediterraneo. The road, as it rises, has some interesting view points back across Nerja. There's a shallow ravine with up market houses and gardens, where I caught a glimpse of a young couple posing for their nuptial photo-opportunity.
In the valley below the road a hacienda perched on a promontory boasts a tall brick arcaded aqueduct to feed orchards on slopes beneath.  
On the hillside above the road, beyond fields of is the fine brick built shell of a sugar factory dating from 1880, now abandoned, but preserved for its value as industrial architectural heritage. 
The factory also gave birth to its own aqueduct spanning a steep sided ravine, once taking water to market gardens and plantations of supplying sugar cane. |It is carefully preserved, and in a recent renovation, for some bizarre reason, it has been painted, a pale burgundy hue with yellow highlights. 
The municipal left hand obviously doesn't know what the right hand is doing here. All the tourist publicity shows the bridge coloured golden yellow, and not two tone. The original brickwork of factory and viaduct was a pleasant light sandy colour. Is the paint a preservative measure? Or a reflection of rivalries in local politics? Was the public consulted? I wonder how many tourists will go hunting for a golden aqueduct?

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