It seems as though the city government has plans to extend a huge boulevard through the historic Valencian neighborhood of Gran Via. Over 400 buildings will be torn out of the ground and the area left unrecognizable.
Oh… wait a second. Gran Via is the home of Valencia’s wealthy elite, and the destruction of their neighborhood to improve transit would be absolutely unthinkable. I must have my facts wrong… let’s see…
Ah yes, here it is. It’s the historic neighborhood of Cabanyal which is to be gutted for the extension of Boulevard Blasco Ibáñez. The Ayuntamiento is planning to rip up hundreds of apartments, in order to speed access to the sea. Yes, yes, all in the name of progress. Only poor people actually live in Cabanyal, so who cares?
Turns out a lot of people do. Cabanyal is one of Europe’s most unique and important seaside neighborhoods. The battle over its future has been going on for about a decade. Recently, further development has been blocked by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, which recognized Cabanyal as a site of cultural heritage.
As you can guess from the tone of my writing, I’m opposed to the extension of Blasco Ibáñez. In the past, it’s been suggested that I “keep my mouth shut” on political matters, since I’m a foreigner. But tough. Especially because I’m a visitor, I’m well aware that the historic district of Cabanyal is one of the city’s top highlights. The government doesn’t seem to recognize the treasure right under its nose. They should be restoring the neighborhood, not destroying it.