Cash for the castle
Expansive restoration project announced for Guardamar del Segura
€1 million to research, restore and showcase castle and walls
By Alex Watkins A MILLION euros is to be invested to research, restore and showcase the castle and town walls of Guardamar del Segura, announced councillor for heritage Pilar Gay.
The project is due to take 18 months and will be funded by the town hall and European Union FEDER funds via the regional government.
Sra Gay explained that the idea is to make it an attraction for visitors and residents to find out about what used to be the site of the town until it was destroyed by the earthquake in 1829 and abandoned, after which Guardamar was built in its current location on the flat ground at the foot of the hill.
“The aim is to change the image of the castle and give it life,” she said, noting that it is already the most visited archaeological site in the municipality, thanks to its easy accessibility and exceptional views.
The project will also include creating an area for services and an interpretation centre which will be designed based on the results of the excavations and remaining historical documentation.
Urgent repairs will be carried out on various parts of the castle in order to guarantee its conservation and stability. The excavations will be across an area of 2,237 square metres in order to reveal elements that are not currently visible and provide the information required to carry out the restoration work correctly.
The project includes 3D modelling of all the historical elements in the area to create a complete and precise plan of the different constructions, as well as vertical and oblique aerial photographs to complete the study.
The walled town of Guardamar was strategically situated on a hill that provided a natural defence against attacks and flooding, enabled contact between the coast and inland, and established visual dominance over the surrounding territory.
Various archaeological studies carried out since 1982 date its occupation back to the Phoenician era (mid-8th century BC), but it became more important in the Iberian period (7th-5th century BC) with a religious sanctuary.
Moorish remains have also been discovered and a Christian fortification was established in the late medieval period.
La Fonteta project begins Work is also beginning now on a €700,000 project to research, consolidate and showcase the Phoenician and Moorish sites at La Fonteta.
The contract for the 12month project was signed last week by Guardamar town hall, the regional culture department and the concessionary company, Lorquimar SL.
The walled Phoenician town is considered the best preserved in the Western Mediterranean while the Moorish ribat, a religious complex, is the largest found so far on the Iberian Peninsula, explained Sra Gay.
The work on the Phoenician ruins will consist of cutting back vegetation and trees growing over them; as well as cleaning, grouting, partially repairing and reconstructing the walls with a sacrificial layer (which can be removed) that is separate to show which parts are new.
Adjacent areas will also be consolidated and a wooden viewing platform installed that connects to properly signposted paths with information panels for visitors.
The same work will be carried out on the walls at the ribat, and the newly excavated remains will put on display as well.
“This represents a turning point for the promotion of tourism thanks to the legacy left to us by the different cultures who occupied Guardamar,” said Sra Gay.
Mayor José Luis Sáez noted that visiting historic places has recently become the third most popular reason for going on holiday.
Pilar Gay (left) at the castle site