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Vélez-Málaga's 10th century fortress. E. Cabezas
Costa del Sol town stands to lose three million euros of European money for heritage project
Historcal monument

Costa del Sol town stands to lose three million euros of European money for heritage project

Vélez-Málaga town hall has not submitted the documentation requested by Spain's ministry of industry and tourism to restore its 10th century fortress, although it has until 8 May to appeal against the decision

Eugenio Cabezas

Vélez-Málaga

Wednesday, 1 May 2024, 13:11

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The 10th century Fortaleza (fortress) is one of the most important historical monuments in Vélez-Málaga, on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol. By the 1970s it was little more than an abandoned ruin, having been used as a quarry for centuries, to the point that the remains of the keep were popularly known as 'El Deo', (the finger) as only one side area remained standing. Although work to restore the building started in the 1970s and the work has continued in subsequent decades it is by no means complete.

In March 2023 the town hall applied for three million euros from the European Next Generation funds for a project it called 'La Madina de Balich', which proposed the execution of a series of improvement works, archaeological excavations, wall extension and adaptation of the fortress.

The same project included plans for the 15th century San Sebastián chapel, which was built in honour of the soldier who saved the life of the Catholic king Fernando in 1487. Archaeological excavations for a comprehensive rehabilitation would allow its conversion into a visitors centre for the town’s historic La Villa area.

However, Spain’s ministry of industry and tourism, to which the application was addressed, has written to the town hall “to consider the application withdrawn”.

The reason? “Failure to respond to the request to rectify defects in the application by not submitting all the required documentation within the deadline”. However, the letter signed by the secretary of state for tourism, Rosa Ana Morillo Rodríguez, and to which SUR has had access, explains that the local administration has until 8 May to lodge an appeal for reconsideration against this provisional decision.

This newspaper has tried, so far without success, to obtain a comment from the town hall and to find out if the appeal will be lodged to try to avoid losing the European money.

The opposition socialist PSOE party’s deputy municipal spokesperson, Charo Gómez, considered that the government team “is showing their inability to continue with those that were left open” by her party when it was in power in Vélez-Málaga town hall until June 2023.

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