Monday, August 8

A 19th century palace in Almería awaits an urgent solution to prevent its collapse

The Almanzora Palace is in a dilapidated state after more than 120 years standing and the neglect it suffers. This building, located in the municipality of CAntoria with just over 3,000 inhabitants, and considered the largest representation of the neoclassical in the province of Almería, was built in the 19th century and belonged to the mining businessman Antonio Abellán Pañuelas, Marquis of Almanzora until his death. in 1903. The decline of mining forced his successors to sell it to two families whose property only Ángel Alonso Molina, a relative heir to a third of the building, remains. The other two parts belong to the Cantoria City Council (PSOE) and to Fulgencio López Molina, a well-known businessman in the area.

The property, declared Andalusian Historical Heritage in 2006, has an area of ​​about 5,000 square meters composed of a main pavilion, a left wing where the different rooms used as housing are located and a right wing that houses the chapel, as well as a central patio . The considerable size of the building requires a complete rehabilitation that would be around 6 million euros. A budget that none of the owners can cope with. For this reason, they demand an urgent solution so that it does not disappear.

Waiting for BIC

Since it ceased to be inhabited in 2010, the building has suffered damage that “could be irrecoverable”, according to a study prepared by a group of students and professors of the Higher Technical School of Building Engineering of the University of Granada to whom The vice president of the Association of Friends of the Palacio del Almanzora has been able to gain access. “There is a risk of the cornices collapsing, the windows are smashed and the roofs are down,” confirms Miguel Ángel Alonso, vice president of the association and a relative of one of the property’s owners.

Until 2020, the use of the building was in the hands of the different owners, but last year the cession of its use was signed to the Consistory for the next half century seeking a commitment to restore it. Due to lack of own funds, the Councilor for Infrastructure and Public Works, Ramón López, assures that the City Council cannot take charge of the restoration of the palace: “We cannot rehabilitate it by our own means. The reality of the palace has a very high cost It is six or seven million euros and the City Council cannot assume it. ”

Currently, the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía does not have any line that finances rehabilitation operations in Historical Heritage. Therefore, the only viable solution to curb the state of deterioration of the property is to receive aid for conservation or enrichment works of real estate of the Spanish Historical Heritage within the “1.5% Cultural Program” that every two years offers the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda. However, Miguel Ángel Alonso regrets that the City Council has missed several calls: “In 2018 there was a call that was not presented in time or in good shape because half of the documentation was missing.” According to the association’s spokesman, “to this day, the only truth is that there is a fence of the local police that prohibits the passage because the times of the palace are different from the times of politics.”

One of the possible drawbacks to receiving this aid would be the lack of recognition as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) of the Almanzora Palace. Santos Agüero, professor of Geography and History, linked to the fight for the conservation and rehabilitation of the building, declares that he has asked “many times that it be classified as BIC”. However, the palace was BIC until 2006, when the Junta de Andalucía determined that the “most adequate” protection figure for this property was simply that of “its inscription in the General Catalog of Andalusian Historical Heritage”.

However, sources from the Ministry of Culture assure that it would be possible to re-classify it as BIC, but that “due to the precedents of the property” a new assessment would have to be made, of which the date is unknown.

Future plan of the Almanzora Palace

With a view to a future rehabilitation, the Cantoria City Council, together with the other owners, want to bet on taking full advantage of the space offered by the palace. Currently, the different owners are considering dedicating the place to the exhibition, museum and celebration of public events. While the Councilor for Infrastructure clarifies that the utility of the building “is not very defined right now.”

As a historian, Santos Agüero explains that the palace “could be the cultural backbone of the entire Almanzora” and would serve to understand “how the entire political and social structure of what was the nineteenth century was organized”. An objective that could be met if the aid arrives in time so that this emblematic Almeria property is not lost forever.