|Palacio de Asamblea|
|Ceiling in the Palacio de Asamblea|
|Door of the Casa de David Melul designed by Enrique Nieto i Nieto|
I have wanted to come to Melilla for some time, as it is a jewel box of eccentric architecture. There is a medieval fortress built up on a rock promontory over the Mediterranean, and the Ensanche, which prospered at the turn of the 20th Century as the main sea port between Tetouan, Morocco and Algeria. The new city has the largest collection of Modernisme buildings outside of Barcelona and Valencia, as well as a number of other styles including Art Deco.
|Model of the Melilla la Vieja|
The old city, Melilla la Vieja, is comprised of a spectacular fortress complex built on a rocky promontory over a long period after the Spanish conquest of the region in 1496. The fortress was added to over time to create a multi layered impregnable conglomeration of high walls and stone buildings. These are accessed by tunnels and spanned by draw bridges over a wide moat connected to the sea.
|Gate with a drawbridge leading in to Melilla la Vieja|
|Live music on a Sunday afternoon|
|Melilla la Vieja from the port|
|Melilla la Vieja at dusk|
Under the encouragement of King Alfonso XIII, Melilla expanded beyond the old city after the turn of the 20th Century. The King made three separate visits to motivate the design and manifestation of a new district called the Ensanche. The Rio de Oro was realigned to make the expansion possible and streets were laid out in the fashion of the time.
|All original architecture on Avenida Juan Carlos I Rey|
|A bronze statue of Enrique Nieto by Mustafa Arruf|
He also designed a number of Neo Arabic buildings with keyhole arches and tessalate geometric patterning on the facades. Later on the Art Deco style came in to vogue and his deco buildings tend to have an aerodynamic look to them. They also have a different color palette, frequently using more sombre grey and tan tones. He worked right up until 4 years before his death in 1953. He was responsible for the design of several buildings for the Catholic Church, Melilla's Or Zaruah Synagogue, and the Grand Mosque.
|Beautiful drawing for the Junta Municipal y Juzgados building|
|A handsome home overlooking Parque Hernandez|
So everywhere you look in this confectionary town you see these wedding cake like buildings smothered in floral and geometric ornamentation, or with the busts of women with ribbon plaited hair. The buildings pale in comparison to the fantastic brilliance of Gaudi's work, but the fanciful exuberance of Modernisme and other styles makes Melilla visually a very fun city. The area called the Golden Triangle is packed with Nieto's work and other architects like Francisco Hernanz, and Emilio Alzugaray. This area prospered during the first half of the 20th Century, with the construction of wide streets and boulevards. The grand Parque Hernandez and round Plaza de Espan~a were designed by Jose de la Granada in 1913.
|Wavy Tile Walkway in Parque Hernandez (it is flat, although it has the illusion of undulation)|
|Plaza de Espan~a|
|Two Lions on a door|
|Enrique Nieto designed the Sinagoga Or Zaruah in the Neo Arabic style|
|Plastic on the beach|
|Cheap Red Wine with lunch|
|Red Wine colored windows|
|Art Deco detail on the Teatro Cinema Monumental by architect Lorenzo Ros|
What is most remarkable about Melilla's historic architecture is that there is so much of it that still exists. There is an enormous body of work by Enrique Nieto and other architects that is preserved in relatively good condition, but few of the buildings have been restored to the point of looking like parodies of what they once were. Rather they are just nice old buildings, showing some wear and tear, but not falling apart at the seams. There is great charm in the peeling paint and chipped moldings. I even like the funky electrical wires wrapped around the decorative brackets as part of some low budget upgrades. It is real, and it is wonderful that they haven't been torn down and replaced with sad modern structures like you see in so much of the rest of the World. Spain and the city of Melilla values it's architectural heritage and it shows. The part of the cities buildings that has suffered the most are the street level facades, which have been greatly altered in many cases to make them more functional for commercial use. Roller security doors and plate glass windows have replaced what must have been elegant doors and windows.
|A Cake Shop Block|
|Casa de Tortosa by Enrique Nieto|
|A building with Sgraffito style ornamentation|
This is in sharp contrast to the most opulent buildings in town, which rival Rococco and Queen Anne Victorian buildings in their extreme ornamentation.
|Edificio La Reconquista|
|Laundry on fancy balconies|
|Two Griffins over a door|
|Filling water jugs at a public fountain|
|Stenciled frames on tall windows|
|The busts of women are a popular motif on Enrique Nieto's Modernisme buildings.|
|Casino Militar by Enrique Nieto on the Plaza Espan~a, built in the classical style demanded by the military|
|Casino Militar at sunset. There must be a gymnasium inside.|
|Stairwell in the Casino Militar which has Neo Arabic decor|
|An eclectic array of buildings, one with a facade decorated in tile|
|Curvaceous windows are a popular element of Modernisme buildings|
|Interesting windows with a reflected detail at each end|
|Neo Gothic Colegio-Capilla del Buen Consejo by Francisco Carcan~o Mas|
|I love this one for its wave pattern at the top|
|The Plaza de Toros|
|A monument to the Republican forces by Enrique Nieto|
Melilla tends to fall to the right when it comes to politics. The city sided with Republican forces, and General Franco used it as one of his launching points for his military campaign at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The only statue of Franco remaining in Spain is supposedly here, although I haven't found it yet. It may have finally been replaced by a modern work that looks like squeezed out toothpaste. But there may be a little old fashioned facism still around in the mindset of some Melillans. It might be one of the reasons that Melilla's architecture is so well preserved, as many cities in Spain were heavily bombed by Franco's forces for opposing him during the war.
|Plaque in the Museo Militar|
|Border crossing between Morocco and Melilla|
|Looking down the coast of Morocco from Melilla|