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Picasso. 'Guernica' Modernism and Avant-garde movements The turn of the century brought new winds of modernity. The aesthetic sensibility of the time was marked by a different, freer attitude towards art and life.

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Modernist route in Melilla

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  • Casa de los Cristales house © Turespaña

    Casa de los Cristales house © Turespaña

  • Modernist building © Turespaña

    Modernist building © Turespaña

  

The cosmopolitan revolution in Melilla

Melilla is the second city in Spain with the most Art-deco and Modernist buildings, after Barcelona. The architect Enrique Nieto developed this trend in the city at the beginning of the 20th century. This route will take us to the most relevant modernist buildings and monuments in the city.
 

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The route will take us to the area known as the "Golden Triangle", because of the large amount of Modernist façades we can find there. It is the Ensanche area, the urban space that was developed outside the old walls of the Citadel and that mainly includes the Ejército Español and López Moreno streets, from Plaza de España and its environs. In general, all the examples of Modernism in Melilla are close by and we'll be able to walk from one to the other.


We'll start this "architectural walk" by following the trail of the greatest representative of Modernism in the city, Enrique Nieto y Nieto, from Barcelona.
He had had experience working on the Casa Milà house in Barcelona, together with his teacher Antoni Gaudí, and arrived in Melilla in 1909. He started to draft important projects for Modernist buildings right away. He was a very prolific creator. In 1931 he became a municipal architect, which made him one of the main people in charge of the urban layout of the city. More than 1,500 construction projects in Melilla were signed by him.


Some of his first works were the "El Telegrama del Rif" newspaper building (1912), with an oval window on its corner, which was very daring at the time; the Chamber of Commerce (1913); the Casa Tortosa house (1914) or old "Economato Familiar"; the Casa Melul house (1915) and the "La Reconquista" building (1915). They all have typical floral elements on their façades. Another building is the historicist Casa de los Cristales house (1917) (Neo-Arabic).
From the 1920s onwards, Nieto leaned towards a mixture of styles within an ornamental line: Classicism, Baroque and Art-deco. We have to highlight the El Acueducto building (1928) and especially one he designed when he was a municipal architect, the La Asamblea Palace (1933-1948), the Town Hall building, with an imposing façade, framed by two Arabic towers.


The Catalan architect also took part in the inter-religious art in Melilla, designing several buildings for Christians, Jews and Muslims. Thus, he integrated Modernism into the Yamín Benarroch Synagogue (1924) and the Central Mosque (1945), and he restored the Neo-Romantic Church of El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús.


Melilla has Modernist constructions by many other designers. For example, the architects Francisco Hernanz, Enrique Álvarez, Tomás Moreno Lázaro, Manuel Becerra Fernández, Droctoveo Castañón, José Joaquín González Edo, Mauricio Jalvo Millán, Eusebio Redondo Ballester, José Antón Pacheco-García and Francisco Carcaño Mas.


To finish this route we have to highlight the military engineer from Pamplona,Emilio Alzugaray Goicoechea. He stood out because he was in charge of building the place where King Alfonso XII was to stay when he visited in 1911. From a more Classicist style - Casa de las Fieras house (1914) and the Military Casino (1921) - he moved on to full-fledged Modernism in several private buildings.

 

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