Bringing history back to life in the Citadel of Melilla la Vieja

The historic citadel that dominates the skyline in the Spanish exclave of Melilla on the north coast of Africa has been restored to its former glory as part of series of EU-supported projects.

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The refurbished Plaza de Armas and Torre de la Vela in Melilla. The refurbished Plaza de Armas and Torre de la Vela in Melilla.

The restoration of Melilla’s imposing citadel has been a long-term project that has been on-going since 1989. Because of the extent of the renovation work that needed to be carried out in the citadel, the programme was broken down into a number of smaller projects, the most recent of which were undertaken between 2007 and 2013.

Boosting tourism

These recent projects saw the renovation of four buildings in the citadel: the Foso del Hornabeque and three former warehouses called Peñuelas. One of these warehouses has been converted into an ethnographic, historical and archaeological museum. Another has been turned into a museum about the region’s Sephardic and Berber cultures and the third warehouse has been turned into a museum of modern and contemporary art.

Work on the Foso de Hornabeque saw the restoration of the building’s walls and pavements to their original eighteenth century condition. Some of the original paving has been restored and the whole site has been made accessible for persons with disabilities.

In addition, the project led to the discovery – and subsequent restoration – of an eighteenth century chapel inside the Torre de la Vela building. Nearly four kilometres of fortification tunnels, built in the eighteenth century to improve communications between the citadel’s outer forts, are also being restored and will be opened to the public for sightseeing.

Creating jobs

The projects created employment equivalent to 41 full-time jobs for a year during the construction work and five permanent jobs have subsequently been created.

Taken together, the projects have helped to boost Melilla’s tourist offering and have created substantial areas of new public space. The restoration of facades and the installation of heating and cooling systems in the buildings have contributed to responsible consumption and energy efficiency.

"The different works carried out have fully rehabilitated buildings such as the Torre de la Vela, adapting it to a museum of modern and contemporary art, visited by many people from the day it opened. The project also saw the full rehabilitation of the Foso del Hornabeque, retrieving one of the most beautiful places of the historic set.”

- Antonio Jódar, General Manager for Architecture, Autonomous City of Melilla

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Historical centre Melilla la Vieja” between 2007 and 2013 is EUR 2 524 806, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 669 620 from the Operational Programme “Melilla” for the 2007-2013 programming period. The regional contribution was EUR 417 405.

Draft date