Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saving an Architectural Jewel of Moroccan Heritage

The Cervantes Theatre in Tangier, built by the Spanish couple Manuel Pena and Esperanza Orellana opened December 11, 1913. It was acquired by the Spanish government in 1928. The Cervantes Theatre was described by he coordinator of Cervantes centres in Morocco, Javier Galvan Guijo, as one of the  "architectural jewels" of Moroccan heritage. Now, after years of indecision, Moroccan and Spanish architects are calling for its restoration.

Back in February of this year, The View from Fez wrote about the state of the theatre and the need for renovation (see story here). At the time, Cecilia Fernandez Suzor, director of the Cervantes Institute in Tangier said, "Its current state is a bit pathetic, to be honest."

Writer Rachid Taferssiti, president of the Al Boughaz Association for the Safeguarding of Tangier, also had something to say. "It looks like a shadow of a theatre, "he said,  "I find it sad that a multicultural space like that is degraded as it is."

On Tuesday in Fez  Moroccan and Spanish architects launched a call for the "Safeguarding of great Cervantes Theatre in Tangier".

At a round table on "rehabilitation and implementation of heritage: the case of large Cervantes Theatre in Tangier," participants from various backgrounds have called stakeholders, theatre professionals and civil society to "mobilise to rehabilitate this emblematic monument and restore its its former luster and radiance."

This Tangier coliseum with a capacity of more than a thousand spectators once served as a place of amusement and entertainment, debate of ideas and a meeting the Moroccan nationalist movement.

The building has been closed to the public since the early 90s.

Visiting the site photographer Gerard Chemit found it surrounded by rubbish and in a dilapidated state. Hopefully the words spoken about the theatre will finally result in some action.

  The theatre is accessible via the Avenue Pasteur and
Rue du Prince Moulay Abdallah  - Photo Gerard Chemit

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