23 June 2012

Save our tower!

I'm not normally one for national stereotypes, but the Spanish do tend to exhibit a marked aversion to Planning Ahead.   This manifests itself in many ways, from the current banking crisis to the way they double-park. When it's in the way, I'll move it.   When there's a problem, I'll solve it.  When it breaks, I'll mend it.  In the meantime, why worry?

But some alcalainos are worrying, and with good reason.   Alcalá's crowning glory, the bell-tower on the church of San Jorge in the Plaza Alta, is about to fall down.

The church, which was declared Bien de Interés Cultural (object of special cultural interest) in 2006,  was built in the 16th century on the site of an old mosque.  The baroque-style tower was added in 1637.  It contains four bells, and is crowned by a pyramid covered in blue and white ceramic tiles, topped with a wrought-iron cross.  It dominates the skyline for miles around, changing colour with the light - you can see the tiles sparkling in the picture at the top of this blog.  It is a favoured roost for the local population of lesser kestrels who circle round it on summer evenings.

Some years ago a stray seed from a tree-tobacco plant, Nicotiana glauca, also decided to make the tower its home.  It has been growing steadily, and has now reached the size where if it were in your garden, you'd need a good shovel to dig it up.  The cracks in the tower are getting larger and larger, and still nobody is doing anything about it.  Rumour has it that the Town Hall says it's the Church's responsibility, and the Church says it's up to the Town Hall.  They both claim to have no funds available.  The sum of €99,760 for repairs to the Church was listed in the 2009 budget, but unfortunately nobody saw fit to climb the tower and blast the wretched weed with Roundup before it got too big to remove without causing major structural damage.

When the inevitable occurs and bits of this precious landmark start falling off, perhaps something will get done. Or perhaps not. I just hope the mayor or the bishop, or ideally both, have parked their car under it when it happens.

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