Climbing the almost 200 steps that separate the Abanilla Town Hall square and the sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is now a little more colorful for the Abanilleros. The date palm tree, the Chícamo River and the trumpeter bullfinch, among others, have been captured in the staircase that leads to one of the flagship monuments of this municipality. Characteristic elements of the town that the Honduran artist Jonathan Rodríguez designed and that, accompanied by a tide of striking tones, have created a picturesque mural that leaves neither natives nor foreigners indifferent.
A tourist attraction that attracts travelers who come from both the Region of Murcia itself and other parts of the world. This is the case of a group of Poles who took advantage of their vacation in Torrevieja to walk the streets, and said staircase, camera in hand to immortalize their visit to the municipality in the High Place, where this monument stands and which offers an enviable panoramic view of Abanilla and its surroundings. And according to María Ángeles Celdrán, tourism technician and official guide of Abanilla, since it released its new image, this infrastructure located in the heart of the town has been chosen “by many to be photographed” and has even been has become the set for “wedding videos”. «From a tourist point of view, it has also been noticed that more people are coming. Now that we are in the digital world, when you search you find these stairs and people taking photos sitting on them. Something that in her opinion “favors the economy.”
These stairs, which from 1957 – the year in which they were built – until last October were of an “immaculate white” color, according to Celdrán, abandoned that immaculate tone to give way to an explosion of tones that leave their feet see a set of images that make up a wide range of representative motifs of the municipality, called ‘The look of a town’.
From eyes that represent the Abanillera woman and the Moorish and Christian past that is part of its history, to the Chícamo River that runs through these lands, passing by the date palm tree, since you cannot think of the municipality without “our oasis, in our well-known Murcian Palestine” comes to mind, Celdrán recalls, and of course, the native fauna, such as the ocellated lizard or the trumpeter bullfinch. Even a cat that usually hangs around the area has been perpetuated on the wall that he usually frequents. In addition, it also houses some reference to those who decide to visit.
A work of urban art that at first “was shocking” to the neighbors but, according to Celdrán, “they really liked it” and some of them even lent their facades to be painted. A perception shared by Juan Carlos, a neighbor who considers “they are very pretty” although he acknowledges that “it is a bit difficult to climb them.” The same thing happens to Ángela and Paquita, who have only seen them from below: “We are too old to go up, but from the square you can also see everything, even better than from above,” they explain.
This project arises from the initiative of the Northeast Local Action Group, which includes Abanilla, Fortuna, Jumilla and Yecla, to hold an international competition for this purpose. Up to 10 proposals were submitted to said contest, in which the design by artist Jonathan Rodríguez was selected, who, with the help of his sister Magdalena, materialized this work in “record time”, from August 2022 to October of that same year. Although his initial idea captivated the jury for its visual spectacularity, it was based on his country of origin, so they asked him to adapt it and give it a “more personalized” approach. In this way, the mural combines some Latin American characteristics – such as vibrant colors – with other abanilleras.
But this is not the only exhibition of paintings that Abanilla houses. In July 2022, the old water tank, which is currently disused, was painted with the graffiti technique, simulating the old Almohad Arab citadel of the 12th century. A tribute to the Santa Cruz, patron saint of the town, and a memory of the espartera woman, an industry that is part of the economic history of the municipality, was also designed.
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