At the end of the 19th century and in the early-mid 20th century, the Albayzín was an abandoned and marginalised district. During the sixties and the seventies, many people decided to depart from it and move to other areas of the city where new houses were built. The declaration of the Albayzín as World Heritage Site marks –or should mark– a turning point for the future of the district.
According to Miguel Carrascosa: “Since the end of the Islamic period, the Albayzín didn’t see any more glorious days, its people gradually abandoned the district, and it thus became, in recent times, a downright marginal district or worse. This was how Federico García Lorca described the Albayzín of the twenties”
Gonzalo Rodríguez was born in the Albayzín the 1st March of 1957. He remembered: “My grandfather lived in Calle San Juan de los Reyes. I lived in Calle Calderería.” He does not live in the district anymore, but one of his brothers does. “More than three generations didn’t live in the Albayzín: grandparents, parents and children.”
While his memories are exciting, he cannot forget the problems of the district: “Although there were many hard-working people, the reparation of buildings in the district was impossible and a downright madness as it had to be carried out with beasts of burden. Dumper trucks broke everything and the endeavour was very expensive. It was very difficult to adapt new buildings to the legislation. An ancient house with modern structures didn’t exist.” For this reason, as Gonzalo affirmed, the district was gradually abandoned. During the fifties and the sixties, people preferred to buy new houses in other districts such as Zaidín or Chana. “The Albayzín lacked almost everything, there weren’t any shops and the people left because the district was dying.”
On the 17th of December 1994, UNESCO declared the Albayzín World Heritage Site and it marks –or should mark– a turning point for the district. B&S Europe published in July 2000 a report for Fundación del patrimonio del Albayzín, an foundation that works to protect the Albayzín’s heritage. This report gathers the past, the present and the future of this unique site: