Package holiday resort Benidorm hopes to become world heritage site

It could take up to six years before a decision is made on the application

Ben Tufft
Friday 01 May 2015 15:19
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It is perhaps best known as the home of cheap package holidays and full English breakfasts in the sun. But now Benidorm is attempting to put all that behind it as it bids for world heritage status.

Officials hope the seaside city will join the ranks other heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the historic city of Rome.

The high-rise holiday resort on the Costa Blanca, popular with Brits from the 1960s, is seeking to become Spain’s 45th world heritage site.

Current highlights in the country include the Moorish Alhambra palace in Granada, Madrid’s Escorial palace and the Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona.

Mario Gaviria, a sociologist and professor at the University of Navarra drew up the bid and said that Benidorm should be recognised as a city of “exceptional universal value”.

The professor praised the city’s openness to all and called it a symbol of “harmoniousness”.

Mayor Agustín Navarro hoped it would be a way for his city to put the association with mass tourism behind it.

“We wanted to protect all that we’ve achieved during the recent decades as well as give it dignity and value,” he told the Guardian.

The mayor praised Professor Gaviria’s work on the proposal: “He’s one of the intellectuals who loves Benidorm and defends it against the attacks we’ve received at times from people or media who don’t know the reality of Benidorm and instead resort to stereotypes.”

A decision on the world heritage application could take up to six years. To qualify as a Unesco world heritage site a landscape must be of "outstanding universal value".

Locations must meet criteria such as a being a site that "represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance" or "is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history".

Benidorm was once a sleepy fishing town with 3,000 inhabitants, but it now boasts the most high-rise buildings per capita anywhere in the world and draws 1.7m visitors a year.

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