Tag Archive for Maritim

Artists of Valencia

Valencia’s Favourite Artists


Joaquin Sorolla by  Gertrude Kasebier

Joaquin Sorolla by Gertrude Kasebier

Joaquin Sorolla  y Bastida

Valencia 1863 – Madrid 1923

The painter of vibrant sunshine without equal

Valencia’s most famous artist studied in Madrid and Paris and then in Rome, alongside fellow Valenciano Josep Benlliure

After his training,

Sorolla settled in his beloved Valencia. His open air paintings of the fishermen, the oxen pulling the fishing boats to shore and the sea bathers in early 1900’s Cabanyal and Levante are some of the most important and evocative studies of the area

They also represent one of Sorolla favourite themes, key in his development as a painter and  are amongst some of his most famous  works. Visit Valencia’s Museo of Belles Artes to see a gallery dedicated to Sorolla’s life and paintings.



Agusti Centelles

Agusti Centelles

Augusti Centelles
War Photographer

Valencia  1909 – Barcelona 1985

‘I call myself an image hunter’

Centelles is known as the Spanish Robert Capa and is a pioneer of photo-journalism , a staunch Republican who is most famous for his images of the Spanish Civil War.

Centelles was apprenticed in the 1920’s to the Spanish cinemamatic pioneer Ramon Banos. By 1934 he was an independent photographer for the Spanish press and his images were often used in  pre-Republican propaganda stories.

He reported the conquest of Teruel, one of the war’s fiercest battles, but by 1939  had fled to France  taking his most important negatives with him.  Franco had seized all those left behind.

In France Centelles was  imprisoned in  the Bram P.O.W camp , where he set up a small darkroom and  continued to

photograph the camp and its prisoners, leading to some of his most important work.

On his eventual return to Spain in 1946 he left all his remaining negatives  in the attic  of a house in Carcassonne, realizing that they might be seized again by the Francoist authorities, implicating his fellow  Republicans.

In 1976 , 30 years after leaving France and  after the death of Franco, he returned to Caracassone to retrieve his negatives which  now form part of the photographic collection  at the Salamanca Centre of History  .

Mariano Benlliure

Mariano Benlliure

Mariano Benlliure

Valencia 1862 – 1947

The younger brother of painter Jose is widely considered to be the last great Spanish realistic sculptor. Born in Valencia’s Maritim district,  Mariano’s  naturalist detailed approach tinged with  the spontaneity of Impressionism, made him very popular throughout  Spain.

His work progressed from his early bullfighting figurines to the more grandiose public monuments 

of prominent Spaniards including Goya and  Velazquez, writer Trueba and King Alphonso XII.

Mariano Benlliure was depicted on the  500 peseta note from the 1950’s and

his works are held in all the major galleries across Spain, as well as in the Museum of Jose Benlliure in Valencia.


Eduardo Munoz Bachs

Eduardo Munoz Bachs

Eduardo Munoz Bachs
Graphic Designer – Cuban Poster artist

Valencia 1937 – Havana 2001

Though born in Valencia , Bachs and his family moved to France when he was two years old and then to  Cuba  in 1941, probably fleeing their native country because of the Spanish Civil war.

Even though Bachs was a gifted artist, he had no formal training or art education .  In 1960 he made the first poster for the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) , founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution to produce and promote Cuban cinema .

Over the next 40 years  Bachs  produced over 2000 film posters. Today he is  seen as the greatest Cuban poster designer of all time


Rafael Guastavino

Rafael Guastavino

Rafael Guastavino
Architect and Builder

 Valencia 1842 – North Carolina 1908

The greatest ever architect you have never heard of.

Rafael Guastavino studied in Barcelona  and  was a contemporary of Antoni Gaudi.  He is most famed for inventing the Guastavino Arch , inspired by the tiling of his home town  of Valencia . This self -supporting vaulted arched ceiling was held together by interlocking tiles  and has been used in the construction of over 1000 buildings around the world  including 300 buildings in New York.

Many are still standing,  including The  Carnegie Hall , The  Oyster  Bar in Grand Central Station, the  Old City Hall Subway station and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art – enriched by the splendid Arch  and the work of this talented Valenciano.







Street Artist – Muralist

Valencia – 1983

‘I’m not interested in being told that what I do is pretty, not even that I do it well. I’d rather provoke some kind of thinking in the spectator. I’m not looking for decorative paintings, I try to wake up viewers’ minds.’

Spanish muralist and street artist Escif hails from Valencia,  but is active globally with recent works popping up throughout Canada, Italy, and France.

His use of subdued colours and simple lines helps the artist communicate his humorous and direct commentary on capitalism, politics, the economy and other sensitive social issues.



Escif was educated in fine arts and conceptual workshops inspired by comics books , film and classic painters but most of all by daily life

He starting painting his hometown streets in the late 1990’s as part of the XLF crew , who  include Dieh, Cesp, and Sr Marmota. More recently he has collaborated with the Argentine artist Hyuro.  From his satirical and politically charged small works  to his huge murals spanning  entire buildings he is the most famous street artist to have come out of Valencia.


Blasco Ibanez

Blasco Ibanez

Vicente Blasco Ibanez
Novelist – Journalist – Politician

Valencia  1867 – Menton 1928

Blasco Ibanez , Valencia’s most famous writer, studied law  but never practised it. As a militant Republican he founded the controversial newspaper El Pueblo ( The People ) and was imprisoned  over 30 times for his political beliefs .

He is most renowned as a realist writer, who produced over 30 books  including  Flor De Mayo,  a love story set in  El Cabanyal which gives moving, evocative descriptions of the fishermans’ quarter .

Five of his novels were made into films. Of these The Temptress and  The Torrent, filmed at  Hollywood MGM studios were also the first movies to star  Greta Garbo.  Rita Hayworth  and Rudolf Valentino also featured in films made from his works.

The former home of this rightly revered author in  Malvarossa is now a Museum, dedicated to Ibanez and his work.



Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava
Architect – Sculptor – Painter

Valencia  1951

Calatrava is one of the world’s most famous architects, whose Neofuturistic buildings have won numerous awards.

He studied in Valencia and Zurich and his spectacular work has been used for bridges and transport hubs.

The extraordinary City of Arts and Sciences and the dazzling Alameda Metro Station are his most important  landmarks in Valencia.

Worldwide,  the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Bahnhof Station, in Zurich and the Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin are also key Calatrava creations.

Calatrava’s acclaimed ceramics and sculptures are often the first steps toward the realization of his architecture.


Josep Renau

Josep Renau

Josep Renau Berenguer
Photomontage – Muralist – Poster Art

Valencia 1907 – Berlin 1982

‘I am not a Communist painter , Just a Communist who paints’

After studying fine art in Valencia , Josep won his first poster competition aged 18. With the onset of the Spanish Civil War he began designing posters  in support of the Republicans as well as posters for Tourism Valencia including  the famous  Las Arenas/ Cabanyal Art Deco poster.

In the late 1930’s , Renau helped design the Spanish Pavilion in Paris and later commissioned  Picasso  to paint a mural, which eventually became Guernica.

Renau fled Spain for Mexico and made his living from designing film posters.  His most famous works are a collection of montages known as The American Way of Life  – forerunners to the 1960’s American pop art culture.




Jose Benlliure y Gil 1917 self portrait

Jose Benlliure y Gil 1917 self portrait

Jose Benlliure y Gil

Valencia 1858 – 1937

Born in Cabanyal- Canyamelar,  Benlliure  comes from a family of artists. His two brothers were the sculptures Mariano  and  painter Juan Antonio.

Known as the favourite son of the city, he began painting at the age of 10, often selling his works to pay for household  expenses. Formally educated in Valencia and Rome, his works  combined  family and religion with local customs.  By the age of sixteen he had portrayed the  Duke of Aosta and King Amadeus of Savoy,

Benlliure, became  the director of the Museum of Belles Artes in Valencia and has a street named after him in El Cabanyal.

The Prado in Madrid  and the Victoria and Albert Museum in  London hold his  works in their collections and today his house in Valencia is a Museum which also shows Sorolla’s paintings.
















History of Cabanyal

The History of El Cabanyal

The history of El  Cabanyal spans 700 years, but has never been at a more crucial stage. In May 2015, Joan Ribo was elected Mayor of Valencia and pledged to revive the fortunes of this often blighted neighbourhood. To the delight of the long suffering local people funds are being raised and invested to restore and rejuvenate the beautiful streets and houses. Personal as well as public projects have now begun to make El Cabanyal into one of the highlights of the city and into a better place to live for its inhabitants.

In 1997, the Mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera embarked on a personal crusade to destroy the area, by carving it up with a four lane avenue running from the city centre.

Could you imagine this happening in Covent Garden or Greenwich Village? No…of course not.  Such a destructive plan would be inconceivable. Here in El Cabanyal, however, were it not for the bravery of the local residents, who for generations have done everything in their power to stop the Mayor in her tracks, this important historic quarter would be largely rubble. No wonder that so many eyes are focused on it,  from Unesco to the World Monument Fund.


Bulldozer coming into Cabanyal -2010

Bulldozer coming into Cabanyal -2010



Beautiful historical houses have already been lost forever.
The local government has bought over 500 properties

through extortion and low level thuggery, of which 125 have been knocked down.










This is a crime against history.
Where once there were houses, now there are Rita’s scars and stripes  –  plots that have been walled up and painted with ugly bands of brown and fawn.




Cabanyal demolition in 2010

Cabanyal demolition in 2010





Some of the demolished houses don’t even form a part of her grand plan for the extension of the Avenida Blasco Ibanez and were destroyed pointlessly.

Vicente Blasco Ibanez, the great writer, political activist and staunch Republican would turn in his  grave if he

knew that an avenue named after him would rip

apart the neighbourhood  that he loved so much.





Cabanyal - circa 1940

Cabanyal – circa 1940

El Cabanyal has always had its problems, from the  devastating fires of  1796 and 1875  to the cholera  epidemic in  the 1860’s,  from the Spanish Civil War to the major floods of 1957 .

Added to this, over the last 50 odd years it has been totally neglected by the Valencian government.

Even if residents want to reform their homes, Rita Barbera has denied them planning permission.  Despite all these obstacles Cabanyal survives and appears to thrive.




The neighbourhood of El Cabanyal  and the  surrounding Maritim  villages date back to the 13th century when they formed an independent municipality separate from the  walled  city.


Calle San Pedro engraving

Calle San Pedro engraving

1883 map of Pueblo Nuevo Del Mar

1883 map of Pueblo Nuevo Del Mar





The first depiction of the area was provided by Flemish painter Anton van den Wyngaerde in 1563, and  in the early 1600’s , Valenciano historian Juan Gaspar Escolano recorded that  Cabanyal  comprised of just 40 huts and fishing shacks.



By the 1700’s Cabanyal and its neighbourhoods of Canyelamar Capa de Franca and Grao became part of the city of Valencia. Known as the Pueblo Nuevo del

Mar .  Grao as the port area began to flourish through world trade.

The neighbourhoods were divided not only by class of people but by the  small tributraries / streams that ran from the sea towards the city  running east to west. Meanwhile the houses were built on a grid system  of streets running  north to south.




Cabanyal fisherman - circa 1910

Cabanyal fisherman – circa 1910




Cabanyal was mainly populated by local fisherman and boat owners. Canyemelar next to the port of El Grao was home to the  wealthier classes and boat captains  and Capa de Franca was also a quarter for local fisherman as well as a small community of Gypsies.





The population lived in humble barraques, small one-storey houses built of wood with a thatched roof.  Remnants of this style of  house  can still be seen today, dotted along the original  streets of  Escalante, Luis Navarro and Baracca.

Mediterráni 1888

Mediterráni 1888

CChildren in Calle Hombres de la mar - Circa 1950 © Robert Frank

Children in Calle Hombres de la mar – Circa 1950 © Robert Frank











By the late 1800’s the population of Cabanyal and Canyamelar  grew to around 10,000 inhabitants of which 70% of the population were still living in the old style barraques

The first great fire of 1796 wiped out over 250 of these barraques and a decree by the local government promoted the building of stone houses. The second fire of  1875 devastated more barraques and a fully blown ban was put in place of rebuilding this style of house



Farmacia What came from this  were the  new beginnings of the glory period  in the history of  Cabanyal .

For the next 50 years ,from the 1880’s to the 1930’s,  Cabanyal , was transformed, not only by the local people but by inner city dwellers from Madrid and Valencia itself.

The more wealthy incomers built bigger, grander, taller houses , some three and four stories high. It became common for local fishermen, gypsies and port workers to live next door to wealthy metropolitan types,

Between 1880 and 1940, the new Cabanyal exploded with colour and hundreds of  houses were built , inspired by  the movements of the era  – the popular Modernista/Art Nouveau  style ,  with hints  of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts . The beautiful tiling of the facades  of many of these houses were inspired by the light and the colour of the sea.


More streets were built including the grand Calle de la Reina, far wider and lined with larger and more substantial houses.  Apartment blocks sprung up too around the original  old streets of Barraca, Progreso, Luis Navarro and Jose Benlliure.

Throughout the decades from the 1950’s to the 1990’s Cabanyal and its surrounds were  blighted by  a boom in  the construction of  bland  non descript tower blocks . These provided homes,  were never more than seven stories high  and were complementary to the style of the older houses. Nothing could match the beauty of the original homes, however.

DSC_7500 (1)

Fortunately there are still hundreds of  these left in Cabanyal, and  it retains a charming local neighbourhood character. Many streets are in desperate need of repair and in theory the local urban planning proposals to rejuvenate the area could provide the perfect solution, if only the funding was available.

Local residents are only too aware that even in the last 15 years the area has  been  degraded. If the money spent on buying houses for destruction could have been used to restore them, El Cabanyal would be far more of a tourist lure, bringing visitors and revenue.

El Cabanyal and the Poblats Maritim could become a living museum to the past 150 years of Spanish architecture and tiling  and a credit to the city of Valencia.


The future is looking bright for this beautiful Spanish barrio. Artists  and students needing spaces with cheap rent  are moving in  and over the last few years there has been an influx of foreigners from England, Germany,  France  and Switzerland .

And who can blame these incomers from Northern Europe?  You can buy an apartment in El Cabanyal for 30,000 Euros  and an amazing house, ripe for conversion for 100,00 euros.  The neighbourhood is a mere  five minutes from the wonders of the beach, yet is part of a city full of history and culture, bathed in sunshine and brimming with life and character. Who could ask for more?