EXCLUSIVE: Spain’s full circle

LAST UPDATED: 24 Jul, 2010 @ 12:57
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EXCLUSIVE: Spain’s full circle

HE is the man often credited with starting the avalanche that turned the Costa del Sol into concrete.

So some might see it as poetic justice that the country home of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe is being dug up to make way for a ring road.

The German aristocrat – who once dated Ava Gardner and Kim Novac – was the first person to make the Costa del Sol fashionable when he opened the upmarket Marbella Club hotel in 1954.

“Everywhere I sought my dreamt-of city, and at last I found it in Ronda.”

One of the coast’s first property speculators, he had begun buying up land around the area in the 1940s and sold plots to wealthy developers and families, including the Thyssens and Rothschilds.

But later, in the 1990s, he fled to the mountains, near Ronda, to get away from the overdevelopment he had begun five decades earlier.

At the time he said: “Everywhere I sought my dreamt-of city, and at last I found it in Ronda.”

So, it is with some irony that his palatial home and vineyard, Cortijo de las Monjas, is on the verge of losing its front gate and drive as a new-ring road gets built next door.

The 20-hectare vineyard has already lost hundreds of vines, as the diggers carve the two-lane bypass around the village of Arriate.

But, that will be nothing compared to the noise of the new road that will improve the journey time between Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas and ease traffic in Arriate.

“It is certainly an irony that the man who started the whole concrete revolution on the coast should end up with a road going through his garden,” said a neighbour.

The problem however has been left to his sons, as the Prince himself died in 2003.

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  1. Spain is to blame for allowing the overbuilding, not the developers. Developers were allowed, indeed encouraged, to concrete over the coast; the Spanish authorities could have said “no, we don’t want a Concrete Costa” but they were greedy and are now paying the price for this. The Costa de la Luz will now have its pristine beaches concreted over next – people clearly want more hotels rather then pristine natural beaches?

    Similary, the BP issue: people ought to realise that it’s not Mr Haywards fault there has been a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s all our faults for demanding that our cars can be fuelled and that our electricity supply continues unhindered. No one has green credentials; we are all hypocrites.

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