IT was the backdrop of proposals.
Tourists from across the globe flocked to Benidorm’s Mirador del Castillo to walk among its chalk-white balustrades and glance over the shimmering Mediterranean.
It filled Instagram feeds, family photo albums and tourism brochures – even the official Visit Benidorm site has the landmark as a website banner.
But one of the Costa Blanca’s most beloved viewpoints was demolished on June 12 in search of ruins the Town Hall ‘didn’t know’ were even there.
During a press visit on Friday, August 23, the Lure Arquelogía team in charge of the dig exclusively revealed to the Olive Press and local news their findings so far.
What were they?
Two small tables displaying coins from the ‘1950s’ tossed into a wishing well and a few bits of broken pottery.
“The plates are from Manises, in Valencia,” Lourdes López Martínez, director of projects at Lure Arqueología, told the Olive Press.
“The 16th century plates have imperfections – meaning the inhabitant was rich enough to buy Manises plates, but not rich enough to avoid purchasing factory seconds.”
So, that’s it? Benidorm ripped up a landmark to find a medieval TK Maxx?
A site labourer had a different perspective.
“I kept the beautiful white arches until the very end,” the man, who asked to remain nameless, told the Olive Press.
“I didn’t want to do it, but our project is to find what lies underneath.
“I had to topple them.”
Showing this paper a secret video of the falling arches, he cautioned ‘you never spoke to me’ and walked back to work.
The six-month project at the Mirador – otherwise known as the Balcon al Mediterraneo or Punta Canfali – received €500,000 EU funds as part of a Valencian-wide programme to recuperate the Community’s cultural heritage.
“This project is vital. The ruins at Punta Canfali are the very origin of Benidorm,” mayor Toni Pérez, who is spearheading the project, told the Olive Press.
“Its history will have an incalculable value for us all.”
With the Town Hall investing another €500,000 into the €1 million dig, Pérez was adamant the works would improve the Benidorm experience for ‘thousands and thousands of people’.
Given current findings, it’s a tall order.
TripAdvisor lists the Mirador as numbers 1, 2 and 5 best-rated ‘Benidorm Landmarks’. (The three separate entries are due to the Mirador’s many names.)
One of these entries records 75% of all one-star reviews appearing since demolition began in June, with tourists lamenting the ‘boarded up and demolished’ viewpoint.
“This amazing view point in Benidorm where I proposed to my wife has been demolished,” wrote one user from Hamilton, UK.
“Should have just left it as the views were stunning.”
Another, from Liverpool, wrote: “Benidorm Town Hall have taken a huge gamble.
“Plaça Del Castell was without a shadow of a doubt the most famous and beautiful landmark in Benidorm.
“It’s beautiful blue and white marble balustrades and immaculate tiling made this square a joy to go to.
“Views afforded from here of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea were unsurpassed – but not anymore.”
Needless to say, if the Lure Arqueología – contracted by Benidorm Town Hall – are to find something, it better be good. Outstandingly good.
The impetus for the works come from two discoveries in 1993 and 2014, which indicated the presence of walls beneath the Mirador’s stunning patio.
History records the foundation of a castle in 1325 by nobleman, admiral and Valencian Kingdom’s spokesman Bernat de Sarrià.
After authorising its city charter, he built this fortification on the present-day Punta Canfali to defend the region from Barbary pirates.
Benidorm was pillaged and plundered at least three times over the centuries, but the castle stood and was guarded through the ages by the noble Houses of Mendoza and Fajardo.
At least, until the British obliterated it in 1817 while aiding Spain to kick out Napoleon’s imperial army.
Following the two recent discoveries the questions still dangled: what’s left of this history? and is it worth destroying the Mirador for?
“We didn’t know if we’d find anything here at all,” Barbara, an employee with Lure Arqueología, told the Olive Press.
Pointing out the thick walls, she was excited the outline of the original building can still be traced upon the iconic headland.
A perfectly intact alijbe – a well where rainwater was collected and stored – was also a major find.
Descending into it through a ladder, graffiti on the wall reads ‘DBGJ, 1816’ – a 19th century ‘[insert name] woz ere’.
The findings show promise, and Toni Pérez assured reporters the Mirador would be rebuilt in November in the ‘same style’, but perhaps with a glass panel here or there.
“I am from Benidorm, and this has been the most amazing work of my life,” Barbara added.
“Everytime we find something, I feel I’m contributing to my city’s history.”
If the Mirador del Castillo will reveal some treasure, it has until November 1 to find it.
It would be inconceivable for Britain to remove Nelson’s Column on a rumour some centurion bought a knock-off helmet hundreds of years ago.
But Benidorm has taken apart the crown of its own glory.
Time will tell if it comes back encrusted with a ruby.