CASTELLON city council has come under fire this week after workers painted over a huge and historic mural created by internationally renowned local artist Juan Ripolles with no warning or explanation.

The 600-metre creation, depicting a circus and decorating the side of a residential block in the Plaza de la Paz, had been admired since the mid-80s as part of an open-air museum project promoted by Castellon City Hall itself.

However, both the artist and his many fans had a shock when it suddenly appeared totally covered in white on Tuesday morning.

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Castellon artist Juan Ripolles (left) with a portrait of himself (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

As surprise turned into outrage among residents and art lovers, the authorities at first refused to offer a credible explanation for the cover-up.

Homeowners living in the affected block reported that the building was in urgent need of repairs to stop water filtrations, and that the mural was looking a bit old and tatty and needed touching up, which would have required specific permission from City Hall.

As the council reportedly failed to authorise or pay for the restoration of the painting, after four years of flooding finally workers were called in to fill the holes in the façade – completely covering Ripo’s piece.

Social media users reacted angrily, accusing the council of ignoring the work of ‘an artist recognised all over the world’ and whose prestige reaches ‘from China to New York’, with the general consensus being that the homeowners ‘did what they had to do, which was repair the crumbling building’ and it was City Hall’s fault for not taking action to save the mural.

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Sculpture by Juan Ripolles at the entrance to Castellon/Costa Azahar airport (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

As the local authorities today (Thursday) continued silent, a report was published revealing that the local Town Planning department had previosuly classed the pieces that made up the 40-year-old ‘open-air museum’ project as ‘ephemeral art’, and therefore not entitled to thorough protection.

In fact, four of the 11 murals that made up the original display in the city centre have now been painted over.

Street art is currently taking off in other parts of Castellon Province, with towns such as Fanzara, Torreblanca, Vinaros and Benicarlo now promoting the decoration of public buildings as a tourist attraction.

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