One city combines all the mystery of Africa with the history of Spain. It’s a small but great city which is a window through which we can see two continents. We are of course referring to Melilla, for more than 500 years a Spanish enclave on the Mediterranean coast in Northern Africa. It’s a place where travellers who enjoy discovering the unknown will find an exotic holiday full of open-air cultural activities.
From the charm of the ancient walls of its citadel, to the explosion of colours of its modern architecture, Melilla, which has more than 900 Modernist and ‘Art-Deco’ buildings, offers its visitors an immense amount of reasons to walk through its streets. The proximity of the sea and the tastes of four cultures can be observed in an exquisite gastronomy and in a variety of customs and artistic expressions.
Melilla ‘la Vieja’ or ‘The Village’ as the people of Melilla call this district (also known by many as the Citadel) contains the old fortress. Construction started in the 15th century on the rock that served as a settlement for the old Rusadir of the Phoenicians and the Romans. It was destroyed a couple of times and then reconstructed as a result of the invasions of Vandals and Arabs, or the internal battles of the Berbers.
The old fortress consists of four parts, separated by a trench. The first three run into the sea, the fourth is on the continent. It’s worth mentioning that the Fortresses of Rosario and Victoras are located here and this is where the shots from the cannon ‘El Caminante’ determined Melilla’s boundaries. Our visit starts with the fourth part of the fortress which is the most modern and we work our way back through time in chronological order to arrive at the oldest, the first part.
The modern city of Melilla has a particular charm. As we leave the 19th century city behind us, our walk begins at the beautiful ‘Plaza de España’ square with the Palace of the ‘Asamblea’ built by Nieto in Art-Deco style. The ‘Plaza de España’ possesses a certain magnetism as it’s at the centre of Melilla. Walking around the square we arrive at the Casino Militar and the Banco de España, two buildings which are symbolic of the city. It’s interesting to continue the walk through the street of the Reina Victoria (at present Heroes de España) district, known as the ‘Golden Triangle’.