Baroness vows to save Madrid's artistic centre

9th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 May 2006, MADRID — The Baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera, won the first round in a battle with Madrid town hall over an urban design project affecting the capital's 'Art Triangle'.

9 May 2006

MADRID — The Baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera, won the first round in a battle with Madrid town hall over an urban design project affecting the capital's 'Art Triangle'.

This area comprises the El Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza art museums, the latter which is owned by the baroness.

The city council has agreed to delay the plan amid widespread opposition.

According to the baroness and other detractors, the project will destroy one of the most distinguishing features of the Spanish capital.

Critics claim the plan will increase traffic in the area and mean 700 trees, some hundreds of years old, would have to be cut down.

They say it would put off tourists.

But Madrid city council claims the new layout, which will widen the road near the museums, will be pedestrian-friendly and have minimum environmental impact.

Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said when the final project is drawn up, a new six-month period to inform the public will start.

The plan is supposed to improve a thoroughfare that brings together some of the world's most valuable art collections.

But about a thousand people demonstrated on Saturday in a protest led by Carmen Cervera, widow of Swiss Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, who in 1992 sold Spain a large part of his private collection of paintings after long negotiations with the government.

The baroness has threatened to tie herself to one of the century-old trees in the Paseo de Recoletos, where the museum is located, to prevent it being cut down, while also warning that she might take her collection "elsewhere in Madrid".

The media has given the controversy extensive coverage, since the baroness, also known as "Tita" Cervera, has been for years a constant figure in the gossip columns since she was crowned Miss Spain, married the U.S. actor best known for his role as Tarzan, Lex Barker, and then wed the Venezuelan Espartaco Santoni.

The baroness was greeted with cries of "baroness, mayoress" at Saturday's demonstration where she said the fight would go on "until the end".

The controversy also has a political undercurrent since the regional Madrid government, which can take the final decision on a project affecting streets declared 'Assets of Cultural Interest', has expressed its doubts about the official project.

Regional president Esperanza Aguirre has said that while she is in office, not one tree in the 'Art Triangle' will be cut down.

Ruiz-Gallardon and Aguirre are both members of the conservative Popular Party (PP), but have been fierce rivals for years.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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