‘Founder’ of Benidorm dies at 85
The legendary former Benidorm mayor converted the sleepy village in eastern Spain into one of Europe's most popular tourist hubs during his tenure.2 April 2008
BENIDORM - Hundreds of people paid their last respects on Tuesday to Pedro Zaragoza, the legendary former Benidorm mayor who was instrumental in converting what was a sleepy village in eastern Spain into one of Europe's most popular tourist hubs during his 1950-1967 tenure. He was 85.
Zaragoza, married with four children, saw the population of Benidorm rise six-fold during his time as mayor, from 2,726 inhabitants in 1950 to 12,000 in 1970. The city's population in 1997 stood at 50,000.
Today's mayor, Manuel Pérez Fenoll, said that Zaragoza's passing away will be sorely felt.
"It is a sad day because one of the most important figures in Benidorm's history has left us," he said, adding that it is impossible to understand the city's extraordinary transformation without acknowledging Zaragoza's influence.
In the 1950s Zaragoza famously prohibited offensive remarks being made about women in bikinis. However, his efforts to convert Benidorm into a modern tourist resort were criticized by the Church.
Mayor Fenoll said that another of Zaragoza's accomplishments was modernising the city's infrastructure. Agustín Navarro, an opposition Socialist Party spokesperson for Benidorm, said that Zaragoza "meant everything to Benidorm." The town will observe three days of mourning.
[Copyright El Pais 2008]
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