I came across an old aerial photograph when I was visiting a local museum the other day. , It showed the coastline near to the site where I’m staying. The photo was taken in 1960 and had the lighthouse not been in the picture, there was nothing from which to identify the view.
Trawling through dozens of other pictures, I found one taken from a similar viewpoint but about forty years later.
Comparing the two images, apart from the lighthouse, the only other building which is common to both pictures is the one within the white circle.
It’s the 19th Century Villa El Recreo.
In its heyday, besides standing in its own extensive grounds, surrounded by walls and wrought iron gates, it would have had a clear view across agricultural small-holdings, right down to the seashore. Along the drive, from the porch down to the front gates, one would have walked through an avenue of palm trees. Just a few farm labourers and local fishermen would have lived locally.
Today the Villa is still there although no one has lived in it for many years. The palm trees are long gone, having succumbed to an infestation of palm borer beetles. An Aldi supermarket has been built slightly to one side of its frontage, and a Lidl supermarket has been built behind it. New apartment blocks fill the other two sides. Across the road, the 200-yard strip of what was once open land is now filled with concrete high-rise.
When I viewed the villa seven or eight years ago some attempt was being made to keep the buildings and grounds tidy. Now it’s overgrown and neglected with a ‘For Sale’ notice attached to the front gates.
There is intriguing information about the ownership of the Villa. The local council office has always been very tight-lipped about ownership, but local gossip has it that at the end of the Civil War, General Franco gave the Villa as a gift to Eva Braun, the mistress of Adolf Hitler, whom he married just before they committed suicide together in 1945. It would be interesting to know the authentic history. All that is known is that the seller is believed to be a South American.