Regular visitors to Rojales are no doubt already aware that the town has a thriving art scene. The Cuevas del Rodeo have certainly gone from strength to strength in the six years since our blog was posted. Now though, you don’t have to climb the hill to get your fill of art as there are a handful of new murals within a short stroll of the old stone Carlos III bridge which crosses the river in the centre of town, all thanks to a project called Rojales en Pintura which saw the transformation of some empty walls beginning in the latter part of 2020 and continuing until now.
From the central stone bridge, walk alongside the River Segura to the next, more modern Reina Sofia bridge. This bridge shows off the more recent additions to the town’s murals with every surface covered. Some of the art depicts fish and birds to be found in and around the river. There are even some otters but in all the time I’ve lived here I haven’t seen one or heard of any sightings! There is even a poem inscribed alongside the footpath. It reads “En la baja cuenca de su piel de sinuosa y cálida hermosa largas caricias dibuja el Segura. Aguarda el mar su amante fiel cómplice eterno de su locura.” Now translating poetry is almost impossible as you need to get deep inside the poet’s head, but here’s a rough estimate: “In the lowlands of her sinuous and warm skin, beautiful long caresses draw the Segura. The sea awaits his faithful lover, eternal accomplice of his madness.” Can you do any better? Let us know!
There are murals on either side of the river close to the bridge. On the south side you can’t fail to notice the huge “Rojales en Pintura” sign in front of a series of huge paintings depicting the local agricultural scene. The larger than life artichokes are quite impressive!
On the opposite bank of the river a large mural shows some of the manufacturing history of the town with carpenters at work. Don’t forget to peek around the corner where two enormous finches are waiting for you.
Diagonally across from here is a mural added for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021. This depicts the strength, freedom and courage of women. The small caption reads “Mujer libre, te quiero, armada de bravura y alegria, pero no la mía. Mujer de futura confia, valiente poesia pero no la mía.” Translating poetry is never straight forward but it is more or less this: “Free woman, I love you, armed with bravery and joy, but not mine. Confident future woman, brave poetry, but not mine.”
Back at the Carlos III bridge look up on the south side and you’ll see what looks like a series of giant posters attached to the wall. This intriguing series of pictures came from students at the nearby La Encantá school and is based on work by the Italian street artist Millo.
Literally round the corner from this mural is a homage to the poet Miguel Hernandez. His iconic face and, of course, the ubiquitous onions, make for a curious addition to the local street art scene. If this glimpse of MH-inspired artwork catches your imagination, you should head to the San Isidro barrio of Orihuela to see many, many more murals.
A few steps away from the Carlos III bridge, still on the south side, is Calle La Paz (look for Telfy on the corner). Just along the street a mural pays homage to local teacher Gratiniano Baches who was instrumental in the success of the Rojales Public School during the first two decades of the 20th Century. He was also a passionate archaeologist and an important figure in understanding the Roman remains found around the town at the time.
The child is the swollen bud where the seeds of“El niño, el Maestro y la Escuaela” Gratiniano Baches, 1922
a flower that will fruit are sleeping.
If you are feeling energetic you can continue uphill to the Miguel Hernandez school just above the caves. There you will find a lovely homage to the town’s schoolteachers along with a beautifully scripted thank you message.
If you come back down through the cave complex there are some murals in varying condition as you reach the edge of town again.
There are some other examples of urban art around town too. On the square by the church is a powerful mural against domestic violence. Just down the alleyway by the river is another strong message saying that no child should be a victim of this either.
Of course, as you walk around, you’ll also see the occasional example of more traditional graffiti. Some of it is really quite good, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste or sensibility!!
Where the Miguel Hernandez mural is, there used to be an interesting piece depicting local life. It’s a shame this one couldn’t have somehow been retained too.
If you haven’t yet had enough art for the day, you could also pop into La Garbera and admire the eclectic decor as you sip a coffee, or call in to Triple Brew for a different kind of art – artisan beers!!