I’m kind of nervous about writing this entry because it’s sort of embarrassing. I like to come across as someone who is good at travelling, will research to the depths of the earth to find the most beautiful, fantastic and unique places to visit and go out of my way to visit them so I can write about my experience. Well, this is the entry where I did that. I researched, I researched and I researched some more until I found one of the most gorgeous buildings ever seen on google images. La Muralla Roja. A striking pink building located by the sea in the tourist town of Calpe, Alicante.
As there was a couple of weeks left until my holiday to Valencia, I thought I had enough time to research what I needed to know about La Muralla Roja and how to get there. I researched getting to Calpe, transportation, times, price, where the bus and train stations were in Valencia and Calpe, how long it would take to walk there and back, exactly how long I’d need there, whether you needed to book in advance. The one thing I didn’t research? What La Muralla Roja actually is and whether or not you can visit it. Yep, you heard me. I hopped on a bus at 7am that cost €32 and took four hours (eight in total there and back), only to discover that La Muralla Roja was a private property.
Unfortunately, I only discovered this after being chased away from the building by an angry Spanish lady. But let’s rewind for a second so I can set the scene.It was a hot day and my sister and I had napped on the bus wearing our finest clothes. I wore a little black dress from the Reformation that I bought in their pop-up shop in London and I was excited to show it off in the form of a photoshoot. It wasn’t exactly the most practical thing to wear on the bus, and certainly not practical for trekking through Calpe but whatever. I really wanted to wear this dress because the hundreds of other photographs I’ve seen of La Muralla Roja featured overpriced fast-fashion brands and I wanted to use the location for something good. It sounds super shallow, I know. But these are the stupid things you do when you’re an aspiring eco-fashion blogger.La Muralla Roja was easy to find. There were signs along the way and when we saw the sharp angles of the pastel pink building, it couldn’t have been mistaken for anything else. My sister was skeptical when we arrived because the building looked very much like an apartment block and there was a fence around most of the property. Most is the key word here. The section without the fence was the area in which we arrived. It was a weedy patch of unattended garden at the front of the building and it’s very easy to walk directly through it and enter La Muralla Roja without even realising there’s a fence to keep you away. This is what I did. My sister, the more sensible one, didn’t want to walk through the weeds so tried to get in via the gate. This is when she saw the ‘Prohibido el paso’ sign. It doesn’t take an extensive knowledge of Spanish to understand what this means, but as I was already on the other side and the gate was wide open, she decided to join me.
“Are you sure we’re allowed here?” Rebecca asked me as I posed for some pictures on the pink stairs.
“I think so,” I replied. “Google maps described it as a tourist attraction.” Maybe I was in denial because, despite missing the ‘prohibido el paso’ signs, I still knew something was up. The place was dead. The only movement was clothes swaying in the wind from washing lines and the odd decorative garden pinwheel. Although nothing had told me it was, before visiting I assumed La Muralla Roja was a hotel – probably because the most common links of google were rooms to rent. I realise now that these were meant for permanent residents, not temporary ones. Still, I should have caught on sooner.I’d already taken a good amount of photographs before the Spanish lady saw us and escorted us off the property through the ‘no trespassing’ gate on the other side of the building. I tried to explain that I’d come through the area without the signs and had no way of knowing. I was even prepared to show her the ‘tourist attraction’ sign on google maps. I would have told her that we’d traveled for four hours to see the building but that would have made me seem more pathetic. Besides, once she had said “no photographs”, “private property” and “no trespassing”, she refused to speak another word of English to us.
I get it, trust me. It must be annoying for residents to constantly have their home be a backdrop for photoshoots. I know it must be annoying for them to try and communicate with people who haven’t bothered to learn their language and explain that the photographs they’re taking are disrespectful. It’s got to be frustrating for them when they’re posing right next to their front doors, especially now that the building has received some attention from blogs and instagrammers.Still, as I was being escorted out I was confused more than anything. You would think that somewhere along the research phase I would have stumbled across the fact that the building was private property. You would think that google maps would take off the ‘tourist attraction’ label and that someone on the google reviews page would have mentioned the ‘no trespassing’ signs. Upon reflection, there are a couple that mention this but all of them were submitted after I had already visited, which leads me to believe that these signs and fences were relatively new, hence why the fence was only partly completed.
Why exactly am I posting this? Because I want people to know the truth about visiting La Muralla Roja. It’s somebody’s home and when you break in, you’re essentially breaking into someone’s garden to take photographs. If you’re staying in Calpe or Alicante, I’d still recommend visiting as you can take photographs from outside. All the pictures on this blog post were taken from outside the fence. It just goes to show you can still appreciate Ricardo Bofill’s architectural masterpiece without trespassing in someone’s garden. There’s also what looked like a ruined skate park on the beach right next to it, too, which we discovered after getting kicked out. If you’re staying further afield in a place like Valencia, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time and money on a day trip to Calpe just to see La Muralla Roja, especially when there’s cooler places to day trip close by. Stay tuned for my blog post about Sagunto!