Expat volunteers help restore historic Cuenca walls before UNESCO event

Published:  26 Nov at 6 PM
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Expats and nationals in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cuenca are working together to beautify the city before its anniversary celebrations.

On December 1, the Spanish walled city of Cuenca will celebrate its 20th anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s renowned for its spectacular secular and religious architecture dating from as early as the 12th century as well as its preservation of the original medieval walls. Originally built during Spain’s Moorish period and conquered in the 12th century by the Castilians, it towers above some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.

Over the past few years, the city walls and ancient properties’ exteriors have needed restoration and repainting, and graffiti hasn’t done much for the central area’s general appearance. The much-loved city is a favourite with expat retirees, some of whom were inspired enough by the upcoming celebrations to offer their volunteer services in a cleanup and repaint of walls marred by the identifying initials and marks of taggers.

Leader of the ‘Keep Cuenca Beautiful’ expat volunteer group J.T. Neira explained to local English language media the meaning of the word ‘minga’ as encompassing all community projects including water channel repairs, road building and other efforts benefiting the local community. His Facebook group immediately became popular and attracted expat Kevin Donnelly, who suggested they approach the local authority and offer to remove the graffiti and repaint the walls. Approval was quickly given, and the city’s maintenance team joined in the project.

The first minga attracted 25 expat volunteers who worked alongside an experienced municipal crew in prepping the city centre walls so that city workers could restore and repaint the surfaces. As a result of their continuing efforts, expat volunteers will now be able to identify streets which need similar attention, thus eliminating tagging in the ancient city and ensuring its time-honoured beauty.
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