“The Retiro and Prado site” has been put forward as the remedy to this situation by Popular Party Mayor Ana Botella, who has the support of the city’s other political groupings in this venture.
The area being touted as a Unesco patrimony site comprises a large chunk of central Madrid, stretching from the gardens and boulevards of Retiro Park and the elegant Jerónimos neighbourhood of fine town houses, including the church of the same name, down to the already world-famous Prado Museum and the whole Paseo de Prado avenue from Cibeles to Atocha junctions.
In all, 203 hectares of urban heritage, although the bid also mentions outlying sites as being of special interest as they link up culturally with the Prado-Retiro complex, notably the Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
The first step on a path that City Hall officials were quoted by La Razón newspaper as saying would be “long and complicated” is to gain the approval for the bid from the National Patrimony Council in October.
Assuming that hurdle is overcome, the site will then be included on Spain’s Indicative List of Unesco candidate sites for at least a year before experts from the UN’s cultural agency consider its merits.
Ana Botella said in the Retiro on Tuesday that the complex “satisfies the most important Unesco requisite in that it has exceptional universal value”.
Spain already has 44 sites on the Unesco World Heritage List, behind only Italy and China.
Barcelona has two entries on the list. One groups the Modernist architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, while the other features the Palau de la Música auditorium and Sant Pau hospital.