Madrid will save the House of Poetry: the Ayuso Government will purchase Vicente Aleixandre's dwelling and defend it as a BIC | Madrid News | EUROtoday

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The Government of the Community of Madrid will quickly start the procedures to purchase the home of the poet Vicente Aleixandre, which originally of this 12 months went to judicial public sale for 4.5 million euros, and can declare it an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) to guard it Mariano de Paco Serrano, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, introduced this Tuesday. After the bid for the property was deserted, a constructing of 630 sq. meters on three flooring, constructed originally of the twentieth century on a plot of 799 sq. meters within the district of Chamberí, the Executive chaired by Isabel Díaz Ayuso is dedicated to rescuing it from the state of abandonment through which it’s positioned to reopen it to the general public as a cultural reference of the area. The buy of the home, if accomplished, would put an finish to years of controversy because of the disputes between the heirs of the Nobel Prize and the variations between the Administrations, which have left this temple of poetry, for which the academics of the Generation of '27 handed.

“We are going to extend the protection of the emblematic house, known as Velintonia, in application of the new heritage law, and we are working to preserve and protect the memory and work of Vicente Aleixandre as much as possible,” stated De Paco Serrano throughout a informative breakfast organized by the Europa Press company. “With the support and decision of the president, I want to announce that the Community of Madrid intends to begin the procedures to acquire Velintonia, to turn it into a cultural reference, to commemorate in 2027 the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize, and the centenary of the Generation of '27, and put it at the service of the people of Madrid and all those who want to visit it.”

However, the decision has come surrounded by controversy. Paco Serrano has openly criticized the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun. According to his version, the central government has shown “lack of interest” in defending Velintonia. Although the Council of Ministers welcomed the potential for buying the property – “it would be an honor,” stated the vp, Yolanda Díaz, in February –, it’ll finally be the regional Executive who tries to do it. “The minister, busy with other tasks, has not even deigned to answer me,” protested De Paco Serrano.

The poet Vicente Aleixandre, at his home in 1977.
The poet Vicente Aleixandre, at his home in 1977.CESAR LUCAS

From the ministry, in statements to EL PAÍS, the news is “celebrated that any group, within the train of its powers, protects its heritage.” “There have been three-way meetings [ministerio, comunidad y ayuntamiento] and we have always expressed our willingness to collaborate, but the community told us that they were not interested. We celebrate this change of opinion,” they add from Culture.

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The Association of Friends of Vicente Aleixandre (AAVA), established three decades ago and which has always demanded that Velintonia be declared BIC, described in a statement the decision as “a great day for poetry, culture and heritage.” “That Velintonia be granted maximum protection, as it deserves for its unquestionable historical and cultural significance, is something that we have defended, despite the capricious rejection of some rulers, who have responded with silence and contempt,” they point out. The AAVA has been holding different events and initiatives periodically so that the memory of Velintonia does not fall into oblivion. The last one, 10 days ago, was a poetic reading in the garden of the house that was also recorded to be included in a future documentary about Aleixandre, titled Velintonia, 3. This documentary, directed by Javier Vila, will premiere in November, at the Seville Film Festival. This association He has criticized “the regrettable attitude” of Urtasun, “who in all this time has not expressed the slightest interest in Velintonia.”

Interior garden of the house that belonged to Vicente Aleixandre, in the Parque Metropolitano neighborhood, in Madrid.
Interior garden of the house that belonged to Vicente Aleixandre, in the Parque Metropolitano neighborhood, in Madrid.DAVID EXPÓSITO

The president of the association, Alejandro Sanz, has stated by telephone that in two meetings with community representatives they exposed the error of having declared it an Asset of Patrimonial Interest (BIP and not BIC, which grants maximum protection. The proposal they have made is that part of the property is a house of poetry that reconstructs Aleixandre's home and another part is dedicated to the memory of the generation of '27.

Dámaso Alonso, Gerardo Diego, Rafael Alberti, Luis Cernuda and Federico García Lorca passed through Velintonia, who enlivened the evenings at the piano. The house suffered a first ruin, when the Aleixandre family had to abandon it during the Civil War because it was on the front line. The second came with the death of the poet (1984) and his sister Conchita (1986). In the nineties, a beggar took advantage of the fact that it was empty and settled in the garden. The property, which receives its name, Velintonia, from the original name of the street on which it is located – called Wellingtonia, a type of redwood typical of the Sierra Nevada of California, until it was renamed after the poet – does not It had no degree of protection until 2022, when the Community of Madrid declared it Asset of Patrimonial Interest (BIP). That step, however, was considered insufficient by both the left-wing opposition and the AAVA.

Amaya Aleixandre, the poet's second niece, in a telephone conversation, expressed her hope that this will finally come to fruition, although she clarified that “there’s nonetheless nothing agency.” For her, the house being at least “a cultural center and being saved” would be enough.

“There have been many years of neglect and apathy, so it is great news that something is finally being done,” said Diego Cruz, a PSOE deputy who has been fighting for years to protect housing and preserve the memory of the poet. “We will be very attentive to what the final destination will be,” he continued. “We were right that the declaration as BIP was not appropriate, this decision is an amendment to the stubbornness of Marta Rivera de la Cruz [anterior consejera de Cultura], because it was possible and fair for the house to be BIC,” he added. And he concluded: “We continue pursuing the goal of converting it into the House of Poetry, and for the AAVA, the driving force of the fight to preserve the Nobel legacy, to participate in the decision.”

When Velintonia came up for auction, the AAVA appealed not to bid at the auction to ensure that it remained in public hands. The minimum amount to bid was 70% of the starting price, that is, 3.2 million euros. But there was no offer. Thus, Velintonia remains the property of the writer's relatives, who have already tried (unsuccessfully) to sell the property through Idealistic: Nobel's second niece has 60% of the home; while the remaining 40% belongs to the Usera Estirado, grandchildren of a cousin of the poet.

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