Almost half a century ago ago this barren section of the Almeria coastline in southern Spain was bustling with the activity of a small metropolis. Workers were constructing a replica of the city of Aqaba for the filming of the famous battle scene in Lawrence of Arabia. After the shoot, the entire set was dismantled, leaving the rocky coastline exactly as it had been before. The site now lies within the borders of the protected natural park of Cabo de Gata.
A few years ago, a developer began construction on a mega-resort complex alongside the Algarrobico beach, a few hundred meters from the site of Aqaba. The main hotel, Azata del Sol, was to include 411 rooms in 20 stories, most with water views due to the fact that the hotel scales the side of a cliff. Another seven residential buildings and an 18-hole golf course were also part of the plan.
However, opponents of the development claimed that it was in violation of regulations protecting the natural park and the Spanish coastline. In February 2006 a court ruling declared the construction illegal and ordered that work on the hotel be stopped. Last year, the government of the province of Andalucia stated that they would purchase the land the hotel is on, after which they would demolish the building and return the site to its original state.
So far, the unfinished building still stands. I was there in February and took some photographs. The previous week, seventy Greenpeace activists had draped the hotel with more than 18,000 square meters of green material in order to draw attention to the blemish the construction has created on the coastline.