Orihuela: The Murals of San Isidro

Posted by in Culture, Travel, Visual Arts

The beginning of something extraordinary!


1976 was a period of great change and renewal around the world (Punk in the UK, the death of Mao Zedong in China and the death of Francisco Franco in Spain the previous year). I have been based in the latter since late 2018 and have been grateful for the fascinating journey it has given me from Barcelona right down the Mediterranean coast to Alicante and inwards to Elche and… Orihuela.

Painting the house becomes something entirely different in Orihuela.


Sometimes you find yourself in a place you’ve never heard of and are glad for the experience. The story goes that in 1976 after the Spanish Civil War, the people in Orihuela were feeling invigorated and felt the need to colour their neighbourhood, the poor and marginalised north western suburb of San Isidro. Some say its gypsy vibe is off-putting but I loved it and what better way to spend a grey spring morning than perusing its amazing urban art.

A coat of many colours, the houses of San Isidro.

The Police at the time were not too enthused and tried to stop this celebration, much in honour of local born poet Miguel Hernández who was incarcerated for his liberal political views and (like Antonio Gramsci) died in horrendous circumstances in 1942.

Fortunately the people won out and the paintings of San Isidro were born. Not surprisingly some are political in nature and some feature quotes from the late poet, ensuring his cultural and creative legacy.

And there’s more!

In 2012 while newly based in China myself, the town hall of Orihuela decided to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death with an extensive restoration project and the creation of new works. The result as told by Alicante Today in 2013 is ‘a cascade of colour running down the hillside streets.’ And it’s wonderful to see, especially on a grey day.

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Thanks for reading here, should you be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, check out the MEDIA page, and/or the UNIVERSITY page for my teaching ethos. 

Meanwhile, stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world.

Street Fighting Years – Simple Minds
Let Robeson Sing – Manic Street Preachers
Sail To The Moon – Radiohead
Two Hands – Tim Bowness/Samuel Smiles
Footsteps – Brian Eno/John Cale
Spanish Steps – Morten Harket
City – The Church
Lighthouse – No-Man
Sea Song – Tears for Fears

My thanks to those hosting me during my stay.
See the videos of the Holy Week Procession on my You Tube channel (short but nice).