Few people know that the acclaimed and representative Levante fountain, designed by Daniel Bañuls for Plaza de la Independencia, today Plaza de los Luceros, was severely criticized during its opening in 1931. they did not hesitate for a moment to violently attack the image of a monument they could not understand and the modern language of ornamentation that is admirable today. In fact, some opinion articles published in newspapers such as El Día or El Luchador drew attention to the extreme modernity of the sculptures and rejected the forms chosen by their authors.
In the second of these diaries (nº 6352, June 22, 1931, p. 5), a particularly interesting article was published, which refers to the source under the pseudonym Susana and refers to the Greek passages of the Book of Daniel. They told the story of this young woman, the wife of the wealthy Joaquín, whom two old men spied during the bath. When found, they tried to force the young woman to have sexual intercourse with them under the threat of accusing her of being unfaithful to her husband. The chaste Susana refused them and they did not get what they wanted from her, they defamed her and accused her of adultery, so she was sentenced to death. Fortunately, the prophet Daniel mediated on her behalf, and the woman was spared such a fate.
Knowing this Old Testament history, it can be difficult to understand why, from El Luchador, the name Susana is applied to an urban monument that does not imply the passage of scriptures. However, just like the protagonist of this story, Bañuls’ work became the object of contempt and insult when those who wanted to seize her beauty failed to make such an attempt.
Of course, there was great expectation from Alicante to learn about Levante’s direction, and few showed their admiration for the original project presented at the City Council a few months before the fountain’s opening. However, Bañuls changed the final direction of his work, and when the monument was unveiled, onlookers who had come to enjoy the statues’ beauty expressed their anger with insults when they discovered that the sculptor had not presented what he had presented to them. to wait.
Fortunately, just as the hero of the Old Testament stories was spared insults and false accusations, the Levante fountain was spared criticism, which did not understand Daniel Bañuls’ artistic personality, and eventually became one of the symbols of Alicante. It can therefore be affirmed that the famous monument is no longer worthy of the label imposed on it, comparing it to young Susana.
It can be, but it can’t. And you can’t because much of Alicante society still suffers from the same selfishness as before. Many residents of the city constantly go around the Levante fountain and admire its beauty, but they enjoy it so much that they want to enjoy the monument beyond just contemplating its forms and use it for performances that jeopardize its preservation. .
Those of us who live and go in Alicante are damaging our heritage when we surround our fountain with fireworks, gunpowder and vibrations that erode, pierce and shatter it. And just as the ancients did, we escape our guilt when the Levante fountain is abandoned in the face of persecution. We, the men and women of Alicante, sought to divert attention from her crimes by pointing out a false infidelity of a woman, while justifying the damage done by pyrotechnics to our monument by hiding behind a questionable tradition. has ceased to be real (TRAM, road traffic, pollution, vandalism…), is more important than pyrotechnics, and has not been addressed with the urgency needed to preserve our heritage.
Susana was fortunate to have the prophet Daniel intercede for her, but the Levante fountain was helpless in the face of various rulers who could not make the decision to remove harmful agents from her and were determined to silence the opinions of restorers, engineers or architects. Indeed, judging from the contents of some fairly recent press articles, it doesn’t even seem that the ultimate aim of the restoration work to preserve the monument was to protect the monument from destruction, but rather to embellish it to prevent pyrotechnic interference. or sports celebrations shine more in such a privileged setting.
This is not the path that heritage protection should take. Restorations on Luceros must be done to ensure its integrity and not to close wounds that will be reopened by fireworks and fireworks explosions in June. Pyrotechnics can and should take place in other venues that have been proposed on numerous occasions, but irreparable damage to the fountain can result in the fountain being lost and with it some of the identity and image of the city. Festivals are a source of wealth and an undeniable tourist attraction, as well as the care of our movable and immovable cultural assets.
The people of Alicante still have the opportunity to enjoy both and offer them to our visitors. It is therefore essential that we understand the value of our heritage, whether tangible or intangible, and the importance of preserving it. It’s time to decide who we want to be: the elders who denounce their legacy with their false admiration and cruel accusations, or the prophet Daniel who will save him from a fatal outcome.