Paco de Lucia Route, Algeciras
By Fiona Flores Watson
One of the most famous and influential flamenco guitarists ever, if not the most famous, was Paco de Lucia, who hailed from Algeciras.
You can follow a route of places around Algeciras which were important to the artist, starting at his birthplace, and moving south along the shoreline of the city.
1) Calle San Francisco 8 - where Paco de Lucia was born on 21December 1947 as Francisco Sanchez Gomez. La Bajadillas was a gypsy neighbourhood. The youngest of five, his father was a guitar player and composer, and two of his brothers are also musicians. Paco started playing at a young age, encouraged by his father, practising 12 hours a day. Later they moved to Calle Barcelona, and then to Madrid.
2) Calle Municion (now called Calle Comandante Gomez Ortega) - the well-to-do of the city would gather in the many bars which then existed in this street for flamenco jondo get-togethers. Paco's father Antonio played at the parties, accompanying a singer, and sometimes took his sons along to the bars to listen to Niño Ricardo. In his 1998 album Luzia - dedicated to his beloved mother, in whose honour he took his stage name; the unusual spelling is for her Portuguese roots - his song Municion recalls those days.
3) Plaza Alta - the main square in Algeciras which looks out over the bay, is also the name of a song on Almoraima CD. The plaza holds happy memories of fun childhood experiences for Paco - balloons and games. Hustle and bustle of the morning, stillness of the afternoon.
4) Mercado de Abastos - the city's covered market, with its magnificent dome, where his mother, Luzia, did her shopping every day. His father had a fabric stall in the market.
5) El Chorruelo - this was the beach of the Hotel Reina Cristina, built by the British in the 19th century for those travelling by boat across the bay to and from Gibraltar, and by railway to Ronda. Paco's brother worked at the hotel, then one of Spain's most expensive. The beach, which had huts and a casino-spas, disappeared when the port was built, but the hotel is still as elegant, with its beautiful palm-tree-filled gardens.
6) Monument - this monument to the artist, inaugurated in 1994, was moved several times, until its final and current site, looking out over the harbour. As he said once to Jesus Quintero in an interview "El hombre que nace junto al mar es más soñador (...) Yo necesito esa expansión que te da el mar" (Anyone who is born by the sea is more of a dreamer. I need that sense of space which the sea gives me.) He also said that he loved the sea: swimming, fishing, going out in his boat -were what give him tranquility.
7) Punta de Faro - the lighthouse at the southern end of the Bay of Algeciras, which looks over the Straits of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean and Atlantic meet, to Africa; also a song from El Duende Flamenco.
8) Old Cemetery - this is where his grave is located, complete with bust and guitar sculpture. Paco died in Playa del Carmen, Tulum, in Mexico, on 25 February 2014, where he was playing on the beach with his family.
9) Casa Bernardo - a chiringuito in Algeciras, near Playa del Rinconcillo where Paco's beach house was located, and is also the name of song on Cositas Buenas.
10) Rio de la Miel - this is a river whose source is in the Sierra de la Luna, and which enters Algeciras in a barrio called Rio Ancho, as well as a song from the album Luzia.
Did you know that
At the age of 11, Paco made his first public appearance - on Radio Algeciras.
Paco was the first-ever flamenco guitarist to perform at Madrid's Teatro Royal.
He recorded songs for original movie soundtracks of films by Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou).
Paco de Lucia playing 'Entre dos Aguas' in 1976 on spanish TV1