MOROCCO – SPAIN / Spain donates the Gran Teatro Cervantes to Morocco

On March 1st 2023, Spain ceded the Gran Teatro Cervantes to the Kingdom of Morocco.

Located in the heart of Tangier, this emblematic cultural venue was designed in 1913 by the Spanish architect Diego Jiménez Armstrong. Built by a wealthy Andalusian couple, the theatre became the property of the Spanish state in 1928. With nearly a thousand seats (some say 1,400), the auditorium was the largest in North Africa. Many international celebrities have performed there, including the Italian tenor Caruso and the Egyptian actor Youssef Wahbi. Subsequently the theatre became a cinema and finally a wrestling hall. It closed down in the 1970’s and has remained empty.

This hand-over follows an agreement made between Morocco and Spain in 2019, with Morocco agreeing to restore the building within three years, respecting the architect’s original design. The restoration costs are estimated at 60 million dirhams, or nearly €5.5 million. During 50 years of neglect all the theatre’s paintings and ceramics have suffered badly.

Morocco is also committed to “maintaining a Spanish component in its cultural programming” – without however determining what part the cinema will play in that programming.

Sources: Box Office Pro, Le courrier de l’Atlas, France Info

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