Estepona, from scandal city to European example in urban planning

by Lorraine Williamson

ESTEPONA -Located on the sunny Costa del Sol, Estepona was once the focus of scandals and corruption. The city was plagued by real estate fraud and political bribery scandals. But times change and the coastal town has undergone a major metamorphosis. 

That positive phase started with the appointment of mayor José María García Urbano in 2011. He changed course and after all his and his administration’s efforts, the city was even shortlisted for the prestigious European City of the Year in Urbanism Award. 

Extraordinary city planning 

But, how could this spectacular turnaround take place? The answer is simple: thanks to extraordinary urban planning. Estepona has reinvented itself focusing on sustainability, the environment and quality of life. That has not gone unnoticed. The Academy of Urbanism, a renowned organisation in urban planning, has named Estepona a finalist for their coveted award. 

The pedestrian is king in Estepona 

One of the notable changes is the increased pedestrian friendliness. With extensive pedestrian zones and renovated streets and squares, the city now offers wide spaces for relaxation and social interaction. Forget the heavy car traffic; in Estepona centre the pedestrian is king. 

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Botanical paradise 

In addition, the municipality has opened a beautiful botanical garden. This is even labelled as ‘unique in Europe’. With an exotic collection of orchids and tropical species, it is an oasis of peace and beauty. Furthermore, numerous streets and squares have been redesigned and made greener. The ‘Balcón al Mediterráneo’ has also been opened along the beautiful boulevard with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Art and culture 

Lovers of art and culture have also been taken into account. Estepona has created an open-air museum by having 60 murals painted on city facades. In addition, an impressive collection of poems is part of a fascinating art route through the centre of the city. 

The jury decides 

The jury of The Academy of Urbanism will visit the city on October 2 and 3 for the final assessment. But according to insiders, the nomination alone is a victory in itself. And with that, the city has left its dark past behind and now stands as a symbol of what is possible when a municipality invests in the future. Estepona can now serve as a model for other cities. 

Also read: The Costa del Sol is increasingly a luxury destination with Marbella at the forefront 

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