Las Cigarreras, an innovative culture ‘factory’
The city of Alicante is on top of the latest contemporary culture trends. Las Cigarreras, a venue for art exhibitions and the performing arts, has positioned Alicante on par with other cities that showcase the most cutting edge forms of artistic expression. This multidisciplinary centre hosts concerts, dance performances and workshops that invite visitors to delve into a wide array of creative fields.
When in Alicante, the most inquisitive travellers should be sure to visit this space located in three buildings of the city’s former tobacco factory. Las Cigarreras always has something that will catch their eye and awaken their senses. Urban art, intergenerational spaces, activities, languages and counterculture alternatives are just some of the things it has to offer. In 2019, more than 30,000 visitors took part in its wide range of activities.
Las Cigarreras, from a tobacco factory to a cultural centre
When visitors arrive at Las Cigarreras on Calle San Carlos 78, they are initially surprised upon seeing the building’s industrial style. This Contemporary Cultural Centre is housed in three buildings of an emblematic former tobacco factory in Alicante. Built in the early 19th century, the popular Tabacalera occupied three floors and more than 30,000 square metres. Thousands of locals worked at this facility over the course of two centuries until 2004, when its operations were transferred to an industrial estate on the city’s outskirts and the former factory was taken over by the city council.
The lower level was renovated in 2009 to become the new home of Las Cigarreras Museum. The space formed part of a comprehensive plan designed by the archaeologist Pablo Rosser and paid tribute to the 5,000 women who worked in the old tobacco factory at any given time.
The building has undergone a number of restoration projects throughout the years, modifying the names and uses of the various spaces. To ensure the new facility was conveniently accessible, an entrance was built on Calle San Carlos. An original tower and a metal ramp connect the warehouse section with the gardens. Las Cigarreras has several spaces for an array of uses. The surrounding area serves as a meeting point for local residents and is continuously being modified and improved.
The venues at Las Cigarreras
Like in other Spanish cities, such as Madrid and San Sebastián, former tobacco factories have been restored for avant-garde culture and leisure alternatives. In Alicante, the historic edification has been transformed into a dynamic platform for producing and sharing the latest culture. Las Cigarreras has become an enormous creative hub comprised by multiple areas.
The Contemporary Culture section caters to younger audiences and strives to foster their curiosity and expand their interests. With 2,842 square metres of floor space, it is used for music rehearsals and recordings, video sessions, films, theatre, dance, photography and more.
Caja Blanca (White Box) and Caja Negra (Black Box) are two of the most popular parts of Las Cigarreras. The first is quite spacious and used for temporary exhibitions. The second, a versatile soundproofed room covering more than 200 square metres, is used for workshops as well as for musical and theatre performances. It features retractable seating and a modular stage, making it suitable for all types of shows. The cultural centre is also equipped with a digital production facility called MakerCig.
Casa de la Música (House of Music) and other spaces
An element that stands out at Las Cigarreras Contemporary Cultural Centre is Casa de la Música (House of Music). Located in the right side of the building, it serves as the headquarters of the Municipal Orchestra and includes an archive, office and assembly hall with space for approximately 250 seats. There is also an exhibition hall where instruments, scores and musical heritage documents are on permanent display.
The middle section, which has two levels and 2,489 square metres of floor space, focuses on Cultural Heritage. It has a large warehouse for the vast archaeological remains found in excavations that have taken place over the years in Alicante’s municipal districts. Lastly, the Secadero area, covering almost 2,000 square metres, was added recently. This section was originally used to dry cigars at the old tobacco factory, but it has been transformed into a large open venue where concerts, fairs and various events are held.
The spectacular terrace at Las Cigarreras Cultural Centre
The centre is rounded out with La Cigarra Bar, an outdoor café featuring an original terrace and a wooden structure built in the workshop of Manuel García, an expert Falla and Hoguera artist. The striking sculpture is shaped like an insect, which explains why it is called La Cigarra (cicada).
The unique creation is based on a project by the architects Tomás Amat and Pablo Belda, and was coordinated by the engineer José Andrés Lluch. The white head is made of Corian, the body and abdomen are made of wood, and the insect’s legs are formed by a metal structure. In addition to the Corian sheets, the cicada sculpture is shaped by 400 square metres of plywood and 10 cubic metres of elm strips.
It gives visitors the impression of coming across an insect posing in a garden. According to Pablo Belda, one of the individuals behind this piece, ‘We created something that melded with the space in question. An insect adapted to its surroundings, a piece designed specifically for Las Cigarreras, which is anything but typical. The goal was not to create a regular café, but rather an exceptional project that fit the cultural setting’.
The striking Vertical Garden
Another element that sweeps visitors off their feet is the Vertical Garden, an open-air concept that follows seasonal transformations. Standing 25 metres tall and 5 metres deep, this garden is comprised by native plants, such as palms, Mediterranean shrubs, grass and agaves. The area is used for workshops, musical performances and other activities. There is also a playground next to the café.
An extensive and innovative activities programme
Las Cigarreras Cultural Centre has become an emblem of contemporary culture in the province of Alicante. This meeting point and communication hub organises activities that invite locals and visitors to discover artistic disciplines through an innovative, contemporary and avant-garde perspective.
This multidisciplinary centre offers free activities linked to the world of film, theatre, music, dance, workshops and exhibitions for all audiences. One of the most popular is the A Quemarropa artist-in-residence programme, a non-profit training initiative, designed for artists, by artists. The centre selects 10 creators from Spain and abroad, and invites them to coexist and share their work. During their stay, residents live with other creators, visit artistic and cultural professionals, and attend workshops, interviews and presentations.
Las Cigarreras Cultural Centre is also known for its commitment to projects, initiatives and places linked to alternative cultures. Digital art, electronic music, robotics, urban art and new narratives made with technology have a strong presence in this space that is open to the latest trends.
Information of interest
- Calle San Carlos 78. Alicante.
- Las Cigarreras Cultural Centre is open to visitors between 1 September and 30 June. The opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
The centre can be explored at visitors’ leisure and there are also several types of guided tours. For example, there is a special educational itinerary titled ‘From tobacco factory to cultural factory’ designed for schoolchildren. For additional information, please visit the centre’s website.