Hotel Costa Azul, San Juan, Spain, 1957

APRIL 1957 – The Hotel Costa Azul at the Avenida Jaime I el Conquistador in San Juan, Spain. Scan © Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

I think it is amazing that almost any photo tells a story and can become a historic document, even simple vacation shots like this one. When researching the location where a photo might have been taken, you go ‘wow!’ when you realize how much a place has changed over time. This is the case with a number of shots from our family archive that show a trip to San Juan d’Alacant in Spain in early April 1957.

In all fairness we have to say that early April is definitely pre-season, so one wouldn’t expect masses of people on the beach, and there may be still remains of the winter as leftovers on the beach.

Still, it was next to impossible to find the location where this photo had been taken because almost everything has changed in this popular holiday destination. Of course, the Hotel Costa Azul has long closed its doors, and there are just very few references on the net. A good visual help was the old tram that passed the photo. The photo has been clearly taken from the beach and the tracks of the tram must be very close to the beach. This is rare. In San Juan, the satellite images revealed that this is the case at the Playa de Mutxavista for a stretch of a kilometer or so.

So I (virtually) drove up and down the beach promenade looking for houses that would resemble the ones in the picture. And then I spotted the two low towers of the house on the right. The house seems to still exist today, albeit slightly modified. It’s the one opposite the Restaurante Costa Blanca 2011.

Comparing the scenery from 1957 with 2021, I conclude that a tiny paradise got lost within just a couple decades. Gone forever.

At least we have this photograph as a silent document of the past.

P.S.: I bet the long lost relative who captured the photo would have never imagined that I would write an article about his photo, 64 years after his holidays, and that you would be reading it right now, somewhere on this planet.

The high resolution image

Capture DateApril 1957
LocationSan Juan d’Alacant, Spain
Image Source7 x 10 cm Print from Original Negative Film
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, AdobeRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions4391 x 3003 Pixels
Copyright© by Mark Zanzig/

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