Several European cities claim to have the narrowest building in Europe, like the house at Oude Hoogstraat 22 in Amsterdam or a tiny kebab shop in Bratislava, but the narrowest one could actually be found in the centre of the atmospheric Old Town (Ciutat Vella) in Valencia and it is called La Estrecha, which means “the narrow one”.
The building is at no 6 of Plaza Loppe de Vega, a wonderful square with many colourful buildings, shops, cafes, tapas bars and the church of Santa Catalina. It is very easy not to notice this five-story house painted vivid red, which could easily considered just part of the adjoining buildings. Its facade is 107 centimeters, while the building in Amsterdam has a 101 centimeters wide facade but its interior is actually wider. In this way La Estrecha is in fact the narrowest building as a whole, with only one room on each floor.
The building was originally constructed as a family house. According to the locals, the woman who used to live here had to dress in the street on the day of Communion, because with the traditional fallera dress put on, she could not pass through the door. The house inside had two small beds, a cot, a small kitchen stuck to the wall and a table with two chairs. Apparently, houses in the area were used to be taxed according to the size of their facades and so the family who built this house found a way to lower their tax payment.
The ground floor was first used as a jewellery shop, owned by the family who lived here, and afterwards had housed a newspaper kiosk, a gift shop and a vending machine, while the upper floors were rented to prostitutes and people for extramarital affairs.
Nowadays the entrance and the ground floor of the building is part of the tapas bar next door, called Tasquita La Estrecha, which has demolished the wall that separated them. The owners have kept the original flooring intact and have a collection of pictures of the interior of the house as it once was, while the upper floors have been joined internally with the next building in apartments.
La Estrecha is a curious tourist attraction and not very well-known. However it is becoming more and more popular with tourist, while the citizens of Valencia tend to ignore it.
*(All photos are from iStock)