Homenatge a Catalunya

Just come home from Catalunya. I’ll get on to the politics and language issues in another blog but firstly I’ll tell you three things you must see in Barcelona.1) La Sagrada Familia.

Astonishing in conception, this remarkable building is as much a testament to the genius of Antoni Gaudi as a statement of faith by the Catalan nation.
Started in 1882 it is currently about 70% complete. As the Bishop said to Gaudi:
“Antoni, when will it be finished?”
“My client didn’t set a deadline”
Gaudi’s wonderful connections with natural patterns of flora is one of the defining elements of the Cathedral’s design. An astonishing bloke, respected by many but whose style has not been followed by others despite it’s glory:

There was a church builder called Gaudi
Who thought “A cathedral? – that would be tidy”
He made a wonderful plan
but then fell under a tram
So it’ll be finished in 3003.

Gaudi’s Wiki and this is well worth a browse for examples of his work

2) The Joan Miro Museum

I quite like museums dedicated to one artist or concept – it’s easier to deal with than lots of different stuff. The Joan Miró Foundation does just that. The link above is worth a browse as is his Wiki and this collection of his work.

There once was an artist called Miro
who liked to use red, blue and yellow
painted a woman and bird
and all things absurd
but he’s ever so famous you know

3) I’ve been to quite a few of the finest museums in the world, MOMA, Tate Modern, The Louvre, Big Pit at Blaenafon but my favourite of all is the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Again a dedicated museum it has nothing famous by Picasso but is a remarkable record of his development. Most of the works were donations by the artist or his wife. You go from self portraits as a 14 year old and religious work in the traditional Madonna and Child genre all the way through his life. Pretty good website
The highlight is wonderful:
Velasquez and Picasso – Velasquez’s “Las Meninas” at the Prado is a sudy of the court of Felipe the 4ths daughter Margarita – Read about it here. In 1957 Picasso spent six months recreating Las Meninas in 58 variations. Much of the workings of these variations are on display in Barcelona – and it’s an absolutely wonderful insight into the bloke’s mind and excellently presented. Brilliant and free on the first Sunday of every month.

There once was a painter called Pablo….

Diolch o galon i Gillian a’r teulu am eu croeso a charedigrwydd.

  • GGN
  • Dewi,

    I 100% agree about the Sagrada Familia – its an amazing project. It must be how the medieval cathedrals of Europe were like when they were being build (but without the cranes, of course).

    I see that you don’t recommend the Rambla … and I can think why not. Another strange spot, but a bit dodgy.

  • frustrated democrat

    No – La Boqueira?

    Surely it has to be seen.

  • Dewi

    “No – La Boqueira?”

    So many great places – so little room to blog. Was there on Monday – cool – no to mention Montjuic etc etc.

  • Dewi

    There once was a painter called Pablo
    Who veered from the straight and narrow
    In his art class one day
    His teacher was moved to say
    “What are you? Some kind of Picasso”

  • The big church was pretty cool, but the tourist trap around it put me off a bit. Gaudi’s other stuff is still real cool, and I really loved running through the park and getting lost in that world – or even just walking around the city checking out graffiti and public murals in the shadow of his bold architecture.

    I might even put the Miro Foundation at the top, myself. I knew nothing about him or the museum before walking in, then I got this feeling like I had crossed into another world that didn’t fully fade until I left Barcelona almost a week later.

    I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see the Dali museum last time. We also have one here in Florida that’s a lot closer, yet I still haven’t managed to make it there. Oh well, time to start setting up plans for the next few trips 🙂

  • Joseph Addison

    At last a string with some urbane,civilised,artistic and tasteful comment. It most certainly puts religion in order as a ceremonial form of cultural and pluralistic development.Which those of us who have been subjected to 4500 hours of religious exposure prior to tertiary education can respect and admire in spite of becoming cynical sceptical agnostics, who however can appreciate the cultural richness of these ceremonies particularly in my particular case the Coronation Ceremony however “chaque a son gout”.

  • the future’s bright, the future orange

    dewi -what the heck does this post have to do with NI politics or culture? bonkers.
    Anyway, yes, the Sagrada is the dogs ******. Did you walk up the spiral staircases – very cool. Do you also head up the church on the mountain that overlooks Barcelona – they have a funfair up there and again you can walk up to the very top of the spire – absolutely incredible. I trust you’ll have a rugger post for the internationals this weekend (even if ireland arn;t playing..)

  • Dewi

    “At last a string with some urbane,civilised,artistic and tasteful comment”

    And limericks – have a go!

    “I trust you’ll have a rugger post”

    Rugger??? Did you go to public school???

  • Seimi

    La Sagrada Familia is absolutely beautiful. Gaudi’s work throughout the city is astounding. It really stands out and adds to what is already a lovely city. I didn’t make it to either the Miro or Picasso – flying visit of only 3 days, most of which was taken up with meeting Catalan language groups – but Barcalona is definitely somewhere for me to re-visit.

    Los Ramblas is great. The variety of stalls, the people, the sounds and smells. I love that part of any city.

  • An essential fourth place to go: Palau de la MĂşsica Catalana. Make a prior booking or book a place on a tour as the first thing you do — or even go to a concert. It’s a classic of Modernism, designed by LluĂ­s Domènech i Montaner.

    In a roundabout way (to answer the future’s bright, the future orange @ 09:06 PM — self-confessedly, a misguided soul), it has a lot to do with the stated purposes of Slugger. Ireland was not the only place where, at the start of the 20th century, populations began to rediscover cultural identity.

    I was at the Palau in 2006, just after reading C J Sansom’s Winter in Madrid. For the purposes of his novel, Sansom has the first performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez at Madrid, before Franco: a chilling and effective piece of fiction. In fact the Concierto was first performed a month earlier at the Palau in Barcelona. By one of those coincidences that aren’t, I always have Miles Davis’s version on the iPod.

    Oh, and coming back from La Sagrada Familia, there’s a statutory stop. You interchange between the Red line and the Purple line (they probably have more correct names than that) and have yourself photographed on the platform, under the station sign for Clot.

    But, hey!, we really came for the wine and a bit of food, didn’t we? All the more reason, then, if you’ve got more than a few days, to get out of town: Lleida or Girona. I quite like Tarragona for a leisurely couple of days, straight down the coast on the rail line. If nothing else, it’s an object lesson in how to invest in and run efficient railways (another relevance to NI?).

  • Brit

    A nice City for drink, eat and to watch a match at the Camp Nou (although my sympathies are much more with the working class Castillian team Espanyol).

  • Dewi

    “If nothing else, it’s an object lesson in how to invest in and run efficient railways (another relevance to NI?). ”

    Absolutely Malcolm – and for 7 Euro 70 you get a ticket with ten trips within 15 miles of Barcelona.

  • susan

    I almost always enjoy the threads that diverge from the strict definition of Slugger’s scope, FBFO. It’s going to be a long winter, I wish there could be more threads on up and coming bands, books, etc. Necessary break from the headlines. Sometimes “Malcolm Redfellow Explains it All to You” or “Rory Car Remembers” is all I really have the stomach for. And of course “Pete: In Space.”

    Can’t be all sequined bustiers and hovercraft, you know.

    Dewi grá mo chroĂ­, what does “Diolch o galon i Gillian a’r teulu am eu croeso a charedigrwydd” mean?

  • Dewi


    “Thanks from the heart to Gillian and family for their welcome and kindness”

    I loved “Pete: In Space” – Laughed out loud!

  • susan

    Aah! Such a lovely language. Thanks for the translation. Sounds like a fantastic walkabout you had for yourself, too.

  • Paul McMahon

    “But Barcalona is definitely somewhere for me to re-visit”

    I’d like to think that you’d visit somewhere else in that general vicinity sooner.

  • Joseph Addison

    I actually went to a soccer school, the same one as my decendant, who now writes under my name as a pseudonym.Rugby Union was’nt around when our alma mater was founded 400 years ago. I did however play Rugby at my prep school and after leaving school. During my apprenticeship I even played for Castres. Is that sufficient for your insatiable curiosity?

  • dewi

    Castres eh? Are you ugly? My uncle had a colour TV when we were kids (first in the village) – and he used to do a glorious commentary when the French tean were introduced.
    No 1 – Jean Claude Skerla – “lost his eye fighting in Algeria”
    No 2 – David Maso – massacred a village in Dien Bien Phu
    And so on…..

  • I dunno: think of Barcelona and all they can talk about is bleedin’ football …

    That said, I’m with Brit @ 02:25 PM, if only because, until this season, Espanyol played at the Estadi OlĂ­mpic LluĂ­s Companys. That is/was the “home” stadium for Andorra in its major games, as I recall (which must mark the ultimate of hope triumphing over experience). It was designed for the 1929 Expo of 1929 by Pere Domènech i Roura, remodelled for the aborted 1936 OlimpĂ­ada Popular (the intended counter to the Nazi Fűhrerfest), and finally employed for the XXV Olympiad. Finally, in 2001, it was renamed for LluĂ­s Companys i Jover, the president of the Catalonian government, murdered with many other comrades by the Falangists in MontjuĂŻc.

    By the way, on the topic of MontjuĂŻc and on second thoughts, can I enter a reservation about the FundaciĂł Joan MirĂł? It’s fun getting there, with that astonishing last trip up the funicular from Parallel. It’s a magnificent building, in a staggering position. Some of the exhibits are memorable. The kids from the local junior schools obviously love it. But those chairs, those iconic Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs! They look good — but has anyone, ever, found them comfortable?

  • Dewi

    “,,,I enter a reservation about the FundaciĂł Joan MirĂł”
    I’ve got a pile of reservations – all those blasted stars! – to be honest in his last decades I reckon Miro was just having a laugh……

  • Dewi

    “I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see the Dali museum last time”

    Missed that John. Must see next time.