Castelling, a human tower

Castelling is an ancient Catalan tradition, first documented in the early 1800’s, it began in Tarragona, but has since spread throughout Catalonia. I first saw it courtesy of the pink trousered one, Michael Portillo, in one of his tv programmes, to which I am addicted. As I was in Barcelona for ‘The Dia’ last September, I knew there was a fair chance of seeing it.

The Centre for Cultura i Memoria in El Born was one of the places it could be seen, the one that was easy to find, and close to a favourite little café!

After a croissant filled with coffee flavoured mascarpone, it was time to go out into the Placa Comercial,

Where preparations were underway.

And then it began.

In the background, you can see the first layer climb on the shoulders of the base level, or Pinya as it’s known. The Pinya is wide and formed by the strongest of the group, to make a base that can support the weight of the rest and be a safety net should anyone fall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Several more layers are added, the Tronc, and finally, the littlest one scrambles atop, zoom in to see her nearly there, but I didn’t capture her with the camera, I was too entranced!

Once there, she gives a very quick wave, the crowd cheer and she’s back down the six layers beneath her, in just a few moments. Three troups performed that day, in competition, and each time I saw the wave, but my camera didn’t.

Ascending luminosity

Paula has given us a list of five words to choose from for her Thursday special this week. I’ve chosen two, ascending and luminosity, in one photo.

ascending-luminosityTaken with my i phone 6, I think the graininess adds atmosphere – that’s my excuse anyway – from the 6th floor of Hotel Casanova on the Gran Via in Barcelona.

The other words on Paula’s list are idleness, jaunty and whiff in case you’d like to join in, you have until Thursday.

Happy Sunday!

 

 

Black and White Sunday, a Barcelona Nightscape

Paula asks for a nightscape in black and white and says ‘the absence of colour lets us focus on shapes more’. I agree, clear definition and form seems to work best.

My photo was taken from the Arenas rooftop in Barcelona, which is a circle of restaurants with views over the city.

Placa Espanya by night
Placa Espanya by night

The Arenas was once the city’s bullring, and is now a smart shopping mall, a much better use, don’t you agree?

Santa Maria Del Mar

Barcelona’s Cathedral of the sea, isn’t actually a Cathedral at all, but a beautiful 14th century Gothic church. It was on my list of places to see in Barcelona this time, but on no particular day. In the event, we stumbled upon it by accident while wandering around El Born and La Ribera areas. In case you want to find it, it’s at the end of the street where you’ll find the Picasso museum, heading towards the sea.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The exterior of the church is a little dull, squeezed as it is in the narrow streets of the Ribera, and once you climb to the rooftop, you’ll see just how densely built the area is. You can enter the church without any cost at certain times of the day, but we were happy to pay our 8 euros for a tour of the rooftops. A tour was about to begin, so we had little time to consider the impact on our knees of climbing 140 steps!

There’s another chance to draw breathe after 60 more steps, then just 10 and you’re on the roof.

The church of Our Lady of the Sea was well worth the visit, I’m so glad we stumbled upon it. I believe that if your timing is good, you may get to hear musical rehearsals. It’s known as the people’s church, and because of it’s beauty, it’s also one of the most popular for weddings. I hope you enjoyed sharing my visit.

 

The Details on Guell

I went to Park Guell last year, but my friend didn’t so that was a great excuse to go again! But I won’t bore you with more of the same, instead, I’ve created a gallery of some of the smaller details, the Trencadis mosaics.

It’s commonly believed that Gaudi, Park Guell’s architect, invented the Trencadis modernist style, but it’s more likely that it originated in the ancient Arab world. I’ve tried mosaic work, just making a house number. The result was pretty good, but it was very hard on my hands, and I wouldn’t want to do it again. I can’t imagine the number of hours it must have taken to create Park Guell.

Santa Eulalia’s Geese

The day we arrived in Barcelona we were shattered, but determined to hit the streets after a bit of a snooze. Wanting to get out of the Ramblas as soon as possible, seeing a sign for the cathedral seemed a good idea. The Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia as it’s called in Catalan, was on the must see list.

We soon became distracted by the sights and sounds of the city, but knew we must be heading in the right direction, and once cooled by an ice cream we soon found it.

 But it had just closed, so we had to wait half an hour, which we spent people watching on the steps.

Eventually we were allowed in, to admire the Gothic vaults built between the 13th and 15th centuries.

bac4Remembering to look in all directions.

bac5The Cathedral, which is the seat of the bishop of Barcelona, is known for its rather unusual cloisters and I have to confess that was what particularly drew me. There’s an odd looking fountain, but in the background . . .

Yes, geese, thirteen of them, representing the age of Santa Eulalia when she was martyred in Roman times.

Despite the crowds, the cloister was an extraordinary peaceful place, and it warranted more time than our tiredness would allow. Maybe next time.

bac9In the absence of any food, I think she would have been happy to chat.

I’m leaving you with this beautiful Madonna and Child, there was something about her that touched me, I hope you can see it too.

The Palau de la Musica Catalana

Architect Domenech Montaner’s stunning concert hall in Barcelona marks the zenith of the Modernista movement in the city. He called it his ‘Garden of Music’, and it is a joy to behold. As soon as you arrive you can tell you’re in for a treat.

When you turn from the narrow street, there’s a new entrance.

With the Good Conductor waiting to take charge.

Just inside there’s a rather elegant bar. On a guided tour we learn that a church beside the Palau was pulled down and the new entrance created, with a small auditorium. Then we get the first dazzling glimpse.

 

A dynamic representation of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries flies high above our heads.

It’s hard to know which way to look!

But Pegasus is also in flight.

While on the balcony I have to wait to photograph a row of mosaic pillars where too many people had the same idea.

Then we go back inside on the top floor to see what we’ve really been waiting for.

Montaner’s vision was to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, creating light that would change throughout the day.

You should be able to click on the image to get a closer view. It’s a kind of inverted dome, a stained glass orb skylight, totally entrancing. The tour finished with a short performance of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, I can’t think of anywhere better to hear it.

This post is for Jo who’s been to the Palau and hopefully will like this little reminder, and for Jude who may like to go there sometime in the future.

I’m sorry, I’m way behind and owe many of you messages!