Mike Vickers' Blog

September 8, 2012

4 Days in Barcelona

Filed under: Politics, Scottish Independence, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 9:21 pm

had not been to Spain before, so Barcelona is the first.

A very compact city even though the population of the city itself is 1.5 million

What is it famous for: well its football team – we went to the Stadium and its ‘big’ – it can take 100,000 spectators though how they all get home after the match is unclear?  It’s proud – very proud – it’s Barcelona Football Club and that’s the feeling you get about the whole city – its proud – it’s got Messi – my son tells me he is the greatest.  But it’s also proud of its ethics – multicultural – fair on the pitch and in the dressing room and it wears Unicef proudly on its shirts gives an annual donation to them.

Then it’s got Gaudi and Gaudi is everywhere – well in the centre.  Gaudi is the Art Nouveau architect par excellence.  Glasgow has Rennie Macintosh – but Gaudi has more left still very visible.  Yes  we have all seen photos of his church Sagrada Familia still being built after 100 years (but that’s true of most large churches) but what a church – the inside is magnificent – towering upwards on columns that could be tall branching trees – richly colloured stained glass windows letting in the light from all directions (we did have a cloudless sky) and you can go up the towers – 8 so far but 8 more planned including the central spire.  Not everyone likes it – George Orwell hoped it would have been blown up by the Republicans in the Civil War.  And there are also three town house that Gaudi designed  – one of which is itself three with an amazing artic like an up turned boat – well many boats all joined together.

Gaudi Chimneys

And then there is Joan Miro; Miro is colourful and his Fundacio (gallery) is joyous – he almost has a style of his own although you can see extraneous influences from Picasso, the Surrealists, and the Paris crowd.  Interestingly the Gallery awards a biennial prize to a modern artist and houses a selection of their work – this biennial it is Mona Hatoum a Lebanese sculptor who start work in Cardiff!  Well worth a look at:




Sagrada Familia - Work continues

Miro in the Park

Miro in the Park


 Oh! And by the way there is Picasso with a Museum to himself – not that he appears to have spent much time in Barcelona but he had a mate Jaume Sabartes who did.  An odd collection with early pictures that you wouldn’t recognise as Picasso to his blue period, to drawings of himself and his models and his minotaurs/ bulls.  But most interestingly his paintings leading up to his version of Las Meninas after Velasquez with over 50 paintings done over a period of 3 months – a real hard worker!  The only pity was that there was not a photo for the final version (though perhaps there was no final version).


Yes there is very good food – we mainly focused on the tapas and one evening spent in a very nice wine bar.

And as the central city is quite small we walked almost everywhere.  There are lots of places I have forgotten and didn’t make it.

But a few comments

Barcelona has its own Gothic Cathedral but it was virtually empty ,  it has a marvellous open large open church, Santa Maria del Mar, with just a few visitors but the Gaudi Sagrada Familia was packed, a queue 200 metres long to get in and every one with cameras – it’s no longer clear what we are all looking for – going to a gallery with its demi-gods has taken over from going to church.  Still that’s better than going to a retail part.

Barcelona is the largest city in Catalunya and Barcelona was the centre of the Republican Government in the Spanish Civil War – yes the republican were eventually crushed by Franco.  You can get a flavour of the war in Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and why although coming in on the Republican side he left in disillusionment by the Communist Party and why he wrote Animal Farm and 1984.   Anyway I had assumed that Barcelona would be left of centre but I am wrong – for the last few years it was right wing governments as the rest of Spain.

This takes me to my last comment.  Catalunya to Spain is like Scotland to the UK.  It is proud of its Catalan language, lying between Spanish and French, and the first language is formally Catalan. It would like to be independent but unlike the Basque region relies on negotiation rather than terrorism.  It has its own government and like Scotland gets a block grant from the central government although it appears not to have so much control over education.  An interesting comparison to follow up over the next two years, along with Quebec.

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