Blog Post 3 – El Raval

El Raval is an area of Barcelona located to the right of La Rambla when talking from Plaça Catalunya. It is located in the Ciutat Vella and consists of small, narrow streets with many hip stores and tattoo parlors. El Raval has many connections to the Medieval city since it is the expansion of the walls. El Raval changed completely since the Olympics in 1994. After the Olympics, the whole city was transformed and El Raval changed from a drug centered, loiter spot, to a place with many different places to hang out, play, stores, etc. Originally, as mentioned previously, there were many drug dealers, an area for sailers, a lot of alcohol, police, prostitutes. However after the Olympics, the city wanted to change El Raval area. The city of Barcelona kept the spirit of many Mediterranean cities. They made everything pedestrian, and easily walkable. They built city services, town hall buildings, many plazas, playgrounds, Universities water fountains, basketball courts, and stores.

In El Raval today, many locals and people come from all over the world to experience the Catalan culture. One of my favorite places we walked passed during the whole exhibit was the soccer and Catalan bar. It was very independista and had Catalan independent and Barca flags everywhere. Also in the street, there are a lot of fashion stores, vintage stores, thrift stores, and trendy stores. On the street there are many skateboarders, people smoking, dancing, hip hop, it is a very young district with high energy and life.

Some of the stores include restaurants and bars, both big and small, shops, sex shops, tattoo parlors, music stores, camera stores, guitar centers, etc. It reminded me a lot like Christiana, the free town, in Copenhagen. There were also many smaller markets and places to buy quick food.

The good thing about El Raval is that people can use the public space however they would like. There is no force telling people they cannot be there. This is different than other places in Barcelona, where the Guarda Urbana is heavily enforced.

Some important places in El Raval include Casa de Misericordia, Iglesia de Misericordia, Museo de Contemporary arte, Universidad de Barcelona, Convent del angles. Casa de Misericordia is a government building that held the abandoned children in the cellar in history. It faces a plaza with a playground and dirt for children to play. I really enjoyed how modern the museum looked while understanding that there are thirteenth century roots to the area that we were in. It is super cool to think about the contrast. The one space I really liked was the space just passed the CCCB museum and university that has the building with the reflection. This was very cool and a great spot for kids.

In terms of signs on the street, there is a ton of street art and Grafiti. One sign said something about Trump and Putin. I also noticed a piece of art on a wall that is the same piece of art in Plaza de Sant Felip Neri. Maybe it is the same artist. There are also many symbols to music, guitars, animals. One painting shows a man playing a guitar with a snake as his tongue. A lot of the images reflect images like this. There are also many posters that promote different exhibits relating to culture. Some related to communication, film, art, etc.

I think the Raval area has become an important space for alternative culture because the University is right there. It is a good spot for college students to get together and express their own beliefs and impose their own culture on Barcelona. It is a lot less touristy than La Rambla so it is a good spot for college kids to meet up and socialize, grab a drink, dance, talk politics, f-around, pretty much do anything they want. It is their own part of the city, with little police enforcement. Obviously, if something bad were to happen there would be police, but it is a safe spot for college kids to express radical and fun ideas.

This is the same woman in Plaza de Sant Felip Neri

Tarragona: Calcot

I love food. If you can’t tell from my previous blog posts. Food is absolutely incredible. Because of that, I consider myself, part Italian, part Catalan. I grew up in a family that put a lot of emphasis on family dinners and food and I love this part of my life. One of my favorite aspects of my life is the family dinners.

During the first weekend of IES and study abroad we all went to Tarragona and had a typical Catalan meal. First we ate Calcot which is defined as a type of scallion or onion. Calçots are milder and less bulbous than onions and have a length of between 15 and 25 cm. “Planted in trenches, like an onion, as a single bulb, and successively increasing the depth of the soil around the stems throughout autumn and winter, they sprout into 4–10 shoots”. They were served with almost a mayonnaise/mustard sauce and were absolutely phenomenal. At first we were all unaware of how to eat them, and I enjoy my food when my hands are clean, but there was no time to be clean and I needed to get messy to truly enjoy the meal.

After the first course of Calcot, we had red wine and bread which is also typical to Catalan culture. My friend poured the wine in my mouth which was a new way for me to drink it. In my opinion, some of the greatest food in the world is good bread and olive oil. Olive oil is the greatest thing. It has to be good olive oil because that makes a huge difference.

After that we had boutifarra and lamb. I had a little bit of both but enjoyed the boutifarra more. For desert we had a sweet cake.

It was an amazing weekend in Tarragona. I loved every moment. I even got to climb to the top of the human tower which was incredible. Though IES can’t get their attendance policy right, they sure got the Tarragona trip right.

Lunch at Miquel’s

I know I’ve talked about him many times in my blog post but my best friend lives in Sant Andreu and is from Barcelona. I usually go to his house once a week for lunch to see his family. His family loves to eat and his mom usually makes food that can serve a lot of people, considering how many family members and relatives eat in their house. It is a very good way to learn Spanish and culture. On big occasions, his family will make Fideua, but that is very rare. The best thing I ate while being at his house was in January right after Christmas when the family had a serrano ham which they cut and we would eat. It was absolutely incredible.

On a typical lunch day at his house, we usually eat Boutifarra, a classical Catalan food. Usually we eat it rice. I love Boutifarra. Another thing that I find strange is that Miquel’s family doesn’t eat bread and butter, they haven’t even heard of putting butter on bread. To me, bread and butter is the best thing in the world. I am not sure if it is an American thing (I know they do it in Paris), or if it is just Miki’s family that doesn’t eat it. Nevertheless, I got his family into eating bread with butter since I always ask for it when I go. For desert we usually eat a fruit and some coffee, before resting on the couch. It gives me a sense of what people do in Catalonia. Miquel’s mom owns a pharmacy and works a lot but comes home for 2 hours during lunch time, and his father works for the govenrment and comes home a little later.

The last thing about food I wanted to mention was when I ate Catalan honey from an area in northern Catalonia. It was very dark but the best honey I have ever tasted in my life. Miquel’s family was eating the honey with a spoon so I did the same thing. They got it from their oldest son who moved away and lives up north, west, near La Seu. Going to Miquel’s for lunch are some of the highlights of my study abroad experience and I look forward to going in these last seven weeks being here.

Fuet

What is Fuet? When I first arrived in Barcelona, my home stay host gave me a sandwich with Fuet on it. Before coming to Barcelona I rarely ate processed meat so I wasn’t very fond of the meat. Weeks later, I tried Fuet again at my Spanish friend Miquel’s house. There he gave me a circular slab of fuet which we cut and ate. It was delicious. Following this encounter with the meat, I love it now. In Girona, I bought a fuet sandwich and prefer to eat it over ham.

Fuet is described as a “Catalan thin, dry cured, sausage of pork meat in a pork gut. Sometimes, it is flavored with black pepper and garlic, and sometimes aniseed, but unlike Chorizo contains no paprika”. It is muy rico. The best thing is some nice fuet with a nice glass of red wine, sitting out over the mountains, maybe at the beach. That would be the dream.

This brings me to one of the highlights of my abroad experience. When I was in Lisbon, my girlfriend bought me a day trip full of swimming, snorkeling, cliff jumping, kayaking, picnics, homemade wine, and more. The reason I talk about this is because the man in charge of the excursion, made homemade chorizo which he cooked in his homemade moonshine alcohol. He slow roasted the meat over the alcohol. It was incredible. We had delicious homemade port wine and although this doesn’t reflect Catalan food, the overall feelings of eating the food and drinking the wine reminded me of Catalan culture and the food culture that is created by Catalans.

Local Catalan News – Madrid

Article Title: Released the ANC member arrested in Madrid before the demonstration

On Saturday in Madrid, the secretary of the Catalan National Assembly was arrested in Madrid. Jordi Alemany, the national secretary has been released and the judge on duty in the Madrid has demanded that he appear before the court of instruction on Tuesday.

He was arrested for not appearing to testify for the court weighed. He is being investigated for alleged crimes of public disorder, outrage to the flag, damages and slight offense of injuries for allegedly being part of the group of protesters who entered the delegation of the Generalitat in the city of Girona. On Saturday afternoon, Alemany was arrested by the National Police hours before the demonstration in Madrid. Going in and out of many courts, when he was finally released, he was awaited by the president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie , and the vice president of the same entity, Pep Cruanyes .

Police sources explained on Saturday that the arrest occurred when they identified Alemany for having tried to draw a flag and a banner from Girona. Once identified, an arrest warrant was sent out.

The article states that “Alemany is the first researcher who was summoned by court 4 of Girona in the wake of the demonstrations during the anniversary of the referendum on October 1 in the city of Girona. After failing to appear to testify, the judge ordered that he be arrested and taken to court.”

This article is a little confusing and maybe that is because I translated it to English but I am confused where he is now. Is he in prison? free? awaiting trial? It is unclear to me. Also I don’t understand what was happening in Girona. Overall, I found it quite confusing and could use some clarification but I was, nevertheless, extremely interested in the article because it reflects an important issue in the Spanish government.

photo from the article in La Vanguardia

International News: La Vanguardia

I read an article about the terrorist attack that happened in the Netherlands. Three are dead and five are wounded in a shooting in Utrecht, Holland. Police have not yet made an arrest, so it is believed that the author of the shooting continues to flee. A man opened fire inside a public transportation train on Monday. Since the man is still on the run, people don’t know the motive behind the attack. There is a full blown search for the suspect and a full terrorist investigation by the Dutch government. The shooter is said to have fled by car in a red Renault Clio that had also been stolen moments before.

In search for the man, police have released a device and heavily armed agents in front of a building where he might be hiding. Many raids are also being carried out and are being planned for the near future.

The German government has also stepped in and increased their security on the border. Authorities have confirmed that they have a description of the suspect, Gökmen Tanis.

I really like La Vanguardia because their posts are so detailed. They are longer than CNN and other posts I usually read and have quotes. They do remind me of CNN they just usually have more detail. I also really like the structure of the articles with references to social media. I study media at my home school and this is a very good newspaper site. I try to read an article a day from La Vanguardia, in Spanish, sometimes I try Catalan, but Spanish is easier.

Omnium Cultural

Òmnium Cultural is a Catalan association originally created in the 1960s to promote the Catalan language and spread Catalan culture. Over the years it has increased its involvement in social issues. It is a symbol of Catalan independence and represents the right of self determination for Catalonia. Currently Òmnium has more than 145,000 members organized in 40 regional offices in Barcelona. Some of the main people are Lluis Carulla, Joan Baptista Cendros, Feliz Millet, Joan Vallbe, and Pau Riera. Jordi Cuixart, the old leader, was imprisoned by the Spanish government and has been in jail for over 500 days without a trial. When you go to website, the first thing that comes up is how many days and seconds in counting Jordi Cuixart is in prison.

Òmnium Cultural was created on 11 July 1961 in the context of Franco Spain when the institutional use of Catalan was illegal. In 1963 the Franco regime ended the association. Òmnium had to continue to exist as a private association between 1963–1967. In 1967, after a long legal case before the Francoist courts, the association won and was allowed to exist. In order to promote Catalan culture within the restrains of Franco Omnium was the main creator and sponsor of various awards and literary contests for works published in Catalan. They created many festivals as a way to promote the language, music, and culture.

When Franco died in 1975, Omnium continued promoting the Catalan language and culture. Once democracy was restored, Òmnium supported and defended Catalan self-government and independence. They represent traditional culture for Catalonia. They call for the survival of Catalan culture and operate in all regions where Catalan is spoken: Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Pep Guardiola is also a member.

Girona

This weekend I took my girlfriend and a friend around Barcelona. We first went through the Gothic and Born area and looked at areas of the Guild houses. I explained to my girlfriend all about the Guilds. We then continued through the city to talk about Gran Via de Las Corts Catalanes which I was able to explain to her.

The highlight of the week was when we went to Girona. Girona was super Catalan. Everywhere we looked there was a symbol of Catalunya and of Catalan Independence. Over the water in the middle of the city is a massive Catalan Independence flag and in the main plaza there is a Catalunya flag. The language of Catalan is first everywhere and is spoken everywhere, on the streets, on menus. The architecture is also very similar in the old city and Jewish area to Catalan gothic architecture in other areas of Catalunya.

The first street we saw was called Rambla de Libertad which is very symbolic to what Girona represents. It is super interesting to look at the Girona Football team to represent the city. On the train on the way home from Girona we saw a bunch of people wearing Girona football clothes. I knew it was the team. I asked if they were the first team and they were. I shook their hands and said “felicidades contra Madrid”. They laughed. We took a picture with a team member below. They ended up being on our train.

The other thing I wanted to mention was that signs, posters, and references to the political prisoners were everywhere in Girona. There were pictures of the politicians’ faces, it was super interesting to see Girona like this. I always knew it was very political in Girona but I didn’t expect this. View the pics below. Theres also a picture of me holding the Catalan independence flag, but it is not because I support or do not support, it is not my job as an American, but it’s my job to become educated about the issue. I took this picture for the class and obviously won’t be posting it everywhere. I want to respect everyone’s opinions.

this was a poster on the street. Very interesting.

Carnaval

Carnaval is a Spanish festival and holiday that takes place the week leading up to Lent. It started on Thursday and ends tomorrow on Tuesday. Each region in Spain celebrates Carnaval differently and each puts a small twist on the festivities. In general, the holiday is marked by crazy parades, vibrant costumes, a lot fo drinks and a lot of food.

The first city I want to talk about is Cadiz. Cadiz celebrates Carnaval differently. In Cadiz, it is not about the vibrant costumes but more-so about humor. Here, the people focus on music, where people crowd the streets and sing and play music. A lot of the songs are satirical and attack politicians, celebrities and other famous people.

The biggest festival is in the beach town and Catalan area of Sitches. Each year there are 250,000 people each year that attend and the festivities are tomorrow. Here people wear very vibrant costumes, there is a large parade and huge parties. There are a lot of drag queens in Sitges.

In Barcelona, Carnaval is not as big as in other areas of Spain but there are still people who wear costumes or who go to Sitches. Barcelona celebrates it in their own way though. Children have off of schools and there are festivities in the El Born, where there is a drag queen horse-and-carriage parade and live concerts.

Carnaval is so much fun and I am trying hard to make it tomorrow.

Blog Post 2

Some of the streets that were dedicated to the craftsmanship and workshops of the Guilds include Carrer de les Semoleres which was the street for the production and selling of couscous. They were considered lower class working people and immigrants at some stages. Many immigrants also moved to the area where the couscous was sold. Until 1992, this street was full immigrants and generations and generations of families. Now people started occupy the poor areas and it became a place for young people with artwork, bars, and other “hip” places. There is also a tile of the guilds on the wall indicating the workshop that used to be there. The modern day stores have the same shape of the workshops, they were big. Some of the walls date back many years to the Medieval times. Another plaque of the guild can be seen. This one though, and the picture is below is the family who made swords and knives. These families were very high up politically since they made the weapons. The closer to the church and to the water, the more wealthy the guild families were. Another street is the Placa de la llana which means wall. Here the shepherds arrived and started selling wool to vendors. It was essentially the stock exchange for wool. Back then raw materials were the most important thing, things like wood, cotton, iron. The industrial revolution changed everything. Now plastic is so prevalent in our lives. Another street is Carrer del corders which was the street of the rope workers. It’s important to note that you can tell who is rich by the type of balcony and based on how its made and whats being sold. The windows get thinner and thinner as you look up since the peasants lived on the top floor and the master lived on the first floor. Carrer de las Candeles is another street that was known as the candle street. The buildings here and in other parts of the guilds city were cut like the Eixample to allow for horses to make turns. The stiarcases are so narrow that it is hard to bring things up the stairs. It is a very, very dark alleyway. Carrer dels Banys Vells is the street of the old baths. Here the guilds sold coffee and other products from Egypt and other places. These people were higher up because they were closer to the Llotja and the water. The closer to the port the more wealthy. This was also the area where the women washed clothes and then hung the clothes at the top of building. The picture is shown below of the building. Again the windows can be seen. It is also crazy to see how the area has changed from the past to the present. Finally some other streets are Carrer de sant Pere mes Baix which was where the wealthiest family lived here. Inside the house there was a big place for the horses. Some other streets include, Carrer se la Barra Ferró, and Carrer se la Pou de la Cadena.

La Casa Taller was the typical craftsmanship family house. Here the families worked and lived. The workshop was on the ground floor with the housing on the floors above. What floor they lived on depended on how much power the family member had. The guild houses are very narrow buildings. There was one workshop per family. The staircase in the house was very narrow. The staircase took the workers from the worksop to their rooms. They were so narrow and it was hard to carry things up the staircase. There were also staircases windows. The windows got smaller as the they went up the building and that is because the peasants lived on the top floor and had the smallest windows. With that said, the master lives on the first floor. It’s the principle. floor. It was the most important. Here, there were higher ceilings, and as mentioned previously, the servants lived at the top with lower ceilings and less space. It was very compact for them. In terms of a restroom, there was only one restroom in the bottom in the workshop. The guild houses were not great for sanitation. Often they would throw pee out the window and at night they wood poop in a hole. This is why women are always on the inside when walking outside because pee was thrown out of the windows. To add, the workshops differentiated based on size. The bigger the size, the more important, the bigger the window, the more important, the closer to the water and Llotja, the more important. Some of the most important guilds included the ones who made silver, gold, the blacksmiths, the sword makers. These families had connections with the government and got to make decisions.

A lot of the architecture that I observed from the thirteenth century have Catalan gothic architecture. This architecture can still be seen in this area of Barcelona however with more modern stores. For example, now in the Born district, there are a lot of stores for younger people, like art stores, weed shops, etc. Inside the store the walls date back to the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries and the size of the guild workshops and staircases can be seen. There are no elevators and this is still the case in most buildings. In terms of the actual architecture, despite its name, Catalan Gothic differs from the the classical gothic style in the rest of Europe. It is not about crazy detail or excessive height. It doesn’t have highlights in its buttresses, and its decoration is simple. This Catalan architecture can be seen in the Llotja and in other civil architecture. The windows have pointed arches and the balconies tell a lot about the social classes of the families that lived in the house. The Llotja consisted of three naves separated by ogival arches that rested on columns with beaded and flat roofs built in wood. This is similar to the church that we saw, Santa Maria Del Mar. Other types of Catalan gothic architecture includes the use of wooden decks, finished towers and flat roofs, formal purity, simplicity. In terms of the street, they continue to be very narrow and small, with not so many cars and not so many people. In my opinion it is less crowded than it used to be during the reign of Aragon because they used to exchange goods and services. Now there are a lot of bars and restaurants and very good places to have a drink. Though the architecture in the area and modern restaurants remains the same.

To begin with the cultural relation of the five places we have visited, the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar was built during the 14th century on a site which was once occupied by a Roman Amphitheatre. The church took 55 years to build and is a rare example of pure Catalan Gothic architecture. I mentioned some of the aspects of pure Catalan architecture above. The church is very simple. Architects, in years later, added the detail on the front doors to the church but it wasn’t always like this. The location of the church was perfect for the time. It was near the water and the area was home to a mix of different types of people, sailors, workers, fishermen, craftsmen, merchants, guilds. This church wasn’t paid for by the central government, as was the cathedral in the Gothic, but this Basilica was funded by the local Catalan people. It is considered to be the church of the workers but this isn’t necessarily true. The church is very simplistic, its sacredness is through the architecture, not through the decoration. Inside the church, thee are famous guilds buried, the one’s who helped to build the church. The money for the church was put forth by rich merchants. On the ceiling, the different guild families had their own crest. In fact, FC Barcelona paid for a window in modern times. When building the Basilica, it was the rich merchants who provided the majority of the money whilst sailors and porters transported tons of stone from the quarries on Montjuïc. The church has sustained many earthquakes, a massive one in 1428. The earthquake destroyed the large rose window which was replaced in 1459 by the one that can be seen today. “In 1909, during a week which became known as the tragic week, the church was set on fire by anarchists protesting against conscription to fight in the Second Rif War. The fire melted most of the stained glass windows and destroyed the original alter and organ as well as a large quantity of historic documents.” El Mercat del Born is the former public market and one of the most important buildings in Barcelona. It is constructed with iron and is in fact the largest covered square in all of Europe. The building initiated modernist Catalan architecture. In terms of shape and architecture, the market is rectangular, with two large domed, intersecting buildings, and 4 smaller naves. The structure is supported on cast iron columns with a flat roof covered in glazed tile. Similar structures can be seen on other Catalan buildings. The roof is very complex. The market was designed in 1873 by Antoni Rovira i Trias. Josep Fontsere built the market. The structure of cast iron columns and metallic horses reflects the Catalan culture. After the the War of Succession, the area where the market is was completely destroyed in order to build the Citadel which I will talk about later. In 2002, archaeological remains from the medieval period appeared and in an excellent state of conservation in the area of the market. El Fossà de les Moreres is translated and means “Grave of the Mulberries. It is is public square in Barcelona very close to the church and the Llotja. The plaza was built over a cemetery where defenders of the city are buried. The plaza acts as a memorial to the dead Catalans of the war, with a torch and an eternal flame that stays lit. On a wall there is writing. After the War of Succession, Catalans suffered many losses. In fact, the Catalan language was banned from public documents. These actions were enforced by Philip V. Phillip wanted to centralize power and not give people who didn’t support him any. During the Diada Nacional de Catalunya this plaza is a very important place. In September 11, 1714, Barcelona lost the war of Succession and Catalan institutions and laws were lost. This plaza marks an important place of memory. La Ciutadella Park (The Fortress of Philip V by 1714) is a very famous green area in Barcelona that includes, the zoo, the Palau del Parliament de Catalunya, a lake, museums, and a large fountain designed by Catalan architect, Josep Fontsere. Some history of this place relate again back to the 1714 War of Spanish Succession. For over a year, the army of Philip V was attacking the area. Catalunya fell and lost its control and Philip V built the citadel to stop Catalans from rebelling, but it is in their blood and they always rebel and protest. It became the biggest fortress in all of Europe. Hundreds of Catalans were forced to work on the construction for years. The area in modern day is called Barceloneta. In terms of architecture, the fortress was characterized by having five corners, which gave the citadel defensive power, and wide margin, serving as location for the army’s cannons. The BCN half marathon that I ran in started at the park. The park remains a very important place in Barcelona and Catalan history.

After the 1714 War of Succession, Philip V implemented many rules that restricted the freedom of the Catalans. I mentioned some of this earlier. These Nueva Planta degrees suppressed institutions, privileges and charters that were part of Aragon. The decrees stated that all former ruled Catalan areas would be now ruled under Castilian Law. The acts abolishing the charters were in 1707 in Valencia and Aragon, in 1715 in Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands, and in Catalonia on 16 January 1716. These Nueva Planta decrees effectively created a Spanish citizenship, it got rid of borders. Now, because of these enforced rules, Spain became the centralized state with central rule. Castilian now became the sole language of government. When we did class presentations we talked about the importance of language in spreading power and rule. Here is a great example of it, but now people can see why Catalans want independence. It was taken away from them.

The Consolat de Mar was the center of the Catalan maritime during the Aragon reign which dealt with issues, both maritime and commercially, they acted as the judicial branch for these issues and conflicts.  In the Consolat de Mar, there are two consuls of the sea, and a judge. The Consolat de Mar has evolved as the basis of legislation dating back to the 1200s. One can learn a lot about the trading and history of commerce between Catalans by studying the Consolat de Mar. The Consolat de Mar in Barcelona acts as one of the jurisdictions for trade and commerce and maritime law. In the tenth century the secular Catalan commercial and maritime feats have attempted to expand. This expansion resulted in the increase in ports and established Barcelona as a central port for trade and commerce. To add, I want to talk a little about la llotja which was outside the city. How it would work is, boats would arrive and go to llotja which was outside of the walls. The Llotja de Mar is a building located on Paseo de Isabel II, in the Ciutat Villa district of Barcelona near the water and Barceloneta. Some history of this place: it was a meeting place for merchants in the city. It was responsible for a lot of commercial dealings. The building has had many renovations to it with a mix of architecture from a range of periods. Peri Arvei was the architect in charge of the building.  It is a large room of three naves and is separated by arches and columns. It is again Catalan gothic. The roof is made of wood. We see many similar aspects in architecture to other buildings. Other important constructions were added later, such as the upper floor where the Consolat de Mar is located.