Thursday, September 26, 2013

BCN, lord I love this city.

Went into BCN today with a friend to check out the newly opened Born market.

Gonna get two posts out of it too, for my trouble!

So here's the Born market.  I actually learned a ton of Catalan/Barcelona history today.  For instance this is one of many markets in BCN, but they discovered after they finished it that it is was much bigger than it needed to be so they ended up making it a wholesale market, it is near two separate train stations and all the the north of the city making it easy for farmers to bring their produce in.

It was built on the remnants of a large part of the city that was razed by the Spanish military when Catalonia lost it's independence 300 years ago next year.  What is now the parc de la ciutadel was a giant fort built to subdue and control the local population and they razed something like 17% of the city to create a defense zone.  This was part of it.

In fact as an excellent finishing touch, home owners were forced to tear down their own houses.  Nice that, eh?

Here's some photos:

It was strange and touching and weird.  There are construction elements that are still in use today, that we have in our house now, virtually unchanged.  It brings it home.

It is weird how low the streets are, they just piled it all up and kept building, though much of the building material must have gone into the fort.

It is deeply deeply nationalistic and any Madrid politician will have kittens.  Really deeply political.

This leaves me on two levels.  One is that it is important to remember and know our history, I do not doubt that for a moment, and visiting it with a Catalan was also illuminating.  Felt very personal I would say.

At the same time, there is a very North American part of me that thinks sometimes history has to be let go, or we end up like parts of the Middle East or Ireland with long running hatreds that date back and back and back.

I know that each of these places has a distinct story and history, but I came away from the very political nature of many of the information boards with a sense of it not necessarily being a good idea to fan the flames.

The Catalans continue to impress me with their calm, with their determination for peace and democracy.  This felt hotter.

There are also quite a lot of angry Catalan old women.  If Madrid thinks this is independence thing is all from young people, or hot heads, they should be aware.  The grandmas are pissed.  This seems powerful to me.

Still trying to tease apart how I felt about all of this.

Personally I continue to be shocked by Madrid's brazen unwillingness to allow a democratic referendum. Honestly, it is shameful.

Independence itself, I can't vote.

I would like to see it happen, I would.

The Born exhibit.

left me:



slightly alarmed


impressed with their guts

totally worth going.  A new must see in the city.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say history has to be let go. As a Canadian you should know the "Lest we forget" that is Québec's motto :). History should be remembered. Grudges and hatred should be let go. That's what memorials are for. Hatred only remains if the history that is shown and portrayed is set to maintain it. Are the panel text staying neutral in what their text? Or is there a definite "pro this" or "pro that" feel in the text? That's what turns a memorial into something that maintains the hatred. It should be an acknowledgement of what happened, not an apology of whoever won the battle at the time.

Anonymous said...

"Are the panel text staying neutral in what their text?" <-- sorry about that. Of course, you should have read "Are the panels staying neutral in their wording?"

Anonymous said...

As I was reading your post, all I could think about was how cool your trip sounded, and how fortunate you were to be there exploring.

I understand what you mean by "letting go," mainly because our North American version of history seems so new versus Europe and other parts of the world.

Of course, we first must suspend the fact that before European countries settled North America, it had to push out the indigenous people- but that is a whole another discussion.

Cool photos!

oreneta said...

Absolutely ElP, I think that is what I was trying to inadequately say with letting go. The grudges and hatred...holding the past against a people terrible. Yes it happened, let it not happen again, - i did have lest we forget running through my mind for the entire visit and writing - but we have to stop hating the ancestors of our enemies for what they did to our ancestors. Easier to say from here....what happened in the past bears on the present, and influences our responses and emotions, but we need to be cognizant of this in our decisions and our dealings. Now I want to go back again and read the panels themselves.

They were largely neutral in their phrasingbut definately told one side of the story, the Catalan side. There were sections where they were itemizing what was done to them, like the winners of the war raising taxes to support the new regime, hardly unique or surprising. It did happen, fair to put it in, but not exactly unusual. Sound fiscal policy in reality, you've won the war, had a lot of expenses, continue to have more, and you need to show the losers who is boss, kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.
What I found more provocative was simply the opening of this at this time. It is a very nationalistic set up, at a time of high conflict with the Spanish gov't and this is a very large 'monument' to what was done to the nation of Catalonia when they lost the war (battle on an international stage). I have to go again and read through it all again and see what I think then. Second sight so to speak.

oreneta said...


I also think that it is a N Am perspective because so many Europeans who came over here were escaping this kind of history, wanted to turn their back on it and start clean, moving forward. The fact that they did so at the continuing expense of the first nations is a source of horror and should be a source of international pressure, but there is something, I think, in N Am culture that allows us to find a way to let the hatred to on the whole and get on with living together (Native Americans not included history shows).

Anonymous said...

I think a pretty good example of "letting go of the hate and grudge" is how friendship between France and Germany occurred and how the hatchet was buried. I grew up doing exchanges with German schools, and none of us youngsters bore any grudge against each other. It didn't make sense for us to blame something that our grandparents may (or may not, who knows?) have done to each other. Now I'm curious how the situation was during the early 20th century in Bohemia (around the time when it was still annexed by the Austro-Hungarian empire and Czech nationalism surfaced and was also repressed at the same time...)

oreneta said...

They could definitely use more of those kinds of exchanges, the problem is that many Catalans already have families and houses in Spain....and still the attitudes remain. The Spanish, by and large, really don't like Catalans....even from our own small experiences in Spain outside of Catalunya we have found this. Sadly.