Barcelona Photoblog: September 2009

September 30, 2009

Labor Sculpture at Catalonia Square, Barcelona

Labor Sculpture at Catalonia Square, Barcelona [enlarge]

Trabajo, so reads the pedestal under this fabulous sculpture (Miguel Oslé 1929) at Plaça Catalunya. Labor, work, job, occupation, employment...oh, what a beautiful word! To obtain retribution for your services, to work for wages. An activity we tend to complain about specially if monotonous or stressing. We often wonder why the heck we are supposed to devote most of our precious time to matters that apparently are not related to our aspirations in this world. But nevertheless work is a right, it is said to dignify you as a person, to purify your soul in a certain way. As you can see there's not only a philosophical connotation behind the word but also a religious one. Toil gives meaning to life or so they say. It is true that when you are proud of your work there is a certain something inside your mind that says: you are doing right. Our humanity, our civilization, our evolution is tightly linked to work, tools, interaction for the benefit of the group and ourselves as individuals. Consequently, if this is so deep rooted in our nature, so good for the soul, so spiritual and vital for our existence, then how come there is unemployment, how come are we deprived of such rewarding activity? The question is of course rather naive but I can't help feeling baffled by the absurdities of us, "humans". More Wisdom and less capitalism.

September 29, 2009

Metronome: Tempo in Beats Per Minute

Metronome detail [enlarge]

Tick tock, tick tock...monotonously goes the pendulum in the metronome. BPM or beats per minute, a unit not only measuring tempo in music but also something so vital as our own heart rate.

..."now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage."

..."I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder!"

The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allan Poe

September 27, 2009

Homemade Bread in Barcelona Towns

Homemade Bread in Barcelona Towns [enlarge]

Nothing like homemade bread bought in one of the many occasional markets organized during local celebrations in the great majority of towns around Barcelona city. Of course, bread is bread and maybe any bakery near you provides exquisite products but the good thing about these markets is that now that you bought the freshest bread you can combine it with other homemade stuff sold in the next stand, be it ham, anchovies, cheese or marmalade. Here is an interesting post that explains the difference between industrial and homemade bread: How to Make Your Own Tasty Homemade Bread, Easily and Cheaply.

September 24, 2009

Ancient Window, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Ancient Window at Barri Gotic, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

This ancient window I found at Plaça del Pi in Barri Gotic, Barcelona. It is simple in design but attractive enough so as to deserve a picture. The thick wall was gray and boring so I decided to applied some lab color effect on it. The rope tied to the iron bar was a nuisance and I found out it was there just when I got home and checked the photographs in my PC.

September 23, 2009

Hieratic Paper Figure on Graffiti, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Hieratic Paper Figure on Graffiti, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

To resume the street art series in Barri Gotic, Barcelona here you have another work with a rather hieratic paper figure on wooden surface adorned with some graffiti. I wish I knew about the artist but I don't. Check also Street Art in the Gothic Quarter.

September 21, 2009

Graffito: Heart On Decay Wall

Heart On Decay Wall - graffiti [enlarge]

Right behind La Boqueria market there are some abandoned estates protected by fences through which you can take a peek at some interesting samples of good street art. On the decay walls of some buildings that have been partially demolished artists have managed to leave their perishable imprint. I think that capturing some of their artwork may help prolonging its relatively short existence. It is really fascinating how art gets to be that attractive on debris helped by the so called aesthetics of decay. There is a certain aura around it if you know what I mean. Maybe it is the fact that an ugly canvas enhances the beauty of the main subject. What do you think?

September 19, 2009

Humming Bird Moth Feeding

Humming Bird Moth Feeding [enlarge]

Certainly one of the weirdest topics in the blog in the past was the famous moth that I mistook for a bird. Now I had the chance to spot another one with better luck. Here is a beautiful specimen of Macroglossum stellatarum or Hummingbird Moth. In the following two videos you will appreciate the difference between this moth and a real hummingbird:

September 17, 2009

Lamp Post by Falques, Avinguda Gaudi, Barcelona

Lamp Post by Pere Falques, Avinguda Gaudi, Barcelona

There was a time when this modernist lamp post along with other three, were part of an imaginary geometric figure on a square at the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia known as Cinc D'Oros (Five of Gold in a deck of Spanish cards). Although the decision to make the square dates back to 1907, meant to honor Pi i Maragall, president of the Republic, it wasn't till 1915 that the place was fully conditioned.

First there were only the stones and a round space in the middle. The lamp posts, later fixed on the stones, were made in 1909 by architect Pere Falqués, the same artist that created the famous 31 lamps integrated on benches along Passeig de Gracia. Maybe it was by that time that the curious name after the five of gold card appeared cause they looked so from above.

In 1934 the monument was officially inaugurated with a sculpture by Viladomat in the middle. Such sculpture devoted to the Republic was later replaced by an obelisk and a lady representing Victory (1940), in this case of General Franco, by sculptor Frederic Marès.

The four lamp posts and the statue once unmounted were stored in a municipal warehouse at carrer Wellington. The sculpture dedicated to the Republic was placed at Llucmajor square in Nou Barris quarter in 1990 and the lamps, well, now you know where they are. All four of them can be admired along Avinguda Gaudi which goes from Sant Pau Hospital (at my back in the picture) to Sagrada Familia cathedral in the background. I hope you like the black and white option.

September 15, 2009

Graffiti on Ancient Door, Casa de la Congregació de la Puríssima Sang, Plaza del Pi, Barcelona

Graffiti on Ancient Door [enlarge]

Well, not much. Some flashy graffiti on some Barri Gotic rickety door. An interesting combination of present and past considering in this case, that the door belongs to an ancient building. And there is where this spontaneous, beautiful artistic manifestation loses every righteous meaning and becomes insulting to the eye of anyone who respects Barcelona's cultural heritage. This magnificent door is located at Plaza del Pi number 1. It is one of the entrances to the Casa de la Congregació de la Puríssima Sang (House of the Congregation of the Holy Blood) built in 1342 upon Santa Maria del Pi church rectory. It was later remodeled in 1613 and 1789. On top of the door there is an encryption in Latin related to the activity of the congregation. I tried to google the meaning and not without some trouble I found this: "And I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and will kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast: and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments; I am the Lord and the blood shall be unto you for a sign in the houses where you shall be; and I shall see the blood, and shall pass over you; and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I shall strike the land of Egypt" Exodus XII (strange cause the encryption seems to read XI). Guess what, their mission was to offer spiritual support to those sentenced to death on their way to the scaffold. Early in the morning, members wearing black robes and hoods gathered in this very house to grab the Holy Christ figure and go for the condemned to start the walk towards their final destination. After the execution took place bodies were buried in the church graveyard which happened to be where the square is at present. So, going back to the start, and although the building is somehow neglected by authorities, do you think this graffiti has been drawn on the right place? Check the exact location on my Barcelona map.

September 14, 2009

Carrer Petritxol Street Sign, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Historical tiled sign on Petritxol street Barcelona
Historic tiled sign at Petritxol street - Barcelona

Carrer Petritxol, is one of the most representative streets in Barri Gotic, Barcelona.

This famous 'carrer' stretches from Portaferrisa street (mentioned in the sign as the only exit for vehicles at the other end of the alley) and Plaça del Pi. It goes almost parallel to Las Ramblas (two blocks away) and it is definitely one of my favorites.

I showed a picture of Petritxol street here once and also referred to famous xocolata amb xurros (churros consist of dough which is later fried and powdered with sugar, preferably to be dipped in hot chocolate) served at La Pallaresa or at Dulcinea, Petritxol 2.

But this road is not only about the pleasant smell of chocolate, it is also about art and both modern and old boutiques:

The renown Sala Pares founded in 1840 and the center of Barcelona's artistic life by the end of XIX is the main art gallery at Petritxol 5. It is said that it was due to the presence of such galleries that the churro houses were established in the first place. The whole bohemian atmosphere is sustained by the presence of painters selling their work in the square nearby next to Santa Maria del Pi church.

Petritxol is more or less 2 meters wide on the Plaça del Pi side. The name probably comes from portitxol (Cat.) (small door) and its origin is connected perhaps to a negotiated access from Portaferrisa to the only Christian church that was left in Saracen times in the area.

Christians lived outside the wall in El Raval and had to walk a long way to a very early Mass that wouldn't interfere with Muslim morning prayers. A short and thus faster way would facilitate their attendance on time. It is said that an old priest found a hidden treasure left behind by the Christians and convinced the Emir into building the passageway. Believe it or not there was some sort of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews at the times although all of this was about to change. The story behind the street is part of a legend so don't take my word on it.

Here is Calle de Petritxol on a map.

September 13, 2009

Purple Bougainvilleas Detail

Purple Bougainvilleas Detail [enlarge]

With this detail of some purple bougainvilleas flowers I want to wish you all a nice weekend. As you know I like to spray some nature here and there in between bricks and stones. Not that I am the flower kind but it is nice to see the colors and feel more alive every now and then.

September 11, 2009

Archway Exit, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Barri Gotic Carrer Tres Llits Barcelona
Carrer dels Tres Llits in the Gothic Quarter aka Barri Gotic in Barcelona

Given the recent success of Barri Gotic streets featured in Barcelona Photoblog I resume today this topic with a beautiful alley streaming into the arcades in the square back there.

I wandered through the whimsical labyrinth once woven by medieval architects and fascinated as I was I did not take down notes about the place.

After some patient analysis on google maps, I jump to the conclusion that this must be Carrer Tres Llits and that that square in the background is Plaça Reial. But then again, I am more interested in the architecture and the view.

It is always a pleasure to get lost in Barri Gotic during the day. If you are not familiar with the area watch out where you go at night although it is quite safe except for the usual pickpockets.

September 08, 2009

Door Knocker, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

Door Knocker, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona [enlarge]

An old door knocker nailed into a much modern door. There are many like these in the Gothic quarter. Most often, the knocker has just come out of the foundry but I think this one has been around for some time now. As to the link to the pictures I made during my holidays, here are some of them although I have not finished uploading all the stuff: Cuba, Year 50 AC

September 06, 2009

Street Art in Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Street Art in Barri Gotic, Barcelona [enlarge]

Here's another sample of street art permanently exhibited for free, for everyone to see, spontaneous and refreshing, located in the narrow alleys of Barri Gotic. Each of you will interpret this artwork differently of course. I find there's a great contrast between the African and the white western world woman. The blond girl's nose is dripping something green, that maybe it is just what it is or maybe means she's crying, feeling sympathetic towards the poor for humanitarian reasons but with that stuck up, phony attitude of the rich when donating to the cause, with the sole intention of saving their soul or cleaning up their filthy conscience. I think the green snot and the big M in her mouth represent money. But then again that's just the way I see it and of course kind people there are everywhere, even in upper echelons of society.

September 05, 2009

Bar Papitu, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Bar Papitu, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona [enlarge]

From the strategically located terrace of Bar Papitu on Passatge de la Virreina 1 on a lateral corridor at La Boqueria you can witness the constant flow of visitors to the famous market near La Rambla. According to many they serve good tapas so why not take a rest there after the always difficult walk through the crammed packed market premises. This barrel in the picture really caught my attention, specially the red letters advertising the place. Papitu was the name of a renown humor publication in Catalonia from 1908 to 1937. It had a clear leftist orientation opposite to their conservative rival magazine called Patufet closely connected to the church. Papitu played an important role in the history of satirical publications in Barcelona, specially during an initial moderate period conditioned by the censorship of Primo de Rivera. Right after the dictator's resignation in 1930, Papitu became more irreverent, particularly with regards to the clergy and spicy, naughty, if you know what I mean, in the sense that they use double meaning jokes and symbolic sensual illustrations. But let's not forget my post was basically about the bar. Here is Bar Papitu on Myspace and on a Google map.

September 04, 2009

Bobbin Lace: Pins


Here is a detail of a bobbin lace pillow with a tacked pattern. Pins will hold the wooden bobbins in place while they twist and cross the yarn that will produce the final lacework. The image was captured during a small exhibition near Barcelona cathedral last August. By the way, this reporter-photographer-to-be, as you can see, is back from holidays to keep you posted about Barcelona as usual. I had a wonderful time in the Caribbean, in Cuba to be more precise. In coming days I will upload the pictures I took there to my Flickr account and leave a link here in Barcelona Photoblog.

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