Sunday, August 23, 2015

Festa Major de Gràcia and Font Màgica de Montjuïc

Several of these along the wall at entrance
to Moulin Rouge display.  This one caught
my eye.  The crack in the wall; the untidy
white paint.  Community project.

Street festivals are usually fun regardless of the city.  Virginia on sistership Amel S/V Libertad had read about the Festa Major de Gràcia and suggested we check it out.  This was the final evening of the week long annual festival and we opted to go in the early evening when it might be a bit cooler rather than the heat of the afternoon.  We met up with Virginia and Dennis at the Metro station near our marina.  This was the first time Bill and I had used the subway in Barcelona other than the recent family trip out to Montserrat.  Easy-peasy!  We bought a ToT ticket for 9.95 Euro which allows 10 rides on the subway and can be used by multiple people on each ride.  This evening for the both of us totaled 6 rides; 2 out there, 2 over to the Magic Fountains, and 2 back to the marina area.  Made me think of all those taxi rides when family visited a few weeks ago.  Subways would have been much less expensive but more difficult because of the baby stroller.

Virginia & Dennis, S/V Libertad, with Bill

Maybe we should have attended the festival earlier in the week because much of it was shutting down (or already shut down) by the time we got there.  The decorations were all still in place and there still were crowds, but most of the stages had already shut down and performers gone.  We saw only 1 band perform.  That's okay; there still is one other street festival we hope to attend next weekend where there will be bands and dancing.  And missing out on the street vendor foods was okay too.  Not much into that stuff.

Eiffel Tower constructed of paper tubes

Really liked this shade thing constructed from simple
netting and small plastic water bottles with small
amounts of water with food dye added.  Every
decorated block has something hanging overhead.

Childrens' drums and flames

I had read that there would be the children's drums and flames this evening and we hoped to see that.  Because...what did that mean...'children's drums and flames.'  A bonfire?  


The youngest drummer

It meant children (and adults of all ages) drumming away as they marched down the street in simple costumes, most of which had flames decorating the pants legs or jackets.  I never found out the significance of the flames.  And each group had 1 or more guys carrying either tall staffs with strange decorations or long pitchforks.  Surely there was some significance in these things that the locals understood but it escaped us visitors. 

(I have a short video of the 3 drumming groups but need to find an editing program to make it small enough to fit the requirements of this blog site.  Will try to add it later.)

Who requires a real drum to enjoy the fun!
A Mickey Mouse plastic bucket works just fine.

The obligatory beer.  No street festival is complete
without it.

Could not figure this one out.
This was at one end of block.
A sea monster?
This was overhead after the
sea monster.

According to what I had read online, Festa Major de Gràcia is held mid-August each year; dates are always 15 August to 21 August regardless of days of the week.  The 15th day of August is a public holiday in Spain called Assumption Day.  This festival takes places in the Gràcia district in Barcelona, called a barrio although barrio here does not mean what it connotes in the USA.  
Next were lots of colored balls and
shapes overhead.  Then the DNA
Residents of 18 streets decorated their respective blocks this year. There are hundreds of activities, most of which are for local residents; but tourists and visitors are welcome to the concerts and parades.  As the website stated: the Festa de Gràcia is about Catalan traditions like parades, giants, castle building and fireruns, but most of all it is a shining example of community spirit which also welcomes visitors." 

For what it is work, we saw no 'fireruns' and not sure exactly what those are.

And at the entrance at opposite end of block was this.
Perla means pearl, so that sort of ties in with the
sea monster.  But how does that relate to DNA?
They lost me.

What kind of instrument is this?
Looks like an umbrella handle.

The Japanese block.  They did a nice job making
the cherry blossom tree.

The Gràcia festival is the second biggest of Barcelona's neighborhood street festivals, only surpassed in size and visitor numbers by the Barcelona La Mercè festival which is held annually in late September.  We will miss that one as we should be in Gibraltar about that time. That festival, which officially first took place in 1902 and is held in honor of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the Patron Saint of Barcelona.  It bids goodbye to the summer with a bang and welcomes in the cooler months of autumn.

Overhead stuff at Japanese block
Around 120,000 people live in the Gràcia district.  The name of this district originates from a Carmelite convent dating bck to 1626, which was called Nostra Senyora de Gràcia (Our Lady of Grace).  Up until 1897 the Vila de Gràcia was a separate village and municipality from Barcelona city.  To get through the fields from Barcelona to Gràcia one traveled on a road called Passeig de Gràcia (passage to Gràcia).  This road still has the same name today and is considered by most people to be Barcelona's most exclusive shopping street.

Sumo Wrestler.  Also had a Geisha Girl
same size.  There were at opposite end of
block from the cherry blossom tree.

In 1897 Gràcia village was annexed to Barcelona.  As the city expanded, Gràcia became surrounded but remained largely intact as the original village.  This explains why it is the oldest barrio with plenty of old world charm despite being in the middle of the modern city of Barcelona.  Gràcia has plenty of narrow streets and many charming plazas; it maintains today an independent and local feeling.  There are no big tourist attractions, not even fast food chains; leaving space for the residents to weave a neighborhood tapestry of bohemian and artistic shops, cafes and restaurants.

The obligatory dragon overhead
In a word, this barrio is charming.  

The music theme street

Paper cellos and musicians

And looking into a shop window
explained why the music theme.
Shops on this street manufacture
violins and cellos, and guitars, etc.

Most unusual shaped
wine glass.

After strolling the streets a few hours we stopped for a pleasant dinner in a small Italian cafe.  Food quality was just okay.  As yet we have eaten no meals in Barcelona that we would consider outstanding or even just very good.  Nothing 'bad' but nothing spectacular.

Next we hopped back on the Metro and went to see the La font Màgica de Montjuïc, the Magic Fountains.  Montjuïc is another district of Barcelona.  And nothing like Gràcia.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Montjuïc district is jam packed with tourists.  All hours of the day and night.  The Magic Fountain is the main feature of the collection of waterfalls and ponds and many smaller fountains on Avinguda Maria Cristina, which stretches from the Palau Nacional (the Catalan National Art Museum) to Plaça Espanya.  This is a spectacular fountain and is very popular. The fountains are one of the major tourist attractions in the area. Tickets can be purchased online to allow one close proximity to the large central fountain.  We did not plan this ahead of time, so we just stood well away.  Close enough for me -- considering how crowded it was!

Magic Fountain in moonlight
The fountain was built for the 1929 World Fair by Carles Buïgas using extremely artisanal methods (traditional; non-mechanized).  Up to 30 water arrangements (patterns) could be displayed with different colors.  Water is pumped through this great fountain at at rate of 685 gallons per second in 3 concentric pools which have a water re-circulation system.  Through its connection the the groundwater network of Montjuïc Mountain, the Magic Fountain and the 3 upper waterfalls are supplied with water coming from below ground level.

Magic Fountain colors

In the 1980s music was added. Shortly before the 1992 Olympics, the Magic Fountain was completely renovated. Despite the renovation, the fountain still has a large part of the original mechanisms.

The only music played to the fountain color changes and water pattern changes that I remember from the night we visited was listening to 'Roar' by Katy Perry.  For whatever reason, every time I heard her 'roar' it brought on a smile.

A better image/video:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.