Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Castellers of Barcelona

Cathedral of Barcelona

We joined Virginia and Dennis of S/V Libertad for another evening of festival in Barcelona. There are many festivals from which to choose during August; we decided to visit the closest one this time -- the Festa Catalan Barcelona -- for an evening of traditional Catalan activities and entertainments. 

This festival is held in the plaza in front of the main entrance to the Cathedral of Barcelona; or, more correctly, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, a Gothic cathedral which is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.  This is the church that Lynn and I had visited with the kids last month.  It is a beautiful cathedral.  If you have any interest in the history of this church or want to see photos of interior, link to this website and check it out:

Beginning to build another tower

When we were in SE Asia, Bill said he got "templed out" after visiting Angkor Wat and dozens of other temples.  Over in Turkey, he got "ruined out" from visiting all the Greek and Roman ruins.  And in the Adriatic area, he got "castled out" after visiting so many Venetian castles.  After Italy and just this small part of Spain, he now says he is "churched out."  Not sure I can drag him into many more cathedrals regardless of how beautiful or historic.

This one was 6 levels high.  Note the
little girl on left side sliding down.

The main focus of this Catalan festival on this particular evening were the Castellers of Barcelona.  The Castellers are a tradition that is still very much alive and well, and is being passed on to the new generations.  To the sound of the gralla (a wind instrument) and with the support of the pinya (translates as pineapple but really means the people supporting the base of the human tower), the Castellers begin to form up.  

This is a true teamwork event.

See the little girls about half-way up on either
side.  They were so cute!  And worked so hard!
Little girls crossing over one another at top

Girl on left side sliding down.  Whoosh!

Girls from second-from-top level
after finishing the towers

Dad is a Casteller and tiny son will
be one too someday.  Climbed straight
up his dad's back without assistance.

1 little girl on top
2nd one working on it

There is a Gaudi museum just left of
the cathedral with several sculptures
placed outside.  This one obviously
is Christ with crown of thorns.

Dozens of people stand close together forming a large solid circle, all pushing inward with their arms and hands and body weight.  These folks form the pinya, atop of which the first circle of people climb up and stand, usually men because of their greater strength.  Then 4 more people limb up the backs of that first level of guys and stand on their shoulders.  That gets repeated over and over again, using women and then children at the higher levels.

The smallest children clamor up the backsides of everyone to reach the very top.  Each time there were 2 small children to climb up to the top.  They managed to maneuver over the heads and shoulders of the topmost level of people, going in opposite directions, and then literally would slide down the backs of the people on the opposite side of the tower.  

Sculpture of a Fallen Angel outside
the Gaudi museum beside the cathedral.
Those looked like real apples inside the head.
The tallest of these towers is 9 levels.  That is pretty dang high for these small children to climb! The children appeared to be about 4 years old and did wear protective helmets in case of a fall.  Fearless little things!

As they reached the top each time people would cheer.  And clap madly after they were once again safely down.

There were 2 teams of Castellers on this evening, one red and one blue.  Each team built several towers.  But at last they began to tire.  After 2 final unsuccessful attempts to build yet more towers, they called an end to this event for the evening.  It is hard work!

Traditional Catalan Saranda dancing

Then they began the saranda dancing.  That was nothing special to us.  Just people forming a large circle and moving rather slowly with hands stretched upward and holding flags and sometimes holding hands.  It is a traditional dance and probably means something to them, but it is not an intricate dance so not really anything special to us.

Stainless steel sculpture that looks like
it belongs on a super yacht

We stopped in  the Villa del Arte gallery on our way out of the plaza and were kind of blown away by a few pieces displayed there.  A stainless steel sculpture in the front window was especially nice.  We could picture this inside some super yacht.  

I fell in love with a large painting by Barcelonian artist Montse Valdes.  It was similar to image #18 on her website:

This is way outside our budget range so could not even consider purchasing for future use in our future land home -- whenever that will be.

Concentric circles of acrylic paint comprise large works.
And we were especially impressed with a work by South African artist Gavin Rain.

Use the slide bar on the bottom of that link to view some of his pieces.  He is known for his Neo-Pointillist style paintings.  And that is what caught our eyes from the plaza and brought us into this gallery in the first place.  From outside the gallery this painting looked like it might have been made from buttons glued onto a canvas.  Closer inspection revealed that the huge painting was comprised of concentric circles of brightly colored acrylic paint.  

Side view of some of the circles of paint

When close up, one cannot tell what the painting is supposed to be.  When viewed from a distance the intended image is obvious.  I cannot see how the artist knows how far apart to place the circles of paint and which colors to use where in order to cause this visual effect.

We were quite impressed with his masterful use of this unusual technique.  The piece we admired so much was priced at 21,000 Euros ($23,400); so another one well outside our budget for artwork for a future home.

Viewed from distance.

Stocking up on the 'important stuff' in preparation
of hopefully finding a few anchorages soon

This was an enjoyable evening for winding down our time in Barcelona.  All our little projects are finished and we are now watching for a weather window to move on.  Weather has already begun to change to slightly cooler temperatures on some days.  

October will be here before we know it and we would like to be in Gibraltar around first of October and finished with the Med before the typical autumn weather systems build.  Rain, fog and high wind with steep seas make for uncomfortable sailing conditions.  We want to be comfortably docked in Queensway Quay Marina before that starts.

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