8½ THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT BARCELONA
Barcelona is my new home town.
No one understand a single word I say, but I love it already. The coffee is brilliant and there are little bars everywhere filled with people still dying for a smoke. You are never more than fifty metres from tapas. The sun has shone every day even though it’s winter. Lionel Messi lives here.
What’s not to love?
But here are eight and a half things you perhaps didn’t know.
1. There were no beaches in Barcelona until 1992.
The seaside was owned by local industry but when the city won the bid to host the Olympic
Games they decided to change things round. Barcelona now has four and a half kilometers of sandy beaches.
2. The city was founded by the Tunisians
Legend has it that the city got its name from the Barca family of Carthage; that it was founded by Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, the one who took all those elephants over the Alps.
3. Its most famous church is still under construction.
When he was at university his professor said that he was either mad or a genius.
He was certainly obsessive. When he was creating the sculptures of the Nativity Facade he used the corpses of dead babies to prepare the scene of the soldier and the innocents. The soldier in that scene has six toes on one of his feet and this is because the man who was modelling for him also had six toes.
Mad or genius?
4. They speak Catalan here, not Spanish.
There are in fact four official languages in Spain: (Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician aswell as three unofficial languages, Asturian, Aragonese and Aranese as well as innumerable dialects of these (Andalucian, Valencian, etc.)
Almost all Spaniards can speak Castilian Spanish.
4½. If it wasn’t for the Spanish you wouldn’t have tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, tobacco or chocolate (cacao).
They were all brought back to Europe from America by the Spanish. It’s why all those words end in ‘o’.
Yes, I know, this has nothing to do with Barcelona, which ends in an ‘a’. That’s why it’s only a ½
5½. Drivers in Barcelona are the worst in Europe.
They tell me that according to recent statistics an accident occurs on average every ninety
Take the metro.
6½. 94% of the Spanish population is Roman Catholic
But gay marriages have been legal here for quite some time. They are a very cool people.
7½. Barcelona’s most famous road is La Rambla.
It’s a one kilometre pedestrian zone between Plaza Catalunya and the port.
On average 150,000 people walk along La Rambla every day. 149,000 of them get their pocket picked.
The other 1000 are pickpockets.
And my extra bonus fact:
Barcelona is where they invented World Book Day. La Diada de San Jordi on April 23rd is one of the biggest, most widely celebrated festival days in Barcelona.
Dating back to 1436, the ‘The Day of the Rose’ is like our Saint Valentine’s Day and features an exchange of gifts between sweethearts.
Men give woman a rose; women give men a book, a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller promoted the holiday as a way to commemorate the deaths of Migue Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616.
And sell more books.
As Barcelona is the publishing capital of both the Catalan and Spanish languages, thousands of flower stalls and bookstalls appear in la Rambla.
By day’s end some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been sold.
This accounts for half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia in 24 hours.
Now for a taste of the spirit of Catalans: this did not happen in Barca but in a town just to the north of her called Sabadell . This is just beautiful; I dare you not to replay it. Check out the kid up the lamp post!!
There’s a brand new cover for ANASTASIA – and you can see the storyboard for the book right here on SLIDESHARE.
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