Monday, 11 July 2016

Roman Stuff and Music

When the Romans occupied what is now Barcelona, it was a city called Faventia, and not a particularly important town in the Roman world. Still, it came with all the Roman fixings of walls and forums and other such stuff.

In typical fashion, the Roman stuff was well built, so instead of being torn down was incorporated into buildings or buried, occasionally becoming the basements of buildings. The Alpine Club of Catalonia purchased a building, exposed the Roman columns that were used in the building's atrium -- columns that used to be part of the Temple of Augustus, the largest religious structure in town -- and you can just walk into their building's atrium to see them.
Corinthian, I think
A lot of the walls are still standing, and I showed some of them in earlier posts. But the coolest part of the Roman stuff lies underneath a city square. The Museum of the History of the City sits in a 17th Century house. While renovating the house in the 1930's, the old Roman city was  found in the basement. Since then, several square blocks of the old Roman city have been revealed through excavations. Take an elevator down one floor and you find this:

The underground 
The map of the underground
There are hot and cold public baths. A winery. A church. Another church that was built on top of that church (and butts up against and leads under the current Basilica). Mosaic floor tile remnants.
Just like ones I've seen in Italy
Wall frescoes.
A rider
Amphorae still stained red with wine they held.
Red, of course
A fish processing facility, complete with fishhooks.
Vats and overflows and... 
Still sharp after 2,000 years
Funerary monuments.
Classic haircuts
And jewelry and pots and art and lots of other stuff. As the city progressed, stuff was built on top.
Roman winery underneath, 14th century building on top.
The museum complex is home to a pretty if austere little chapel built in the early 1300's with a cool wooden ceiling...
Very tall 
Ceiling detail
...and the 14th Century's Royal Palace's Throne Room (not a bathroom) where it is said Columbus was received by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Awesome arches 
Not used for much other than concerts any more
Speaking of concerts (a poor segue)...

That being a fun museum, we were inspired to go and visit the Music Museum that day, too. There were aspects of the museum I liked -- instruments you could try...
Me on a synthesizer 
Me as a harpist 
Karen as a cellist
...but mostly it was about interesting instruments.
A... snakehorn? 
Not a great photo of a walking cane that turns into a violin 
More snakehorns? 
A harmonica collection. Look how tiny the one is, and the pipes on the other 
A string bass with... horns?
And some of the new instruments were kinda cool, too.
360 Bass head 
LPC head 
Strat head 
Genuine Moog synth 
An Atari? A Mac I would get, but an Atari?
I think the best display in the museum, though, was sort of static, but sort of interactive at the same time. It was a display of genuine period instruments of the chamber music era, set out as they would have been in a chamber music ensemble, and while you sat in the theatre with them, there was recorded chamber music playing on the loudspeakers, being played on period instruments. Very nice.
Everything from the 1700's
The music museum was cheap -- only €5 -- and worth it for the price. The History of the City of Barcelona was a riot and worth whatever the heck it cost.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Hanging with Dead People

We like visiting cemeteries. The two biggies in Barcelona are Montjuic and Poblenou. Montjuic has a lot more history (and free guided tours...) but Poblenou was far more accessible for us.

As cemeteries go, it's not really that thrilling. The oldest graves are nondescript and from the early 1800's and the place is in use still. Mostly, it's just rows and rows of what we call "cemetery condos"...
6 stories tall. Yes, there are ladders.
...interspersed with blocks of large scale crypts.
Some are fancier than others
Just because you're in a small condo, doesn't mean you aren't remembered.
Copious flowers 
One impressive shrine 
Even children pass away, sadly
Not all are ornate, however.
Still remembered, just on a smaller budget
Often, families occupy condo blocks together.
Up, down and all around
With all due respect, some are just... "interesting".
I think this guy was a surveyor... 
...who surveyed trains and helped build ships 
Huh? Inside a tomb... 
...decorated with fake stars. 
Maybe this person shot a lot of clay pigeons 
Well, that's just... 
I think this dude like to drink 
That's probably there for a reason 
Not sure about displaying the medals
In the end, it was a large but not terribly interesting cemetery, though we appreciated the walking tour that took you to tombs and crypts that were architecturally significant.

The Poblenou district where the cemetery is located is near the beach on the northeast side of downtown, and got its name because it was the first of the "new villages" that was built outside the city walls. It has lots of old converted warehouses and industrial facilities that aren't very interesting. The main drag, however, is very pretty, as are all the "Ramblas" that you find around Barcelona.
Tree lined 
A wider view
They have a market just like all the rest of the markets in town run by the same City government that runs all the others -- that, like all the others, was closed in the middle of the afternoon when we were there.
Looks like every other closed market
Some of the buildings in Poblenou are quite pretty.
Very French Provincial 
Ornate exterior decorations 
This is the back of the building. Couldn't see the front well 
Poblenou streets
I think, in the end, we should have bit the bullet and visited Montjuic. Poblenou cemetery was OK but nothing special. Nice neighbourhood, though.