I recently spent a week in Barcelona with wife and daughter.
Barcelona in 2013 is not the revolutionary city of 1936 that I have dreamt of since first reading the wonderful Homage to Catalonia, the amazing Syndikalismen vid makten and other books about the Spanish civil war. There were no red/black flags meeting the eye, no happy workers or militia members on La Rambla, no A las barricadas blaring from loudspeakers day and night.
Instead of the red/black, most everywhere I looked I saw one of the versions of the Catalan nationalist flag. There are, however, some red/black traces left…
CNT's bookshop, La Rosa de Foc:
Shrapnel marks on a wall from one of at least 200 bombings of Barcelona by the Italian airforce:
The graffiti says “Always remember the victims of fascist regimes”.
The Telefónica building where the 1937 May events started is still in use:
A revolutionary street sign recently uncovered:
If you don't know Catalan I'm told it says “The Unknown Militiaman Square”.
Some of these sights were included in Nick Lloyd's wonderful Spanish Civil War tour. Well worth the three hours and the 20 euros.
Apparently someone else also thought Orwell's Homage to Catalonia was good, so they named a square after him:
At this square there are no less than two vegetarian restaurants! It was really no problem at all to be vegan in Barcelona. Here's me and the daughter at yet another vegan restaurant:
I found some other traces of a living Anarchist culture as well. I passed La Otra Carboniera, a squat with a social center (“Centre Social Okupat”), a few times.
Wife and daughter spent some time at the beach. I was at the beach only once. I can't handle the sun very well.
Of course, we visited most of the tourist traps, including the hideous La Sagrada Família:
I concur with Orwell that the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance. Mind you, other Gaudi houses and Parc Güell are quite beautiful.
I leave you with a few photos from the slopes of Montjuïc, close to Hotel Miramar: