Caledonia and Catalonia


I am back ………………………..!


After trip to Barcelona I realized that Barcelona  and Glasgow have quite a lot in common. If you drawings a straight line between these two cities,  you can easy to see that they are situated on a similar longitude.


Two cities, two very different climates.


Catalunya to Spain is like Scotland to the UK. It is proud of its Catalan culture, heritage and language, lying between Spanish and French. Like Catalonia, Scotland is also  a nation with its own distinct culture, unique economic advantages and an independent sense of self.


Then Barcelona has Gaudi and Gaudi Art Nouveau is everywhere.


 Glasgow has the unmistakable Art Nouveau magic of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is to Glasgow (and Scotland as a whole), what Gaudi is to Barcelona and Catalonia.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Antoni Gaudi represent a long-standing architectural bond between Scotland and Catalonia.  Both from Art Nouveau, the first 20th century modern style. Both are recognized masters, both stopped looking backwards in history for ideas, both took inspiration instead from what they saw around it, in particular the natural world. Both are recognised masters who have come to form a vital part of the cities in which they lived. Both were very skilled in the inventive use of stone and metal in their building. Although Mackintosh and Gaudi were contemporaries and introduced novel style of architecture, their buildings were different, although equally fascinating and it is wonderful that Catalans to enjoy the work of Mackintosh and Scots to admire a Gaudi .


However, in Barcelona I was inspired by something different Catalan icon – dragons. Barcelona is absolutely crawling with them. I decided to collect some of them in  this post.


The mysticism behind this story seems to have made a strong impression over the years on those artists who have made this legend the chief source of inspiration for their works. Barcelona, the nursery of the Catalan Modernista movement, is thus a city of dragons, despite the fact that, historically speaking, dragons have always been linked to monstrosities, personifications of the devil and enemies of the gods. There are lots of them in Barcelona.


Almost all of them pass by unnoticed, though there are a few that have become symbolic. For example, the famous dragon in Park Güell or in Parc de la Ciutadella.

Barcelona - Parc de la Ciutadella - dragon

Apart from the Barcelona of dragons you are probably familiar with, you cannot fail to notice the inspiration these imaginary beasts evoked when it came to building important works like the Casa Batlló.


Apart from what we know of its history, its design was inspired by a dragon. The upper part of the building reminds you of the arched back of a dragon, with ceramic tiles as its scales. There are other dragons that are may not be so evident. Some of the street lights in the historic part of Barcelona are also decorated with forged-iron dragons. Some are snakes, not dragons, though ultimately they are beasts with a similar symbolism. Barcelona is fascinated by dragons. Consequently, there are many varieties of dragons spread throughout the city (also modern from paper) however the majority based in the old town.


Some are so well hidden that not even the locals have spotted them and others are so outstanding it is surprising we had not noticed them before.


Legend of “Sant Jordi” says that a long, long time had a monstrous dragon with long claws and fire breath.

This dragon to flee the village, killed people with their breath and swallowed people alive.Citizens with no solution, decided to give two sheep every day to appease their hunger. When sheep were finished, we got cows, bulls and all animals had to run out.The king called a meeting and decided it would make a raffle and would give a person every day for the dragon that ate it. A very unlucky day, it fell to the king’s daughter, and very tearful said:
– Sorry for my daughter, in exchange, I will give my gold, my silver and half of my reign, but I ask you please, leave my daughter. The village was refused, and the king ordered eight days of mourning for her daughter. On the day the king prepared and laid before the dragon’s cave. But suddenly, when the dragon opened his big mouth to eat it in one bite, appeared, galloping on a white horse and with his spear and a golden shield, the knight “Sant Jordi”, to save the princess from the clutches of the dragon. The knight raised his long spear and hit the dragon with spear fell within his heart. Suddenly, blood falling from the dragon’s body came a rosebush with some roses that glowed with sunlight, and the knight “Sant Jordi” picked one, the most beautiful of all, went to the princess and the given as a sign of love. The king asked him to marry her daughter and I would give all his gold and half of his kingdom. The knight went on his white horse and said nothing.

From that day the villagers lived quiet. So tradition says that the day of Sant Jordi men give a rose to the person they most love. Women, representing the legend, you have to give a book.


I’ll definitely be back, special to El Gòtic, in my opinion the most charming area in Barcelona.


                                                                                                                                                                   Hasta luego Barcelona – thanks for a great week !!!


About conservationwithella

Hello, I'm Ella, Art on Paper Conservator & Preservation Manager at Glasgow University Archives and Special Collections. This blog is a walk through my daily life, work, arts & crafts history, my discovery that everything in my life is enough to be a continuous source of reflection. I started blogging to entertain myself but I hope you enjoy it too. I'm sure you agree, that Life without art is nothing. :)

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