Spain-Morocco 2015

Manresa – the heart of Catalonia

IMG_3522Before we visit Manresa, I would like to write more about Catalonia. The following information is important to understand what is going on in this autonomous Spanish community.

Spain is divided in 17 parts called autonomous communities.

Catalonia is one of them, with its capital and largest city of Barcelona.

After Franco’s death in 1975, Catalonia voted for the adoption of a democratic Spanish Constitution in 1978, in which Catalonia recovered a small political and cultural autonomy. Today, Catalonia is the most economically dynamic region of Spain..

On Sunday, 27 September 2015, a parliamentary election will be held to elect the 11th Parliament of Catalonia. At stake will be all 135 seats in the Parliament, determining the President of Catalonia.

President Artur Mas announced that it was his intention to turn the election into an alternative vote on the independence of Catalonia, with pro-independence parties bringing the independence process in their respective programs, due to the inability of holding a legal referendum on the issue.

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In other words, it will be not only a parliamentary election but at the same tine a vote for independence. September 27th is a very important date in Catalonia and in Spain. You can find articles in daily newspapers talking about this event every day.

And when you walk in Barcelona, Manresa or other towns in Catalonia you will find their independence flags hanging from windows or balconies.

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The Estelada is an unofficial flag typically flown by Catalan separatists to express their support for either an independent Catalonia or independent Països Catalans (Catalan Countries, i.e. the territories where Catalan is traditionally spoken). The use of this flag as a protest symbol within Catalan nationalism has become more notable since the 1970s’ Spanish transition to democracy. The design of the Estelada comprises the red-and-yellow bars of the Senyera, the current Catalan flag, with the addition of a five-pointed star in a triangle at the hoist.

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During the middle ages, Manresa was one of Catalonia’s most important towns. It’s medieval charm still impresses visitors today. If you are tired of Barcelona’s crowds of tourists and noise, take a train (R5 or R4) from Barcelona and visit Manresa. You will be surprised how charming this town is and how very few tourist get here. In some places you may be the only visitor.

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By experiencing the history of Manresa you will also get an insight into the history of Catalonia, as both coincided in their periods of splendour.

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Gegants i capgrossos – giants and big heads. In Spanish and Catalan festivals you can often see “gegants i capgrossos” (Catalan) which means “giants and big heads.” Gegants and Capgrossos are papier-maché figures. The gegants are carried by “geganters” which means “giant-carrier.” The giants are hollow papier-maché figures usually three or four metres meters tall that show the upper part of the figure and have a skirt covering the lower part.

“Capgrossos” are smaller papier-maché figures with huge heads that are worn on the head and shoulders often by children. The person wearing a “capgrosso” looks out through the mouth opening. Gegants and capgrossos can be seen at most Catalan festivals in the opening “cercavila” parade, which literally means “around the village.” Districts and neighbourhoods each have their own festival figures and during the big festivals. (www.barcelonayellow.com)

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