All posts filed under: art and museum

Painting of Jesus Christ in the museum.

History lesson at the Museo Episcopal de Vic

You don‘t need a time machine to travel into the past – simply visit the Museo Episcopal de Vic, which is hiding in the charming, medival town Vic on the foot of the Pyrenees.  The outward appearance of the monumental building opposite the famous cathedral already makes the ghosts of the past whisper behind the thick stone walls. When you start walking trough the rooms, which are filled with over 29,000 artworks, the history finally comes alive.

On of the precious paintings of the museum.

With its collection of glass, metal and textiles, as well as countless paintings and sculptures from the Romanesque and Gothic periods , the museum is considered a world-wide unique place, that gives a deep insight into the Catalan history.After a previous artistic and architectural exhibition and the discovery of an old Romanesque temple near the city,  the museum was founded in 1891 by a bishop. And it‘s as spectacular as an modern art exhibition – while you wander past various cabinets, the thin lips of the shady faces, which drank out of this or that jug many years ago, suddenly appear in front of your eyes and when you glance at the ornamented jewelry box or the beautiful carved comb, you wonder how the woman looked like, unraveling her long hair with it.

A collection of wood carvings. and figures.

However, the centerpiece of the museum is its Romanesque – Gothic collection of paintings and artworks, which were lovingly refurbished. When you realize, that each stroke of the brush and every tiny detail was executed by a bare hand, you won‘t stop gazing in amazement. Especially the finely woven vestments and hand made clothes in one of the showrooms keep your mouth open.
In addition to the museum’s collection, which can be visited at any time, is always a diffrent exhibition on the ground floor, where further informations about the Catalan history are given. The best thing about the Museo Episcopal is, that it shows that museums are not always antiquated, dusty places, which only history lovers can enjoy. No one is going to be bored here.

There're many precious paintings in the museum in Vic.

How to get there:
Museo Episcopal de Vic
Plaça Bisbe Oliba, 3
08500 Vic (Barcelona)

Opening hours:
April – September: Tuesday till Friday 10.00  – 19.00 o’clock
October – Marchz: Tuesday till Friday 10.00 – 13.00 o’clock and 15.00 – 18.00 o’clock
Saturday: 10.00 – 19.00 o’clock
Sunday and public holiday: 10.00  – 14.00 o’clock

Price:
Normal: 7, 00 Euro
Reduced: 3,50 Euro

400th anniversary of El Greco‘s death

Whether you‘re interested in art or not, there are some things, that you must have seen once in a lifetime. Especially lovers of the Spanish art history should know the name El Greco – this year, everybody gets invited to gain insight into the life of the genius.

Born in April 1541 in Crete, the young Greco moved to Madrid in 1577 in the hope to work for the king. He later came to the former Spanish capital Toledo, where he started creating his famous altarpieces. His style influenced many German painters such as Max Beckmann or Oppenheimer.

In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of El Greco‘s death this year, there will be diffrent exhibitions in Madrid and Toledo, where you can marvel at the beautiful paintings of the great master. Further information as well as the exhibitions programm can be found here.

One of Dalís Portraits of Gala

Might and Diveneness – Dalís muse Gala

Deified muse and creature of poetry, object of sexual appetite and artistic producing. It’s quite easy to follow Dalís track along the Costa Brava, but who was actually the woman by his side, appearing in numberless paintings of the artist and bearing the mystical name Gala? In the centre of the small village Púbol is a castle located, which appears quite simple except of Dalís long – legged elephants, which glance over the stony walls like intent guardians. In contrary to the Dalí museum in Figueres or the artist’s house in Portlligat, which allure crowds of tourists during the summermonths, this dreamy spot is surrounded by a pleasant silence.

In 1968 bought Dalí the castle for his adored wife Gala. It was a place of privacy for her and it was difficult to break trough the cocoon of might, that Gala had created during her life.  Even Dalí had to ask her for permission every time he visited her in the following years. Who was this woman with the shady face of an eagle and the dark eyes, whose lips looked like they were hardly ever decorated with a smile? Gala, who was actually named Jelena, was born in 1894 in Russia – her family was deeply religious and she soon adopted this character trait. The peaky girl spent her adolescence in a sanatorium, where she first met the poet Paul Éluard – he was going to be her first husband and father of her child, which Gala was never interested in.

Many of Galas Portrait can be found in the museum in Figueres.

The girl already adored art in this early years and even though she never actual did art by herself, it later became her purpose in life. It was Pauls attraction, who impressed her with his poetic talent and for whom the exotic girl became a limitless source of inspiration, which aroused Galas wish to live a life only for art and love. The perfect symbiosis of an artist and his muse, which already became apparent in her first marriage, was characteristic of Galas relationships – in 1921, she carried on with Max Ernst, a complicated love triangle followed and her marriage started to break to pieces. It looked like the 27 – year old, who was often described as an uncommunicative and cranky person, was slowly outgrowing her role as wife and mother – she wanted to escape the comfortable nest.

Another famous Portrait of Gala.

In 1929, she finally met the unknown Dalí in Cadaqués – the bizarre character of the artist, who immediately fell in love with Galas rough beauty, became her escapism. A few days later, Paul started back for home without his wife. Gala was already caught up in a new romance and nevermore came back to him. What was it, that made Gala chose this new life? Had Dalí she finally turned into the untouchable goddess, she always wanted to become? She was not only the artist‘s precious muse, but also his astute manager, who helped him to become more and more famous. Even if Gala is often described as a cold person, she seemed to have a soft core – when Dalí fell ill, his wife was nursing him for a long time, until she died. Till this day, no one really knows, where she is buried – supposedly Dalí brought her to Púbol.

How to get there:
Casa – Museo Castillo Gala Dalí
Plaza Gala Dalí, E – 17120 Púbol – la Pera

Opening hours:
Juni – September: 10.00 Uhr – 20.00 Uhr
September – November: 10.00 Uhr – 18.00 Uhr
November – Dezember: 10.00 Uhr – 17.00 Uhr
Januar – März: geschlossen
Außerhalb der Sommermonate Montags geschlossen!

Price:
Ticket regulär: 8 Euro
Ticket ermäßigt: 6 Euro

Impressive altar of the cathedral in Vic.

Symbiosis of divineness and art – the cathedral of St Pere in Vic

Last week, we went to a place, which filled us with awe and speechlessness merely from seeing – the monumental Cathedral of St Pere, heart of the lively and colorful student town Vic seems to sit between the elegant houses like a stately lion. But it‘s not only the outer appearance of this neo – classical church of the 18th century, which bestows it with such a unique and impressive aura – once the heavy, wrought – iron gates are closed behind you, you feel like being lost in an art gallery. Josep Maria Sert is the name of the painter, whose famous works from the 17th century instantly surround the visitor and breathe new life into the cathedral, a phenomenon, which is rarely found in ordinary churches.

View of the cathedral in Vic.

The paintings, which show the path of salvation, look like photographys – some of them are dark , some of them are illuminated by subdued light and the fact that every single detail has been created by the hand of the artist, makes them even more fascinating.The building itself, from whose original construction of the 11th century is only the crypt and the bell tower left over, contributes to the impressive composition. Stone frescoes and filigree ornaments decorate the walls – at the end of the day your nape is going to be sore from lookingup .The better, that the golden altar of the church is just as alluring and you can enjoy the sublime atmosphere for a fleeting moment. Understandably, Josep Maria Sert never left this place – both the artist and the famous philosopher Jaume Balmes are buried here.

The walls are decorated by precious paintings.

Once you found the way to Vic, it‘s worthwhile to spend a few more hours in the city after you‘ve visited the cathedral. Traces of the church seem to be woven into the architecture – Madonna sculptures look down on the wanderers, the windows are surrounded by Jugendstil ornaments.The streets are full of cheerfulness and vibrancy – small bars and charming cafés are hidden in the narrow alleys, people sit on terraces in front of the houses, the summerair is filled with voices and laughing, cold beer comes with regional specialties such as Vic’s delicious Salamis (fuet and llonganissa), which made the place famous. Every Tuesday it gets even more lively – residents and curious visitors jump straight into the hustle and bustle of the weekly market, on which almost everything from clothes and shoes to fresh fruit and vegetables can be found.

The famous cathedral of Vic.

Catedral de Vic, Plaça Bisbe Oliba, 08500 Vic (Barcelona)
10.00 – 13.00 h + 16.00 – 19.00 h
Girona / Figueres -> Vic: ca. 1h

Fort de Bellegarde in France

Fort de Bellegarde

Fort de Bellegarde

Fort de Bellegarde in France

What a view!

What a view! exclaimed Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban when he entered the ruins of Bellegarde for the first time. Marquis de Vauban, already in his lifetime awarded with the honorary title “Ingénieur de France“, is considered as the most important military architect of baroque. The master builder of Louis XIV is the creator of the “ceinture de fer“, the iron belt which was designed to protect the external frontiers of France. Until today, Fort Bellegarde is marked by the personal style of the famous architect, which engaged in the construction or remodelling of 160 fortifications.

Located solitarily on a rock in a height of 420 metres.Located solitarily on a rock in a height of 420 metres, the potent Fort de Bellegarde towers until today above the village of Le Perthus. After having entered over a drawbridge, one is immediately stunned by the views, just as Vauban a few centuries ago. In the South, one’s eyes travel over La Jonquera, Figueres and the vast plain of the Empordà. On the other side, mountain Canigou touches the clouds in heaven; and in the East, the mountain chain Albera extend to the Mediterranean.
Since the Treaty of the Pyrenees, signed in 1659, the powerful fortification has marked the borderline between France and Spain. During the Middle Ages the castle owners demanded tolls for crossing the mountain pass of Le Perthus and thereby financed their expensive lifestyle. Later on, there had to be paid customs duties and nowadays we are driving on toll roads.
300 years before the construction of the first highway, Vauban was aware of the strategic importance of this place. On behalf of Louis XIV, he ordered the demolition of the old castle and planned a strong fortification, which would be able to control the arterial road of the Pyrenees and demonstrate the absolute power of his king. In today’s united Europe, military border posts have, fortunately, disappeared. The renovated buildings have been transformed into museums. One of the expositions explains the history of the fort and one might also visit the fountain system of 18th century, including a well of 62 metres depth and a diameter of six metres. It was drilled into the rock and later plastered over a height of 50 metres.

The fort’s real highlight, however, has always been the panoramic view. Therefore, on clear weather days the excursion to our neighbour country is always worth it.

Museum in the Fort de Bellegarde

Expositions explains the history of the Fort

 

CASA SALVADOR DALÍ – Portlligat – Cadaqués

Gala Salvador Dalí foundation was presented:

The new addition to the museum

Visiting Casa Salvador Dalí is always well worth the effort – not only for the spectacular views onto the bay and its ever-changing light, but also for the many details such as photos, decor, and works of art. Now, there is another good reason to pay a visit to the world of Dalí and Gala: the olive groves just behind the house. Partially open to the public during this year’s summer, there are many surprises just waiting to be discovered. There is Dali’s Milky Way, for example, where he and his muse are said to have walked on stilts. Furthermore, his egg-crowned garden studio can also be found in this very olive grove. Under the studio’s translucent roof, the artist and master of illusion used to create the sculptures and performances he had dreamt about. The charismatic surrealist and his contemporary artists are now closer than ever – due to video installations.

Visiting Casa Salvador Dalí is always well worth the effort The new addition to the museum was presented to press and public by Antoni Pitxot, deputy president of the Gala Salvador Dalí foundation, and Lluis Penuelas, the foundation’s secretary, in August. Just before sunset, and with a glass of Cava, is the best time to stroll through the garden and be ever so slightly jealous at Dali and Gala, who used to have this lovely and enchanting sanctuary of a garden all for themselves. Luckily, the garden is still the paradise it used to be back then and the feeling of peace and quiet has been preserved up until today.

The Castell de Sant Ferran, Figueres

The largest fortress in Europe, from 18th century.

Monumental, enormous and impressive.

The fort above the town of Figueres offers sweeping views up to the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. Because of its exposed location, it played a significant role during the Spanish Civil War. Built in the 18th Century to protect Spain against the French, the complex is an exceptionally large military defensive system. Named after King Fernando VI. the installation has an outer diameter of about 3 km and covers a total of 32 hectares. The fort is an irregular octagon which is surrounded by a double wall, and has numerous bastions, moats, drawbridges and a remarkable parade.
The cisterns located under the parade ground are particularly surprising. There can be stored a supply of 40 million litres. Provided for a crew of 6,000 men the Castell de Sant Ferran represents a supreme cultural heritage. It is the largest building of Catalonia and the biggest bastion fort built in Europe in the 18th century. The complex was planned by several military architects, including Pere M. Cermeño and Joan M. Cermeño.
Nonetheless the fortress of Sant Ferran was briefly won over and occupied by the French during the Napoleonic War. Captured by Napoleon’s troops the defender of Girona – General Alvarez de Castro died here on 22 January 1810. General Alvarez de Castro was considered a hero of the region, as he had once successfully rescued Girona from the French in 1809. Later the fort was conquered back by the native troops due to a bold attack. Thereby ended the first and last occupation in the history of the fortress.
In 1927 as well Salvador Dalí rendered his military service in the Castell de Sant Ferran in Figueres. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War Sant Ferran became a stronghold for international brigades, ammunition and storage place for art. Many Spanish art pieces from the Prado in Madrid were deposited in Sant Ferran during the time of the Civil war, to save them from destruction.

In February 1939 the last meeting of the Republican government….

The complex was planned by several military architects, including Pere M. Cermeño and Joan M. Cermeño.…. took place at the castle. Its members were already on the run from the Nationalists. On the same evening the ammunition depot was blown up in order to avoid it falling into the enemy‘s hands. The explosion was so violent that the dust over the city only settled after days. After the Civil War the Franco-Regime took over the fortress and used it for military purposes, as a training ground for soldiers and munitions depot.

Later, the importance of the castle decreased gradually, so that in 1966 it was finally no longer used militarily. It served as a prison for some time, for example those in charge of the military coup of 23 February 1981 were held there. Until today the fort has survived in its basic structure.
As early as 1949, the Castell de Sant Ferran was declared a Historic-Artistic monument, and since July 1997 tourists can visit it. Given the enormous scale, which is truly admirable considering the age of construction, the military-technical design and the good condition of the plant, turn a visit to the Castell de Sant Ferran into a unique experience. For groups are offered jeep tours over the vast terrain, and the catacombs can be explored by boat. With helmet and lamp, you endow the cool basement and are astonished by the clear water down there. After the tour there is still some time to explore the large area on your own. A glance at the stables is worth it. The endless vault once offered space for 500 horses. A tour of the plant is an adventure for the whole family.
The exceptionally large military defensive system named after King Fernando VIOpening times: Easter and 1.7. – 15. 9., 10.30 – 20.00 h / 11. – 28.2., 10.30 – 14.00 h otherwise 10.30 h – 15 h / 1.1. + 25.12. closed
Audio Tour: Individual tour with headphones: Spanish, French, German, English, Dutch, Italian. (About 1h)
Tour of the inside of the fortress: Duration approximately 1h – 1.5h
Special guided tour with wine tasting: Duration 1.5 h – 2h
Guided Discovery Tours: Jeep tour through the fortress and castle moats + boat ride through the water reservoirs. Duration approximately 2h – 2.5h
Information and reservations: Tel 972 50 60 94 (Fax 972 67 44 99)
www.lesfortalesescatalanes.info/?id=castell_de_sant_ferran

Dance of death in Verges

On Plaça Major in Verges, the passion play takes place each year on Maundy Thursday, 10 pm. Later, the out­standingly infamous procession moves through the small streets of the village. At 9pm, the meadows in front of the gates are already covered in cars. Neither knowing the place, nor where to go, we follow the crowd and end up at the barrier of the village’s centre. We have no tickets yet and are told to go to the counter. It is located at the other end of Verges and not easily to be found. Finally, we arrive at Plaça Major and are told to take our seats.

Verges | The Dance of deathThe spectacle starts right in time with the chimes at 10pm. The laymen’s play is in Catalan. Yet, the story is very well-known, and thus easy to understand.

Additionally, there is a summary of the play in all languages online this year (www.laprocesso.com).

The costumes’ rich colouring makes you forget about the fact that the play is lengthy at times. Around midnight, the procession finally forms and starts wandering through the narrow alleys. Luckily, we find a good place in an alleyway.

The procession is amazing

The procession is amazing; the dead are dancing, the Romans are whirling around their spears and the penitents are hidden by large, pointy hats. The saints are sitting on carriages, crowned with flowers, while Jesus is carrying the heavy cross. A few girls are lugging Maria on their shoulders. Temptingly, the flowers’ fragrance wavers through the night. The procession is of a peculiar yet intriguing beauty, the medieval setting of the village adding to the dramatic atmosphere.

Verges rocessionAn experience you do not want to miss

All bars and shops are open through the night. The village is vibrating and the natives and their guests are watching from their balconies.  Conclusion: an experience you do not want to miss! Even without a ticket, you can watch the magnificent procession as it moves through the streets. Just make sure you arrive well before the beginning, in order to get a decent place. Each year, more visitors come to watch – and in spite of the mystical theme, the atmosphere is more that of a folk festival. Around 3am we leave the crowd and search for a place in a pavement café at the outskirts of the village. A chilly breeze has come up and we are grateful for the heater. A glass of sparkling wine causes us to wake up again. The procession seems to be nearing its end. Still, the Mas Pi is filled to the last place and people keep celebrating until dawn.

Fishing Museum Palamós

Impossible to understand their mythology

Saint Peter, Hemingway’s old man, Jack London’s Sea-Wolf. Solitary work on the endless sea, daily struggle with nature and an existential uncertainty created a very special type of human beings, deeply relationed with its work: the fishermen. For outsiders it is almost impossible to understand their mythology, ab aeterno they fascinated, but also frightened people. Until the sixties of the last century they formed a secretive community with its own calendar, own rites and an own language. It was not until 50 years ago that the oldest job in the world was profoundly changed by modern technologies, by the so-called Blue Revolution. Nowadays there are less fishermen, but did they really change?

Fishing Museum Palamos Fisherboat

In Palamós you can even visit the only fishing museum of Catalonia.

Fishing Museum Palamos

In fact, we are very near to them, a lot of touristic locations once had been fishing villages. At the harbour of Roses or Palamós you can still observe their arrival, the cleaning of the nets, the fish auctions. In Palamós you can even visit the only fishing museum of Catalonia. In theperfectly designed rooms fishing equipment is exposed, different kinds of fishing are explained, you can listen to cock-and-bull stories and observe the changes that suffered the world of fishing in modern society.Current problems and solutions are also explained, although some of them were already treated in the past: “If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him.” (Hemingway)

www.museudelapesca.org

Museum of miniaturs and microminiaturs in Besalú

Taking a closer look… Known all around the world, the Green Vault in Dresden is famous for being one of Europe’s richest treasuries. In fact, it is often referred to as a walk-in treasure chest. One of the most fascinating treasures is a cherry pit, engraved with the faces of 185 men and women. 400 years ago, it was given to August the Strong as a present. Humans have always been fascinated by miniatures – fabergé-eggs, nativity scenes, tin soldiers and dollhouses are more than toys.

50 years of miniatures collection

In 2007, the Museum for Miniatures and Microminiatures opened in Besalú. It is not the only museum for miniatures but it has the most varied and complete collection of miniatures in Europe. Lluis Carreras, a gifted jeweller, has been devoting the bigger part of his time for miniatures. Within the last 50 years he has collected over 2000 different enchanting pieces.

For example, there is Eiffel Tower – 0.2 inches small. In a glass cabinet, there is an Elephant dancing on tiptoes on a needle point while a caravan of camels goes right through they eye of another needle.Some figurines and most of the details are so small that they can only be seen through a magnifying glass.

We are in awe of what the artist has done! We then discover an antique lingerie shop the size of a dollhouse and an old hatters’ store en miniature, which tells stories of times now long gone by.

Everything resembles the original; every­thing is heartbreakingly small and fragile. There are complex carvings, pretty paintings lining the walls, fragile flambeaux and figurines, gorgeous gemstones and jewelry. Eyes shining, Lluis Carreras has many a story to tell about all the different items. His excitement is highly contagious, and soon we are lost in dreams last dreamt when we were very young.

Some of the miniatures are 10000 times smaller than their original. To manufacture those small beauties, the artists need a lot of patience. As a goldsmith, Lluis Carreras knows what he is talking about. He sais: “It is what a jeweler does, producing artful sculptures on a very small scale”.

In Besalu, he has found the perfect treasure chest. He bought an old in­dus­trial building that was in desperate need of renovation, located right beside the medieval minster of Sant Pere. Once a textile factory, the building has been completely restaured now. Lluis Carreras’ miniatures are well worth seeing and can be visited every day from 10 am to 7pm. Entrance fee is 3,50€.