Excellent article from the Guardian on the fall from grace of what was once Barcelona’s best loved street. “Drunken tourists, desperate prostitutes and petty crooks have rendered it charmless, tawdry and dangerous.”
The article also quotes La Vanguardia in a similar tone “A dark boulevard where drunks impose their style, where wallets disappear and there are fights and muggings,” it reported. “The sensation is of chaos, of a lost city. Barcelonans are turning their backs on it.”
“Fifteen years ago, there were 80 fishing boats in the Badalona fleet,” said Ramón Costa. “Five years ago, there were 40. Last year there were 15. Now, the fleet is down to only eight boats. Simply put, there aren’t enough fish left.”
In the centre of Poble Nou Cemetery is a monument to the victims of the outbreak of yellow fever in Barcelona in 1821. The disease was brought by a boat from Cuba. The epidemic first hit the poor areas, and then the rest of the city. It is thought that at least 20,000 inhabitants died from the disease, that is a sixth of the total population (120,000). To the north, the French authorities took emergency measures by cutting off land and maritime borders and blocking French ports to Catalan vessels and defining a quarantine line along the Pyrenean border patrolled by 15,000 soldiers.
A French medical team including six physicians and two nuns was sent to Barcelona to provide assistance. Long after the epidemic had receded, the Pyrenean quarantine line was maintained by the French authorities for a hidden political purpose: Paris wished to contain Spanish Liberalism, a “revolutionary pest”. French troops engaged in the so-called quarantine line were used in 1823 to invade Spain, while French physicians returning to Paris were celebrated as heroes and benefactors of mankind although they had not provided any serious contribution to the therapeutics or the epidemiology of yellow fever. They were glorified in publications of the time. This unexpected manifestation of nationalism was welcomed and encouraged by the government of Louis XVIII who felt himself threatened by the liberal opposition. See here
The first outbreak of yellow fever in Spain was in 1701. It would remain an endemic killer for 180 years, particularly in the southern ports. A single chain of yellow fever outbreaks between 1800 and 1803 claimed more than 60,000 lives in Cadiz, Seville and Jerez. 300,000 people are believed to have died from yellow fever in Spain during the 19th century. See tiger mosquitos in Spain
The last outbreak of yellow fever in Barcelona in 1870 was also brought by a ship from Cuba. 1,235 deaths were recorded.
The distribution of the fatalities in the city’s neighborhoods was unequal. In La Barceloneta, in particular, more fatalities were found in the streets adjacent to the port than in the most remote streets. Read
Photos of a stall selling the delicacies of bull’s penises and testicles (criadillas in Spanish, turmes in Catalan)at La Boqueria market. I’ve had the latter on several occasions. They are not unpleasant.
These sites have a list of potential dangers and scams awaiting the visitor to Barcelona. Although the city must be one of the safest cities in the world, it has it fair share of pickpockets, bag snatchers and scallywags fed by large pockets of poverty, and non-violent crime in the tourist areas is pretty common. Common sense will avoid most problems. Outside the tourist honey pots, the chance of anything happening to you is extremely unlikely. Yahoo answers Virtual tourist
Brick library of classics on the wall of the Cristo Rey church in La Sagrera. Among the works: One thousand and one nights, Catalan Medieval classic Tirant lo Blanc, pulp fiction The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, a maths textbook and a guide book to Barcelona in Mandarin.
El País commentorates the 100th anniversary of the Tragic Week (July 25 – August 2, 1909) in this article. Read
The Tragic Week was a series of bloody clashes between the army and the working classes of Barcelona and other cities of Catalonia, backed by the anarchists, socialists and republicans. The only way that the authorities managed to stop the revolt from spreading to the rest of Spain was by falsely blaming it on Catalan separatism. More on this soon Tragic Week – Wikipedia