Interesting villages in Spain;

May 31st, 2010

The Dance of Death in Verges

Verges: Dansa de la mort 2009 093 por dantzan.

130 kilometres north of Barcelona lies the small town of Verges.  Every Maundy Thursday Verges still “celebrates” the medieval European tradition of the Dansa de La Mort or “Dance of Death”. The macabre nocturnal display features five agile dancers who dance around the crowds in luminescent skeleton costumes. This is the last vestige of a once common spectacle throughout Europe. Above image by dantzen on flickr.

The origin of the dances of death lie in:

The deathly horrors of the 14th century—such as recurring famines; the Hundred Years’ War in France; and, most of all, the Black Death—were culturally assimilated throughout Europe. The omnipresent possibility of sudden and painful death increased the religious desire for penitence, but it also evoked a hysterical desire for amusement while still possible; a last dance as cold comfort. Wikipedia

Francis Barrett elsewhere on iberianature notes:

Verges, with remains of medieval walls and towers, is famous for its macabre Holy Week procession of very distinctive pagan origin, la Dansa del Mort, the dance of the dead. This is performed each Easter Thursday at the end of a long and rather tedious Passion Play, but, as the village bars remain impiously open all evening, is nevertheless well worth seeing.

Francis also notes:

The murmuring crowds lining the unilluminated medieval laneways fall silent at the approach of the torchlit crucifixion procession, led by skeletal figures advancing in a series of jerky stacatto rotations roughly choreographed to a hair-raising semi-irregular single drumbeat – by far the most disturbing aspect of the event.

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Also on iberianature

The village of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente

The great Spanish naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was born in the village of Poza de la Sal. He described the village of his birth as a “human community” in “harmonious coexistence with the landscapes” which formed a “zoomorphic universe”. As a child he began to explore the natural area, watching and learning about the wildlife of area, which would later greatly influence his vision of the world. One day he saw a peregrine catch a duck here which led him to the world of falconry and then into natural history film making.

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The exclave of Llivia

Panoràmica

Llivia is what is known as an exclave, a piece of territory wholly surrounded by the territory of another state, in this case France. This curious state of affairs was brought about by the stipulations of the 1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees which ceded the counties of the Northern Pyrenees and Roussillon to the French crown. Llívia was excluded as the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to France, and Llívia was considered a city due to its status as the ancient capital of Cerdanya. In 1939 at the end of the Spanish Civil War, there was discussion on the idea of Llívia remaining a free territory of the defeated Republican government, but nothing ever came of the plan, and France gave Franco’s troops permission to occupy the town. Today a single road connects it to Catalonia.

Llivia is home to what is reputedly the oldest chemist in Europe, now a museum, possibly dating from the early 15th century. The small town is set in the beautiful Vall de la Cerdanya.

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