Friday, September 26, 2008

Barcelona Merce

Barcelona celebrates its day on September 24, and the fiesta usually goes on for a week around that date. The celebration is recent, dating back to only the nineteenth century. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Merce, that supposedly saved the city from plague during the Middle Ages. It comprises different carnavals, fireworks, wine tastings, concerts, giants parade and other usual ingredients of a fiesta.

The most interesting and unusual tradition are the Castellrs - human castles built by teams from different neighbourhoods of the city that go up several floors with 2, 3, or 4 people as a base. This is a purely catalan tradition that originated somewhere in the 18th century. The participants range from biggest men on the bottom and children on top (see below photo of prepartion for the castel).

The result looks like the pictures below and the success is complete when everyone gets safely back to the ground. Sometimes the Castell does collapse, but there are so many people down low that rarely anyone gets hurt.

One of the most difficult figures we saw at the Merce - Castel of eight floors with a base of two (apparently it can go up to 10 floors):

And to finish this Barna-love post, here is a portrait of a goose, another mascote of Barcelona. Eulalia, the official patron, became a martyr when only 13 during the persecution of christians in the roman times. As she used to keep geese before the persecution started, these fat specimen are kept at the cloister of the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia to remember the saint virgin.

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