9.7.10

Lost bourgeois paradise #2
When you live in this neighborhood the feel of superiority comes natural. From here you can look down on the rest of the city. 
In the 19th century the richest people left the unhealthy mass down there for the greener and fresher hills just outside Barcelona. Here they built their beautiful houses and gardens, which splendor lasted more or less until 
the Civil War in the 30s. After that, both houses and gardens slowly started to be sold, knocked down, and blocks of apartments where built instead, while the city kept crawling up the hill. Now the neighborhood is completely integrated into the city. 
By the way, can you spot Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in the picture above?... And in the next one?
Both pictures are taken from the park on top of the hill. What used to be the huge garden of one of those rich families escaped the construction butchery and was turned into a public park in the 70s. 
During the past couple of weeks I've been enjoying a curious book about the neighborhood written by Elvira Farreras i Valentí, a lady who lived here for 90 years. Doña Elvira, author of El Putxet. Memòries d’un paradís perdut (El Putxet. Memories of a lost paradise) was a highly educated woman from a well-off family who met lots of important figures of her time, like Picasso, Miro, Malraux and others. In her book she tells the micro-history of this place, describing people from rich owners to street vendors, beautiful houses and gardens that don't exist anymore, forgotten customs, Civil War stories... I found this book totally irrelevant and fascinating at the same time. How the neighborhood has changed in the last 60 years due to the building speculation is shocking. If it wasn't for the few old houses still standing I couldn't imagine the place she describes. We are lucky that at least one public green space was preserved. 
Doña Elvira says that during the Civil War people had to cut trees from the hill (what is now the park) in order to light fires for cooking and heating the houses. After three years of war the hill was completely bare. 
She also speaks about the bird species that used to be seen that you can't see anymore. Instead, in recent years these cute (and noisy!) little fellows are very common.




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