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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc

city of unrealised dreams

granadaPosted by Simon Wed, May 31, 2017 13:40:19

A number of my posts on Granada have been prompted by a passage from Paraíso cerrado para muchos, jardines abiertos para pocos (Paradise closed to the many, gardens open to the few) in which Lorca discusses what he sees as the essential indigenous aesthetic of the city. I quote, selectively:

Granada ( he says) is a city of leisure, a city for contemplation and imagination, a city where a person in love writes the name of his loved one in the earth better than anywhere else in the world. Time stands still in Granada. The hours are longer and more enjoyable. There is no reason to hurry. Let the city feed your imagination, and your senses.

You may say that these conditions are ideal for philosophers. But philosophy, Lorca counters, requires discipline and intellectual rigour and consistency and mathematical balance, things which are difficult to find in Granada. Granada nourishes dreams and day-dreaming, bordering on the mystical/things that are difficult to put into words.

Besides, there is a big and important difference between dreaming and thinking, says Lorca. Granada is full of initiatives, but what it lacks is decision.

Elsewhere, I think it is Lorca who writes that two and two never get to equal four in Granada, but remain two-and-two forever, a never realised potential.

Examples of this suggested difficulty in turning dreams into reality that Lorca suggests is an essential granadino trait have been a constant theme of my observations during the time I have spent in the city's thrall: the delays in infrastructure projects such as the Metro and the Ave (High-Speed Train); the limited success of the supposedly international airport that bears the poet’s name; the city’s irregular development as a tourist destination; bringing Lorca’s physical legacy from the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid to Granada; and the inauguration of the Lorca Centre which was built to house this legacy. And last but not least, the localisation of the poet’s unmarked grave. (He was disappeared at the outset of the Civil War in 1936.)

All this I hope to be dealing with in the coming weeks or months.

For those who read Spanish, I am copying here the relevant extract from Paraíso cerrado para muchos, jardines abiertos para pocos.

Granada es una ciudad de ocio, una ciudad para la contemplación y la fantasia, una ciudad donde el enamorado escribe mejor que en ninguna otra parte el nombre de su amor en el suelo. Las horas son allí más largas y sabrosas que en ninguna ciudad de España. Tiene crepúsculas complicados de luces constantemente inéditas que parece no terminan nunca. Sostenemos con los amigos largas conversaciones en medio de sus calles. (81) Vive con la fantasia. Está llena de iniciativas, pero falta de acción. Solo en una ciudad de ocios y tranquilidades puede haber exquisitos catadores de aguas, de temperaturas y de crepúsculos, como los hay en Granada. El granadino está rodeado de la naturaleza más espléndida, pero no va a ella. Los paisajes son extraordinarios, pero el granadino prefiere mirarlas desde su ventana. (...) Es hombre de pocos amigos. (No es proverbial en Andalucía la reserve de Granada?) De esta manera mira y se fija amorosamente en los objetos que lo rodean. Además no tiene prisa. (...) Se me puede decir que éstas son las condiciones más aptas para producirse una filosofía. Pero una filosofía necesita una disciplina y un esfuerzo de dolor querido, necesita una constancia y un equilibrio matemático bastante difícil en Granada. Granada es apta para el sueño y el ensueño. Por todas partes limita con lo inefable. Y haymucha diferencia entre sonar y pensar, aunque las actitudes sean gemelas. (82)

Obras completas III. Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores. 1997. Pp 81/82.



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Spring Festival in Granada

granadaPosted by Simon Mon, February 17, 2014 21:38:12

The “Fiesta de la Primavera” (Spring Festival) in Granada started as an impromptu celebration of winter’s end a couple of decades ago, a spontaneous street party for the younger generation in post-Franco Spain. Totally unofficial, it soon attracted fun-loving people far and wide largely by means of social media. It started in the picturesque Paseo de los Tristes on the banks of the River Darro, below the Alhambra, but it soon outgrew that space. I remember, one morning maybe a dozen years ago, driving to work through the rubbish and the squalor left behind after one of the first “macrobotellones” being held in the vicinity of the Bull Ring,

The “botellón” itself goes back further. In an embryonic form it already existed when I arrived in Granada in 1990. Botellón, literally “Big Bottle”, might be translated rather as “Street Bottle Party”. With exorbitant prices in the clubs and discos, students and young people in general would organise a gathering of peers who came along with their own alcoholic beverages, brought from home, or bought beforehand at the supermarket or the local off-licence. On special occasions, these bottle parties would become huge gatherings of naturally noisy youth, who would also bring their own ghetto-blasting music, and soon conflicts arose with local residents. From the start, a favoured venue for these gatherings was just behind El Corte Ingles on Arabial Street. It was on the edge of the night entertainment zone, where later they would pay to enter a club for a bop, or take one last or last-but-one paid-for rum and coke, etc. Further advantages of the venue were that there was very little through traffic, and not too many neighbours to disturb.

The state of these venues the morning after was, as already suggested, often catastrophic with rubbish, broken glass, and streams of urine to greet local weekend early risers and dog walkers. The “macrobotellón” differs from an ordinary “botellón” in being a truly massive special event, as welcoming in the spring obviously is. Botellones are very common in the south of Spain, not so in the north, presumably for climatic reasons.

Obviously fulfilling an urgent need, the botellón phenomenon could not be banned – especially in the liberal atmosphere of the post-Franco decades – and so the authorities looked for ways of managing it and limiting the collateral harm they might cause to respectable and enfranchised citizens. They looked for a place to accommodate them, and thus the “botellódromo” came into being, the word following the formation of the word “aerodrome” in English, or salsódromo in Latin America: a place to do it. The place that was finally chosen is located not far from the venue of the original unofficial botellones, on the other side of the ring road, past the Corte Ingles, where the town ends and the countryside starts. Granada is not a big city, so it is easily accessible and yet out of the way of residents, shoppers, and conventional clubbers.

The botellódromo does not have the picturesque setting of the original Paseo de los Tristes site, so to compensate, and killing two birds with one stone, another element of youth culture which has proved often to be offensive to the tax-paying voter-citizen of Granada has been harnessed by officialdom to brighten up the official Big Bottle Party venue: that is the work of graffiti artists. Pictured we see a street-art depiction of Granada’s greatest son, the poet Federico García Lorca, which has just been completed to adorn the venue in time for this year’s Spring Festival, traditionally held mid- to late March.

Maintaining an element of spontaneity, the exact date of this year’s celebration is yet to be determined, Nevertheless, no harm in asking for information from travel agents, such as Sevilla On Tour, who will be pleased to help you arrange your trip to Granada for the event. Last year it was on Friday 15 March when more than 18.000 attended the celebration of their particular rites of spring, leaving behind, for the record, more than 42 tons of rubbish.

Acknowledgements: L. Mingorance in Granada Hoy, 12.02.2014



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TEN MUST-SEE LORCA SITES IN AND AROUND GRANADA

granadaPosted by Simon Wed, January 08, 2014 08:48:30

On Wednesday, 13 February, 2013 I blogged about the proposal to raise ten sites related to the life and works of Federico Lorca to the status of “cultural assets” as part of a project the purpose of which is to protect them against material deterioration and ultimately their irretrievable loss (#post30) and so preserve them for posterity (and commercial exploitation).

Of those ten proposals, seven have finally won official recognition by the Junta’s (regional government’s) Cultural Commission and are now “Assets of Cultural Interest”.

Of those three sites that have been left out, perhaps the most alarming case is that of the Cortijo del Fraile in Níjar, Almería, scene of the events that inspired Bodas de sangre, which I reported then as being in very poor condition after years of neglect and abandonment. From what I understand from José Miguel Muñoz’s article in El País dated 3 November 2013, source of the new information passed on here, this site had already been granted cultural asset status in 2011 under the authority of the province of Almería. Without much positive effect, though, in spite of the fact that its owners have already been fined for not fulfilling their obligation to maintain it and prevent its deterioration. So it is to fear that the official declaration of cultural asset status might be ineffectual in the face of private owners more concerned with material costs than with the prevention of cultural loss.

In this respect, it is possibly relevant than all three of the excluded sites are in private ownership.

The other two are Acera del Darro, 46, family home in Granada between 1909 and 1916, and the Cortijo de Daimuz Alto, Valderrubio, where the poet’s younger brother recalls his “earliest childhood memories”. The former has been incorporated in the next door Hotel Montecarlo and has undergone significant modifications, although the original entrance – I am assured – remains, as well as the staircase and “part of the patio”. As for the Cortijo de Daimuz, it was bought by people very sympathetic to Lorca and looks to be thriving, in much better condition than when I first saw it, some 20 years ago.

As for the seven officially sanctioned sites only one is in private hands: the Huerta del Tamarit, on the Vega, quite close to the Huerta de San Vicente, near the River Genil, on the other side of the ring road. It was threatened by proposed road construction not so long ago (see blog post19), but is safe now. It belonged to Francisco García Rodríguez, father of the poet’s cousin Clotilde García Picossi, and Lorca was a frequent visitor, eternalising its name of course in his late poetry collection El diván del Tamarit (completed in the summer of 1934). I believe it remains in the family.

The greatest beneficiary of its new cultural asset status may well be the House of Frasquita – or Bernarda - Alba in Valderrubio. Until 1997 it was still home to the Alba family who vehemently turned away the curious. After a decade of negotiations with the family, in which time the house was allowed to deteriorate badly, it was bought and taken over by a public consortium which has undertaken to restore it and convert it into a museum. (A museum of what, I wonder.)

Already established and functioning as relevant referents to the life and works of Granada’s greatest son are his birthplace in Fuente Vaqueros (Casa-museo), which opened its doors to the public in 1986. Link to site in Spanish. In English.

and the Huerta de San Vicente, which started operating in 1995. Spanish link. English.

More recently, the family home in Valderrubio was rehabilitated and now contributes to the cultural life of the local community while keeping alive the memory of Federico and his works. Spanish link. Link to site in English. Lorca’s father purchased it in 1895, along with the Cortijo de Daimuz and various other properties in Valderrubio, with his late wife’s money. It became the hub of his extensive agricultural operations and of vital importance to the poet’s development. A stone’s throw away is the Fuente de la Teja, on the banks of the Cubillas River, and fourth of the Valderrubio sites, further evidence of the importance of this village in the making of the poet.

The tenth and last proposal for cultural asset status is the Camino de Fuente Grande, the road that runs between Víznar and Alfacar, from the Palacio de Cuzco to the Fuente Grande (Aynadamar) itself, following the Moorish irrigation canal past Las Colonias, the Barranco de Viznar, and the Parque García Lorca. Of this proposal, only a part has been included in the final plan; that is the Colonias, the remains of the building, previously used as a children’s holiday colony, in which the poet was one of the many victims held for several hours before being taken out to face the firing squad that murdered them.

It is unfortunate that the rest of the route between Víznar and Alfacar was excluded from the project, not least because it is the site of such a great number of summary executions like Lorca’s and the unmarked graves of so many victims of the nationalist uprising that triggered the Spanish Civil War.

Now that these chosen places have been granted cultural asset status, the aim of the Junta is to harness them in a cultural tourism project that will make “what Granada is to Lorca the same as what Dublin is to James Joyce” - in the words of Ana Gámez, the Junta’s delegate of Culture in Granada.

Below: Viznar "ruta del Califato" sign + Aynadamar (Fuente Grande)

ABOVE: restoration of Las Colonias







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BEST TAPAS IN TOWN

granadaPosted by Simon Wed, March 13, 2013 16:24:17

WHERE ARE THE BEST TAPAS IN TOWN?

The fifth Granada de tapas competition is underway.

Previous winners:

Chikito’s chickpea stew with fennel and ‘gravy’ (pringá);

Las Tinajas’s Granada reared lamb pie with mango icecream a la cinnamon;

El Deseo’s fake? (falso de) tuna fish; and

the Carmen de San Miguel’s terrines of neck of lamb on Huétor Tájar asparagus preserve.

The competition takes place from 14 to 19 March. To win the competition the tapa must be on offer for a whole year and the cost, drink included, may not exceed 2 euros.

Restaurants and bars will compete separately and there will be special prizes awarded by the jury for the combination beer plus tapa, Granada denomination of origin wine plus tapa, and the best tapa made exclusively with products of Granada.

Thank you L. Mingorance for this news published in Granada Hoy on 28.02.2013

It’s a well-known fact that in many bars you can fill your stomach on two or three tapas so you don’t need to cook lunch/dinner. Tapas range from the student kind, which are composed mainly of bread and chips, via the tried and tested cheap and cheerful to the exquisite.

I have a vegetarian friend who will make an exception for a tapa of jamon serrano. There was a bar in the Campo de Principe that did fabulous croquetas, that a friend used to call ‘little hamsters’ because of their size and succulence. Julio’s fried aubergines are a simple culinary treat. There are bars which reward you with a better tapa the more you consume, though it’s good to know where their limit is. These have set tapas: a first, a second, a third, and possibly a fourth. I like these generally better than the ones where you can choose freely ‘a la carte’.

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Palacio de los Vargas

granadaPosted by Simon Thu, February 21, 2013 14:55:47

If you think my warning in #blog30 about the inability of the Direccion de Bienes de Interés Cultural, the body entrusted with safeguarding Granada’s historical and cultural patrimony, to guarantee the survival of some of the catalogued Lorca sites is exaggerated, let the following be a lesson to you.

In a narrow little street known as Horno de Marina, off San Jeronimo Street, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, there is a sixteenth century building that was the home to the aristocratic Vargas family, the Palacio de los Vargas, catalogued, it could hardly be otherwise, as a Bien de Interés Cultural – a cultural asset.

I came across the splendid but neglected building by chance several years ago, taking a short cut through the centre of the city, and noted with dismay its lamentable state of disrepair, with rats scurrying among the rubbish piled up against the dilapidated facade.

So it was with relief that a few years later I heard about project to convert it into another luxury hotel, rather like what had happened to the Convent of Saint Paula nearby in the Gran Via. What state would that have been in today if AC Hotels had not stepped in to halt its decline? They have done hideous things to the ground floor facade but the upper floors facade has been tastefully restored and there is no doubt that there is much within that has been saved – for their five-star guests, if not for us.

In 2007 a company called Hoteles Casas y Palacios de España, with a track record of making posh hotels out of historical buildings, including two notable cases in the Jewish Quarters of Sevilla and Córdoba respectively, presented a proposal to the Granada city council to build a 70-room hotel complex, the centrepiece of which would be the rehabilitated Vargas Palace. The council must have bent over backwards to oblige, for bureaucratic hurdles were overcome with unusual ease and permission was granted for the protected palace along with deteriorating neighbouring residences to be incorporated into the new hotel. Within a year the project got the go-ahead and work could begin on clearing up the debris and restoring the palace to something of its former glory.

I noted the improvement with satisfaction. But then, as the crisis wore on, the hotel company lost interest in this project. After getting building permission nothing much happened. The owners did not bother to pursue the irksome paperwork inevitable in such cases. Deadlines passed and now the premises have been taken over by the Municipal Register, a first step towards an impending compulsory purchase order.

The abandonment and deterioration of all the adjoining properties involved became more and more apparent until, almost predictably, over Christmas, the building caught fire. Squatters, who it seems had little difficulty getting into the Palace through a hole round the back of the building, are being blamed for the fire.

The fire has visibly affected the iron forgings on the first floor, the carved wooden roofing over the galleries in the central patio, and the double doors to the room where the fire started.

Now the Council has issued a decree (bravo!) ordering the owners to adopt urgent measures to prevent any further deterioration to the renaissance building – such as ”shoring up the affected structures” and "closing all the holes to stop squatters getting in": ordering the stable doors to be closed after the horse has bolted, in other words.

The owners say that they are abandoning their plans to convert the palace into a luxury hotel ‘for now’ – lack of economic resources, they say. What is apparent is that they are happy to let the unique renaissance palace decay, risking that the final ruin of the building become a fait accompli and so justifying its final abandonment.

It has been the tactic of property developers in Granada since the nineteenth century whenever the task of protecting the city’s cultural heritage comes into conflict with their private interests (making money). Historic buildings have been left to rot until their deteriation is such that they are no longer considered worth salvaging. This was the case of the Arco de las Orejas, a medieval gateway that led into Plaza Bib Rambla. It was knocked down in 1884 despite protests and initiatives to preserve it, including declaring it a national monument in 1881. All to no avail.

The factual info comes from Lola Quero Granada 13.02.2013 but the cynical inferences are all mine.


Blogger Granadino has written a very fine appreciation of the Vargas Palace in his highly recommendable series “El Reino de Granada en la Edad Moderna” (in Spanish, of course), available at

http://1000-reinogranada.blogspot.com.es/2012/06/palacio-de-los-vargas.html




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GRAN VIA de Colon

granadaPosted by Simon Thu, February 21, 2013 14:38:45

Granada’s Gran Via was the street that did more than any other ‘to deform the character of the people of Granada’. So wrote the poet Federico Garcia Lorca in his lead contribution to gallo, the local cultural magazine that he nurtured and published in 1926.

His opinion was neither original nor unique. It was a view shared by all like-minded intellectuals and artists living in the city in those years.

Its origins go back to the strongly worded criticism of Angel Ganivet, local guru for Lorca’s generation, published in his influential essay Granada la bella published in 1896, two years before its author’s suicide.

Ganivet’s views on contemporary urban development in Granada were scathing in their contemptuous sarcasm. Fortunately in Granada, he said, there was normally no money for grandiose urban projects and in that way the greatest calamities that might have befallen the city had been avoided. But sometimes, alas!, money was available.

This was the case in the development of the Gran Via. Popularly known as “Sugar Avenue” – la Gran Via del Azucar – this strident thoroughfare came to express the dominance and self-confidence of the sugar bourgeoisie, those who made their fortune via the sugar beet industry that became so economically important after the loss, in 1898, of the colonies in Cuba and the Philippines and sugar cane imports. (Historia de Granada, 344.) Lorca’s father belonged to this bourgeoisie and indeed he moved into a flat at number 34 for one year in 1916. One surmises that Federico Garcia Senior did not feel at home among these people, who were considerably less liberal and progressive than he.

But it’s not just that this street was the vulgar expression of a rather vulgar bourgeoisie. In order to construct the Gran Via, a whole neighbourhood was ruthlessly demolished, a neighbourhood with its roots in pre-Christian times, with its inimitable style of buildings and urban layout; it was a deliberate and abrupt break in a historical tradition that the sugar bourgeoisie felt nothing but disdain for. (Historia de Granada 347.)

This is what Lorca and his ilk objected to so vehemently with regard to the radical urban project that had just, alas!, been brought to fruition. And as we said, it was not just his personal opinion. A couple of years earlier, in 1923, Leopoldo Torres Balbas, architect who headed the conservation work on the Alhambra in those years, voiced the anger of his fellows in a professional Madrid publication writing about “Granada, the disappearing city”. Here he lamented bitterly the loss of the aesthetic and historical spirit of the city through the loss of its historical buildings ‘as if memories were being methodically wiped out’. The Gran Via was at the centre of his scorn, for the way in which it cut through the old city with ‘an extraordinary lack of understanding and respect’, ignoring the special nature of the city’s inhabitants, its history, its climate, its beauty. It had become, he said, a monotonous street, tiring to walk down, lined by high buildings with cement and plaster decoration, where the sun burns relentlessly in summer and in winter it is swept by icy cold winds. (Quoted from an article in the Ideal newspaper, 9.2.97)

Ganivet experienced the beginning of the demolition of the old city in the 1990s. By the 1920s the disaster was complete. By 1918 the last of the grand houses on the Gran Via had been handed over to its proud owner. (H de G 347.)

In July 1936 the residents of these fine new houses, conscious of being the legitimate target of the ‘reds’ (working class), would be quaking in their boots for 48 hours until the troops were finally marched out of their barracks in support of Franco’s nationalistic uprising. The ‘reds’ had already burnt down a number of buildings that symbolised their exploitation and oppression, very much as these grand houses in the heart of the new city did.

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MOCLIN

granadaPosted by Simon Wed, February 13, 2013 10:19:42

This is the view from the back window of my house in El Fargue, a few kilometres to the north of Granada. We’re looking west and in the middle of the mountain range that forms the horizon we can discern the place where Puerto Lope – the Lope Pass – permits the passage through the mountains of the road to Cordoba. This was where in days of old highwaymen lay in wait for those who made the journey between the two Andalusian cities.


Reflected in the morning sunshine we can also just about discern the church on the hill above the village of Moclin. Above the church was a fortress of which only ruins remain today. This was where Ferndinand and Isabel established their court as they lay siege to Granada, leading up to the fall of the city on 2 January 1492.

Ferdinand and Isabel captured the fortress on 26 July 1486. To give it some historical perspective, that’s the year after Richard III’s defeat and death at the battle of Bosworth and so the start of the Tudor dynasty in England. It might have been the year Sandro Boticello painted ‘The Birth of Venus’. Constantinople had recently been integrated into the Ottoman Empire and the city state of Venice was the centre of European civilisation, thanks to its trade routes to the East.

The fortress had long been a military goal for Christian armies but its position made it close to invincible. The determination with which they now fought was a sign that the campaign to capture Granada was not simply another skirmish between Christians and Moslems, of the kind that had been going on for centuries. The aim was to drive all non-Christians once and for all from the Iberian peninsula. Fernando and Isabel began their siege in the spring of 1486 and once victorious they made a great investment in terms of men and materials to make sure they hung on to it.

Moclin was the perfect vantage point for the siege of Granada. Once Malaga in the west had been taken, in 1487, and Baza and Almeria in the east, in 1489, the city found itself completely isolated. The Catholic Monarchs now moved their troops down onto the Vega and set up camp at Santa Fe, barely ten kilometres across the plain from their final objective. The camp was converted into a walled city in the course of 1491 – and for Granada, the writing was on the wall. Boabdil, the last head of the Nazrid dynasty, formally capitulated on 25 November 1491 and handed over the keys to his capital city on 2 January 1492, an event whose repercussions have echoed down to the present day.

The church at Moclin was built on the site of the mosque that had stood there for centuries and was raised to the ground immediately after its capture. The church was designed by Diego de Siloé, favourite architect of the Catholic Monarchs, one of the first in Spain who built in the Renaissance style.

In acknowledgement of their gratitude to the people of Moclin for their hospitality (forced hospitality, I imagine, as the town had been Moslem for several centuries), Ferdinand and Isabel left the painting Cristo del Paño (sackcloth). But this is another story.

Souce Wikipedia & Ayuntamiento de Moclin

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PLAZA JOE STRUMMER: OH MA CORAZON!

granadaPosted by Simon Wed, January 23, 2013 13:29:38

Barcelona has its Plaza George Orwell, in recognition of that city’s vital role in the author’s life and works. Now Granada will get a Plaza Joe Strummer, for similar reasons. Following an initiative set up by a local neighbourhood association and a vigorous Facebook campaign, Granada City Council has decided to name a square after the late punk musician and member of the legendary group The Clash.

Joe Strummer Square will be at the end of the cuesta de Escoriaza, the road that runs up from Paseo de la Bomba, by the side of the River Genil, to Paseo de las Palmas, at which point it changes its name to Vistillas de los Angeles and swings round on itself almost 180% to the left in the direction of Realejo, linking up with calle Molinos, the main street that runs through the Realejo neighbourhood, the old Jewish quarters, – or alternatively, with cuesta del Caldero and the Alhambra.

Here, just before the cuesta de Escoriaza reaches the Paseo de las Palmas, - a road that follows the path of the acequia gorda, the channel which from Moorish times and till well into the twentieth century provided the city with an all-year-round supply of mountain water, - there is a fountain, the Pilar de Escoriaza, that has stood there since it was erected in 1888, on the site where previously there had probably been a Moorish underground cistern. This is also the site, incidentally, where the Puerta de los Molinos stood, the gate in the medieval city walls through which in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabel’s victorious troops entered the city to take possession of the Alhambra, after the last Moorish ruler, Boabdil, had surrendered and handed over the keys of the city.

Above this fountain is the newly created space that is going to be Joe Strummer Square. It used to be just a sort of embankment between the lower part of the road (cuesta de Escoriaza) and the higher part (Vistillas de los Angeles), where a stairway allowed pedestrians to take a short cut between the two. It was remarkable for the graffiti murals painted by Granada’s local ’Banksie’, the Niño de las Pinturas and other street artists. The murals on the house to the left of the square are well preserved, but those on the wall above it in Vistillas de los Angeles are sadly very deteriorated and probably won’t last long.

In recent years the space has been done up, as part of a general urban improvement scheme. A bold white and as yet ungraffitied wall has been built next to the stairway and behind the fountain, and above it the embankment has been levelled off to make the intimate little square that will commemorate Joe. It has a simple earthen floor and shade is provided by six pine trees. As yet it has no benches or a litter bin, but in the future it will provide an ideal space for punks to sit and chat and drink beer and for poets and artists to contemplate the view up the river valley towards the Sierra Nevada. Not at all a bad spot for a Granada-loving punk to be remembered by.

Strummer’s ties to Granada date back to the 1970s, when he was introduced to the city’s manifold charms by his then girlfriend Paloma Romero, a Malagueňa, who he got to know in London before he became a member of The Clash. She accompanied him here several times in the 70s and early 80s. His passionate involvement with Granada is recorded in the song “Spanish Bombs” that was on the – yes, legendary - double album “London Calling” (1979). Here Strummer draws parallels between the IRA bombing campaign in the UK and the ETA bomb attacks on tourist sites on the Spanish costa – expressed with a certain veiled sympathy for the bombers.

The song contains revealing lines such as: “Oh please leave the vendanna (sic) open, Federico Lorca is dead and gone” showing his familiarity with the poem “Despedida” (Si muero,/dejad el balcon abierto), and: “Can I hear the echo from ’39?/with trenches full of poets”, as well as: “Bullet holes in the cemetery walls”, which no doubt Paloma had shown him on their first visit to the city. Like so many of us, Joe’s imagination was caught by the period of the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War.

The British punk rocker’s association with the local band 091 is also something of a legend in the Granada musical scene.

The Facebook initiative to have a street named after Strummer was launched in December 2011 and quickly won support and popular acclaim, locally and internationally. The petition was then officially presented to the city council’s Commission of Honours and Distinctions, receiving immediate unanimous approval. Now the petition will be taken up in a plenary sitting of the council, which should simply rubber stamp the Commission’s decision.

However, Granada being Granada, city propitious for dreams but not for action, where 2 + 2 rarely amount to 4, but remain 2 + 2 forever, struggling to reach thier due fulfilment in the world of reality, let us wait a few more weeks to see if this Plaza Joe Strummer actually does find a place in the city street directory and the tourist guidebooks.

This blog draws on various internet sources that were widely available on the web at the time of writing (20 January 2013) but I would like particularly to acknowledge Luis Arronte’s contributions to GranadaiMedia (http://granadaimedia.com).

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