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.
completas III. Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de
Lectores. 1997. Pp 81/82.
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
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.
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.
Mingorance in Granada Hoy, 12.02.2014
granadaPosted by Simon Wed, January 08, 2014 08:48:30
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).
ten proposals, seven have finally won official recognition by the Junta’s
(regional government’s) Cultural Commission and are now “Assets of Cultural
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.)
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
Below: Viznar "ruta del Califato" sign + Aynadamar (Fuente Grande)
ABOVE: restoration of Las Colonias
granadaPosted by Simon Wed, March 13, 2013 16:24:17
THE BEST TAPAS IN TOWN?
de tapas competition is underway.
Chikito’s chickpea stew with fennel and ‘gravy’ (pringá);
Tinajas’s Granada reared lamb pie with mango icecream a la cinnamon;
Deseo’s fake? (falso de) tuna fish;
de San Miguel’s terrines of neck of
lamb on Huétor Tájar asparagus preserve.
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
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’.
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.
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.
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
The factual info comes from Lola Quero Granada 13.02.2013 but the
cynical inferences are all mine.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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).