Barcelona is BLACK and WHITE.
It happens in Black and White. It was designed in Black and White. People live in Black and White, and many of its inhabitants know it. And they are happy about it, because it relates to its intensity.
Barcelona was founded more than 2.000 years ago. As many other cities that are as old, it works in layers. There is a pre-roman layer and there is a roman layer and a romanic, and there’s also a gothic and a baroque. And then, of course, uniquely to our city, there’s Gaudí and all the other modernist architects and garden designers and craftsmen and sculptors and painters. And then there’s us.
You know the cliche: old towns in Europe are full of contrasts. Barcelona is no exception.
That applies to ancient buildings on narrow streets packed of old people, who have lived there for all their lives, a couple blocks away from new non-residential skyscrapers on really straight avenues.
But it also applies to the shades and shadows created by the the sunlight enhancing the textures of different shapes and materials, often washed away by rain and time.
Barcelona’s old town (Ciutat Vella) is divided into three neighborhoods. One of them is El Borne, in which I lived for fifteen years, actually until a year ago. Living there is like living in a village, but more exciting culture-wise and much more aggressive safety-wise. My friends were at the same time amazed that I could live in such area, and astonished that I was happy to be there. Ok. Let me fair: The area is unsafe! Period. But it is so only for foreigners (that includes tourists and barcelonians from other neighborhoods). I used to joke with friends who belong to the latter: dangerous people live in my area and work in yours! Carrying a camera around your neck would attract a few eyes; carrying it hanging from your shoulder would attract even more (it’s easier to pull). I use to wander around Ciutat Vella every weekend, and very often I would take a camera with me. For a certain period, I would even go out at night (around 2am or later) with my camera and pocket full of Black and White film, and look for contrasts to take pictures of, the one at the beginning of this post being one of them. I must admit that the camera of choice would usually be my Nikon F4, designed to take pictures, but so robustly built that could also be used to hammer nails on walls or as a nutcracker. Or to defend yourself from a blow and hit back (which, by the way, I never found myself doing).
The following pictures were taken from my home. If you ever happen to be at a rooftop in Ciutat Vella, just look around and you will discover a multitude of worlds.
Barcelona is definitely in BLACK and WHITE.
Or is it BLUE?