Being an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain, Catalonia has an official status of a “nationality” of Spain. It consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. In summer 2010, Catalonia became the second Spanish territory, after the Canary Islands, to forbid bullfighting.
The name Catalonia was first used in the late 11th century. The origin of the term however is disputable. The Catalan Statute of Autonomy establishes that Catalonia is organised politically through the Generalitat de Catalunya, conformed by the Parliament, the Presidency of the Generalitat, the Government or Executive Council and the other institutions created by the Parliament.
Both languages Catalan and Spanish are official here. Basic education however is given in Catalan and television programs are only in Catalan as well. They have their own festivals and traditions. One of the most popular is Patum of Berga.
The origin of Patum of Berga can be traced to medieval festivities and parades accompanying the celebration of Corpus Christi. Theatrical performances and parades of a variety of effigies animate the streets of this Catalan town. The celebration takes place every year during the week of Corpus Christi, between late May and late June.
An extraordinary meeting of the municipal council, the appearance of the Tabal (a large and emblematic festival drum presiding over the festivities) and the Quatre Fuets announce the festivities. Over the following days numerous celebrations take place, most important of which are the parades, the ceremonial Patum, the children’s Patum and the full Patum.
The Taba (tambourine), Cavallets (papier mâché horses), Maces (demons wielding maces and whips), Guites (mule dragons), the eagle, giant-headed dwarves, Plens (fire demons) and giants dressed as Saracens parade in succession, performing acrobatic tricks, lighting fireworks and spreading music among the joyous audience. All of these characters join to perform the final dance, the Tirabol. The Patum of Berga has preserved its mix of profane and religious features through centuries.
The capital of Catalonia is Barcelona. Barcelona’s people manage to be composed and eccentric, sophisticated and earthy at the same time. They have a reputation for being shrewd and dedicated businessman, and at the same time masters at having good time. They are innovative – ever experimenting, inventing and setting trends for others to follow – and conservative, nurturing Catalonia’s age-old culture and language.
This dual character is reflected in the city as well. What represents Barcelona? Is it Gaudi’s unfinished Sagrada Familia, or is it the Bouqueria market with colorful range of Catalonia products? Is it the city’s collection of Romanesque art or the Europe’s largest football stadium? Is it the demure Catalonian dance, the Sardana, or the fiery displays of prancing dragons and dancing devils with which Barcelona marks its fiestas?
Fine food, fashion, opera, nightlife, street theatre, art …
Barcelona is all of this and more, the city that holds surprises for every visitor.