Plaza Real at dawn – again!



After the horror of the recent  attack, I want to remind myself of the beauty of my favourite city, so here’s an updated version of an earlier post:

At 5.30 a.m., the palm trees swayed silently, and the sky was pink. The mountains were as pale as clouds in the distance, whilst the spires of ancient churches were silhouetted against the rising sun. The arched colonnades lent an elegant ambience to the café restaurants surrounding the open square. A lone guitarist plucked a tune at the base of the central fountain. This city has seen me excited, broken-hearted, in love, out of love, scared, thrilled, angry, broke, and prosperous.

I’ve seen the stunning Sagrada Familia cathedral double its towers; I’ve seen new Gaudi houses open to the public; I’ve seen Barceloneta go from slum to fashionable, the Born fill with restaurants, bars, shops and expats, great modern buildings rise from previously empty spaces, and Nou Camp become known throughout the footballing world.

Yet not so many people talk about the Plaza Real. I wonder why. The square is surely filled with secrets and gossip. I can imagine clandestine meetings taking place under the arches, forbidden rendezvous by the fountain, drugs changing hands under the café tables, and dangerous messages being whispered under the palms. All the while the nonchalant Barceloneses stroll by holding hands or chatter in strident Catalan.

I’m returning soon with a friend from the USA. We’ll go to Plaza Real, of course, and San Felipe Neri, and this time we’ll include visits to the Old Hospital and the Contemporary Art Museum, both recommended to me by a friend who visits regularly. Does anyone have any comments to make about either of these?

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