The cities of the dead, the most unique cemeteries in Catalonia
Death is a fact that marks the existence of human beings, walking through a cemetery is to know how people understand and live the end of life. Calls cities of the dead are unknown and lonely space, away from the hustle of daily life of a society that often turns its back on this natural fact. Inside cemeteries often they curiosities and an extensive historical and artistic heritage are hidden.
In this way we will visit several cemeteries in Catalonia, funerary spaces with different characteristics that stand out for their architectural uniqueness, their situation or the stories hidden behind a journey that will take us to Olius, Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, Portbou and Bausen.
Near the church of Olius, in the Solsonès, we find one of the most unique cemeteries in Catalonia, built in 1916 following the modernist style. This space was designed by Bernardi Martorell i Puig and is characterized by being highly integrated in nature.
The cemetery was built in a place of fallen rocks surrounded by oak trees, some elements that wanted to give a symbolism since fallen rocks signify death and green oaks life. One of the main features of this space is to respect the natural environment where he was fleeing from the classic structure of cemetery niches formed by streets and cypresses.
Bernardi Martorell had a clear influence of Gaudí, this is reflected especially in the parabolic arc that gives entrance to the cemetery or the double cross that is on top of the burial area. Another curiosity of space is the fact that the tombs and mausoleums are carved into the rock.
The cemetery of Olius is an example of integration between nature and architecture, a place where the modernist funerary art had one of its most interesting examples. Over the years the cemetery has retained its original structure, without breaking or damaging the original structure of space.
Cemetery of Arenys de Mar
Cemetery of Arenys de Mar could be considered the literary graveyard of Catalonia thanks to the poet and writer Salvador Espriu made him a literary and mythical stage with the play "Cemetery Sinera". Espriu's literary universe is therefore here an important reference was reflected in verses such as: "I will walk by the order of motionless green cypresses on the calm sea."
But beyond his literary side, Arenys cemetery is an example of Mediterranean marine cemetery. The venue is located at the top of the hill of Mercy, one of his best - known prospects is the entrance hall, from there, turning toward the door can see the Mediterranean Sea between cypresses.
The cemetery was opened in 1868 next to the chapel of Mercy, is divided into three main landings that are crossed by a walk of cypresses. The first two landings are envelopes niches in the third are the pantheons built by wealthy people as industrial or "American" in this place is where funerary art looks its best with sculptures by Josep Llimona, Frederic Marès or Venanci Vallmitjana.
Returning to the more literary side of the cemetery we can find the niche where he is buried Salvador Espriu, it is the number 381, at the end of the second landing on the left. We can access this place from the road to the cemetery, a path of cypresses taking off above the sea, once we reached the top of the hill, from there, we can see the town and other places of coast located in the environment Arenys de Mar.
Pueblo Nuevo Cemetery
In this neighborhood of Barcelona the first extramural cemetery was built. Until then became burials in cemeteries that were in the sides of the churches. With the construction of this cemetery was intended to end this practice and to make burials within both a dense city like Barcelona provoked hygiene problems and everything was an outbreak of epidemics.
The opening was made in 1775 but in 1808 the space was destroyed as a result of the French invasion in 1819 was rebuilt in the place where they are today. Poble Nou cemetery was also known as the East or the Elder, as it was before the new, the cemetery of Montjuïc. The reconstruction of the cemetery of Poble Nou was made according to a draft neoclassical Italian architect Antonio Ginesi. The draft Ginesi is based on two intersecting streets at the same time, create four large islands for burials, at the junction of the two streets a monument dedicated to the victims of yellow fever that occur in Barcelona rises in 1821.
Other general elements of interest are the front of the cemetery with a garden and four departments, the front door chaired by two obelisks decorated with two sculptures that symbolize faith and hope, made by sculptor F. Labrador Serratosa and the angel who presides the porch, made by Vallmitjana. As usual in many cemeteries part of the pantheons it is that, artistically, is more spectacular and interesting. This part shows that the Barcelona bourgeoisie also wanted to demonstrate their power through mausoleums and pavilions built with great artistic quality. Among all the funerary constructions highlights the large number of sculptures there, one of the most emblematic is the play "The kiss of death", made in 1930, by Jaume Barba.
The cemetery of Poble Nou also hosts several illustrious dead, so you can visit the graves of characters as the composer Josep Anselm Clave, writer Serafí Pitarra or the burial of one of the most famous ancient noble families of Barcelona, the Malda.
Beyond its historical dimension known characters it is also very popular tomb "Santet". This nickname corresponds to Francesc Canals, who died in 1899 at age 22. In life he was a very dear person for all your environment, it is spoken of as a person who was much given to others and supernatural abilities. Shortly after his death began to emerge a veneration for his grave as he began to believe that granting favors, a popular veneration was increased and has reached our days.
The cemetery of Portbou is located in a place of great beauty because, like other marine cemeteries, is next to the sea. The cemetery was completed in 1855 because until then, the interments were made by sea in the neighboring municipality of Colera because there was no open land route.
The cemetery of this border town is undoubtedly associated with the figure of Walter Benjamin, essayist, translator and German philosopher of Jewish origin, died in Portbou on September 26, 1940. Benjamin fled, along with others from the Nazis to go to Portugal and from there, across the Atlantic ocean to reach the United States. Walter Benjamin did not ever since he died in Portbou in strange circumstances never clarified. The philosopher was buried in the cemetery of Portbou, although it is not known exactly where his remains are located can be found a plaque to remember. On the esplanade in front of the entrance to the cemetery can be found the memorial designed by Israeli artist Dani Karajan, with the name of "Passages", this work consists of a metal tunnel sloping down to the sea.
Teresa Cemetery, Bausen
Around this space a tragic and romantic at the same time history, which happened in early twentieth century hides. Teresa and Francisco were a young couple who wanted to marry, were relatives, even distant, something completely normal at that time by the fact of being in an isolated area with a small population. The priest, saying this relationship, did not want to authorize the marriage would only if they paid a waiver. The couple refused to make this payment and decided to go to live together equally, without marrying. Teresa and Francisco had two children, but their happiness was completed when Teresa died of pneumonia at age 33 in May 1916. The priest refused to bury Teresa in the Catholic cemetery of the village because he believed he had lived "in sin". The neighbors decided to build a small civilian cemetery in the woods to bury with dignity Teresa.
So, you can now find this small cemetery landscape Coret, about 800 meters from the historic center of Bausen, the falls area is surrounded by a stone wall and a door to enter, in the middle of the space s' raises grave a headstone right where it says "my beloved Teresa, who died on May 10 after 33 years, " another inscription above the tomb says "our dear mother." In Francisco, because of the Civil War, he was exiled in France, his desire to die was to be buried with her partner, but political circumstances prevented fulfill his wish. Teresa's grandchildren, now living in France, although care of the small cemetery.
In 2016, residents of Bausen and Aranese institutions made a public tribute to Teresa for a hundred years after his death, although the history of those who have been called "lovers Bausen" he recalls.
Related articles: A walk through Catalan modernism