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The Columns of Montjuic
A reflection on Catalan history
The project of a man
The four columns are also known by the name of their architect; the columns of Puig i Cadafalch. They were placed for the first time in 1919 during which time they were located right on top of where you would find the Magic fountain of Montjuïc today, close to the neighbourhood of Poble Sec. They represent the four stripes of the Catalan flag, which is why these columns were constructed in the first place, as a symbol of Catalan pride.
Then columns formed a part of an urbanization project of the Montjuïc area, which started in 1915, with the objective of presenting Barcelona as the capital of the Mediterranean, as well as show Catalonia as a place with a modern government for the Electrical Industries exhibition of 1917.
Puig i Cadafalch's proposition was originally rejected, but in the end the go ahead was given to build them for the Universal Exhibition of 1929. In 1919 they were constructed. measuring in at 20 metres high and 2.5 metres wide.
Eventually the architect Puig i Cadafalch was pushedout of the project for his overtly Catalan and political ideas.
But the dream of Cadafalch didnt end when he was fired. In 1928, just one year before the exhibit, the columns were destroyed by General Primo de Ribera. During his dictatorship any public symbols of Catalunya were systematically eliminated to avoid them being seen while the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona took place.
Other moves to "Spanishize" Catalonia were to renamePoble Espanyol to “Iberona” in homage to the iberos (the first habitants of Spain) and the area baptized as Plaça d’Espanya (spain square) from which you pass two huge venetian towers to enter the exhibition. As time passed on Franco, another dictator, barred Cadafalch, so that he could no longer continue working.
But the architect that is placed at the centre of the story had his dream finally achieved as the columns were reconstructed in 2010 just a few metres behind the original site. Though they are one of the various reconstructed monuments in Barcelona, they are a symbol of perseverance, conviction, and strength of the Catalan culture and identity... Which is exactly the opposite of what Franco and Primo de Ribera hoped to achieve in the end.
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|Harriet Freeman A veteran blogger based in Barcelona, offering you a unique view of the Catalan capital from the most obvious characteristics to the stubbornly hidden secrets.|