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Santa Eulàlia: light, gothic fish tanks and a beating paper heart in the centre of Barcelona

Por: | 18 de febrero de 2014

What do you get the city that has everything? Two of everything, of course. And that brings us onto Barcelona’s Santa Eulàlia.

While I’m not trying to claim that the Catalan capital has everything, exactly – some decently priced public swimming pools would be a start – the city can proudly boast two patron saints in Santa Eulàlia and Mare de Déu de la Mercè and therefore two annual festivals.

The first of these, the festival of Santa Eulàlia, took place last week although you’d be excused for not noticing it. Of the two events, La Mercè, which takes place around September 24, is by far he better known: it has a public holiday, for a start, and the festivities are widespread, taking in everything from filthy techno parties to a Catalan Wine Fair.

Pretty much everybody in Barcelona has taken part in La Mercè, in other words, while many Barcelona dwellers have never so much as glimpsed a cavallet during Santa Eulàlia.

You might assume, therefore, that Eulàlia is the latecomer among the two patron saints, bustling her way into the limelight as only a 13-year-old girl can (Santa Eulàlia was a 13-year-old Christian who was tortured by the Romans in various unspeakable ways  for refusing to recant her Christianity).

But you’d be wrong. In fact, Eulàlia was first, holding the title of Barcelona’s patron saint outright until 1687 (some reports say 1637), when Barcelona’s governing Consell de Cent asked for La Mercè’s help in ridding the city of a plague of locusts, awarding her co-patronage when the insects eventually buzzed off.

Tough luck for Santa Eulàlia, you might think, and all the more so because La Mercè has become Barcelona’s emblematic day of celebration. But the festival of Santa Eulàlia retains a certain charm nevertheless, particularly for those who have children.

In fact, to La Mercè’s flash and hedonism, Santa Eulàlia offers tradition, child friendliness and a spectacular array of light art, with Santa Eulàlia now incorporating LlumBCN, Barcelona’s festival of lights.

This year, the event saw the city turned into a “giant canvas”, according to Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias, “where artists paint the city using technology as if it was a paint brush”, transforming areas like the Parc de la Ciutadella and the Plaça de Sant Jaume into living exhibitions of light, courtesy of bespoke installations and projections beamed onto some of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings.

The park was especially impressive: I may have visited on a rainy Saturday night but I was charmed by what looked like a paper heart, hidden in the trees, which pulsated along to thunderous Euro techno as children watched on entranced. It was spectacularly pointless, seemingly random and all the better for it.

Equally impressive, if somewhat more low-key, was the use of subtle, refracted lighting to transform the Convent de Sant Agustí into a gothic fish tank (pictured above), just the place to spend an early Saturday night floating among the purple patterns.

Best of all though was the correfoc dels Diables Petits, which managed the near impossible task of making the correfoc – essentially a load of people dressed up as devils spraying spectators with fireworks in tightly packed streets – even more Health and Safety unfriendly, by giving over the devil costumes and fireworks to a load of kids and letting them run free, in a way that would make most British councils faint with the sheer audacity of it all.

Of course, to visitors from Britain having a festival of light in Barcelona probably doesn’t make much sense. February may be among the city’s coldest months but there’s still a fair amount of sunshine, creating the impression that the beach season may be just around the corner.

If you compare the situation to, say, a February in Dundee, you might think that the Scottish city would be better served with getting out the light installations than the Catalan capital.

But no matter. Santa Eulàlia’s lights are a delight, an unexpected sunny bonus and a reminder of how good Barcelona can be at reinvigorating its history without destroying it.

La Mercè may have the glamour, then, but Santa Eulàlia has the charm.

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نرده حفاظ امنیتی

حفاظ شاخ گوزنی را می توان یکی از امن ترین و زیبا ترین حفاظ روی دیوار ساختمان دانست

حفاظ شاخ گوزنی (Deer antler guard) محبوب ترین نوع حفاظ روی دیوار است حتی با اینکه جهت بالا بردن امنیت فضاهای خصوصی، اداره ­جات و منازل از تکنولوژی ها و فناوری های بسیاری استفاده می شود


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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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