Hello Catalunya

Yesterday I posted my goodbye to Berlin – helping son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons (2 and 3) pack up and prepare to move to Sant Cugat del Vallès, a suburb of Barcelona.

TD jnr and I ended up having to drive the family car, with disgruntled cats, the 1800 km via



autobahn (roadworks everywhere), autoroute and autopista. So not much scenery to admire – endless, mind-numbing motorway embankments. It took two days.

Having an academic background in medieval hagiography, I was ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of the Catalan saint after whom the town they were moving to was named. Cugat is the Catalan for St Cucuphas.

He was a missionary of African origin, martyred in the fourth century under the persecution of Diocletian. He suffered some of the more unpleasant tortures before his dispatch, involving iron nails, scorpions, vinegar and pepper.

Monastery of Sant Cugat

Monastery of Sant Cugat

As his remains were said to have been buried at the site of his death in what became Sant Cugat, it seemed natural for the Benedictines who founded the monastery there in the ninth century to dedicate the house to this saint.  My picture shows the handsomely restored building in the town centre.

After a few days of unpacking and exploring the new neighbourhood, and discovering the local mosquitos particularly like the taste of Mrs TD, we all drove into the city and had a tapas lunch near the Ramblas – no sign of the recent awful attack – and took the boys to the Ciutadella park where there’s a fountain which famous local architect Antoni Gaudí helped design.


Ciutadella park

That’s me in the shadows by the hind leg of the mammoth in Ciutadella park

Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf, near Ciutadella, designed for the 1888 World Fair by Vilaseca i Casanovas










Next day Mrs TD and I, enjoying some adult time away from toddlers, visited the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s still unfinished cathedral. When we were here last summer we didn’t go inside; this time we did, and it was breathtaking. Here are some images to finish with.

Sagrada Familia

This figure in the Sagrada Familia looks sinister for a cathedral

Sagrada Familia










Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Carvings outside

Sagrada Familia

10 thoughts on “Hello Catalunya

    • Just took a look at your post, Lisa. We didn’t make it to the Gaudí house you mentioned, but did go to the Casa Batlló last summer and loved it. We booked SF online, so avoided the queues, but weren’t able to go up the towers. The audio guides weren’t up to much, but didn’t detract from the effect: it’s simply stunning inside. We look forward to getting to know the city and area much better over the next few years. The cats will have to brush up their Cat-alan. Mrs TD just grumbled that I didn’t post the best pictures, but I didn’t want to overfill the post with space-greedy files…

    • We returned at the start of this week, Karen, so have endured almost non-stop rain and cold since our return – miserable. Even got the central heating on in the evenings. Today was very pleasant though: went and had a walk in a local NT place overlooking the Fal estuary, with beautiful views that always look good in the sunshine. But we look forward to many more visits to Catalunya in the near future.

  1. great photos. I have visited the Sagrada Familia and I think it is the most amazing building – quite breathtaking and the colours in the windows are truly amazing. It sounds as if you had an interesting trip.

    • Thanks, Gmac. You’d have loved it this time: the light streaming through those stained glass windows was magical. And hardly a straight line anywhere – Gaudí loved that sinuous, organic look; the pillars in the nave were intended to resemble a forest, and they do. Beautiful. Not sure about that Darth Vader black knight figure looming over the nave at one end, though…

    • Toto, the black one, didn’t come out so well in my only Sant Cugat picture, so I didn’t post it. Some other time. They took two days to come out of their hiding place once we’d all moved in. When they finally emerged they soon settled in.

  2. The cat is looking very reproachful!

    I noticed, particularly in Grenada, that the cathedrals of Spain seem very sinister indeed! Lots of gore, thorns, blood, yikes. I think Irish-Catholic churches are less grim, at least on the surface. I can imagine the Holy Week processions are creepy as well, the robes and strange pointy hats. If you ever want to see an atmospheric film, “The Leopard Man” by Val Lewton is set in the U.S. Southwest, but has some equivalent processions by the Hispano-Indian people. The influence, a direct line from Spain, is very strong.

    Hope you (and the cats) are recovering from the move!


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