National Geographic : 1929 Mar
BARCELONA, PRIDE OF THE CATALANS By HARRIET CHALMERS ADAMS AUTHOR OF "AN ALTITUDINAL JOURNEY THROUGH PORTUGAL," "ADVENTUROUS SONS OF CADIZ," "ACROSS FRENCH AND SPANISH MOROCCO," ETC., ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE BACK of the city of Barcelona, in the northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula, rises the hill El Tibidabo. From its summit there is an all-embracing view of encircling pine-clad hills, with the snowy range of the Pyrenees far away to the north. Below, outspread on the slop ing plain, between the green of the Cata lonian hills and the blue of the Mediter ranean Sea, lies the great industrial mart and chief port of Spain, with Madrid as its only national rival in population and progress (see illustration, 'page 374). Barcelona's million and more inhabitants are, in greater part, Catalans, of a differ ent blood and tongue from other Span iards; but to its factories and foundries have come men and women from every part of the country (see map, page 314) : plodding Galicians from the verdant north west, granite-faced Castilians from the bleak central plateau, vivacious Andalu sians from the tawny south, sturdy Estre madurans, whose rugged southwest bor derland gave to the New World many a valiant conquistador. The deep-bosomed, high-coifed nurses, with their long gold earrings, who tend the upper-class children under the leafy plane trees, are highland Asturian women. The sharp-featured northern Basques, with their jaunty, visorless, blue woolen caps, are in evidence on the crowded streets. During three prolonged visits my' coach men have been honest, hard-headed Ara gonese from the dry, gray land to the west. A RACE OF MARINERS AND TRADERS Besides the Spaniards, each so distinc tive in type, this city of far-reaching trade has an increasing foreign element; yet, in spite of admixture, with King and flag Spanish and Castilian the official tongue, Barcelona remains at core Catalan, civic expression of a hardy, clanny race of mari ners and traders, fighters from start to finish, allied by blood and language to the peoples of southern France. The Catalonian archeological record goes back to the misty dawn before the first Phoenician or Ionian sail appeared on the western Mediterranean. In polychrome ritual paintings on rock-shelter walls and in Cyclopean base stones in prehistoric fortifications, we have tangible contact with that brown-skinned Iberian race whose shafts and sling-stones harried the earliest adventurous navigators; who later fought valiantly in the Punic wars as allies of the Carthaginians. By sea from the east, or over the high mountain wall which separates the Penin sula from the rest of Europe, came invad ers and conquerors-Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal, Visigoth; with the Moslem invasion from the south, Berber, Arab, Syrian-each to add his strain to the virile native stock. In the Middle Ages, Catalan warriors wrested Valencia and Majorca from the Moslems, conquered Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples, sending their victorious galleys as far east as Athens. Those were the glorious days when, as a maritime power, Barcelona outranked Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, trading from Egypt to the North Sea. In the old royal palace in Barcelona, which now houses the archives of the Crown of Arag6n, comprising nearly 4, ooo,ooo documents, I saw the original of the famous 13th-century code of maritime laws issued by the ruler best beloved of the Catalans-big, handsome, ruddy-haired Jaime I, known as "the Conqueror." It was not until the I5th century, when Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabella of Castile, that this sparkling, seablown cor ner of the Peninsula became part of United Spain. Nearly one hundred years ago the 13 historic provinces on the Spanish mainland were divided into 47. It was then that the triangular territory called Catalonia* was carved into the four provinces of Gerona, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Lerida, all but the last named facing the sea; yet, in the * Cataloniain English; Catalunain Castilian ; Catalunya in Catalan; modification of the an cient Gothalaunia.