After finding our bearings on day one, we had a better idea of what we wanted to see on day two. We started by taking the Hop On Hop Off bus on its second route.
Everyone recommended the Barcelona Maritime Museum (https://www.mmb.cat/en/) So we “hopped” off the bus at the front door. It is an amazing place with a full size reproduction of the galley “Real”, the flagship of the Holy League Fleet at the Battle of Lepanto. (1571)
The world is divided into two types of people, normal people who have never heard of the Battle of Lepanto and geeks like Fred who love this stuff. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lepanto) He remembers a young adult book about the battle which turned on the adventures of a young fisherman who was there, met Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish author, and had other adventures. Cervantes was badly injured during the battle.
Fred needless to say, knew all about this and was absolutely fascinated by both the small scale model and the full size reconstruction, which had been built for the 300 year anniversary. (Build a few more and we could make a great movie!)
Displays about the life led by the enslaved rowers were interesting, if depressing. While there were some paid rowers, as in Roman times (sorry, Ben-Hur is wrong), most were slaves who spent all their time chained four or five to the oar. When not in battle, the ship was typically rowed by only a quarter of the rowers at a time, but they never left their oars, day or night, while at sea. Moslem scholars noted that you could smell a Christian galley before you saw it.
The Ottoman admiral (amir al-bahr, now you know where the word originated – literally the commander of the fleet), Ali Pasha is supposed to have told his Christian galley slaves, “If I win the battle, I promise you your liberty. If the day is yours, then God has given it to you.” John of Austria, more laconically, warned his crew, “There is no paradise for cowards.”
The building housing the Maritime Museum is itself of great historical interest. It dates back to 1500 and was built as a multi-lane shipyard, where the original ship was built.
History records that by the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the galley was being replaced by the galleass. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleass) Most scholars attribute much of the Holy Leagues success against the Ottomans to placement of six galleasses at the front of the fleet where their unique ability to fire broadsides devastated the Ottoman galleys which could only fire forwards.
By the Battle of the Armada in 1588, almost all of the ships used were galleons with no oars, but lots of cannon on the sides. But, it is reported that there were four great Venetian galleasses that were seaworthy enough to cross the Bay of Biscay.
On a nice bright sunny day we took a cable car from the port up a hill to the south of the city. The views were spectacular and included full city views (See pictures at top of page) plus the loading of a ferry to Morocco. We even saw a Unimog camper being loaded. And enjoyed a nice cappucino coffee with our view!
We visited more museums while in Barcelona. The first was the Picasso Museum. The mature Picasso is a specialized form of art. But we had learned that the Picasso museum featured his early work as well, and that aspect of the museum was absolutely fascinating – to watch him evolve from a superb, but very “classic” painter into an avant garde artist. While Fred is not a fan of the avant garde, it is clear that he would never have become as famous had he continued in the traditional vein. (No photos)
But our taste runs to music rather than Picasso and after another wonderful tapas dinner, we enjoyed an excellent Flamenco guitar and dance concert at the Palau de la Musica. The guitarists were stunning and we even bought a CD! (https://www.barcelonaguitartrio.com/en/bcn3-2/) They are a local group and the audience clearly liked and supported them.
The second Museum was the Casa Batilo, remodeled by Gaudi with a free hand and deep pockets. The result is an absolutely different house design, though based on some very interesting science, with no straight lines anywhere. (https://www.casabatllo.es/en/) Casa Batilo means “bat house” but sometimes it seemed more batspit crazy!
Lastly, we simply enjoyed wandering the tiny streets of the Gothic section near our hotel. You never know what you will find….we found ice cream shops (with wonderful ice cream inside), apartments and bridges built over the streets.
A seminal event of modern Catalan history was the Siege of Barcelona during the War of Spanish Succession. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Barcelona_%281713%E2%80%931714%29) The results were far reaching in many spheres, and one result was the leveling of the Born district to make a clear fire zone outside the city walls.
When it was restored, a large, modern steel market was built.
And when it reached the end of its commercial life, it was to be razed. When this started it was discovered that the market sat on an extensive range of ruins and, even better, because of municipal records, the exact details of almost every building were known. (https://elbornculturaimemoria.barcelona.cat/)
And, with that, it was time to pack for the flight to Gatwick.