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  • Day5

    Seeing the Sites by Barcelona City Bus

    July 2, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    The Hop-on Hop-off bus in Barcelona is a great way to see the main sites (and sights) and avoid crazy amounts of walking. Yesterday I walked over 20km and 30,000 steps (so my phone and watch tell me, and my feet agree) so we decided to buy a bus pass today. There are two major loops of the city (east and west) and they take about an hour each, if one doesn't alight from the bus at any point.

    Sam and I began with the intention of doing the whole western loop without getting off the bus, but that only lasted until we got to the view from Mountjuic and the possibility of going up the mountain by cable car to the Castle Mountjuic that overlooks the city.

    The cablecar ride was fantastic, with incredible views of Barcelona from the glass box hanging precariously off a wire about 80m above the ground. The views were exceeded only by those from the castle at the top of the mountain. This castle dates from medieval times, but was used more recently by the Spanish rulers against their own people, both the fire cannons on the rebels in the city in the 18th and 19th centuries, and to imprison and torture enemies of the state in the 20th century. The Catalan people see themselves as distinct from the Spanish, and Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan region. Spain has been racked by more tragedy from civil war over the last few centuries than any invasion or external war. Even this year the Catalonians tried to become an independent country from Spain. They used to be independent until their rights and territory was taken by Spain in the early 20th century. The Spanish Civil War went from 1936-1939. After that, the dictator Franco ruled the country with an iron fist. It has been a sad country and they have suffered most from the hands of their own countrymen. They are still reluctant to talk about it.

    Mountjuic is a prominent hill and was occupied by the army and ruling classes to control the ordinary people of Barcelona. It is ironic that the mountain got its name from the fact that the Jews had to bury their dead on the hill because they weren't allowed to utilise Christian graveyards back in the 1300s. The name "Mountjuic" comes from "Mountain of the Jews". Ironic given the Jews were all expelled in 1492, and the elite Catalans and Spanish occupied the hill. It is such a famous hill that all the infrastructure for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games was built in Mountjuic.

    There has been an amazing tombstone and inscription found in archaeological digs in relatively recent years. It dates from 1306 and records that Rachel the daughter of Rabbi Abraham was buried there.

    Sam and I had a fantastic time exploring the castle that still stands today. It was used as a prison and place to execute opponents of the Spanish political regime right through the 20th century, but now is an amazing public museum and highlight for tourists visiting this amazing city.
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