Hospitalet de l’Infant – larger excursions

While spending two quiet weeks in Hospitalet de l’Infant in May 2019, we go for two larger excursions, first to the Ebro Delta, then to the Roman villa Centcelles returning via Reus.

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The Ebro Delta – again worth a visit

We have visited the Ebrodelta again and again, also now we drive there early in the morning to capture  the morning sun. The rice has been seeded and has started to grow.

Ursula tells me, what she has learnt from a TV show (Arte): The ampullariidae or apple snails (Apfelschnecke in German) eat rice offsprings. In the last seven years, their population has grown strongly in the water of the irrigated rice fields. The damage was such that the farmers had to seed the rice once more. As a consequence, the farmers started to seed their rice in less or no water to make it less comfortable for the snails. In addition the glossy ibis (plegadis falcinellus) love to eat the snails and their population also grew which is help from nature to fight the snails. This is what we understood from the TV show.

With snails and Ibis in mind, we play with the light in the rice fields…

… and in the ponds of the delta.

Then we lose our orientation in this flat land with one rice field after the next and a few ponds around, end up near Ell Muntells and find some flamingos in the ponds nearby.

We have lunch in Amettla and then return to our balcony overlooking the Mediterranean in the sun.

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Centcelles – astounding Roman mosaics

Tarragona was the capital of Hispania Citerior in Roman times (since 200 BC). We have seen the city wall, the circus, the theatre, the cathedral and the archaeological museum in Tarragona some years ago. In the museum, we then noticed  the special exhibition of children’s drawings of Centcelles, the Roman villa that later was used as a Roman mausoleum. Centcelles is some kilometres northwest of Tarragona, in a small city called Constantí, and this is where we head to today.

What we see in the villa-mausoleum of Centcelles is from the 4th century AD. Perhaps Constans, the son of the Roman emperor Constantin the Great, was buried here (he died in 350 AD).

The main attraction is the hall with the cupola decorated with mosaics.

The mosaics are unique. They were redicscovered in the late 19th century and restored in the 1950s. The scenes of the mosaics have been completed by the renovators, but very discretely, just to help visitors identify the scenes. 

The lowest row of mosaics shows hunting scenes…

... near a villa that is supposed to be this villa of Centcelles.

The second level refers to the bible – a very early documentation of Christianism in the Roman Empire. The Arche Noah looks like a box.

Daniel stands in the lions ditch… the lion is full of life.

This mosaic shows the scene of Jonas being swallowed by the whale.

On another mosaic, three men can be distinguished. It is assumed that they are martyrs that denied to pray to gods and had to die in the fire (which can be seen in the right-hand lower corner).

The third level is dedicated to the seasons. The best kept mosaic here is the boy that carries grapes-  obviosly representing “autumn”.

Next to the cupola hall with the mosaics are some amenities of the Roman villa such as this bath.

Source: Barbara Bongässer: Katalonien, Kunst, Landschaft, Kultur, Könemann, Köln 2000.

Returning from Centcelles we stop over in Reus.

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Reus – a charming small town

We have visited Reus before to explore the route of modernism and the museum about Gaudí who was born here.

We now return for a short stroll through the center of this charming town starting with Plaça Prim, named after General Prim who was born here and became Prime Minister of Spain in the late 19th century.

Just round the corner we find the Xixona that sells gelats i torrons. Their selection of ice creams is extraordinary. I have ice cream made from fresh goat cheese (reminding me of the Catalan dessert mel i mato) and Ursula has lemon ice cream with little nibbles of lemon zest.

We stroll through the pedestrian area with the art nouveau buildings…

… cross the Plaça Mercadal with the townhall and the green modernist Casa Pinyol…,

… pass by the Casa Rull, another art nouveau building from 1901…

… and return to our balcony with the view of the Mediterranean.

Yes, Reus was again worth the detour.

 

 

In Catalonia (Spain): Discovering modernism in Reus

On a windy day we explore the city of Reus. It is just half an hours’ drive from Hospitalet de l’Infant, where we spend a few days in the apartment of our friends end October until mid November 2016.

Reus is the home town of Marshall Prim. He fought for the constitution of Spain and from 1868-70 he was Prime Minister of Spain (look at the cypress – it WAS windy).

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We park our car in the parking cellar located under the statue of Marshall Prim. It was another of those parking houses with small parking lots and narrow corridors. We found a comfortable slot on the fifth floor underground… if only I will be able to “climb” up from here again without getting stuck!

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The Gaudí Centre

Gaudí was born in Reus. Though he never built anything in Reus, the city is proud of their son and has set up a museum about his life, his architecture and the way he worked. The museum is well curated. We learn, how Gaudí experimented to find the laws of nature that he then applied to create harmonic architectural structures. For instance he used straight lines, triangles or quadrats and twisted them to find the harmonic shapes. Based on the “law of chains” he built slim arches that could stand without counterweights (when the sides of the arches stand upright, counterweights have to prevent the arch from collapsing, like in Roman or Gothic architecture, but when they are inclined, the arches do not collapse). These hanging wooden sticks are one of experiments.

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He tested everything with models, before implementing it, even studying the exposure to light.

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He had an overall approach to architecture also creating the furniture.

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The Gaudí Center is located at the market square (Plaça Mercada), next to the townhall and the green modernist Casa Piñyol.

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Across is the modernist Casa Navas with the shop for bath and wellness on the groundfloor. I buy a dressing gown (in Spanish: albornoz – the moors must have introduced this to Spain).

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We have lunch in the roof top restaurant of the Gaudí Centre. The view is great, but the waiters would have preferred us not to disturb them and the meal was expensive and poor (liver cream from the tube – in Swiss German: Leberpains – served on crackers with a few salad leaves, all for 15 Euros).

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The cathedral San Pere – late gothic and a no-no tour guide

South of the market square we visit the late gothic cathedral San Pere from the early 16th century.

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Inside we find two sisters praying and singing at low voices. It is a solemn atmosphere. Bump! A group of tourists enters. Their tour guide starts to talk in a loud voice. The prayers continue gently. Ursula frowns and whispers: “This is an absolute no-go!”

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The fish market or Peixateria Velles

Behind the church we enter the fish market (Peixateria Velles) with the sculpture of a basket containing fish products next to the entrance.

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Through the gate we see the galleries and inviting restaurants and bars.

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Modernist houses in Reus – a selection

Finishing off our day we follow a walk proposed by Reus tourism to discover a selection of the 29 Art Nouveau buildings proposed. This is the Casa Anguera behind the fish market…

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… with a detail of the flower ornaments.

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The Casa Serra and the Casa Marco mark the entrance to the small street, where Gaudí was born.

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The blue tiles of the Casa Laguna adorn the street leading from the square of Marshall Prim to the market square

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Not far from here is the Casa Carpa with the painted balcony doors.

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With Ursula’s directions I succeed to manoeuver my car out of the narrow garage under Marshall Prim (five floors up through rectangular small corridors!).

Reus is a small town worth a visit!

Back at Hospitalet I enjoy the inside pool with the swimming lanes – it is very busy here with swimming courses and water gymnastics going on around me.