Continuing with the theme of the violent destruction of public buildings, I happened – inspired by my visit to Spain – to be re-reading Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, at the same time as the Bishop of Rome was in Barcelona to consecrate the as yet unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia, originally designed by Antoni Gaudi.
Orwell, I discover, was not impressed (at this point he was hiding out from the Communist authorities following the supression of the P.O.U.M., and was sleeping rough) –
“That night McNair, Cottman and I slept in some long grass at the edge of a derelict building-lot. It was a cold night for the time of year and no one slept much. I remember the long dismal hours of loitering about before one could get a cup of coffee. For the first time since I had been in Barcelona I went to have a look at the cathedral – a modern cathedral, and one of the most hideous buildings in the world. It has four crenellated spires exactly the shape of hock bottles. Unlike most of the churches in Barcelona it was not damaged during the revolution – it was spared because of its ‘artistic value’, people said. I think the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance, though they did hang a red and black banner between its spires.”
A couple of slight inaccuracies here. Barcelona’s Cathedral is the older Cathedral of Santa Eulalia – the Sagrada Familia was a Church and is now a Basilica – and, although the Anarchists did not actually blow the place up, they did steal and destroy Gaudi’s plans for the Church, so that the progress made since the war has been based on guesswork. This is what it looks like now –
More than four “hock bottles”, now, as you will see.
Somewhere else, I’m afraid, where they seem to have had the Anarchists in is the white house in Rockingham Road, Kettering, that I was writing about the other week (see here). I see they’ve taken the roof off and knocked out most of the windows.