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granada la bella blog

About this blog

Here you will find my personal view about selected events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible', Granada, 'la bella y la bestia', and particularly about the city's uneasy relationship with its greatest son, Federico Garcia Lorca, who alternatively loved and loathed it.

Falangist Eyesore

la bestia Posted on Sun, September 12, 2010 02:27:07

Is the statue dedicated to Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera in front of the Palacio Bibtaubin an eyesore, or a work of art? This question is at the centre of the dispute about whether it should be left where it is, or chucked on the scrapheap of history.

It was put there in 1972, in the dying years of General Franco and his dictatorship. Although it’s in the centre of Granada, just off the Carrera del Genil, close to the Corte Ingles, it’s easy to overlook, being partly hidden by trees and bushes. You have to look for it.

Once again, we find artistic criteria divided along political lines. Sebastian Perez, President of the right wing Partido Popular in Granada, sees in it a work of art by Granada’s ‘best twentieth century sculptor’, Francisco López Burgos. [Sorry? – No, neither had I.] The fact that it’s dedicated to Jose Antonio, founder of the Spanish Falange, is neither here nor there. It’s its artistic quality that counts and those who object to its presence are nothing more than cultureless left-wing taliban. (Says Sr. López. With a touch of polemics.)

In short, the right, who would really like to keep the monstrosity on ideological grounds, dare not admit their adherence to the exaltation of fascism that the statue represents, so they argue for its permanence in the city centre out of respect for its artistic value. The left, meanwhile, justify their demand for its removal on the grounds that it’s a symbol that eulogises the military uprising of 1936 and Franco’s repressive dictatorship. Which, of course, it does, or did.

But that would not be enough to get it removed. In its efforts to reconcile left and right in Spanish society, the state has decreed that official cultural manifestations of the Franco period are acceptable if it can be demonstrated that they have artistic worth. So before ordering to have it removed, after due deliberation, the powers that be have reached their solemn verdict that poor Francisco López Burgos’s statue is of absolutely no artistic or patrimonial importance whatsoever. So it can be got rid of.

This is self deception. There are plenty of eyesores in Granada that ought to be removed on aesthetic grounds, but aren’t. If López Burgos’s statue commemorated the life and works of Federico García Loca or the aspirations of the Second Republic, I would not object to its being there, even though it’s artistically quite grotesque. As it is, it insults my both my political and aesthetic sensibilities. It’s always annoyed me, ever since it was brought to my attention. It’s a sadly hideous monument to a sadly hideous era.

P.S. Incidentally, the main road on the other side of the Corte Ingles, the Acera del Darro, was also named after the Falangist leader. It was re-named Avenida José Antonio Primo de Rivera. But I have it on good authority that the name never stuck. Apparently, the road was re-surfaced, with asphalt instead of the traditional cobblestones. The new surface made for such a smooth ride that the road became popularly known only as ‘la Fili’ after the new Philishave electric razor with the rotating cutters that was marketed globally with great success in the 1950s. As the Philishave razor lost its novelty and Franco and his regime finally died away, in 1979 la Fili went back to being what it was before and is today: the Acera del Darro.

The ‘elemento ornamental en cuestión’. Five poorly shaped arms and hands rise from the plinth and above them hover two sinister heavy wings held in place by crude metal bars.


Historic Granada Posted on Sun, September 12, 2010 01:37:06


Are you ready for Granada’s millennium anniversary?

1013 is the year that historians have agreed marks the ‘year zero’ of the Kingdom of Granada, which would reach its greatest splendour a few centuries later with the construction of the Alhambra Palaces, before finally being integrated into the Catholic Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The Kingdom of Granada arose out of the collapse and fragmentation of the Caliphate of Cordoba, which throughout the tenth century had vied with Baghdad for supremacy in the Islamic World.

It was from 1232, when the Nasrid Dynasty came to power in what was to become the last Moslem enclave in Catholic Spain, that Moorish Granada flourished, but as early as the eleventh century under the rule of the Ziri Berber clan, the city began to take on its familiar medieval shape, with its heart on the Albaicin hill, across the River Darro from the Alhambra. Over a period of almost 500 years, the Kingdom forged its reputation as a tolerant intercultural society, where Christian, Jew, and Moslem co-existed and built a legacy which arouses the admiration of many today, in all parts of the world.

That lauded co-existence of civilisations, cultures and religions came to an end on 2 January 1492 when the Moorish city fell after a long siege to the (also eulogised) Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. Over the following decades, Granada was purged of anyone or anything that did not conform to the ruling Catholic ideology.

In 2013 the city will celebrate the inception of that pre-Catholic period that many see as a glorious and hard-to-emulate epoque in the city’s history. Many granadinos will join the celebration whole-heartedly, others grudgingly. Granada, true to its nature as the city of la bella y la bestia, will be divided by events. There will be those who see the event as something of concession to Islamic revanchism and a betrayal of Spain´s great Catholic inheritance.