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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.

Wow! What a line-up!

Contemporary Granada, Federico Garcia Lorca Posted on Mon, June 29, 2020 11:40:04

Every summer for the last eighteen years the Agencia Andaluza de Instituciones Culturales in collaboration with the Patronato de la Alhambra has organised the outdoor summer concert cycle ‘Lorca y Granada’ in the Gardens of the Generalife. This year, the nineteenth, is a pretty impressive line-up, representing la crême de la crême of contemporary flamenco. The consejera de Cultura y Patrimonio Histórico (Counselor of Culture and Histroic Patrimony), Patricia del Pozo, is not wrong when she says “this year’s programme is absolutely exceptional” bringing us four productions involving some of the best-known bailaores/-as and cantaores/-as of today.

1. Estrella Morente

Estrella brings her new show Tesela to the Generalife on 30 and 31 July, with the special collaboration of her brother Enrique Morente Carbonell and Moroccan violin virtuoso Jalal Chekara, and supported by an ensemble of 14 outstanding musicians, including the Israeli jazz guitarist Dan Ben Lior. “A fusion of Gypsy, Arab, and Jewish cultural values and meant as a modest contribution to an anti-racist dialogue in which music is our only weapon against the madness and meanness of racial prejudice.” (Very free translation.).

Morente’s two performances will be followed by

2. Manuel Liñán

From 3 to 12 August, with a break on the 9th, Granada’s celebrated bailaor, director y choreographer presents ¡Viva!, a dance spectacle in which six bailaores-bailarines celebrate women’s creativity in the world of flamenco, challenging and breaking down gender stereotypes and clichés.

3.Carmen Linares, Marina Heredia y Arcángel

The 14 and 15 August is the turn of these three brilliant exponents of cante jondo in a production called Tempo de luz (Speed of Light) directed by Isidro Muñoz and with the collaboration of bailaoras Ana Morales and Patricia Guerrero.

4. Eva Yerbabuena

From 20 to 29 August, with a break on the 23rd, Eva Yerbabuena and her company will present Carne y hueso (Flesh and Bone/Flesh and Blood). Five bailaores, voice, percussion, and guitar will lend a five-star backing to this leading performer of flamenco dance.

In announcing this absolutely exceptional summer programme, the fact is not lost on the city’s Counselor of Culture and Historic Patrimony that a top-quality cultural offer that includes Lorca means good business for Granada.

Tickets go on sale on 1 July, next Wednesday, and are available from, in the Corral del Carbón, the Generalife and at the Post Office.

Prices are 35 euros for Tesela and Tempo de luz and 34 euros for ¡Viva! y Carne y hueso. Furthermore, these two dance spectacles offer discounts for the unemployed, youth, students, and pensioners as well as 2×1 on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Strict health safety norms will be in place to ensure the public, participating artists, and workers will not be put at risk. The maximum permitted capacity has been reduced to 1000, representing 65% of the actual possible physical capacity, and this will ensure the 2m distancing rule can be maintained.

Source: Isabel Vargas, Granada Hoy, 26 June 2020

NO2 + COVID19 = A deadly formula.

Contemporary Granada Posted on Sat, April 25, 2020 12:12:30

An analysis reported on by the Guardian’s Environmental editor, Damian Carrington, 20 Apr 2020, says high levels of air pollution seem to be a major long-term contributor to deaths from Covid-19. The deadly factors are NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) emissions combined with weather conditions that hold polluted air stationery over a city for long periods of time.

It found that the case fatality rate (CFR) in Europe, the number of deaths per diagnosed cases, were concentrated in four regions along the Po Valley in northern Italy and one around Madrid in Spain. What these regions have in common is that they are surrounded by mountains, which helps trap pollution. This is also the case of Hubei province in China, where the pandemic began.

And it is also the case, as we first reported in post #109 of 22 January 12019, of the city of Granada. So it hardly comes as any surprise that Granada is the place in Andalucia with by far the highest number of COVID19 infected, 389 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to an average of just 145 for the rest of the autonomous region.

The analysis shows a strong correlation between NO2 and COVID19, not a proven direct causal link. Other factors cannot be ruled out. Indeed, other factors affecting the CFR are known to be the underlying poor health of the smitten individual. Another condemning piece of evidence is a study which suggests the virus can cling to particles of air pollution, helping to keep it airborn for longer.

A noticeable reduction in air pollution has certainly been a welcome and unexpected blessing of the lockdown. Yet let us not be lulled into a false sense of security. Long-term exposure to dirty air that goes back to before the pandemic is undoubtedly a key factor in creating the long-term underlying health conditions that have led to an increased vulnerability to the virus. The virus finishes off what the decline in air quality has started. But the conditions that create poor health will not go away by themselves.

Let’s repeat: We want no return to ‘normality’.

Granada vista … THEN
Granada vista … NOW

Damian Carrington, Guardian Environment editor, Mon 20 Apr 2020

Bike lanes

Contemporary Granada Posted on Thu, April 23, 2020 15:48:22

Yesterday, I posted about the beneficial effects the coronavirus lockdown was having on air quality in Granada. I concluded there was no way we could or should return to what had been normal before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Today I was encouraged to read the headline in the local Ideal newspaper proposing bike lanes to prevent a return to the widespread use of the private car after the lockdown.

But on second look, it turned out to be a proposed temporary measure. Bike lanes are to be introduced to minimalise the effect of people switching from public to private transport to avoid the risk of contagion. If, on returning to work, people switch from bus and metro to their private car for safety reasons, there will be a huge increase in air pollution. The scheme aims to facilitate “sustainable individual transport” [uso del transporte individual sostenible] – in the place of anti-social individual transport (= the motorcar).

If we look at the diagram, we note the provision of temporary bollards between car lanes and bike lanes, which can be easily removed when things return to ‘normal’ (ie heavy traffic) [Balizas provisionales que se podrían retirar cuando el transporte público vuelva a la normalidad]. Very disappointing. The diagram also indicates a speed limit of 30kph. But this speed limit was approved by the city council for the whole of the city centre as long ago as March 2019 [post #106, 15 Apr 2019], though as far as I can see nothing has been done since then to implement it.

These proposed temporary measures need to be made permanent. The lockdown has proved that the seemingly impossible is possible, after all. The diagram suggests that these city-centre bike lanes should be linked up with the network of bike lanes that now cover the metropolitan area. [Los carriles se coordinarán con los que unen el área metropolitana.] Hitherto, Granada’s bike lanes have been introduced piecemeal, with no overarching co-ordinated plan. Too many of these bike lanes are “roads to nowhere”. A sensible, co-ordinated network of bike lanes in Granad is possible.


Contemporary Granada Posted on Wed, April 22, 2020 21:44:03

Ah the coronavirus-invoked irony of our times! In my last-but-not-least comment in my review of recent blogs written in early March, I remarked that air pollution was a topic on which the last word has certainly not been said. [] Meaning: in those still pre-coronavirus days, the problem of air pollution was surely going to get worse in the context of uninterrupted climate change and environment abuse. Yet today, 22 April, we can report that Granada, in common with many other cities in Spain and the world, is enjoying its cleanest air for decades, in the case of Granada since reliable records began in 1989,thanks primarily to the reduction in traffic flows due to the coronavirus lockdown. This is not the news I envisaged blogging about back then, in April 2019, when this pandemic outbreak still appeared closer to science fiction than reality.
Yet studies report a reduction of up to 62% in levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and of 31% in PM10 particles, whatever they are, in Granada. Nitrogen dioxide and PM10 particles are by far the major air pollutors, say environmental scientists.
So, “every cloud has a silver lining”. The lockdown has left us without doubt that there is a direct connection between traffic and the emission of these pollutants. This evidence delivers a powerful argument to the council’s department of the environment , which was already in the process of considering what measures to take when the lockdown is over in order to reduce if not eliminate toxic life-threatening emissions.
However, a word of warning: While air quality has improved dramatically over the last weeks, there has not been a corresponding reduction in the emissions of carbon dioxide, principal contributor to global warming. Here the decline has only amounted to 5.4%
If the curve of the pandemic has to be flattened, then so, too, does the carbon dioxide curve, say environmental scientists, but this latter curve is far from being flattened. On thecontrary, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to increase at an accelerating rhythm. 2019 was the hottest year ever recorded in Europe and eleven of the twelve hottest ever years have all fallen within the last twenty years.
As everyone keeps saying, there is no way we can return to ‘normal’.
Acknowledgement to:
R. G. 21 April, 2020
Manual Planelles Madrid 22 Apr 2020

crisp and cleaan air over Granada, 22.4.2020


Contemporary Granada Posted on Fri, July 19, 2019 19:03:04

Athens has
not one, but three buried rivers, the Kifisos, the Iridanos, and the Ilissos:
“a crime against the city” the daily newspaper Kathimerini calls them. [This I
read in the Guardian Weekly of 14 June 2019; a report by Yiannis Babqulias.]
There, in Athens, the question of reburying or unburying the Ilissos has taken on some urgency
because its walls are crumbling and the tramlines that pass overhead have
become unsafe. Rather than rebuild the walls, wouldn’t it be better to re-route
the trams, and recover – that is, UNcover – the river? That is the current line
of Greek thought on the matter.

It is a
line of thought that can be identified as part of the ‘Daylighting Urban
Waterways’ movement, which and has had successes from Seoul in 2005, where and when the
Cheonggyecheon stream was resurrected from its urban death bed, to Sheffield in
2017, where the River Sheaf was opened up and incorporated into a pocket of
parkland. (GW again.)

So moves to
rescue our River Darro from under the Reyes
Street (see blog post 109, dated 2/6/2019)
are part of a global movement, something that improves their chances of realisation,

The idea of
burying the River Darro underground was conceived, according to Angel Ganivet (see blog post 109),
at the depths of a dark, dark night towards the end of the 19th century.
Is it not now time for it to be daylighted, in tune with the urban regeneration tendencies of the 21st?

1, The River Ilissos in classical times. 2, The Ilissos today. 3, The River Darro where it goes underground at Plaza Santa Ana. 4, The River Darro in the 19th century.


Contemporary Granada Posted on Sun, June 02, 2019 09:46:50

Perhaps you know that under the Reyes Católicos street, that vital city traffic artery that
connects Puerta Real with the Gran Vía for buses, taxis and bikes,
runs the River Darro on its way to its meeting with the River Genil, it in turn
on its way down “from the snow to the wheat”. (Quoting
Lorca: Baladilla de los tres ríos in Poema del cante jondo.)

Well, at the recent local elections, the leftist
list, Podemos-IU, led by Antonio Cambril, included the uncovering of
the Darro beneath Reyes Católicos in its election programme. And
unsurprisingly, the demand won the support of Lorca and Granada admirer and
expert, Ian Gibson, as revealed by Alba Rodríguez‘s interview with him in Granada Hoy, 15 May, 2019.
Gibson, convinced by the left coalition’s cultural and environmental proposals,
added his name to Cambril’s electoral list. Air pollution, as we know (blogs #post97 &
#post106), has
reached a critical level and Granada needs more green. Verde que te quiero verde,
he quotes (Lorca again: Romance sonámbulo
from Romancero gitano): “Green how I
love you green”. As for
uncovering/recovering the Darro: it’s a great idea and Gibson has thought so
for decades.

The idea, of course, is not really his. It
goes back to the powerful, coherent and influential urban criticism of Angel
Ganivet, who wrote in his work Granada la
that he knew many cities with rivers running through the centre of
them (London, Paris, Berlin, etc) but only in Granada had they hit upon the mad
idea of covering theirs over. The idea, he suggested, had been conceived at the
depths of darkest night. The Reyes
, vulgar in itself, was out-of-place in relation to the shady and
narrow streets that – then, and to some extent still – lead off it.

For Ganivet (1865 – 1898), the burying of the Darro
was a contemporary event and the more deeply felt for that. Until the 1880s,
what today is calle Reyes Católicos
used to be the Revés del Zacatín, the
Back of the Zacatín, and it was where the local craftsmen, specially the dyers
and the tanners and leather workers, dumped the waste from their artisanal
workshops. Straight into the River Darro. Like they still do today, I believe,
in Fez (Morocco.)

Since Arabic times, the Zacatín and the Alcaicería, on
the left bank of the river, had been the home of craftsmen, the Alcaicería in particular being for
centuries an important centre of Arabic craftsmanship, though the original
workshops were actually burnt down in a devastating fire in 1843, and the area
never recovered anything of its former character. Today, only Orientalist-themed and kitschy souvenir
shops remain.

By the 1880s, be that as it may, the River Darro had
been identified by the authorities as a health hazard for the densely populated nearby area, and hence the crude
decision to simply cover it over. And by 1884 it was virtually all over.

Then, just a
few days after the Ian Gibson interview, a photomontage appeared on the front
page of Granada Hoy (21 May G. Cappa) giving architect Saúl Meral’s impression of
what Reyes Católicos could
look like, gentrified and beautified, with the river recovered from its gloomy
tunnel. His artwork was an attempt to imagine a harmonised continuation of the
aesthetic of the river as it runs along the Carrera
del Darro
, Darro Road, before disappearing into its tunnel just next to the
Santa Ana Church. How closely it may reflect a credible potential
reality is open to discussion, says the architect, but in the end he is clearly
in agreement with Gibson’s attitude of: Verde
que te quiero verde
with regard to Granada’s urban development.
Above: Architect Saúl Meral’s impression of the River Darro uncovered. Below: carrera del Darro

Air Pollution (2)

Contemporary Granada Posted on Mon, April 15, 2019 17:37:48

In January, I first posted about the alarming levels of air pollution in
Granada, to which the city’s particular topography contributes [//]. Now a 30kph speed limit has been introduced for the whole urban area and
will be maintained as long as the problem remains unresolved (the foreseeable
future). It is one measure to fight pollution among others, which include the
gradual increase in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles, the elimination
of diesel and other highly contaminating fossil fuel-burning engines, and the promotion
of environment-friendlier means of transport such as scooters, skateboards,
roller skates, and bikes.

The town council voted in favour of the 30 kph speed limit on 1 March and
at the moment traffic signs are being changed throughout the city.
A further measure will be to reduce the speed limit on the ring road from
100 to 90kph.
These new measures are designed to reduce not only air pollution but also
noise pollution levels, not to mention accidents, thus improving the quality of
life Granada.

I read somewhere that Granada used to be a quiet, almost silent city, and
that when the wind blew in from the Vega it would not encounter a sound until
it reached the gurgling of the fountain in Plaza Nueva. Lorca? Another anecdote
said that the bell on the Veleta tower of the Alhambra was rung to signal
changeover times for the irrigation canals out on the Vega, where it could be
heard clearly at all hours.

Those days are gone and will not
return, but we know: air pollution is a killer, – and silence is golden…

Acknowledgements: Susana
10 Abril, 2019 – 14:12h

Left: the 30 kph speed limit applies to the entire road network inside the ringroad. Right: environment-friendly means of transport

Granada, second most highly rated tourist city in Spain

Contemporary Granada Posted on Sat, April 13, 2019 11:19:22

If Granada is only the second, what is the first?
is the obvious question to be asked. And the answer is: Santander.

The ratings are achieved by a comprehensive box ticking
method with altogether fifteen categories to be evaluated, including the
quality of public transport, preservation of the cultural heritage, cultural
and tourist facilities, hospitality, a feeling of safety, entertainment for
children, gastronomy, night life, shopping, and prices, plus a box for global

Granada did well on preservation of the cultural heritage, shopping and
prices, scoring a total of 85 points out of 100. (Did less well on hospitality,
maybe, what with the ‘malafollá granadina’…) It was pipped by Santander which
scored 87 and outdid Granada on hospitality, gastronomy and safety. E. P. 11 April, 2019

* The ratings are from a survey carried out by the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) which asked Spanish, Belgian, French, Italian and Portuguese
tourists who had stayed in a city inside or outside Spain for at least one
night in the last two years.

The gastronomy of Granada: The Essential Guide: Where to Eat Tapas in Granada April 3, 2019

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