old salt and new salt

Like ancient fortifications, old salt prospection sites, like in Gerri de la Sal, are as varied and ingenious as local conditions made them. Tools and methods gave way to specialisation and professions bygone. We gaze at those old artifacts in museums today.

Yet in some cases those sites resist oblivion. One could believe their products have special properties that make them better than industrial offerings, and it may as well be. However the biggest contribution of those products is the promise of sustainability for small communities that otherwise would be displaced by the economies of scale of industry. Challenging global commodity prices, they send us a message of resilience and ingenuity.

Night photograph of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the nomination "Les festes del foc del solstici d'estiu als Pirineus"

summer solstice and the pyrenees

Since time unknown celebrate the inhabitants of Isil the night of the summer solstice in a rather particular manner. To the extend that in 2015 they were, together with other 63 villages of the Pyrenees, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the nomination “Les festes del foc del solstici d’estiu als Pirineus”.

a walk round the lake and the pyrenees

The lowest lake in the Park Nacional d’Aigues Tortes i Estany de Sant Maurici bathed under the sun of the last days of Spring gives a view to the passes under the receding snow.

Cloister of the Cathedral of Roda de Isabena

the bishop’s seat and a past of “reconquista”

Build atop a rock the Cathedral of the X century and the town of Roda de Isabena are full of hints of the past struggles between Spaniards and Muslims. The Crypt could not be carved into the rock and stands exceptionally level to the floor of the hall opposite to the throne of the bishop and the stalls. An unusual view.

Street on the climb to the higher town side of Montañana, Aragón, Spain

hidden places and a past of “reconquista”

Not the place you would pass by, not even you would go there unless the sting of curiosity pulls you off the state road N230 and up the winding single line road to Montañana. Time stopped here, or you feel like being back from close orbiting a black hole for a few hours.

Central dome in the Romanesque church of Durro, Vall de Boí, Pyrenees, Spain

remote vall de boi and preserved past

It is 2098 and the UNESCO adds to the catalogue of cultural heritage the last nine public telephone cabins in a remote almost abandoned town north of Glasgow, Scotland. Especially two of them that are still kept in very good shape at the lobby of the town’s hotel. Hundreds of Chinese tourists line to make a call home from the one still functional.

It was the year 2000 when UNESCO catalogued the nine 11th and 12th century Romanesque churches in Vall de Boí. First brought to the attention of the world in the beginning of the 20th century, they remained Romanseque all those years in the remote valley of Boí. Unchanged because of the lack of regional wealth to turn them into a more modern Gothic version of themselves, after once the noble family of Erill, enriched after taking part on the “Reconquista”, commissioned them to the best Italian architects of the time.

Six-days hike around the Parc Nacional d'Aiguetortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in the central Pyrenees. View of deep blue lakes and snowed mountains.

the pyrenees and a seven days hike

In the late days of spring snow still may fall in the higher ranges of the Pyrenees. The range shows nonetheless a harsher past with U-shaped glacier valleys and round ground granite bedrocks where now shy flowers root among their tiny crevasses. We pass by dozens of lakes and smooth grassy patches too. Subtle and almost graceful granite dams show the presence of humans and their early attempts to harvest the power of water at the beginning of the 20th century. They contrast with the less ambiguous concrete wall at the lower valley.

Detail ceiling mosaic, Palau de la Musica Barcelona

musica and modernist barcelona

Built in the begining of the 20th Century in the very particular modernist style of the time, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona brings the visitor back in time.

Details, light and mood could as well be the backdrop of a Steampunk painting