Barcelona Spain – Poble Espanyol

Barcelona hosted the World’s Fair in 1929. At that time, the World Fair was on par with or perhaps even greater than hosting the Olympics. It was a major international event requiring a significant investment of resources. It was also an opportunity to showcase the host city and nation’s cultural achievements. As a point of reference, the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 to serve as the entrance for the World Fair in Paris, France.

When Barcelona was selected to host the 1929 World Fair, several significant projects were initiated to showcase the best of Barcelona. One project was the Palau Nacional (National Palace) which served as the main site for the 1929 World Fair. Another was to revitalize the Gothic Quarter. I will write about and share photos from both these areas in the future.

The National Palace

Poble Espanyol was another significant World Fair project. Planners for Poble Espanyol wanted to create a village that would serve as a synthesis of Spanish architecture, arts, and cultural achievement throughout the various regions of Spain. Project architects visited over 1500 towns and villages taking hundreds of photographs and making notes and drawings in order to plan an authentic town with streets, squares, church, and other sites that captured the spirit of Spain.

During the International Exhibition, between May 1929 and January 1930, Poble Espanyol hosted a long list of cultural and recreational events.

Sangria is a red wine with fruit. Spain reintroduced this nearly forgotten drink to world during the 1929 World Fair.

Poble Espanyol was a huge success during the World Fair so the city decided to keep it intact versus destroying it as originally planned. It is also noted that Poble Espanyol, according to Michael Eisner, former president of Disney, served as the initial inspiration for Disney theme parks. Unfortunately, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) would nearly destroy the site and certainly destroyed the spirit and momentum from the World Fair.

Poble Espanyol underwent several attempts at revitalization during the remainder of the century with mixed results. It wasn’t until 1996 that the village was once again a flourishing cultural site with year-round events for locals and tourists alike. Here are a few sights from my stroll through Poble Espanyol.

Entrance to Poble Espanyol – small admission fee.
Inside Poble Espanyol looking out to Barcelona.

If you have enough time, Poble Espanyol is definitely worth visiting. However, if you are a first-time visitor to Barcelona, I would suggest your first area to visit should be La Rambla, El Gotic (the Gothic Quarter), and waterfront areas. They are all close to one another and this is the area that will make you fall in love with Barcelona. A trip to Sagrada Familia is also a must.

I’ve been fortunate to visit Barcelona several times and was looking to explore more of the city which lead me to the Montjuic. Beyond Poble Espanyol, Montjuic features a 17th century castle, the National Palace/National Art Museum of Catalonia, and sporting facilities built for 1992 Olympic games.

Torre Calatrava is a communications tower built for the 1992 Olympics and remains as a prominent feature on Montjuic. Designed to represent an athlete holding the Olympic torch.

Charleston, South Carolina – The Battery (Homes)

Founded in 1670 and originally named Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. South Carolina was one of the original Thirteen British Colonies. By 1690, Charleston was the fifth largest city in North America. Charleston adopted its present spelling with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War. Charleston remained one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S until 1840.

Modern Charleston offers visitors small-town charm but is filled with big time attractions. This Southern city has a rich history, well-preserved architecture, top-notch restaurants and bars, and friendly people filled with Southern hospitality. This makes it a popular tourist destination often mentioned among top-cities to visit in the world by travel magazines such Travel and Leisure and Conde Naste Traveler.

The Charleston Battery

My focus today is on the area of Charleston known as the Battery. Visiting the Battery today you will see locals and tourists alike enjoying views of the Charleston Harbor and antebellum mansions, walking their dog, or enjoying a leisurely walk or run through White Point Gardens.

The Battery’s origin dates back to 1737 as a landmark defensive seawall and promenade. Given Charleston’s prominence and importance as a port in early American history, it was necessary to have a place for artillery to defend the city and harbor. It saw action in the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the American Civil War. War memorials as spread throughout the park.

A Few Featured Homes

The Edmonton-Alston House (1825) is now a museum open for tours. It was one the first mansions homes built along the Battery and featured a Federal styling. Originally built by Charles Edmonston, the home was sold to Charles Alston and remains in the Alston family. Mr. Alston updated the home with Greek Revival stylings.

Edmonston-Alston House

The William Washington house (c. 1768) shown in the image below on the left is the only pre-Revolutionary house on Charleston’s Battery. It was built in the Georgian style by Thomas Savage. In December 1785, Mr. Savage sold the home to Revolutionary War hero William Washington.

William-Washington House (left side of image)

The Roper House is a Greek Revival home built in 1838 for cotton planter Robert William Roper. His father donated funds for Roper Hospital which is still serving people in Charleston. Mr. Roper died of Malaria in 1845 and the home has exchanged hands several times. I found it interesting that Solomon R. Guggenheim (Guggenheim museum in New York) once owned the home. Several former U.S. Presidents and international leaders have visited and stayed in this home.

The Roper House

The antebellum mansion called “Zero Water Street” (c. 1837) is one of twelve historic homes on the “High Battery”. In the image below, it is the center mansion of the first three shown. The third floor suite is available for vacation rental – Zerowaterstreet.com

The Charles Drayton house (c. 1885) features Medieval European and Chinese architectural references. Drayton came from a family that had made it’s wealth from a rice plantation (Drayton Hall Plantation). After the Civil War, Charles turned his attention to a successful business venture in mining phosphate from the Ashley River near his family’s plantation.

Charles Drayton House

Two Meeting Street Inn is a popular bed and breakfast on the Battery.

Two Meeting Street Inn

This post will continue to evolve as I gather more photos and interesting facts about the Battery in my travel to historic Charleston. In the meantime, time to catch a carriage and enjoy the ride through the rest of a city with so much still to see.

Where in the world…