Cultural Walk in Barcelona: In the footsteps of great cultural figures (Nov. 18th)

This Sunday, I will organize the annual cultural walk for my class in Barcelona, followed by a tertulia session at one of the city’s cultural cafes.
One of the things that fascinate me about Barcelona (apart from its Mediterranean character and cosmopolitan feel) is the abundance of public artworks that can be enjoyed by all in the streets and squares of the city. Signature works by Spanish artist like Picasso, Joan Miró, Gaudí and Subirachs, as well as international artists and architects like Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Rebecca Horn and others.

Many of these works date back to 1992, the year in which Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games. The city witnessed one of the most massive urban regeneration processes in its history, with several neighbourhoods and beaches given a ‘facelift’ to project an image of a confident and modern city. It came at a price: some things are lost forever in the name of ‘urban development’, and the original ‘chiringuitos’ of the fishermen are lost once and for all, replaced by chic restaurants and cafes that cater to massive cultural tourism.

A Guided Walk for the IAON Pro-Iraqi Activists (Oct 6th)

This Saturday, I will have the pleasure of accompanying members of the Pro-Iraqi IAON (International Anti-Occupation Network) on a guided walk in the streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

IOAN is a coalition of groups that stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and for Iraqi sovereignty and against the US-led occupation of Iraq. It was established in April 2006 at the Madrid International Seminar on the Assassination of Iraqi Academics and Health Professionals.

Poster attached.

My Cultural Walk for the European Studies Workshop (May 11th)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the European Studies Workshop that I’m participating in organizing for the European Community Studies Association (ECSA) in Barcelona.

As part of the cultural programme of the Workshop, I will be organizing a cultural excursion for the participants (poster and itinerary attached). Next week, I will share some of the stories that I will tell during the excursion on my blog.

Historic Cairo Storytelling Walk: Khoshqadam & Around (Jan 21st)

This walk (January 21st), organized for Pen Temple Pilots, was intended to introduce the participants to some of Historic Cairo’s forgotten monuments, explaining everything from a living heritage perspective.
The itinerary:
Al-Ghuriyya, al-Tawaqjeyya, al-Tarbeaa, al-Sharaibi, al-Gawdariyya, Darb Saada, al-Mangala, Khoshqadam, al-Siba’i, al-Dardiri, al-Tablita.
The monuments visited:
The Ghuri Complex – Mamluk, 1505
Wikalat al-Sharaibi – Ottoman XVIII c.
Mosque of Ali ibn Arabi – Ottoman XVIII c.
Bayt Mohamed al-Mahrouqi – Ottoman XVIII c.
Sabil-Kuttab and Mosque of Assanbugha – Mamluk, 1370
Mosque of Baybars al-Khayyat – Mamluk, 1515
Bayt Gamal al-Din al-Dahabi – Ottoman, 1637
Al-Dardir Hall – XII c.
Sabil-Kuttab Suleiman al-Kharbotli – Ottoman, XVII c.
Sabil-Kuttab Zein al-Abedin – Ottoman, XVII c.

Cultural Walk in Barcelona: IX Trobada de coordinadores autonòmiques d’ONGD (Nov 26th)

In the framework of the ‘IX Trobada de coordinadores autonòmiques d’ONGD’, I was invited to organize a cultural walk in Barcelona for the ‘FCONGD’ (Catalan Federation for Development NGOs). The participants came from different parts of Spain, and the idea was to introduce them to some historic and cultural elements of the city. Starting in El Raval, we strolled through El Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and off to El Born.

The highlights of the itinerary included:
– Plaza Sant Jaume, home to the Generalitat (Catalan Parliament) and the Ajuntament (City Hall) and once the ‘forum’ of Barcino (the Roman nucleus of present-day Barcelona);
– Plaza Reial, the only portico-lined square in the city and home to Gaudí’s earliest public works (his famous lampposts);
– Fossar de les Moreres, where an eternal flame glows high up the memorial for the fallen Catalans that defended their city during the French siege, before it finally fell in 1714.

For more on FCONGD:
http://fcongd.org/fcongd/

Cultural Walk in Barcelona: Barcelona’s Art & Culture (Nov 6th)

Today is the Cultural Walk that I organize for my 2011/2012 Master’s students in Barcelona. From Passeig de Gracia, we go all the way to El Born, explaining all about the cultural phenomena of the city.

During the walk, we talked about the following figures, all of whom spent in Barcelona all or part of their lives:
Architects: Antoni Gaudí – Puig i Cadafalch – Domènech i Montaner – Josep Vilaseca – Frank Gehry
Painters: Pablo Picasso – Salvador Dalí – Joan Miró – Ramon Casas – Santiago Rusiñol
Artists: Roy Lichtenstein – HA Schult – Ocaña – Pere Romeu – Josep Maria Subirachs – Josep Clarà – Josep Maria Jujol
Musicians: Isaac Albéniz – Enrique Granados – Pau Casals
Writers: Jacint Verdaguer – Rubén Darío – George Orwell – Ernest Hemingway

The key monuments, sites and artworks that we visited are:
Casa Batlló (Antoni Gaudí),
Casa Ametller (Puig i Cadafalch),
Casa Lleó Morera (Domènech i Muntaner),
La Diosa (Josep Clarà),
Monument to Francesc Macià (joseph Subirachs),
Casa Martí (Puig i Cadafalch),
Els Quatre Gats (Pere Romeu),
Palau Moja,
Casa Escribà,
Circular Mosaic (Joan Miró),
House of the Umbrellas (Joseph Vilaseca),
El Liceu,
Café de l’Òpera,
Lampposts of Plaça Reial (Antoni Gaudí),
El Cap de Barcelona (Roy Lichtenstein).

Historic Cairo Storytelling Walk: Darb Qirmiz and Around (Jul 26th)

Another Storytelling Walk in Historic Cairo.
Recycling in Medieval Cairo, the soundscape of the Islamic Medina, the art scene in El-Khoronfosh, these are some of the themes we talked about as we walked around el-Bab el-Akhdar, Khan Jaafar, Bayt al-Qadi, Darb Qirmiz, el-Khoronfosh, Khan Abu Taqiyya, al-Maqasis, Haret Wikalet Abu Zeid, el-Hamzawy and Zuqaq al-Midaq, among other places.

Cultural Walk in Barcelona: Artistic & Literary Icons (Nov 21st)

Today I organized a cultural walk for my MA students in Barcelona. The idea was to explore the cultural life in the city and appreciate its cultural legacy.

These are some important terms in Catalan culture that were explained today:

Renaixença :
The Catalan Renaissance, a period of revival of Catalan language and culture in the second half of the XIX century. Its most important figures are Aribau, Maragall and Verdaguer.

Tertulia :
A cultural tradition similar to a cultural salon, which involves a gathering of likeminded people interested in art and culture to discuss recent updates and trends and share creative artworks. It was common in Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, Zurich and other cities.

Els Jocs Florals :
It means “Floral Games”. It is a cultural tradition involving competitions in poetry and prose. It was re-introduced to Barcelona in 1859. It has ancient Greek origins.

Modernisme :
Catalan word for Modernism, an art style that flourished in Europe between 1880 and 1915 (approximately). It had its outmost expression in Catalonia with the works of Gaudí, Cadafalch and others. It extended to painting (Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol), to decoration (Josep Maria Jujol) and to literature (through Rubén Darío).

Cause-Related Storytelling Walk in Cairo: Cairo Gate to Gate (Sep 5th)

Today I conducted a Storytelling Walk for Pen Temple Pilots and Discover the Moment communities, a cause-related walk that yielded 3,850 pounds in donations for the National Cancer Institute. Many thanks to all 70+ attendees.

From Bab Zuweila in the south to Bab al Fotouh and Bab al Nasr in the north (all from the XI century), it was a beautiful night in which we covered Historic Cairo from Gate to Gate. Bab Zuweila carries the name of a berber tribe that lived by the gate in Fatimid times, while Bab al Fotouh was the gate through which the army left for any battle. The army, upon returning victorious, would enter by Bab al Nasr. These gates were all built in the X century, but were reinforced and remodeled under Badr al-Din al-Gamali who came from Syria to help the Fatimid Caliph al-Mustansir squash the army’s rebellion. His arrival marker the beginning of a period marker by the power of the viziers.

Excursión Cultural en Tortosa: Amics dels Castells (Jul 25th)

Today I was invited by ‘Amics dels Castells i Nucli Antic de Tortosa’ to take part in the organization of the Day of the Medieval Castles of Tortosa (Tarragona). This is the first time that I guide a walk with 500 attendees! They had a loudspeaker prepared, good news for my vocal chords! Check it out at and watch videos of the event at:
http://amicsdelscastells.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

The program started at 8:00 pm with the tour that I gave at the Jewish Quarter (one of Spain’s most important ones), explaining its history and introducing the participants to the genius of a Jewish Andalusi intellectual from the city, named Menahem Ben Saruk.
Around 9:00 pm we climbed in groups up the city walls and the castle walls, each with a fire torch in his hand. We took our places along over 6 kilometres of Tortosa’s skyscape and, upon hearing a cannon shot, we lit all the torches (1000 torches), forming a human chain of fire torches that illuminated the medieval cityscape, simply unforgettable! (photos attached).
The fire caravan then descended into the city for a concert of traditional music, but I had already had my quota of excitement and exhaustion for one day!