When I picked heritage and cultural identity as the topic for my travel blog, I had a rough idea of where this topic could take me.
While heritage is mostly self-explanatory, I wanted to not only tie it to the world heritage sites, but to explore people’s personal heritage as well. Cultural identity is the feeling of belonging to a certain group and can be related to nationality, religion, ethnicity, social class, age group or social group that has its own distinct culture.
Barcelona fully aligned with my topic.
Ever since arriving in the city,I saw people all over wearing Catalan flags with added single star as capes and bandanas. I did not think about it any deeper until the moment I was returning back to the hostel at the end of the day and found hundreds, if not thousands of them, standing around various fires they put up in the middle of intersections, shouting Spanish phrases from one end to the other.
I am not here to talk politics and judge who is right and who is wrong — I am not Spanish and feel no right to do that. But I am intrigued as there is a part of Spain which cultural identity does not align with the rest of the country. Catalonia was an independent country back in the day, with its own language and government, forcibly attached to Spain while given a degree of autonomy after years of fights in an attempt to destroy Catalan autonomy.
While Catalonia is fighting for its own heritage, my thoughts are on the damages all around the city. Just from what I saw, there have been more trash left behind after the protests, more street fires, burned communal waste containers, bike racks torn out of the ground and cars set on fire, some of them leaving permanent marks on the city.
For a place as historical and important as Barcelona, it is a shame that its residents are damaging the very city they are fighting to gain autonomy for, essentially destroying ground underneath their own feet. While fully recognizing their right and freedom to protest, but would it be possible without violence and destruction? Is the heritage of the people more important than the heritage of the city?
While Barcelona is not part of the Organization of World Heritage Cities right now, it doesn’t mean it could not become part of it in the future, for it has all that’s needed for it.
The important question is — what kind of Barcelona will future generations inherit, if such damages will keep going on? How long will it take before the actual heritage sites experience damages and what can we do to prevent it?