granada la bella
where anything is possible
LA GRAN VIA DE COLON
Angel Ganivet's “dark side” of Granada
One place where Angel Ganivet's idea of the dark side of Granada - Granada la bestia - in reference to the architectural and urbanistic atrocities committed against the old Moorish aesthetics of the city is most apparent is in the construction of the Gran Vía de Colón. Angel Ganivet was a coherent critic of the barbaric disregard city planners had for what he called the invaluable historic memory of the old city and the Gran Vía epitomises this barbarism. As the leading figure in the contemporary cultural scene in Granada at the end of the century he had a huge influence on Lorca's generation.
Above left: This is where the Gran Vía ends, at the Plaza Isabela la Católica, with the massive Banco Santander bulding blocking its further passage towards Realejo. Above centre and left: the façade of the Hotel AC Palacio de Santa Paula, incorporating the old convent of Santa Paula.
Below we have three of the modern streetlights made in a style that pays respect to the old tradition of lighting streets and public spaces in Granada.
“La Gran Vía del Azúcar”
Ganivet's were prophetic words with reference to the Gran Vía. For just as he was putting his concerns into literary form, the bourgeoisie of Granada, buoyed by the early indications of a boom in the local sugar industry, began to assume a more prominent social and economic role on a par with the bourgeoisies of other Spanish and European cities. And what better way to demonstrate their new status than by building a boulevard along the lines of Baron Hausmann's Paris? The construction of the Gran Vía of Granada swept away the old Moorish neighbourhood along with a number of irreplaceable buildings and a good part of the history of the city itself. But this did not bother the sugar bourgeoisie. Demolition started in 1895 and by 1901 the first house in the proud new city artery, sarcastically dubbed La Gran Vía del Azúcar, had been erected.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, the Gran Vía became a fashionable residential area for this new bourgeoisie. As if acknowledging his own social status, Lorca's father brought his family to live here, at nº34, for a year in 1916, opposite the convent of Santa Paula. We can suppose that Lorca's liberal-minded father didn't feel at his ease in this ambient, among one the worst bourgeoisies of Spain, as Lorca was to call it in an interview in 1936, only a few months before he was murdered at the hands of this same class that he despised.
It is, incidentally, symptomatic of the provinciality of the local bourgeoisie that the street's most prestigeous building, which today houses the Caja Rural, is the exact copy of a Parisian original. This is a far cry from the flamboyant and adventurous avant-garde architecture that Gaudí was designing in harmony with the euphoria of the dynamic Barcelona entrepreneuring classes.
Gran Vía: 20 July 1936.
It was along this arid street that the Franco-led rebels marched into the city centre after having taken control of the city's garrison on a hot summer afternoon on 20 July, 1936. One resident, F. Pérez de Sevilla y Ayala, who lived at nº 46, described the jubilation that broke out when they saw the troops approach. One can easily imagine the relief they felt reading his account of the events.
"From mid-afternoon, Saturday, July 18th, until the same time on Monday, 20th, Granada suffered two whole days of anxiety that surpassed in intensity any that had gone before. There was a coin in the air, and there was no knowing which way it was going to land. The door to our flat was bolted and we took turns to stand guard, armed with a pistol and a revolver. It was said that the miners of Alquife were coming to Granada to blow up the Gran Vía, whose buildings, to the revolutionaries, stood for the bourgeois way of life in the city."
This day which brought such relief to the residents of the Gran Vía marked the beginning of a calvary, of course, for Lorca and thousands of other liberal-minded citizens of Granada.
Granada la Bestia. Two links:
GRANADA LA BESTIA 1 The Lorca Centre's missing millions : The sad and somewaht sordid saga of the painful and slow genesis of Granada’s Lorca Centre
GRANADA LA BESTIA 2 The missing corpse : The long and fruitless search for Granada’s universal poet’s mortal remains