Catalan culture to enjoy while in quarantine

As the covid-19 coronavirus crisis shuts down society, Catalan News offers this selection of activities to keep yourself entertained

The view of Gaudí's famous Casa Batlló from the virtual tour (by Casa Batlló)
The view of Gaudí's famous Casa Batlló from the virtual tour (by Casa Batlló) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 18, 2020 12:27 PM

With a deadly, highly-contagious virus spreading exponentially, terrifying figures rising each day, and a state of alarm declared in all of Spain leaving almost the entire population confined to their homes, the world is looking for new and alternative plans in order to pass by the hours and days. 

Catalan News has come up with some new ideas, each with a Catalan focus, for how you can pass your days in confinement, from enjoying concerts, visiting Gaudí monuments, and discovering the rich world of Catalan literature. 

Virtual museums at home

These uncertain times have meant that museums too have had to shut their doors for an indefinite period of time. Not only is this bad news for the company, foundation, or body behind the museum, but it also cuts off access to culture to citizens too. 

With this in mind, many museums all over Catalonia have started new initiatives to offer people stuck in their homes a way of keeping themselves, and perhaps bored students also under their roof, entertained. The hashtag #MuseusACasa (#MuseumsAtHome) is being used by many centers offering various types of content via their online platforms. 

For example, the Picasso Museum is offering online seminars discussing the work of the great cubist painter, Barcelona’s Contemporary Culture Center are holding debates streamed online rather than in-person as they normally do, while Barcelona’s Contemporary Art Museum are publishing a daily diary from home confinement so that “art will be with you.” 

Elsewhere, the social media accounts of Vic’s Episcopal Museum are offering a fantastic selection of content.

Gaudí route online

No doubt many tourists were left disappointed either already in Catalonia when the current covid-19 crisis broke out, or else had trips booked, and missed out on their opportunities to see some of Antoni Gaudí’s magnificent works first hand. 

However, the good news is that many of these monuments and buildings are available to visit virtually through their websites. 

The Sagrada Família, the famous unfinished crown jewel in the back catalogue of the legendary architect, as well as Casa Batlló, another of Gaudí’s gems, and Casa Milà, which adornes the fabulous Passeig de Gràcia alongside Casa Batlló, are all offering virtual tours, giving everyone the chance to see their beauty.

Cuarentena Fest

With practically all cultural activity suspended, this is a blow to concert goers just as much as it is to those who enjoy performing at gigs. Musicians are suffering without their output just as much as fans are suffering deprived of their live music experiences. 

This is why a group of local Catalan and Spanish artists have come together to put on a brand new festival - but a festival with a twist. The “Cuarentena Fest” - or ‘Quarantine Fest’ in English - is one that is to be performed and enjoyed in homes all across the world. Musicians playing from their creative bases, in most circumstances, their bedrooms, and fans tuning in streaming online in their own homes, with everyone in quarantine

The initiative kicked off on Monday night and is due to last at least until Friday, March 27. Also, building a sense of community and connection with other human beings, meeting others online and enjoying the concerts with like-minded people, in these strange times is almost as important as the culture being offered and consumed. 

Catalan TV series

One industry likely to thrive during the home-confinement era is over-the-top media services. Whoever doesn’t have an account to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO etc. may well be more strongly considering making a purchase now compared to last month, as the population are isolated in their homes with limited options to keep themselves busy or keep their minds off the news. 

For that reason, there’s no better time to discover the talent-packed world of Catalan television. The series Merlí, about a high school philosophy teacher who gives his lessons in unusual methods, has become a worldwide sensation after first being released by the Catalan public broadcaster in 2015. Welcome To The Family (Benvolguts a la família) is another critically acclaimed dark comedy. Both are available on Netflix. 

Elsewhere, check out Les de l'Hoquei, Cites, and Si no t'hagués conegut. 

Book recommendations 

Everybody has a list of books that they’ve always wanted to get around. Some of us even have a whole library of books purchased years ago with great intentions and gathering dust with terrible commitment. 

But on the off chance you’re unsure on what to read during your elongated stay at home, perhaps some of these Catalan-linked recommendations could help you decide. 

Did you know that English author George Orwell fought in the Spanish civil war? He, along with many other internationals, took up arms against fascist dictator Francisco Franco and fought along with the Republicans. He wrote about his experiences in ‘Homage To Catalonia,’ and nowadays has a square in central Barcelona named after him. 

As for authors from these shores, Caterina Albert, perhaps best known for writing under her pseudonym Victor Català, is a perfect starting off point. Her early 20th century novel ‘Solitud’ (‘Solitude’), telling the story of a young woman’s struggles to assert her independence, has been recognised as one of the most important feminist novels of the era. 

For a more contemporary flavour, Quim Monzó has become one of the most important voices in the Catalan literary scene of late. His book ‘The Enormity of the Tragedy’ has a title that could give anyone a moment’s pause to consider the current state of affairs across the country, and indeed, world, but nevertheless remains a modern great, telling a tale of urban tragedy in a manner than can make the reader cackle with laughter from its wit and pace. 

Of course, many people won’t have these books at home, but delivery services are still available for online purchases. 

Further ideas and resources 

Movistar+ Lite are offering eight channels free for everybody until April 30, as part of their trial.

The Hearst group are offering all of their magazine collection for free during this time, including Cosmopolitan, Mi Casa, and Esquire. 

For theatre lovers, there’s a huge range of classic Spanish theatre available to watch free on the Teatroteca website. 

Game designers Perro Loko are offering their board game Dirty Fridge as a free download.