'The torches of the Pyrenees', UNESCO element of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

December 1, 2015 11:07 PM | ACN / Sara Prim

Although the candidature was presented by the Andorran government, there are Catalan, Spanish and French villages amongst the 63 municipalities from the Pyrenees which share the celebration of this festival. In fact its transversal nature was one of the most valuable points of the candidature, according to UNESCO's committee. On the night of the summer solstice, people carry flaming torches from the mountains to light traditionally constructed beacons. The descent is a special moment for young people, signifying the transition from adolescence to adulthood but also a time for regenerating social ties and strengthening feelings of belonging and identity. In 2010 UNESCO recognised another Catalan tradition, Catalan human towers, as one of the most genuine and unique cultural practices in Europe.

Sant Joan's Eve sets Barcelona ablaze with energy

June 23, 2015 07:48 PM | Kyle Brown

Every year the sounds of fireworks popping and crackling perforate the air in Catalonia in the days leading up to Sant Joan's Eve (Nit de Sant Joan). The yearly festival culminates in a massive party on the night of 23 June, when locals celebrate the holiday by setting off mass amounts of fireworks and igniting bonfires, known in Catalan as 'fogueres'. At midnight, there is a spectacular fireworks display, marking the climax of the celebration. The bonfires of Sant Joan have special meaning for Catalan-speaking regions, and the festival is considered a Catalan national holiday. The tradition as it exists today traces its roots back to pagan rituals and coincides with the summer solstice, marking the beginning of the summer.

Relatives of Germanwings flight victims receive assistance at Barcelona El Prat Airport

March 24, 2015 10:35 PM | ACN

Barcelona El Prat has been the main centre in Catalonia for assisting the relatives of the passengers flying on the Germanwings aircraft between the Catalan airport and Düsseldorf that crashed in the Alps this morning. 150 people were on board and, most likely, there will not be any survivors, according to French authorities. Teams of psychologists, social workers and first responders, from the Catalan Government, the Red Cross and professional associations have been deployed at Terminal 2. Lufthansa, the owner of Germanwings, attended more than 150 relatives and booked nearby hotels to host them during the upcoming days. The flight was regularly used by Germans working in Catalonia as well as by tourists. A group of 16 German high school students was on board, after spending an exchange week in the Greater Barcelona area. At least 31 Catalans were also travelling to Düsseldorf on this flight, many of them to attend a trade fair. Catalan authorities have declared 3 official days of mourning.

Severe floods in the north-western Catalan Pyrenees

June 19, 2013 12:44 AM | CNA

The ice melting from the mountain tops and the heavy rain episodes of the last 24 hours have caused flooding of the Garonne, Noguera Pallaresa, Noguera de Cardós and other rivers in the mountain counties of the Val d’Aran, Pallars Sobirà, Alta Ribagorça and north of Pallars Jussà. More than 300 people have been evacuated from their homes in flooded or at risk areas. No victims or missing people have been reported, but material damage is considerable. Bridges have been swallowed by the waters and some roads have partially collapsed since the land beneath them has been swept away by the flood. Road access to the Val d’Aran County was closed as a precaution. Rain is expected to continue during the night and the reservoirs are overflowing because they have reached their maximum capacity.

Firefighters from Catalonia will train their counterparts in Ireland, France and Wales

August 2, 2012 11:00 PM | CNA / David Tuxworth

Firefighters from Catalonia will be sharing their knowledge and experience of different types of fire. Catalan firefighters have experience with various kinds of fire because of Catalonia’s geographic diversity. The organisers of the bespoke courses designed for the varied conditions in Ireland, France and Wales, have stated that the accumulated experience “should not just remain in Catalonia but be taught internationally”.

Alt Empordà fires "reasonably stable" after conditions for tackling the blaze improve

July 24, 2012 10:03 PM | CNA

Catalan interior minister Felip Puig said that weather conditions have improved for dealing with the fires in the Alt Empordà region, saying this morning that he was “reasonably optimistic” that the it would be under control this Tuesday. The fires are currently in a reasonably stable state. The blaze was started on Sunday by a discarded cigarette butt, affecting an area of 13.000 hectares. Weather conditions were favourable for tackling the blaze and remained so for much of Tuesday.

Death toll in wildfires in Catalonia rises to four

July 23, 2012 01:32 PM | CNA

The death toll of the devastating wildfires in the Alt Empordà region, in north-east Catalonia, has risen to four this Monday, after a 64 year-old Frenchman died in hospital from his burns. He suffered 80% burns to his body. A father and daughter died on Sunday after jumping off a cliff to escape the flames in Portbou. A third man died of a heart attack in the small town of Llers. Eight injured people were admitted in hospitals in Catalonia. Six of them are in a critical condition, according to the Health Department. In total, forty-seven people have been treated for injures during the fires, although only eight remain in hospital.

Three killed in Catalonia wildfires

July 23, 2012 03:01 AM | CNA

All inhabitants in Alt Empordà, North-East Catalonia, are told to stay at home as forest fire rages out of control. A man and his daughter were killed in Portbou after jumping off a cliff to escape the flames. A third person died of a heart attack. Main roads and train lines in the area, including connections to southern France, have been cut off. Strong winds of up to 90 km/h have fanned the blaze, which started in the town of La Jonquera, near the border with France. There are already 13.000 hectares affected.

Sagrada Família’s rehabilitation and cleanup due to small fire in crypt to last five or six days

April 21, 2011 07:42 PM | CNA / Lluís Vilaró

Barcelona’s famous church designed by Antoni Gaudí was attacked on Tuesday morning by a mentally-ill person, who set fire to the crypt's sacristy. No people were injured and the 1,500 people in the church at the time were evacuated immediately for safety reasons. There are no structural damages and in less than a week the area will be completely restored. Security will be strengthened.