Aug 052015
 
ESPAÑA THEN AND NOW

If you are interested in Spain and love photography – perhaps I can recommend a new book by internationally acclaimed (and award winning) photographer, Jurgen Schadeberg.  His new book España Then and Now is a superb record of Spain from the 1970s to today.  It has a range of fabulous photographs, which document the development of Spain from before the Transition to 2014. Jurgen Schadeberg, as you may know is one of the world’s top […]

Sep 262012
 
The amazing story of Spain from dictatorship to democracy (Part 5 of 5)

AWAITING THE TEMPEST (Spain from dictatorship to democracy) Part 5 The aftermath… On the 20th November 1975 General Franco died in La Paz hospital, Madrid.  He was 82 and had long outlived Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, his contemporary dictators.  He had also managed to die in bed surrounded by physicians, after a long life, something that he had so cruelly denied many Spaniards during his 36 years of power. Right to the end of his […]

Sep 222012
 
The amazing story of Spain from dictatorship to democracy (Part 4 of 5)

AWAITING THE TEMPEST (Spain from dictatorship to democracy) Part 4 Imagine it is the early 1970s and you are in Spain… Fiestas may not be emblematic of Spain but they do spring to some people’s minds when the country is mentioned.  They occur annually everywhere in Spain, in every town and village, last several days and take a bewildering multitude of forms, some of which are very bizarre.  However, most have a religious basis, and […]

Sep 192012
 
The amazing story of Spain from dictatorship to democracy (Part 3 of 5)

AWAITING THE TEMPEST Part 3 Imagine it is the early 1970s and you are in Spain… Needless to say, the building boom has had an extraordinary affect upon the demographics of Spain. In fact, since 1960, well over a million Spaniards have left the countryside for the towns and coast.  This has been encouraged by Franco after his adoption of conventional economics and his issue of the Stabilisation Plan of 1959.  This explicitly recognised that […]

Sep 172012
 
The amazing story of Spain from dictatorship to democracy (Part 2 of 5)

AWAITING THE TEMPEST (Spain from dictatorship to democracy) Part 2 Imagine it is the early 1970s and you are in Spain… Of course, in some ways, life is better than it has ever been in Spain.  There is negligible crime, the economy is undergoing miraculous growth and there is more money in the country than ever before, which is producing a burgeoning middle class.  This is an extraordinary phenomenon within a traditionally impoverished state, noted […]

Sep 152012
 
The amazing story of Spain from dictatorship to democracy (Part 1 of 5)

AWAITING THE TEMPEST Part 1 Imagine it is the early 1970s and you are in Spain, with the country still firmly in the grip of General Franco (El Caudillo).  He is in his late 70s (he was born in 1892) and has held absolute power for the past thirty plus years, since the end of the brutal Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Over 500,000 Spaniards were killed during the Civil War and memories of it are […]

Sep 032012
 
Bikinis in Spain, a bit over the top

Recently I have been researching the history of Spain during the Franco era for a book that I have been commissioned to write and I came across a rather beguiling story concerning bikinis in Spain – a subject, no doubt, on many people’s minds! Firstly, did you know that bikinis were probably first worn by the Romans and that mosaics show women wearing them around the first centuries after the birth of Christ? This is […]

Mar 202012
 
Big Bang, the birth of modern Spain

On the second day of January 1492, Boabdil, the last Moorish ruler in Spain, reluctantly handed over the keys of Granada and the beautiful Alhambra palace to the Christian monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.   This was the catalyst for an extraordinary time.  By the end of the year, Christopher Columbus had discovered the Americas for Spain and, within thirty years, Spain had unexpectedly exploded, like a meteor, onto the international scene to become the […]

Mar 062012
 
All the King's Men, the transition to democracy in Spain

Imagine living in one of the most backward countries in Western Europe – a country ruled by the longest serving fascist dictator of the twentieth century, who had murdered and oppressed countless people after one of the most brutal civil wars in modern Europe.  Think what it must be like to be in a country where you are not allowed to speak your provincial dialect and where the police are a fearsome para-military force, the […]

Mar 022012
 
What did the Moors do for us? a history of the Moors in Spain

One of the curiosities of Spain is the seeming denial by the Spanish of the past existence of the Moors in Spain. Certainly, much is made of the ‘heroic’ Christian Reconquista, but rarely is the Moorish invasion of Spain looked upon as having provided any intrinsic benefit.  In fact, apart from a few scintillating buildings, such as the Alhambra and the Cordoba Mezquita, it would be easy to imagine that, during their 780 years presence, […]

Jan 202012
 
The origins of the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 was a conflict notable for its brutality and for the way it savagely divided Spain.  It resulted, of course, in General Franco’s long dictatorship (which only ended in 1975) and was a defining moment for Spain – the results of which can be felt even now. However, the Civil War in Spain was also notorious for being incredibly ‘messy’ politically – so much so that understanding what was happening can […]

Jan 112012
 
Great books about Spain, 'The Spanish Temper'

As an Anglo-Spaniard with a long history of living and working in Spain on and off over the last 40 years, I was keen to read this recently re-published book of Pritchett’s views and opinions about Spain and its people based on the 4 years he spent in Spain in the 1920s and subsequent visits in the 1940s and 50s. Pritchett follows in the footsteps of other foreign travellers, such as Borrow, Ford, Maugham, Sanford […]