Today is the marked as the infamous end of the world, the apocalypse supposedly predicted by the Mayans. I have my doubts and though my Christmas shopping may not have been completed yet, that’s down to my last minute approach rather than any feeling it would be wasted.
It is also the Chinese year of the Dragon, which runs until February 2013, so I’m anticipating the Chinese are more accurate than the Mayans.
Apart from the huge reptiles of the island of Komodo, dragons are mythical creatures. Unfortunately all the evidence suggests giant fire-breathing creatures have never existed. They still manage to stir the imagination however and who wouldn’t want to be able to boast they were born in the year of the dragon? Surely additional birthday kudos.
It is possible to see dragons however, they appear in the architecture of many buildings throughout the world. Barcelona, the Catalan capital city in particular has an association with these ferocious creatures of myth.
There is also an association with St George who according to legend was the slayer of a dragon. His motive like any chivalrous gentleman was rushing to the aid of a damsel in distress. It seems he has most of us trumped in the ways to win a girl stakes.
The city even named it’s former American football team the “Barcelona Dragons” which has now been adopted by a French rugby side; the “Catalans Dragons”. It seems natural that a sports team would want to be associated with dragons. Their reputation for ferocity can be inspiring and the supporters must love cheering on their dragons.
Look carefully on a city tour and amongst the impressive architecture and it won’t be long before a few dragons are spotted. Even by one of Barcelona’s most famous ‘sons’ Gaudi, although not born there he has surely been adopted by the Catalans and his name is synonymous with the city. He included many gothic features in his work and often slipped the odd dragon in where he could.
There is even a castle; the Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the Three Dragons) which was originally built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a restaurant for the 1888 Universal Exposition. Now it houses the Natural History Museum and is included in the Barcelona Modernisme Route.
Architecture is a huge part of the Barcelona experience and there are many ornate and grand dragon designs throughout the city. I found spotting the less visible, the almost hidden ones like these more fun.
Let’s hope you’re reading this beyond the 21st December 2012 and the Year of the Dragon doesn’t come to an abrupt end. It’s especially important to me apart from finishing the Christmas shopping, my beloved Blackpool are playing this evening.