Virtual Barcelona – District 1, El Call

November 28, 2012

El Call rhymes with “sky” and is both the name of a street as well as being the general name for the Jewish Juderia or ghetto (the latter being an Italian word from the Jewish quarter of Venice). Jews of Barcelona contributed to law and the arts and while free during the day were routinely locked up at night. Immediately to the south of the Placa de St Jaime, St Eulalia Cathedral and the Medieval (and contemporary) secular seats of power were two tiny areas of tall buildings and dark, narrow lanes, one called the Big Jewish Quarter and another called the Small. Convivencia or happily living together with Moslems and Christians was okay for a long time but Jews suffered increasing restrictions on their power, human rights and their physical movements from the 12th century onwards. Of course, all Jews were eventually expelled from Spain in 1492. Today, Barcelona’s Jews live elsewhere in the main, with synagogues elsewhere, but the historic Jewish presence in the Barrio Gotico has been under scrutiny lately and one can now visit an underground former Synagogue. A prominent Jewish centre was the town of Girona, some 15kms outside Barcelona.

In terms of urban sketching, El Call proffers opportunities for stark tonal work. The scan hasn’t picked up any of the subtlety of colour from pastel pencils over Pilot Varsity (purple ink) over watercolour wash. I’ll include more realistic tonal thumbnails on the page opposite: all these sketches are done on the right-hand page, with the left-hand page free for maps, information, thumbnails and other contextual material.


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