Spain's Catalonia: A Multi-Part Journey with Mark Planellas Witzsch

Spain's Catalonia: A Multi-Part Journey with Mark Planellas Witzsch


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Join Mark Planellas Witzsch, an expert on Catalonian history, on a multi-part virtual journey through Catalonia, a region of spectacular riches, stunning beauty, and fascinating history. We’ll cover 2,500 years of history, from the Greeks and Romans to the Visigoths, Islam, the Christian Reconquest, the Middle Ages, and all the way to modern art and architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth century. With a bit of culture, a bit of art history, plenty of architecture, and some solid history thrown in for good measure, we’ll approach this region in a detailed and well-rounded approach. From Barcelona to the Pyrenees, from Gaudi to Dali, this exciting journey is a welcome introduction to a breathtaking corner of the world.

We will hit all the highlights of one of the best-known areas of Spain: Catalonia and Barcelona. We will visit the capital, Barcelona, the Jewish towns and Girona, the North (former artistic playground of Salvador Dali), the Mediterranean’s Costa Brava cliffs, the Roman imperial town of Tarragona, UNESCO World Heritage chapels in the Pyrenees, as well as the sites of the most important battles of the Spanish Civil War.

Led by Mark Planellas Witzsch, an expert on the area and longtime resident of the region, this journey will explore the many attractions of Spain’s Catalonia. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the region and its historic and natural sites.

 

Lecture 1: Barcelona–From Gaudi to Miro

Our first lecture will cover Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. Barcelona offers an immense cultural heritage, however, its main legacy is the art and architecture in the second half of the nineteenth and the twentieth century. We’ll cover the architecture and urbanism of 1900, mainly Antoni Gaudi and other art nouveau artists, and visual arts, especially the universally known Joan Miro and the Miro Foundation.

Lecture 2: Medieval Girona and Jewish Catalonia

In our second lecture, we will discuss the Jewish heritage in Catalonia and the meaning of today’s Judaism, from Talmudic studies to the Kabbalah. We’ll explore this heritage through the Northern towns of Girona and Besalu. The former is known for its medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter, and Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress. The latter is home to arguably the best-preserved medieval mikvah in Europe.

Lecture 3: Northern Catalonia and Salvador Dali

This portion of our journey will focus on the spectacular medieval heritage at the Costa Brava or “Wild coast” and its influence on artists. Salvador Dali was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. We’ll explore the main legacy of this surrealist artist, the Dali Museum in Figueres, and the geography that inspired his work. We’ll emerge with a fuller understanding of Dali’s role within the surrealist group.

Lecture 4: Tarragona–Ancient Roman Ruins and the Spanish Civil War

Tarragona, (or “Tarraco” during Roman times) is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its well preserved 2,000-year-old architecture. We’ll visit its amphitheater, Roman Forum, and ancient walls in order to understand its significance within Roman history. Not far away, a bit further South, we’ll explore and discover the Ebro River and discuss the history of one of the largest battles of the Spanish Civil War.

Lecture 5: Andorra and the Pyrenees

The final section of our journey will lead us to Northwest Catalonia and Andorra, a microstate surrounded by the autonomy of Catalonia. Its culture and language are Catalan, so we’ll dive into this microcosm that represents the essence of the culture of the Pyrenees. We’ll travel through the valleys and eleventh-century churches that have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and we’ll admire the best-preserved collection of Romanesque frescoes worldwide.

Mark Planellas Witzsch is active in several areas in the cultural field and taught philosophy of art and avant-gardes of the twentieth century at university, focusing on universally well-known Catalan artists such as Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. Catalonia being a part of Spain that has historically defended democracy and the ideals of the republic, the vast majority of its artists were committed to those Civil values and reflected it in their art. This led Mark Planellas to dive into some related topics, such as propaganda in the twentieth century, thus publishing books on the subject, such as “Jaume Miravitlles. El somriure de Catalunya”, which explains the history of the first modern propaganda ministry ever created, in the context of the Spanish Civil War.

 

How does it work?

This is a five-part journey series held on consecutive days and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A. In the two-day intensive, each session is 4 hours with a short pause to break up the time as well as for interspersed Q&A.

How much is the journey?

$175 for five 90-minute or two 4-hour lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our journeys are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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