Do you like watching films ‘al fresco’? I love it! It reminds me of Summers at the beach where the local open air cinema, with it’s uncomfortable chairs, would offer double sessions and people would gather, bocadillos and cushions under their arm to watch whatever good or crappy films were on. Well, I am happy to tell you that we have a similar thing here, in Barcelona, at the CCCB.
Here the chairs are just as uncomfortable (unless you come early enough to lay your hands on a lounge chair) but the films are carefully chosen and the entrance is free. Plus, it’s just around the corner from the Cute Suite, so there is really no excuse to not go! If you’re in town, I definitely recommend you include it in your activities, as it’s a very ‘local’ thing to do. Go on, check their programme here, and see if there is any film you’d like to see… Meanwhile, I’ll show you the gorgeous courtyard where the films are screened.
The CCCB, a fabulous arts centre that often has really good exhibits and interesting activities that are open to the public, is housed in what used to be an alms house and prior to that had been a seminary. It was beautifully restored and reopened as an arts centre in 1994. The history of this place is really interesting, so I suggest you read about it on their site, while I limit myself to showing you some images of the various parts it entails.
As you pass under the arched entrance with its multi-crested plaque into a passageway that leads to the Pati de les Dones (Women’s cloister), you will find the CCCB’s shop. Here you can find all kinds of good art books, as well as fun items that are great as a souvenir or as presents.
The Pati or courtyard, is a large one, surrounded on 3 sides by the original building, restored to its former glory. Hand-painted tiles in floral motifs and with popular sayings can be found at the lower end of the walls.
Saint George, on his slayed dragon presides the courtyard, above the arched passageway that leads to a garden that can be found at the back of the CCCB.
And on the 4th side of the courtyard, a glass structure that houses a foyer, escalator and lifts stands proud and reflects the gorgeous old structure in its glass panels. At the moment, the screen for ‘Gandules’ has been set up on this side.
In the image below, you can see, that the top part of the glass building is set at an angle. I’ll show you in a bit why this has been done…
Above the frieze of hand-painted tiles, the walls of the CCCB are beautifully detailed with sgraffito, and many windows have been mirrored to reflect the building as often as possible. Depending on the angle from which you look at one of these mirrored windows, you’ll see either a part of the building reflected…
… or another window, like on this image (above). Lovely, isn’t it?
On the seaward side of the courtyard a number of trees have been planted to provide shade for the marble bench that has been created along the whole length of a marble wall that separates the slope down to the entrance of the arts centre and the building itself.
Bouquets of flowers, such as the one above, together with other floral decorative elements, are dotted around the walls profusely, breaking up the white of the huge wall expanse and creating a calm environment.
At the moment, wooden chairs occupy the seaward half of the courtyard, ready for people to take a seat in the evening to watch whatever film is on for the Gandules festival. At the opposite end of the courtyard, canvas loungers are set up each evening, for those who come early enough to lay their hands on them. I wonder how early you have to get there to avoid a wooden bum???
Earlier I promised to show you why the glass structure had been built with the upper part at an angle, and show you I will. Above you can see how it reflects the opposite side of the older structure and its lovely terra cotta roof tiles, and a small part of the MACBA museum, which is just next door.
Below, you can see the really cool thing that is reflected in this part of the glass panes, which is the lower end of El Raval and if the light is right, and you are at the right spot, you can also see the sea! Don’t tell anyone, but the marble bench I mentioned earlier is the best spot from which to get the maximum view reflected in these glass panes. Pretty cool, eh?
You may have been curious to find out about where the passageway that Saint George presides leads to? Well, you’re about to find out. In this passageway is the entrance to the C3Bar – the cafeteria that belongs to the CCCB.
At the back of the building, occupying about half of the length of its pink, but otherwise plain, walls, you can find the terrace of the C3Bar. It is surrounded by potted plants and shaded by a handful of parasols…
… and is a lovely place to take a rest and hang out, removed from busy street life. The gardens enclosed by the CCCB and the adjacent MACBA and a couple of other buildings are a great place for kids to play while the grown-ups have a drink or a snack.
The CCCB, just as the alms house used to in its day, continues to grow, and so recently a nearby building (which can be accessed from Carrer Valldonzella) was renovated to house further lecture halls, storage spaces and space for other activities. Again quirky architectural elements have been incorporated into the building, such as the name CCCB (barely visible behind the trees on the image below) and reflective windows on the street side of the building (not shown here, but visible in my post Reflecting, specifically, on this photo). And so the CCCB upholds its inspirational character and continues to offer beauty to enjoy, art to see, cultural events to participate in… how lucky am I to live so close-by? Very!