5 NOVEMBER 1927, Page 12


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—The keynote to Barcelona is found in the up-to-date electric railway, whose steel cars speed day and night between the suburbs and the heart of the city. Barcelona, the most flourishing commercial centre of Spain, intends to be modern, and this railway, seconded by the new underground service, is the inevitable protest against the indifferent speed of the bad tramway service. Other important construction schemes are under consideration, and the difficult problem of clearing the slums is being given due attention.

Except in the comparatively small slum area, all the streets are shaded by .a double row of trees. The public lighting, both in the city and country districts, is unsur- passed by any in Europe, thanks to the highly developed hydro-electric resources of the Ebro river tributaries.

Bounded by rivers on two of its landward limits, Barcelona is inevitably extending directly inland up the lower slopes of the Tibidabo Mountain, where the many beautiful villas, built in unconventional styles, testify to the prosperity of the residents. This most attractive part of the city is not yet served by any railway, but the motor-car has helped largely in settling the problem of transport. On the superb central boulevard of the city itself the triumph of the American motor industry is brought home to one indisputably during the daily fashionable promenade.

The large number of foreigners and the widespread use of Catalan, which here is never called a dialect, make it difficult to believe that this is really Spain. Theatres; newspapers, and the novelist reach their public through the medium of the two, languages, Castilian and Catalan. The Sardanas—the folk dances of Cataluna—are still as popular in the city as in the country districts. Sometimes families drive up in their car and girls join bare-headed in the Sardana circle—a twentieth-century democracy hand-in-hand with hard-dying tradition.—I am, Sir, &c., YOUR BARCELONA CORRESPONDENT.