Photos by Clara Cutbill
BARCELONA – They mark more than country, than a state. They are more than advertisements, or political positions, or platforms of good cheer.
The flags of Barcelona – the ones that hang everywhere on people’s terraces, or out their windows, or from lampposts and wrought-iron gates – are all of those things and more. Because flags here are an extension of how the people of Barcelona think, of how they live and want to live and how they expect others to live around them.
Just look at the Estelada flag that hangs from so many balconies. The official independence symbol of the region, it has four bold red stripes over brilliant yellow, and interrupted on the left by a five-pointed white star set inside a blue triangle. It is an instrument of protest. It tells the passerby that separation from state is in the hearts of the people who own it.
But the Estelada flag is not the only example of what waves on Barcelona’s balconies. Neighborhood flags like the ones in Barceloneta are mainstays too. To witness its blue half and yellow half, divided by a seal in the middle with the red and yellow stripes of Catalonia, is to see a testament to how people feel about outsiders. It used to simply represent the seaside neighborhood and its close-knit community, but has evolved to a message that says to tourists: Get out, keep away from our special space, stop ruining this neighborhood with your noise and trash and chaotic ways.
Whether it’s Estelada or Barceloneta or the colors of the mighty futbol team FC Barcelona, the presence of these and many other flags in this city are used to tell stories. Stories about people, and politics and life and loyalty. It’s worth listening to what they have to say.
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