From pirates’ hideout to Dalí’s bolthole: Cadaqués, star of Spain’s Costa Brava | Spain holidays






Cadaqués is a little bit of a tease. It’s essentially the most inaccessible city on Catalonia’s Costa Brava but additionally its most seductively stunning. Put the 2 collectively and you’ll see the way it’s pulled off the trick of sustaining an air of a occurring place the place nothing occurs, a spot approach off the crushed monitor that may be a magnet for celebrities.

Nevertheless, the gorgeous Mediterranean location belies a tricky historical past. The character of the Cadaquesencs, because the locals are recognized, has been cast by piracy, contraband, isolation, dangerous luck and the Tramuntana, the maddening north wind.

The fates haven’t been variety to the individuals of Cadaqués. For hundreds of years, in between being kidnapped by pirates, they made wine, however then the phylloxera epidemic within the late nineteenth century destroyed the vines. Undaunted, they replanted with olives however the timber have been killed off by a freak frost in 1956.

After that, Cadaquesencs went into the tourism enterprise, spurred on by their most well-known son, Salvador Dalí, whose presence within the city attracted a roll name of artists and celebrities over time, amongst them David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Picasso, Federico García Lorca, Mick Jagger, Sting and Shakira.

Gala and Salvador Dalí with, centre, Marcel Duchamp in the Bar Melitón Cadaqués in 1962.
Gala and Salvador Dalí with, centre, Marcel Duchamp within the Bar Melitón Cadaqués in 1962. {Photograph}: Courtesy of Sarah Davison

Enterprise was booming till the gods as soon as extra put the Cadaquesenc character to the take a look at with Covid-19. This newest blow merely bolstered the native perception that, when catastrophe strikes, the one individual you’ll be able to depend on is a fellow Cadaquesenc, which has given rise to the city’s motto, Nos amb nos (Us with us).

Us With Us is the title of a ebook revealed in 2020 by the Barcelona-based author Ryan Chandler. Half diary, half historical past, half travelogue, the quirky, offbeat method of Us With Us is completely suited to its topic, a mixture of anecdote, reflection, poetry and even the odd overview impressed by TripAdvisor that mix to color an affectionate and amusing portrait of a spot the writer describes as “fairly close to good”.

Much less a guidebook than a information, studying Us With Us is like having somebody take you gently by the elbow and say: “You see that over there? Effectively, there’s a narrative that goes with it.”

A view of Cadaqués by Javier Aznarez
A view of Cadaqués by celebrated native artist Javier Aznarez. {Photograph}: Javier Aznarez

The ebook is illustrated by native artist Javier Aznarez, who labored on The French Dispatch, the latest Wes Anderson film.

Chandler quotes the Seventeenth-century chronicler Jeroni Pujade, who describes the individuals of Cadaqués as “essentially the most villainous and uncouth individuals on the entire coast”. Pujades summed up the native mentality as “we don’t need you and we don’t need to be wished”, a precursor, maybe, of the Millwall soccer supporters’ chant, “Nobody likes us, we don’t care.”

As there is just one highway in and one highway out and little area to park, in summer season the police typically declare the place full and switch individuals away on the sting of city. After all, they may cease them earlier than they start the tortuous nine-mile (15km) drive over the mountain from Roses, however they don’t.

Earlier than the highway was constructed within the late nineteenth century, Cadaqués was solely accessible by sea and it was stricken by piracy. Raiders would come and carry off plenty of villagers after which demand ransom from the monasteries that relied on these native individuals to do the heavy lifting whereas the monks focused on God’s work.

Miguel de Cervantes, writer of Don Quixote, was kidnapped by pirates close to the city and was held in Algiers for 5 years earlier than a monastic order stumped up the ransom. His kidnapper was Dalí Mami. “In a typical piece of fictional hocus pocus, [Salvador] Dalí claimed to have been a direct descendant of this well-known pirate,” Chandler writes.

Cadaqués lives off Dalí the best way Stratford-upon-Avon lives off Shakespeare, however not in a cheesy approach. Not like Barcelona, which bulges with Gaudí souvenirs, the customer to Cadaqués isn’t plied with Dalí ashtrays and aprons. Actually, in distinction to most of Spain’s Mediterranean coast, it’s hardly cheesy in any respect.

Dalí is omnipresent although. Each bar the place he supped his beloved pink champagne shows image. In L’Hostal, now a restaurant however as soon as a favorite celeb hangout with a wild boho fame, footage of Gala and Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp dangle beside images of Keith Richards, Sting and Shakira. It was right here that Dalí as soon as allegedly cajoled Jagger – some consider it was Richards – into an impromptu efficiency of Satisfaction.

Photos and a plaque saying this is where Marcel Duchamp played chess, Bar Melitón Cadaqués.
Photographs and a plaque saying that is the place Marcel Duchamp performed chess, Bar Melitón Cadaqués. {Photograph}: Sarah Davison

There are extra images close by within the Bar Melitón, and a plaque on the wall above the desk the place Duchamp preferred to play chess. However Cadaqués isn’t content material to dwell off Dalí’s picture; it encourages artwork and artists, round 60 of whom dwell and work within the small city.

There are quite a few galleries selling the work of native and worldwide artists, together with the Galeria Cadaqués the place Hamilton and Dieter Roth famously mounted what is taken into account the primary exhibition to incorporate a piece particularly for canines.

Within the outdated city, the place the steep and slim streets are paved with jagged slabs of schist, laid edge on in order that the donkeys don’t slip, individuals fee artists to color one thing on their home, utilizing as a canvas the small, steel electrical energy meter cowl.

“What attracts artists isn’t simply the sunshine however the minerality, which is a mix of sunshine and stone and water that creates a mix of colors which is exclusive, and also you see that within the artwork produced right here,” Chandler says.

The mixture of this minerality with the bizarre mild and cloud formations produced by the Tramuntana reveal that what we take as surreal was typically Dalí simply portray what he noticed.

By the way, the identify Cadaqués most likely comes from càdec, (juniper), which grows abundantly across the city and on close by Cap de Creus. Not like Menorca, the place British colonists taught the locals why God created juniper, there is no such thing as a Cadaquesenc number of gin.

Rich Catalans staked their declare on Cadaqués centuries in the past, however it wasn’t till the mid-Twentieth century that the Catalan bourgeoisie actually set its eyes on the place and started to go to and purchase up property. The city retains one thing of its hippy air, although as of late it’s extra crumpled linen than tie-dye T-shirts and, finally, wealth has inoculated the place in opposition to tack.

“In the event that they haven’t offered out to tourism – and also you received’t discover a menu with footage of bacon and eggs – it’s partly as a result of the Catalan bourgeoisie and the individuals who have been coming right here for the reason that Fifties need to hold it the best way it’s,” says Chandler.

Along with the locals, there are the brand new Cadaquesencs, individuals from Bolivia and Ecuador and elsewhere in Spain who work within the bars and eating places. Or they did, till Covid shut the whole lot down and put them out of labor in 2020. The stoic spirit of the place has proved as contagious because the virus: they usually too have shrugged off misfortune to face one other day. Us with us.

Us With Us by Ryan Chandler is revealed by Barcelona Ink Books

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