May 28, 2012

0228 SPAIN (Catalonia) - 28 inhabitants and a 12 centuries-old church

The most beautiful holiday of my life I spent it in Catalonia, so whenever I hear something about this region my heart leaps glad. This happened when I received this postcard. The church of the image is located in El Pont de Bar - a municipality in the comarca (county) Alt Urgell - which now has only 197 inhabitants. The municipality was formed in 1970 by merging of the towns of Toloríu and Aristot, and includes Ardaix, Els Arenys, Aristot, Els Banys de Sant Vicenç, Bar, Castellnou de Carcolze and Toloríu.

Initially called Aristot i Toloriu, finally was adopted like name the one of the municipal head located in El Pont de Bar (literally The Bridge of Bar). The baron of Toloriu, Joan Grau, was one of the first conquistadores arrived at Tenochtitlán, next to Hernán Cortés. He married with one of the daughters of Moctezuma, Xipaguazin, that died in Toloriu on January 10, 1537, and was buried in the church of San Jaime.

The church of the image is the parish church of St. Stephen (esglesia de Sant Esteve), and is located at the top of Bar, a village with 28 inhabitants. Near are the few remains of the ancient castle of Bar, which together with the neighboring castles and Aristot and Toloríu served to defend the entrance to the Cerdanya, a historical region now divided between France and Spain. Probably the church was build in the first half of the 9th century, if the act of consecration of the Cathedral of 839 is true. However the building doesn't allow to establish a chronology before the end of the Middle Ages, because it's the result of later interventions, reflected in its structure and hinder their classification within the framework of a unified style, although it seems that there were traces of a Roman scaffolding.

Moreover, in the 19th century the building was affected by fire, in which it seems he also burned the Romanesque image of the Virgin of Tor. With regard to building's plan, it exceeds the idea of a symmetrical façade, above the roof's height rising a bell tower, that transforms the plan in octagon with unequal sides.

The stamp, having the Spanish tourism as a subject, was issued on January 2, 2012. 

sender: Luis / luiseme (postcrossing)
sent from Barcelona (Catalonia / Spain), on 21.02.2012.
photo: Joan Oliva

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