The Spanish national anthem is a march, lasting 52 seconds, but it has no agreed lyrics

01 November 2017 | by Christopher Howse


“MADRE!” exclaimed the woman in charge of the little railway station at Montserrat, “You’ve missed the last cable car.” This is the excitingly swaying capsule that wings the visitor 2,000 feet up to the monastery on the side of the serrated ridge a few miles from Barcelona. It being Spain, or Catalonia, and I helpless, the station-mistress radioed her friend to send down another cable car specially for me.


The next day, after a visit to the black image of the Virgin Mary, the patron of Catalonia, and a night spent in a room looking out on the cliff-face eight inches away, I walked over the dragon’s back of the mountain, via the Plain of Tarantulas. 

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