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BookTrail Travels to the National Library of Spain

  • Submitted: 3rd January 2024

The National Library of Spain

I recently spent an amazing afternoon at the National Library of Spain in Madrid. Oh I had dreamed of visiting this place and there were three exhibits on as well so I got more than I bargained for. I was very lucky to visit when I did.

Just look at this place will you?

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

Oh even the gates were grand:

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

Then the gardens. With plenty of seats to sit and read. Even warm enough in December. Maybe not for the Spaniards but for this Brit, totally! What joy!

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

National Library of Spain (c) TheBookTrail

The three exhibits:

Banned or Bad Books

Bad Books (c) TheBookTrail

Bad Books (c) TheBookTrail

Oh this is a subject close to my heart and so I was fascinated to learn about how books and certain writing was either banned or frowned upon in Spain.

The exhibit covered books from the 15th to the 19th century and took readers through the wars but also in a wider sense. I had no idea Spain had banned so many books! It looked at how women were thought to ‘ get ideas’ from books and so these were banned and books on new discoveries and thought processes were all considered suspicious. How all this has impacted on the culture and heritage of literature in Spain was very insightful!

 

The Birth of Travel Writing (c) TheBookTrail

The Birth of Travel Writing (c) TheBookTrail

The Birth of Travel Writing

This was right up my street! A whole exhibition dedicate to the birth of travel writing, books with maps in them and travel diaries.

In the 18th century, travel was becoming very popular but it also had a new purpose. People wanted to travel more and some had the means. Institutions in the cultural arena wanted to send people out and write about what they saw, places they visited and experiences they had. The world was starting to open up and there was a real rush of excitement to be the first to bring back news from ‘ the continent.

The central display was particularly impressive – oh and the many glass cages with ancient Spanish texts. I stayed here for ages!

The third exhibit was about someone I knew little about.

Lola Flores (c) The BookTrail

Lola Flores (c) The BookTrail

Lola Flores was a classic Spanish star – flamenco dancing, theatre and much more. She was from Jerez de la Frontera and appeared in many films over the years. The exhibit was a real celebration of her life and I watched clips of her performances. What a lovely way to celebrate her!

 

The website in English – oh go here if you can, the building is VERY IMPRESSIVE!

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