Architect Turns Old Cement Factory into Awe-Inspiring Work/Living Space

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Covered by climbing plants and surrounded by a garden of eucalyptus, palms, olive trees and cypresses, this old cement factory on the outskirts of Barcelona looks like an abandoned industrial complex reclaimed by nature. In reality, it’s a bustling work/living space designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill.

Bofill discovered the closed down World War I cement factory in 1973, and was immediately drawn to it. He and his team bought the entire complex consisting of over 30 silos, subterranean galleries and huge machine rooms and convert it into the head of office of Taller de Arquitectura. They spent two years demolishing dilapidated structures and remodeling those worth converting. When the dust settled, only eight silos remained, which became offices, a models laboratory, archives, a library, a projections room, a gigantic exhibition space known as “The Cathedral” and a residential space for Bofill.

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The Cruel Spanish Tradition That Kills Tens of Thousands of Greyhounds Every Year

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You probably already know about bullfighting and the controversy surrounding this ancient tradition, but there’s another less known tradition that claims the lives of tens of thousands of Spanish hunting dogs every year. And worst of all, nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

Galgos, or Spanish greyhounds, are an ancient breed of hunting dog that was once raised only by Spanish noble families. Today, these beautiful animals have been reduced to tools that modern-day hunters dispose of in a variety of gruesome ways as soon as the hunting season ends. The traditional explanation for their cruelty is that if the dogs have shamed their master by not performing to their expectations, this dishonor must be washed away by torturing and killing the animals, but in reality, it’s all about cutting costs. It makes more sense to them to buy new Galgos from a breeder for about 10 euros a piece, than spend money on feeding the ones they already own until the next hunting season. So they just get rid of them in the most appalling ways imaginable.

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This Man Gets Paid $4,000 for Slicing a Leg of Spanish Cured Ham

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Florencio Sanchidrián has been slicing Iberian ham (jamon) for the last three decades and today his name is synonymous with the Spanish delicacy. The 55-year-old is regarded as the world’s best ham slicer in the world, and he charges accordingly for his services – a reported $4,000 to slice a leg of ham.

Born in the city of Avila, Spain, Sanchidrián trained as a professional bullfighter in his youth, but eventually put his red cape away and moved to Barcelona to work as a waiter. One day, he started cutting ham and simply fell in love with it. He started taking jamon slicing courses, and before long, he was winning slicing competitions as well as national and international awards. Florencio is now known as an ambassador of Iberian ham around the world, and he tours the five continents “with a leg of ham under his arm” at least once or twice a year.

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Corona Brewery Founder makes Everyone in His Home Village a Millionaire

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The 80 inhabitants of a small Spanish village by the name of Cerezales del Condado have all become millionaires overnight, after inheriting roughly $210 million from Antonino Fernández, the founder of the world famous Corona Brewery.

Fernández was born and raised in Cerezales del Condado, before emigrating to Mexico in 1949, at the age of 32, to work for his wife’s uncle, who owned Grupo Modelo, the company behind Corona, the world’s most famous Mexican beer. He started as a as a warehouse employee, but slowly moved up the ladder, until eventually becoming the CEO of the company, in 1971. He helped make Corona Mexico’s most popular beer, as well as one of the country’s most successful exports. But despite becoming a billionaire, Fernández never forgot about his modest beginnings, contributing substantial amounts of money to various charities in Spain and setting up non-profits to help disabled people find employment. But no one realized just how much Antonino Fernández loved his home, until they read his will.

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Spanish Junkyard Owner Replaces Guard Dogs with Bullfighting Bulls

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After falling victim to no less than seven break-ins last summer, the owner of a second hand auto parts business in Montserrat, Spain, has replaced his guard dogs with a pair of ‘toro bravos’, a Spanish breed of bull used in bullfighting, to roam the property and deter potential intruders.

Emilio Cervero told Spanish reporters that his troubles began earlier this year, when local authorities in the Valencian town of Montserrat built new roundabout next to his junkyard. He was expropriated of part of his property, and the provincial government sealed off his downsized land with a flimsy wire fence to replace the original concrete wall which featured barbed wire protection. Since then, he claims thieves have broken in seven times, by snipping a hole in the wall, luring the guard dogs out of the compound, and simply walking in to take what they needed.

Señor Cervero claims that the financial cost of the break-ins wasn’t considerable, as it turns out that most of the thieves were young people looking to steal a rear-view mirror or a tire for their cars, but the frequency with which the intrusions occurred had become an inconvenience. The fence had to be fixed every time, not to mention that the alarms were set off, bothering his neighbors. And since guard dogs were proving ineffective, he decided it was time for something more extreme.

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Wannabe Youtuber Confuses Adwords with Adsense, Ends Up Owing Google $120,000

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A 12-year-old boy from Spain who dreamed of becoming a popular YouTube entertainer and making lots of money online, signed up for Google’s Adwords promotion program instead of its Adsense revenue program and racked up €100,000 in debt.

Jose Javier, from the town of Torrevieja, in Spain’s Alicante province, dreamed of becoming rich and famous, like his favorite youtubers, so in August, he decided to set up his own YouTube account and register for Google’s lucrative revenue generation program. Only it appears he didn’t know anything about this digital tool, or even its exact name, because instead of opening an account with Adsense, he registered for Adwords, which instead of paying users ad revenue generated by traffic on their webpage or YouTube channel, charges them for promoting products or webpages on the internet. So instead of making money, he was spending it, and fast.

In order to register for Adwords, the wannabe youtuber used a bank account that his parents had set up for him to encourage him to save money. Because of the way that the advertising campaigns were set up in Adwords, advertising fees started piling up very fast, and the €2,000 originally available in the bank account evaporated in a matter of days. When the balance started showing up in the red, bank employees called Javier’s parents and told them that Google was attempting to charge the account for tens of thousands of dollars. The boy’s mother, Inma Quesada, told bank employees to block the transactions, but because Javier’s Adwords account was still active, his debt kept rising.

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The Spanish Village of Witches Cursed by the Catholic Church

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Nestled in the foothills of the Macayo Mountains, in Aragon, Spain, lies a quaint village plagued by a curse so strong that only the Pope can lift it.

Trasmoz was once a bustling settlement with a population of around 10,000 people, but today it numbers only 62 inhabitants, of which only 30 live there permanently. For many, the downfall of Trasmoz has a lot to do with the curse placed on the village by the Catholic Church centuries ago and the stigma associated with witchcraft. Its history is riddled with legends of witches and pagan rituals, and even the ruined castle at its center is said to have been built in a single night by a magician called Mutamín. How many of these stories are true, and how many are simple rumors spread by the Church to justify its actions is left to interpretation.

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Spanish Couple Have Lived Alone in Abandoned Village for the Last 45 Years

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For the past 45 years, Martin and Sinforosa Colomer have been the only two residents of La Estrella, an abandoned village in Spain. The only living beings they have for company are three dogs, four hens, a rooster, about 25 cats, and a few bees. The closest inhabited town is at least 25 kilometers away!

It’s a strange way to live, without any human contact, almost like they’re the last two people on earth. But the tiny village was not always this isolated. It was once bustling with life, with hundreds of inhabitants, a church, two schoolhouses, and several bars. In fact, La Estrella has an interesting past – legend has it that the village was constructed exclusively for the mistresses of many wealthy men.

According to various sources, a torrential storm in 1883 killed nearly half the inhabitants and destroyed at least 17 houses. The village square, vicarage and church remained unharmed, and a memorial was erected for all those who died. The place lost its charm after that and locals slowly began to abandon their homes.

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Spanish Comedy Club Charges Customers Based on the Number of Times They Laugh

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The Teatreneu comedy club in Barcelona has come up with an innovative way of charging customers; they’re calling it ‘Pay-Per-Laugh’. The concept is as simple as it sounds – the club has reduced its entry fee to zero, and instead, users are charged every time they laugh. A special facial-recognition software helps track the exact number of laughs per customer.

The bizarre idea is actually an experiment in partnership with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann – it was set up in response to increased government taxes on theatrical performances from 8% to 21%, which led to a 30% drop in audience members in just one year. So Teatreneu decided to look at the situation with humor, and that’s how pay-per-laugh was born. Each seat is fitted with a facial recognition system that detects the smiles of the person seated behind. Entrance is free, and if the show produces no laughs, customers don’t pay anything. But if they do, each smile is charged 0.30 euros with an upper cap of 24 euros.

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Spanish Town Installs World’s First Public Toilet for Dogs

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A small town in Spain has come up with a new way of dealing with dog waste – a canine public toilet. Located along a busy thoroughfare in El Vendrell, northeastern Spain, the stainless steel contraption consists of two sections placed side by side – a doggy potty and a doggy urinal.

The potty is a raised steel platform with a covered hole. Dog owners need to lift the lid for their pets to defecate, and later press a handle to flush. Jets of water are released, which carry the excrement through underground pipes into the sewer system. Right next to the potty is the urinal – also a raised platform with small holes over which dogs can squat. The public toilet is the brainchild of dog-lover Enric Girona, who has spent over ten years observing and photographing dogs. Through his work, he recognized the need for a toilet for dogs, so he set about creating one himself. “Over the years, I’ve seen that if you train and raise dogs well, these animals can be just like humans,” he explained.

Girona invented several variants of the toilet, modifying each one as he learned more and more about dog behavior. The present version of the urinal, for example, doesn’t clean itself perfectly when flushing, because need to pick the odor so they are lured to the toilet. He also had the location in mind while designing these toilets, so they’d naturally blend into surroundings like parks and other public places. “You can’t have something that clashes with the setting,” he pointed out. “The design was done with the concept of being attractive.”

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Caga Tio – Catalonia’s Wacky Present-Pooping Christmas Log

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Caga Tio is a Christmas tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. Caga is pronounced caca, and it means ‘poop’. Tio means ‘tree trunk’ or ‘uncle’. So it is basically a tradition of the pooping tree trunk. What does the trunk poop? Why gifts, of course!

The Caga Tio is a small log of wood with a painted face and two front legs. It makes an appearance in homes every year on the 8th of December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep the log as a pet until Christmas, feeding it and keeping it warm. They believe the log will grow if they feed it properly.

There is no such thing as a growing log, of course. The parents actually replace the logs every few days with larger ones. It’s easy for families who live in the country; they just go outside, find a piece of wood and paint a face on it. Urban parents have a tougher time. They have to trek into the woods to find larger Caga Tios. But mostly they just buy new ones from shops. The Caga Tio is done growing by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The full grown log is placed in the center of the living room and covered with a large red blanket. Children gather around, sing songs and hit the Caga Tio with sticks repeatedly, until it ‘poops’ out the presents. Earlier, the tradition was to place the log partially in fire, ordering it to defecate. There aren’t many modern households with fireplaces anymore, so now it’s just down to hitting the log.

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Former Monk Has Spent the Last 50 Years Building a Giant Junk Cathedral in the Name of God

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Justo Gallego Martinez, an 86-year-old farmer from Spain, has spent the last 50 years of his life single-handedly building a large cathedral in a suburb of Madrid, without any architectural knowledge or construction experience.

Considering the sheer size of Justo Gallego’s junk cathedral, almost 40 meters (131 feet) tall, with its large dome and spires towering over nearby apartment buildings, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the work of a single man. But it just goes to show how far people can stretch their limits in the name of a higher purpose. In Gallego’s case, it was his faith and love of God. His mother was very pious and he grew up with a deep Christian faith and an overwhelming desire to dedicate himself to the Creator. After working as a farmer and as a bullfighter, Don Justo, as everyone calls him, joined a Trappist monastery, where he spent eight years as a monk. He was forced to leave the monastery in 1961, after he contracted tuberculosis, but promised himself that if he survived the illness he would dedicate his life to building a  a chapel in the name of the Lady of The Pillar (the Blessed Virgin Marry), who he prayed to during the ordeal. His prayers were answered and he stayed true to his vow, laying the first brick of what would become a unique cathedral, almost 50 years ago.

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Danza de los Zancos – The Whirling Stilt Dancers of Anguiano

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Walking on stilts is a daunting task for most people, but for the skilled “danzatores” of Anguiano, Spain, it’s a regular walk in the park. During the annual Danza de los Zancos celebration they take to the streets on wooden stilts measuring some 50 centimeters, and spin rapidly down the town’s steepest alleyways. They risk breaking their necks or smashing their heads against the cobbled pavement to honor La Magdalena (Mary Magdalene).

Every year, on July 22, the town of Anguino hosts one of the oldest, most fascinating fiestas in Spain, the Danza de los Zancos (Stilt Dance). In honor of Mary Magdalene, one of the most popular saints in this part of the country, eight brave and morally upright boys from the oldest families in Anguiano put on brightly colored vests, white shirts and damask yellow skirts, and dance on 50-cm-high wooden stilts. And I don’t mean just bouncing from one foot to another, but whirling at high speeds on steep and narrow alleys with nothing but a human mattress of spectators to catch them if they lose their balance. Did I mention they clap their castanets at the same time?

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Revelers Throw Dead Rats at Each Other as Part of Bizarre Spanish Festival

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Having a dead rat thrown straight in the face might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but for the people of El Puig, the yearly Battle of the Rats is an eagerly awaited event. During the bizarre celebration, people pick up frozen rat corpses and throw them at each other in the name of fun.

Every year, on the last Sunday of January, the town of El Puig, north of Valencia, hosts the Batalla de Ratas, or Battle of the Rats, one of the weirdest fiestas in Spain. Locals and tourists from all over the world gather in the main square to bash cucañas, a kind of local piñada. Sounds like a fun time, only there’s a catch – the goodies in half of these colorful cucañas include dead rats. Instead of running away in disgust at the sight of rodent corpses falling to the ground, festival goers rush to pick them up and throw them at the crowd. If you’ve been hit by a dead rat, it’s customary to grab it and throw it back at your attacker. It’s a good thing we’re not in the Middle Ages anymore, and the bubonic plague is nearly extinct, but still, I can’t help but think there’s something really unhygienic about throwing rats at people. In their defense, the people of El Puig only use frozen and previously-prepared corpses of humanely-killed rats.

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Scary Mother Nature – Giant Wasp Nest Housing Millions of Stingers Found in Abandoned House

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Just one wasp hovering around is enough to make people go crazy with fear, so i can’t imagine what the people of San Sebastián de La Gomera, in the Canary islands, must have felt like when they discovered a 21-foot wasp nest housing millions of stingers, right next to their homes.

The unusually large hive was discovered by local police officers after they had received numerous calls from concerned members of the community regarding large numbers of wasps swarming around an uninhabited house in San Sebastián de La Gomera. After breaking into the abandoned building they were shocked to discover a giant wasp nest in the hallway that experts say is home to millions of aggressive stingers. Measuring no less than 7 meters in size, the gargantuan structure doesn’t seem to have been built by the common type of wasp found in European gardens, but by an invasive species that must have migrated from Africa. The Canary Islands are located less than 100 kilometers from Morocco by water, so that’s a very likely scenario. Police have been unable to locate the owner of the house, but they’ve sealed off the place for safety reasons, until they determine how to best handle the problem. How about “kill it with fire”?!?

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