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Fantastic Opening Ceremonies at the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Ticket to the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Summer Olympics

Ticket to the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Summer Olympics

Barcelona

In the summer of 1992, my husband and I were fortunate to attend the Opening Ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The XXV Olympiad Games were to be played there, and it is an experience we will never forget.

Barcelona is a seacoast city in the northeast area of Spain. As Catalonia's capital, Barcelona has long been a tourist area due to its Mediterranean climate and attractive cityscapes and countryside. Many centuries of settlement have made this city an exciting mixture of the medieval regions that are cramped and crowded and other spacious and green areas.

There is a separatist movement working towards separating Catalonia from the rest of Spain and making it into an independent country. The language has its slightly different twist, and their food is also distinctive.

Many artists have called this area home. Among them are Dali, Picasso, Miro, and Gaudi. During our visits to Barcelona, we would visit the Joan Miro Foundation and see many different buildings designed by Gaudi, including those in Park Guell. His Sagrada Familia is a landmark towering over many other buildings in this cosmopolitan city.

Barcelona won the distinction of hosting these Olympic Games in 1986, and they worked diligently to transform their city. They built Olympic venues, and preparations took place to host the onslaught of athletes worldwide and the crowds of people who would perhaps be seeing their city for the first time. Many of the venues were ready a full year in advance of this spectacle. Barcelona was shined up and made ready to put on a memorable show!

Walking Up To Olympic Stadium

We were with a group of people staying on the Island of Mallorca. We were flown by airplane to Barcelona in time to be hosted to a typical Catalan lunch at a restaurant called Con Travi Nou at 3 p.m.

After a leisurely lunch, we were dropped off and began the long hike up to the Olympic Stadium. We were to follow guides waving yellow flags. There were many groups of people following different colored flags that day in addition to individuals and small family groups heading up the hill to Montjuic and the Olympic Stadium, so we had to pay close attention so as not to be separated from our group.

While pausing to take in the scenery and do some Olympic pin trading, we had to keep an eye on our guides sporting the yellow flags. We certainly did not want to be separated from our group as thousands of people were milling about most all of them making their way up to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies. The stadium held something like 70,000 people!

It was a sweltering day in Barcelona, and most of the people were all wearing shorts or, at the least, very comfortable clothing with good walking shoes.

Pin Trading

This Olympics was our first to attend in person, and we had no idea how much fun it was going to be trading Olympic pins with people from around the world. Most people had their Olympic pins attached to their clothing, hats, or bags that they might have been carrying. Often people would approach us wanting to trade pins. Some people spoke our language, and others did not. But with a questioning look and smile while gesturing and holding out one or two of their pins while pointing to one of ours, transmitted the message quite well.

Some avid Olympic fans who knew the value of specific pins were die-hearted traders on a mission to increase their holdings' value. If they spotted the desired pin that they wished to add to their collection, they would often offer two or three pins in exchange for the one they wanted. Most like us were happy to trade ones in which we might have had duplicates for others that were different. Olympic pins not only varied according to the country but also other Olympic Games in years past. Logos for businesses worldwide were also made into Olympic pins. That turned out to be quite a sport!

Mist from fountains doing water ballets to music helped cool us off as we mingled with the masses, making their way up Montjuic on that hot day.

Montjuic

Montjuic Park sits atop a rocky hill that is at a height of 173 meters in Barcelona. The building dominating the top of the hill as one approaches it from the street level is the castle used by the military for many years. It now houses a military museum.
Many beautiful gardens are at the top of Montjuic. We caught a glimpse of some of them as we were moving en masse towards the stadium.

There is a Spanish Village on Montjuic housed behind walls and shows replicas of buildings from all over Spain. Museums of many types are also in this area of the city. We spent some time in the Miro Foundation on another day when we came back for one of the Olympic events - men's diving. One could spend many days on Montjuic exploring all of the many different venues, but that was not our goal of this eventful day.

Once past the castle, we caught our first look at the structure that would be lit later that evening and burn as the Olympic torch throughout the summer games.

All 70,000 people entering the Olympic Stadium had to go through security, including a metal detector, and all handbags were searched. Much mounted police were in evidence.

Opening Ceremonies Festivities Begin!

The mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, and the International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, welcomed everyone to the Olympics in Barcelona. King Juan Carlos I declared the XXV Olympiad games open.

Borne by six Spanish Olympic athletes and two volunteers, the Olympic flag entered the stadium with much fanfare. A memorial to cities and athletes that participated in the past Olympics took place. The XXV Olympic Games began with the most beautiful ceremony.

Eighty musicians sounded the Olympic opening, and over 800 performers dressed in colorful outfits representing flowers and birds welcomed one and all with the word of friendship Hola!

The rose is the symbol of Catalonia, and these first photos show the symbolic flower.

The Welcome

Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras sang the Welcome, while 600 dancers dressed in white danced the thousand-year-old Sardana, the dance of Catalonia. They ended up joining hands and forming the five Olympic rings, which symbolize the Olympic Games.

At one point, white doves were released all at once, filling the stadium with the fluttering of wings, and it was a thrilling sight to watch them disappear into the evening skies overhead.

Sun, Hercules and Mediterranean Sea

The red and yellow flame-like costumes represented the sun, and the sun is an attribute of Hercules. The legend told by this part of opening ceremonies has Hercules setting off under the protection of the sun on a journey to see the world. The blue garbed people become representative of the Mediterranean sea.

A ship sets out onto the sea, but monsters attack them. Victorious at last, the men found a city, and legend has it that city became Barcelona.

Accompanying this glorious site was music and much theatrics. At one point, we were all invited to don our sun-like masks, and the entire audience was suddenly a part of the scenery.

Land of Passion

The next bit of theatrics was thunderous as 360 drummers descended from the stands and made their way down to the field, all the while pounding out a rhythmic pattern on their drums. Another 300 musicians joined them in the center of the stadium.

Placido Domingo then began to sing a love serenade to a woman wearing a red dress riding a black stallion. It was Cristina Hoyos, who happens to be a world-renowned flamenco dancer. Flamenco dancing then takes center stage and ends the drama with style and grace.

Cristina Hoyos (flamenco dancer) on the black stallion

Cristina Hoyos (flamenco dancer) on the black stallion

Parade of Athletes

One hundred seventy-two teams of athletes worldwide started pouring into Olympic Stadium, one country at a time. It was a proud moment for almost everyone involved, and much cheering and flag-waving took place as the stadium started to fill with the colors and members from each team.

The Olympic field, in the end, is a mixture of colors holding approximately 12,000 plus individuals.

Some of the athletes who were to compete early the next morning did not participate in this ceremony to preserve their stamina for the games hoping to win Olympic medals for their respective countries.

Olympic Torch is Lit and the Finale

Wouldn't you know, I had to run out of film!

The Human Pyramids were also unable to be captured on film. It was a fantastic spectacle. Two thousand one hundred seventy-four men and women formed 12 living pyramids on the stadium field. It symbolized the twelve countries building a European community.

It was dark when the Olympic torch entered the stadium, and laps were run by the bearers, ultimately passing the flame to an archer. It was a high drama moment as the archer shot the flame lit arrow up to ignite the cauldron atop the Gate of Olympic Stadium. We all held our breath, hoping that he would hit his mark, and he did to much applause and cheering. The fire would continue to burn day and night until the close of competitions.

The Torch at Barcelona Olympic Arena

The Torch at Barcelona Olympic Arena

Music

During this opening ceremony, we heard some incredible music, including the official song "Friends for Life" composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Famous opera singers that were an integral part of this ceremony included the following: Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballe, Jose Carreras, Jaume Aragall, Teresa Berganza, and Joan Pons.

The evening was culminated by a roar of spectacular fireworks! Being a part of an opening ceremony event for the Olympic games in Barcelona will always live on in our memories.

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments

Robert Sacchi on April 29, 2018:

Yes, that is the hope of the Olympic organizers. The hope is the venue doesn't end up as an underused white elephant.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 29, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your interest in this subject. Often the venues built for the Olympics have a long life after the fact serving the people in the places where they were built.

Robert Sacchi on April 27, 2018:

Yes, the results seem mixed. For Japan the 1964 Olympics marked their re-entrance to the word stage. For Yugoslavia it was the reverse. I don't see much about Spain.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2018:

Hi Robert,

I think that every aspect of putting on an Olympic show whether it is an opening or closing ceremony is given much thought. The pride of the hosting nation is on display for all to see. Hopefully the investment pays off for them in the long run.

Robert Sacchi on April 26, 2018:

I wonder if other Olympics organizers decided these torch lightings couldn't be outdone and decided to concentrate on other aspects of opening ceremonies.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 26, 2018:

Hi Robert,

I remember that Olympic ceremony in Norway. That torch lighting ceremony was spectacular!

Robert Sacchi on April 25, 2018:

The winter Olympics in Norway also had a unique torch lighting. Skiing down the mountain with the torch.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2018:

Hi Robert,

It truly was an experience of a lifetime getting to see those opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Barcelona. I think that the people planning every Olympic ceremony event try to do something different with regard to lighting that torch which remains lighted while the Olympics are playing. The one in Barcelona was particularly memorable.

Robert Sacchi on April 24, 2018:

I remember that Olympics. I think the torch lighting was great, I'm surprised subsequent Olympics haven't tried to outdo it. I'm sure it was an experience of a lifetime for you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 19, 2018:

Hi Frank,

Happy to hear that you liked this article and my photos as well. It certainly was an exciting day and evening!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 19, 2018:

thanks for sharing Peggy.. love the photos and the thumbnail ones as well.. you did this article justice.. again just gotta say I love the photos so much

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 19, 2018:

Hi Mary,

It truly was a spectacular experience getting to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Barcelona. Often the venues created for such events remain to be used for other purposes. That is nice.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 19, 2018:

Peggy, this is such a good account of the Olympics and you have taken great pictures of it. It must have been spectacular. The Park is still here for people to visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 03, 2011:

Hello wilrhoades,

Glad that you are glad. Were you at the summer Olympic Games in Barcelona or did you see the opening ceremony on television?

wilrhoades on June 03, 2011:

Glad to see this page.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2011:

Hi Cheryl,

Visiting Barcelona, Spain during the Olympics...especially the opening ceremony...is a trip that we will never forget. Glad you enjoyed seeing a bit of it via this hub and thanks for your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on May 21, 2011:

Wonderful. Barcelona has to be an unforgettable and beautiful place to visit. Looks like a city full of suprises, and you get much more than you actually expect. The Montjuïc tour has to be the best. Lots of history to cherish. Great information, photos and videos of Barcelona. I am putting Barcelona Spain on my wish list as well, as many of the other exciting places you have toured. Great hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2011:

Hello Margaflores,

Cobi was a really cute mascot for the Barcelona olympic games. We saw him in many places, obviously. Excitement was everywhere in the streets leading up to the opening ceremony which, as you say, was absolutely beautiful. Like you...we will always hold those memories dear.

Were you a teacher or a classmate in those days?

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2011:

Hello funky23,

The summer olympic games in Barcelona, Spain were surely that and so much more. Thanks for your comment.

Margaflores from Barcelona on May 18, 2011:

Wow! I remember the Olympic Games in Barcelona. We were all so excited!

We went into the street with the class to see the torch passing!

The opening was so beautiful!!!

I specially remember the pet of the Olympic Games, a dog called Cobi!

funky23 from Deutschland on February 20, 2011:

is that neat !

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 11, 2011:

I went back to my scrapbook/photo album and I'm not sure if he sang the "Bella figia de amore" but Alfredo Kraus was a tenor who was also there and who sang the Olympic anthem when the flags were being borne into the stadium in Barcelona. He also sang when Christina Hoyos, a great flaminco dancer, was on the field of the summer olympic stadium during opening ceremonies in Barcelona, Spain.

Hope this answers your question.

kevinkealy@eircom.net on January 10, 2011:

Who was the singer that sang with Domingo, Nontserrat, Bergaznzam pons, Carreras - who was the other Tenor who sang Bella figia del amore

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 27, 2010:

Hello leyzaa,

Except for this one time we have always watched olympic games on our television sets also. What is your favorite sport that you like to watch?

leyzaa on December 27, 2010:

Yeah I had watch this olympic from Television and my Favorite sport has exhibitions for the first time

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2010:

Hi Billy,

It was amazing and will remain a fond memory...the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Barcelona. We enjoyed seeing other venues and also sightseeing while there. A once in a lifetime experience!

billyaustindillon on August 02, 2010:

This brings back great memories - but just from watching it on TV! I have yet been to a live Olympics and it would be a great experience. Not just he opening ceremony but the events and the town itself. Experiencing the excitement anew culture also would be amazing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 28, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

That it was indeed! My husband and I will always forever more watch opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies of the olympic games with even more interest having experienced one in person.

loveroflife on July 28, 2009:

What a thrill it must have been to be part of an Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2009:

Hi Cheryl,

When we were over there we were given tickets to the Olympic events we had requested seeing...but then were given the opportunity to also take tours and had to make choices. We did some of both. Will be writing about those experiences.

This trip and our Hawaiian experience were the only two trips that we won and actually accepted. My husband gave all the other trips away to his employees.

Thanks for your comment and yes, they are indeed wonderful memories of our Barcelona Olympic Games experiences plus so much more.

Cheryl on July 26, 2009:

These are wonderful photos and illustrations. It was like seeing the Olympics on television. Wonderful and lasting memories you have collected.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

Yes, being there in the flesh was more than one goose-pimple moment after another. Strange word...goose-pimple! LOL It was AMAZING to see Olympic Opening Ceremonies in person! The ENTIRE trip was AMAZING!

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2009:

Hi Pete,

Seeing the Olympic games live, muchless the opening or closing ceremonies was a rare treat indeed. If it were not for our hosts, we would have been watching them on television like most other folks. This was another trip won by my husband.....and it was the trip of a lifetime!

I'll be writing much more about Barcelona, the games and other sites we got to see as well as Mallorca where we were staying.

Thanks for commenting.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on July 26, 2009:

I imagine that in the flesh these cremonies are unbelievable. Lucky you and in such a great location.

Pete Maida on July 26, 2009:

That must have been a wonderful experience. Very few people are ever in a position to see the games live.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 25, 2009:

Hi Tom,

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Barcelona was a spectacle indeed! Now we are glued to our television sets for Olympic games ever since being able to see some of one in person. Thanks for taking a look and leaving a comment.

Tom rubenoff from United States on July 25, 2009:

Great photos, great article. It must have been quite a spectacle.

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