Curiosities about Barcelona

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Did you know that...

Imagine how many curiosities and misteries a city like Barcelona can hide. Even before the city was revealed in " Sombra del Viento" (Shadow of the wind) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Barcelona was characterized by a tangible mistery that could be just partially visible for the occasional visitor. Rambla Santa MonicaRavalPlaça Reial,  Calle de Escudellers … Are you curious? Let's start exploring the city!

did you know that...

the Rambla, the most famous avenue in Barcelona, used to be a river formed by the waters descending from the mountains behind the city. The word Rambla means sand, torrent or stream.

... the Rambla del Centro (downtown rambla, probably one of the most trafficked streets in Europe), has a name which originates from an ancient convent of Capuchin friars.

Barcelona has a great reputation because of its sewers and it was one of the first modern cities to have a sewer system; many European cities took Barcelona as an example for this.

…  the Oriental Hotel, built in 1842, il the oldest in town. Inside, you can find Café de l'Opera, opened in 1929, one of the most ancient and well preserved cafès in Barcelona. 

Teatro Principal is the most ancient theatre in Barcelona and one of the oldest in Spain. The original name was different (the present was given in 1868),and in the very same place in 1667 there used to be a small thatre that could contain up to 800 people.

near the center of the Plaça Reial square, you can find the Source of the Three Graces.  Some say that the lamps of the square may have been designed by Antoni Gaudì in 1878.

… Rambla de Santa Monica is considered the access door to the port area, where you can find the ancient Convent of Discalced Augustinians (1626), that nowadays is an Art centre which hosts intesresting temporary exhibitions.

the name of the road Calle Escudellers (the southern part of the Ramblas, south of Plaça Reial) indicates the people who once sold plates and other objects made of clay. This is the street where potters have settled during medieval times. Plus, its historical interest derives from the fact that it's located in the middle of Picasso's old quarter. It was here that the great artist lived, worked and had fun.

… Picasso and his family lived in Calle La Merce, which is just a few minutes' walk from Calle Escudellers. Picasso owned a study in Calle Escudellers Blancs, a small side street of Calle Escudellers. Here, he created some of his paintings of the so called blue period.

the shipyard, built in 1378, was the biggest in the whole world. It hosts the Maritime Museum, which was built during the civil war (1936-1939) and opened in 1941.

the Gothic quarter (Barri Gotic) is the ancient Roman colony which developed century after century, testifying the splendor of the County of Barcelona and Catalonia from the 8th to the 12th century. The gothic name was given at the beginning of the 20th century. El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, as well as Plaça Reial, are both located inside this area.

the Roman Barcelona, the ancient City of Barcino, has been discovered  at the beginning of the 20th century. The Roman walls of Barcino are the strongest, the most modern and technically the most developed of the Roman times. Those walls defended the city of almost 1000 years.

in Plaça Reial you can still see the bell tower of Saint Agata, which has the shape of a crown because it used to be a royal chapel. It used to include a secret tunnel which connected the chapel with the Royal Palace.

... the Royal Palace was originally built as a residence for the liutenant or viceroy, even if this last one has never lived there. Throughout his history, it has been used as a prison and as the headquarters of the Archive of the Crown of Aragona.

the Jewish quarter of Barcelona was the most important cultural centre of Catalonia in the 11th, 12th and 13th century, with five synagogues. In Calle Marlet n° 1, it's still possible to see a hebraic headstone, found in 1820 thanks to a few works by rabbi Samuel Hassardi.

 the house of Calle San Domenico (number 6) is the most ancient house in Barcelona, inhabited since the 12th century. Some say that in the postwar period it was a famous brothel. You can still see the walls of the front, which are oblique because of the earthquake in 1428.

...Saint Philip Neri's Church was visited every day by Antoni Gaudí, even if he wasn't interested in listening to the mass at all.

in the same square you can find the Museum of shoes which still hosts the mold (1,22 metres long) that was used to create the shoes of the Columbus Statue.

for many centuries, the new square was used for public executions. According to tradition, the bandit  Giovanni Serrallonga has been killed here.

in the cloister of the gothic cathedral you can see 13 white geese, which do not only serve as guards, but they also stand for the age of Saint Eulalia when she died: thirteen years old.

in the cloister of the cathedral you can visit the grave of Manuel Girona,  the financer for the contruction of the front of the building. He actually wanted to be buried inside the cathedral, but only kings and bishops were intitled to that honor.

... the buildings of the department stores of Portal de l'Angel have been built in the second decade of the 20th century and are among the oldest in town. You can still see Els Quatre Gats (c. Montsió 3a), a modernist building designed by Josep Puig, inaugurated on June 12th 1897. Nowadays it hosts a Catalan cuisine restaurant. Avant-garde artists such as Picasso and Casas Rusiñol Nonell used to stop by: rumours say they loved to exaggerate with drinking because that helped them to find inspiration for their works. The cafè hosted the first exhibition ever made by Pablo Picasso.

... Plaza Catalunya was built in the first part of the 19th century to merge the old part of the city. Its surface is 50.000 square metres, comparable to other huge squares such as Saint Peter in Rome.

... during Roman times, the Roman Forum was already in the Plaça Saint Jaume area: it is over 2000 years old.

inside the town hall in Plaza de San Miguel, rests of a Roman bath have been found.

in Calle Ferran it's possible to visit the house where painter Joan Miró was born.

 Giovanni Fiveller Lledo, the first mayor of Barcelona, used to live at number 4 in the same street.

In Calle Leon there used to be one of the first zoo in Europe, which was built thanks to Peter III, called the Ceremonious. You can still see Sant Jaume's Church: it originally was an Hebraic synagogue, later transformed in Christian church, in 1394.

… so, did you know that Barcelona is a unique town in the world? We're waiting for you!

 


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