Barcelona is an enchanting city full of history and with corners that bear their private secrets. The exposed part of Barcelona is the Barcelona of the “trencadís of Gaudí”, of the lush decoration, of the modernist facades, of the torrent of people touring at all hours the Ramblas… But there exists another Barcelona equally beautiful though more hidden: the city where you may wish to listen closely from the bricks of its buildings their exciting stories or some Barcelona citizen who wishes to share with you the most hidden face of the city, which we show you through this route along the mysterious places of Barcelona.
Mysterious places of Barcelona: the Legend of the Vampire of Raval
We begin the route with our domestic Jack the Ripper, who is the well-known Enriqueta Martí, “the vampire of Raval”, and like the most bloodthirsty Londoner, she was widely mentioned and covered by all newspapers at the beginning of the XX century.
So, strolling through Joaquin Costa Street is like walking the same road where dozens of children traveled in big sacks in which Enriqueta hid undernourished poor, whom she later would introduce in her kettle to prepare concoctions and that she used to sell to the Barcelona bourgeoisie as elixir of youth. A witch in capital letters who has profusely inspired the imagination for books, theater plays and routes through the most macabre Barcelona.
Square of Sant Felip Neri: beauty that cries
Possibly the most beautiful square in Barcelona yet also hides a great deal of black legend and truth around it. Thus, during the nineteenth century the square used to be a cemetery in which children would play in the middle of skeletons and skulls as if they were any common toy. (popular stories tell that one of the boys died of fright when he saw how one of the skeletons was knocking the door of his house demanding respect), but it was only until the damn Spanish Civil War when the most tragic stories of the city took place in this Square.
And it is because the walls of the church that presides all over this captivating square were chosen by the national faction to shoot their republican enemies, today the bullet holes still remain as witness and can be seen in the fortunately quiet, amazing corner of the deepest Gothic quarter.
Cathedral’s cloister: The site where live the guardians of the city
Visitors to the imposing Gothic cathedral of Barcelona will find a great place to photograph and this is the cloister, which is a place worth knowing for its history and legend that goes with it.
And it is because the cloister of Barcelona’s cathedral is not a simple ecclesiastical yard: it is a garden filled with palm trees, magnolias, an orange tree and a fountain dating since the middle of the XV century surrounded by a large pond where thirteen white geese are freely roaming around.
And why thirteen geese in a worship site? This animal and this magical number are associated to Santa Eulália, the co-patron saint of the city next to the Mercé. The number 13 has to do with the number of martyrdoms suffered by the saint during Roman times for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, one for each year she had.
In this place during the Corpus Christi celebration they also have the traditional festival of “ou com balla“, consisting of an egg which is placed on the water coming out from the fountain and such egg dances on top of the water. It is also said that on the day when the thirteen geese raise the flight, bad omens will fall over the city.
The Bisbe Bridge: Legendary False Gothic
In the very heart of Bisbe Street we can see one of the most particular corners of the Gothic quarter: the ornamental bridge connecting the Palau de la Generalitat and the House dels Canonges, the historic residence where Lluís Companys, Francesc Macià and Josep Tarradellas lived.
Legend has it that those passing under its beautiful arcade, can only appreciate once the skull that decorates it, because the next time bad luck will chase after him. And if this story is not sufficient for the most superstitious, legend also tells that on the day the stone dagger which also appears carved, falls, Barcelona foundations will fall as well.
And do we have any way to get rid of curse of the skull? A few meters down the road, heading for the magic square Sant Felip Neri, we find the house of l’Ardíaca in the Carrer of Santa Llúcia, where right next to its door we will see a modernist mailbox carved by Domènech i Muntaner (architect “rival” of Gaudí to whom we owe the Palau de la Música and the Hospital de Sant Pau among other creations), where a few swallows tell us that the mail should be fast, but a turtle shows the reality. Well, if we caress the turtle shell, we get rid of the bad luck that comes from the skull.
Ghosts in the Picasso Museum, are also residents in the Fossar de les Moreres and are reminded with a flame continuously burning, inquisitorial walls that identify lies. Barcelona hides much more history than you can appreciate through its charming corners, please do not hesitate to explore it to the maximum, from the comfort of your rental apartment for days and find the relaxation that many souls of Barcelona were not able find in the day.