For our holiday in Barcelona we stayed in a hostel. What it lacked in appearance and extravagance it made up for in convenience of location and price! We had our own room and our balcony overlooked La Ramblas. La Ramblas is a lively street that hosts local artists and souvenier shops.
Our first full day in Barcelona was Sept 11, which is a Catalan holiday. The picture above was taken from our balcony view and you can see people walking the street together under a flag that is not the flag of Spain, it is the Catalan flag. On Sept 11 nearly 300 years ago, Catalonia surrendered to the French Bourbon Prince Philip. Prior to this surrender Catalan had their own constitution and laws, language (Catalan), political institutions etc. The new King Philip angry with Catalan for supporting his adversary, made life rather miserable for Catalans following their surrender and to this day some call the toilet the house of Philip! Catalan still wants its independence from Spain, and our tour guide indicated there is talk of a referendum and also talk of lowering the voting age to 16.
Barcelona so rich in things to see, we opted for a city tour with Runner Bean Tours of the Gothic Barrio and it was well worth it. They took us to several places that we would not have found on our own and of course the guide provided us with the history behind it all.
Our first stop on our tour was the Plaça del Pi. Plaza of the eternal pine. When the square was created there was a Pine tree in the center, and to this day a Pine tree is maintained. Here is the gothic church, Eglesia Santa Maria del Pi. Church is in traditional Catalan Gothic style, which is less ornate than traditional gothic architecture and bears no gargoyles.
Across from the church are buildings with a traditional Catalan facade. Of course my fishnet memory did not retain what it is called however, I can tell you that it is made by plastering the surface in one color, and then once dry, adding another layer of plaster in another color. While this top layer is still wet the designer carves out the designs.
Next stop in the Gothic Barrio we stopped in a street with a monument to Santa Eulalia. When she was just 13 years old the Roman Empire was demanding all renounce their faith. Santa Eulalia refused to recant her faith and suffered 13 tortures for her 13 years of age. One of these tortures she was placed in a barrel of broken glass and knives and rolled down this street. She is now a patron Saint of Barcelona, and in her memory Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral houses 13 white geese.
Next we went to the area that was once a thriving Jewish neighborhood. Jews at one point comprised a significant portion of the population. However in the 1200’s persecution of the Jews began, starting with having to identify themselves by wearing a yellow badge and laws preventing them from associating with Christians. Ultimately there was a Jewish massacre and most fled Spain. Throughout Barcelona some stones in buildings have Hebrew engravings, according to our tour guide, stones from Jewish buildings and cemeteries were reused. Here is an example:
Barcelona was once a smaller city with a Roman wall. Today two columns from the old wall stand here:
We also saw the remnants of an old Roman temple, a few columns remain yet today. A few of these columns stand in their original place, at least one of them have been moved, and another is composed of pieces from multiple columns that fell apart when being moved. Still pretty impressive, and buildings with apartments rising up around them, pretty cool to think someone has this view from their window for their morning coffee eh?