Barcelone is a cosmopolitan city. It is transforming itself into one of Europe's most modern cities. The Mediterranean city still hides secrets that have yet to be revealed and are hard to see.
The Barcelona city centre is an incredibly fascinating place to explore. A visit to Plaça de Catalunya is an opportunity to admire its surrounding buildings, but you'd be amazed to discover that this is exactly where a secret is hidden.
There are several replicas of the Virgin of Montserrat all over the city, but this one is very unique. There was religious persecution by anarchist groups in the city during the civil war. Practising religion was therefore a very risky thing to do, even in your own circle. For this reason, some believers prayed secretly near the statue (the work of Eusebi Arnau) and the Moreneta, as there were military barracks all over the square, from where soldiers often went off to war.
Plaça de Catalunya
Another, less obvious secret lies near Barcelona Cathedral, in the square around the church of Sant Felip Neri (with the same name as the square). The church's facade is particularly distinctive, with holes that look like rifle shots. While urban legends say that these were executions during the Civil War. But this is far from the truth, because in fact the damage to the facet was caused by a bomb dropped in 1938, destroying several buildings and causing over 40 deaths. A tragic event, but far from the urban legend of executions.
Nowadays, it's a hidden corner in the Gothic Quarter where you can enjoy a quiet moment in the middle of the city.
We return to Barcelona Cathedral to reveal even more secrets hidden in it, especially in the back section. Abstract signs like scratches decorate some of the cathedral's stones. Legend has it that this is where the executioner sharpened the axe before beheading prisoners condemned to death. This is only half the truth.
While it is true that these marks were made by sharpening blades, they were not the work of the executioner, but of the knights preparing to engage in jousting (joists and other similar shows were held along the nearby Passeig des Born) and also butchers whetting their knives. Most of these stones were sandstone from the quarry on Montjuïc mountain.
We're not talking about the famous replica in the Biblioteca Arús, but the one in the monument built in honour of Mayor Rius i Taulet in the Passeig de Lluís Companys, just opposite the Parque de la Ciutadella. This statue is particularly striking because it has wings and an olive branch instead of a book. It's so curious that such a visible statue could go unnoticed.
You'll find one of Barcelona's best-kept secrets while walking along Carrer Bailèn near the Consell de Cent. Hidden among the trees and undergrowth is the imposing Parthenon Masriera. It was built by the architect Josep Vilaseca and commissioned in 1882 by the Masriera brothers, who were jewellers by profession. Its design was inspired by the Temple of Augustus and was intended for painters and artists (in fact, it was used as a studio by the Masriera brothers, who were also painters). It is decorated with exquisite sculptures and the interior is adorned with art collections including Persian carpets, tapestries and more.
Over time, the building was given over to a religious congregation of nuns called "Petita Companyia del Cor Eucarístic de Jesús". While the building remains their headquarters, it now belongs to the Père-Relats foundation, dedicated to helping people in need.
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