Although the brand Barcelona is known all over the world, its streets and avenues always hide legends, tales and secrets that are unknown even to most of the locals. Discovering these unusual and sometimes funny facts about Barcelona contributes to the ever-growing undeniable magnetism of this Mediterranean city.
Barcelona history, legends and places to visit in Barcelona
- The first Barcelonans were probably not Romans. Although the foundation of the Roman colony of Barcino is dated approximately to the year 15 B.C., the truth is that the city of Barcelona had been inhabited long time before that. In fact, in Reina Amalia street that crosses the Raval neighbourhood, bone remains from two individuals who lived 5.500 years ago were recovered.
- One of the oldest synagogues in Europe. At 5 Marlet street one of the five synagogues that are open in the old Jewish quarter of Barcelona is located. Despite the documents mentioning the 13th century as the date of its foundation, some excavations indicate that its origin may be dated from the 3rd century AD.
- Catalan: the mother tongue of Columbus? This is what Estelle Irizarry, an emeritus professor at Georgetown University, says after studying the correspondence of the admiral. Of what there is no doubt is that the marine, to whom a monument in the port of Barcelona is dedicated, was received by the Catholic Monarchs on his return from his first trip to America in the monastery of Sant Jeroni de la Murtra in Badalona, one of the nearby towns of Barcelona.
- Barcelona and Miguel de Cervantes. The fascination felt by the famous writer for the city of Barcelona is beyond any doubt. Not only has he visited the city at least once, but also Barcelona is the only city mentioned in his most renowned masterpiece – Don Quixote. To flatter this place the well-known nobleman describes it as: “The treasure-house of courtesy, the shelter of foreigners, the hospital of the poor, the country of the brave, the vengeance of the offended and the source of firm friendships, a place of incomparable and unique beauty; and though the events that have happened to me here are not of great pleasure, but of great sorrow, I stand tall only because I have been here.”
- Distant fifth gallows (quinta horca). Instead of referring to a faraway distance as being miles away, the locals say that something is as distant as the fifth gallows (quinta forca in Catalan). This expression has its origin in the remote location of one of the five crosses that were constructed in the city in time immemorial. One of them was on the hill of Finestrells, in the Trinitat Vella neighbourhood. Today, a boundary cross has been erected to mark that very place.
- Pioneer of the 8-hour workday. This initiative of trade unions has resulted in a strike that was started in 1919 by employees of the electrical industry known as La Canadiense in the Poble-Sec neighbourhood, and made Spain the first country in the world to apply this measure.
- Underground city. Barcelona has some 1.400 air raid shelters, built by the locals during the Civil War to protect themselves from aerial bombardments of Italian aviation. Two of them can be visited: one, that is in Diamant square, Gràcia neighbourhood, and the refuge 307, in Poble-sec. In addition, from the preserved part of the anti-aircraft battery in Turó de la Rovira you can enjoy the magnificent skyline of Barcelona.