Passeig de Gràcia

Stories About The Bourgeois Avenue That Might Surprise

Passeig de Gràcia is the epitomy of bourgeois Barcelona and is defined by its Modernista architecture, swish hotels and exclusive shops.

However, if like me you are interested in history and anecdotes, here are five Passeig de Gràcia stories about this marvellous avenue that might surprise.

Passeig de Gràcia late 19th century


The Poet Verdaguer and Palau Robert

Alzina del Passeig de Gràcia

At the beginning of the 20th century, the famous Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer missed his hometown of Folgueroles and felt suffocated by the big city of Barcelona.

As a remedy for this, he often used to visit the gardens of Palau Robert on the corner with Diagonal where amongst the mundane plane trees was an alzina tree - a Mediterranean evergreen known as the holm oak in English.

He would sit under it to combat his homesickness and even wrote a poem called L'Alzina del Passeig de Gràcia.

Verdaguer died in 1902 and the tree shortly after, so if you visit Palau Robert today you'll see the tree that was planted to replace it and a commemorative plaque.

Gaudí's Modernista Paving Stones

Gaudí Paving Stones on Passeig de Gràcia

One of Passeig de Gràcia's most recognisable features is its Modernista paving stones.

They were originally designed for the interior of Casa Batlló although in the end, they were first used in the service entrance of Casa Milà.

The fact they are hexagonal is no chance because you can only fully appreciate the marine design of starfish, jellyfish and sea snails when you see seven tiles placed together.

The Basque Government In Barcelona

Casa Elcano on Passeig de Gràcia

Not many people know that for a period between October 1937 and January 1939 during the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona was home to the Basque Government.

Eusko Jaurlaritza used Casa Elcano or Casa Pirata at Passeig de Gràcia 60 as its headquarters whilst Euskadi was under fascist occupation.

Although difficult to see, a small plaque in Basque and Catalan commemorates this.

A Piano In La Pedrera

Gaudí's La Pedrera

One of the things that grabs your attention when you look at many mature Gaudí buildings is there lack of straight lines and this is particularly true of Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera.

Apparently, Roser Segimon, the wife of Pere Milà, was something of a pianist and complained that with so many curvy lines there was nowhere to put a piano.

'Senyora, I suggest you take up the violin, ' was Gaudí's reply.

Drunks Outside The City Walls

Drunks in 19th Century Barcelona

Apart from the fountain in the middle of the road, today the junction of Passeig de Gràcia and Gran Via is of no particular interest.

However, at the beginning of the 19th century it was located just outside the Barcelona city walls, where a tax was levied if you wanted to take certain goods into the city.

Apparently, the tax on wine and other alcoholic drinks was particularly high so people used to meet to get drunk there and gathered around a cross that was there.

Festivities would often go on all weekend and the cross became know as La Creu Tremenda .... perhaps this is the origin of what has now become known as the Botellón!

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