The camera never lies, as well we know, and in this particular instance it seems to know better than me as despite my account of two posts ago it seems rather as if I went from the Biblioteca de Catalunya to the Archivo de la Corona de Aragón and not the other way round. Nonetheless, there is a lot to see whichever way you do it and a surprising amount of medieval scenery either in plain view or just tucked away round a corner…
On your right, ladies and gentlemen, the old Hopital de la Santa Creu, now home to the Biblioteca de Catalunya. On your left, a street away, the red light district, and in the middle of it, defensively locked until one knocks, the bookshop of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans. I thus wind up visiting the locality every time I’m in Barcelona and coming away with two or three volumes of the Catalunya Carolíngia, which is probably a more lasting use of Euros than most of its visitors manage…
This church has become my anchor point. When I reach this far along the Ramblas, I can be sure I didn’t turn the wrong way coming out of the metro station. Thus it features in the journey report despite its baroque date.
The original Sant Pere de les Puelles was the second or perhaps the third known nunnery of Catalonia, founded by none other than Count-Marquis Borrell II of Barcelona. It was then outside the city, it should be said. It’s not entirely clear who the first abbess was but either she or the second was one Filmera, daughter of Borrell’s mighty vassal Sal·la of Bages and thus
brothersister (oops) to Unifred Amat of whom we have heard so much here. She outlived him, but her ultimate fate is unpleasant as she was captured by Muslim forces along with all her nuns during the 985 sack of Barcelona. For Borrell, however, this was only a mitigated disaster, as the next abbess was his daughter, Adelaide Bonafilla. It may have been Adelaide under whom the lower part of this building was put up, it is apparently eleventh-century though how one justifies that conclusion I do not know and I think it must be pretty late-eleventh if so. It was, anyway, retoppped in Gothic style in the fourteenth century, by which stage I guess that the city had come out to meet it a bit more. I’ve been through here before and didn’t realise it was this Sant Pere, but what I can tell you is it’s hard to photograph without messing up a street football game.
Just down the road, on the Carrer de les Basses de Sant Pere, there is a pottery merchant’s working out of what seems pretty inarguably to be a Romanesque town house. There’s no signage or anything; it’s just a house, and it has presumably been so for quite a long time.
Then down the Carrer de la Sèquia to where it forks, left onto the Carrer Sant Agustí Vell and suddenly a vestige of that same edifice, though not at all signposted as such, appears to the left just demanding to be investigated.
I did not, on this occasion, have time to stop for a coffee here, here being the Bar del Convent apparently, but some day I will have plural days in Barcelona and then it’s getting done. I feel as if they might have reason to overcharge in the way that most Barcelona places do despite not being covered in Gothic vaulting. There seems to be a lot going on here and endeavours worth supporting, too. It’s a good space and even if monastic quiet is not what you’re now getting here, I’m glad it has uses.
Then finally three pictures I can’t work out my route for. Presumably I wasn’t just zig-zagging accidentally over the city, but no attempt I can make with Google Maps makes a sensible route out of these.
There’s always more to find, though. A substantial fraction of this city seems to be reused medieval fabric, and every now and then you’ll turn your head and just about catch it…