Barcelona, city of a thousand dragons
Throughout history and since the Middle Ages, dragons They have chosen Barcelona like the city where to stay to live forever. Since then, it is possible to know the magic of its buildings and corners through a route in which, expectant and discreet, These beings become peculiar hosts of the city.
Barcelona, city of a thousand dragons © Alamy
Belonging to the popular imaginary, the dragon It is one of the most fantastic animals in the world. Each culture has given it various characteristics throughout history, as well, in the Far East it is synonymous with knowledge and good luck Y in European folklore it is considered a symbol of evil. Perverse or not, if there is a place to walk among these creatures, that is Barcelona. The Catalan capital serves as a refuge for more than a thousand reptiles that, perched on a facade or watching from a lamp, have taken the city from past times.
They say that the first dragons "arrived" in Catalan territory in the XV century, Next to the legend of Sant Jordi. His image as a knight and Christian martyr was so profound that, in 1456, he was declared patron of Catalonia. But it was his heroic deed, for he killed the dragon that was about to devour a princess, which made him during the Middle Ages, one of the most widespread myths throughout Europe.
Casa Batlló or the skin of the dragon © Alamy
The truth is that the City of Barcelona could have been the scene of the feat of St. George, since it was an intramural city and was completely surrounded by Roman and medieval walls until well into the 19th century. At that time, the Industrial Revolution brought huge population growth and it was necessary to tear down part of the walls and carry out a widening, to avoid problems of hygiene and space. Curiously, Eixample is the area with the highest density of dragons, since in its wide streets it was where the majority of modernist buildings were built, an artistic movement that felt an intense attraction for the figure of this animal, for its mythological origin and its connection with a medieval past. Since then, a large number of buildings in Barcelona provide shelter for all types of dragons.
Made of forge, stone, stained glass or trencadís, the dragons and saurus that guard Barcelona can be found in all sizes and colors, climbing facades with their sharp claws, under cornices and balconies, or sunbathing as a lizard on a sunny morning. Their representation is loaded with great symbolism and they are a clear reflection of the ideas of the Renaixença: mythology, history, religion and a revaluation of Catalan culture. It was Antoni Gaudí who gave the city some of his best-known dragons, but not only "Gaudinian creatures" boasts Barcelona, and the city has countless buildings where you can find them.
In the monumental crossing that is Passeig de Gracia, between the streets of Aragó and Consell del Cent the section known as the “appearsDiscord's Apple”, Because in it the three most prestigious and avant-garde architects of the modernist current built, almost competing in beauty, three majestic bourgeois palaces: the Lleó Morera House, the Amatller House and the Batlló House.
At number 35 of Passeig de Gràcia, the Lleó Morera House It was a commission made in 1905 to Lluis Domènech i Montaner to reform the place occupied by the former Rocamora house. It is a formidable building in which, as in most modernist works, artisanal work stands out. Curiose by the facade the dragons of the arcades of the house glimpse.
Casa Lleó Morera © Alamy
Without giving truce appears, immediately, the Amatller House. The building was designed in 1900 by the brilliant mind of Josep Puig i Cadafalch and the result is a combination of gothic and flamenco styles. In its main entrance, with the naked eye and separating two asymmetric doors, highlights the sculpture of a dragon being annihilated by the spear of St. George. But if you know how to look well with the look on the facade, there may be some other dragon very close.
Amatller House © Alamy
The largest dragon in the city occupies the next plot. Well it was in the Casa Batlló where, in 1906, Antoni Gaudí took the inspiration in this figure a step further, and turned the building into an organic representation of the legend of St. George. The architect designed the roof so that, with its sinuous forms and pieces of ceramic in the form of scales, it resembled the spine of a gigantic dragon crossed by the spear of St. George, which is symbolized by the spire tower that culminates the building .
Casa Batlló or the skin of the dragon © Alamy
Without leaving the Eixample district and located in the 373 Diagonal Avenue shows, with some Plateresque inspiration, the Baró de Quadras Palace, another remodeling carried out by Puig i Cadafalch in 1906. Its stone facade is sculpted with sculptures that almost stumble against each other. And among this ornate ornamentation, in the left corner you can distinguish the image of the legendary fight, and next to the entrance door of a lonely dragon.
Baró de Quadras Palace © Alamy
The numbers 416-420 of the same avenue are occupied by the Terrades House or Les Punxes House that, with its appearance of fairytale castle, stands out dominant among all other buildings of the place. It was built in 1905 by Puig i Cadafalch and it owes its curious name to the six towers that, crowned by conical needles, preside over the building giving it a medieval appearance with the intention of recalling a glorious past. In this case, at the top of the rear facade, a colorful ceramic ceiling light shows the image of the gentleman St. George that remains triumphant over the dejected beast.
Les Punxes House © Alamy
But the search does not end there and another area to enjoy Barcelona with the "dragon hunt" as the main thread is the neighborhood of Ciutat Vella, where Roman ruins and medieval vestiges coexist creating one of the most varied districts of the metropolis.
Perhaps the most colorful dragon of all for its color, shape and location is that of the Bruno Pictures House, located at number 82 of the Rambla and whose reform was commissioned, in 1883, by the architect Josep Vilaseca and Casanovas. The building was a pioneer of Catalan Modernism and for some time it was used as an umbrella shop, hence it is still known as Paraigües House. In its colorful facade predominates a large Chinese wrought iron dragon accompanied by umbrellas, umbrellas and fans in memory of the old trade that was there. Its curious decoration merges with the atmosphere and colors of the Ramblas, making it an inevitable stop for walkers.
Casa dels Paraigües © Alamy
The Palau de la Generalitat is, since its inception, headquarters of the Generalitat of Catalunya. On the facade that overlooks Carrer del Bisbe, a great Gothic medallion with Saint George on horseback, killing the dragon and, beneath them, a succession of gargoyles, one of which symbolizes the princess of the legend. Due to the shape of the helmet worn by the knight, it is known as the "Sant Jordi Astronaut". But this is not the only representation that can be observed in the Palau, because in the Renaissance facade that is located in the Plaça de Sant Jaume, another dragon is struck down in the epic fight.
Generalitat de Catalunya © Alamy
But without any doubt, the fiercest of all these legendary beings it is the one that, wrought in forge, defends the entrance of the Pavilions of the Finca Güell. At Pedralbes neighborhood, at number 7 of the homonymous avenue, are the pavilions of this farm built by Gaudí in 1887. And at the wrought iron gate, a dragon with bat wings and open jaws teaches its tongue. The gate of the dragon with metal wings is possibly one of the most popular creations of the architect, and represents Ladon, the dragon who in Greek mythology was an adversary of Hercules in his eleventh task.
With or without wings, these and many other dragons are hidden throughout Barcelona and although some seem to prefer to go unnoticed, They protect the city while waiting to be discovered.
Entrance to the Güell pavilions © Alamy