Let’s talk about the post office building of Barcelona.A building that, despite being really close to everybody, is seldomly visited, and very few know its interior and enjoy the view of its dome.
A Little history
Barcelona’s first postal service started in the year 1338, being managed by a group of people, with its headquarters in Capilla d’en Marcús, in the middle of Barrio de la Ribera (now “Barrio del Born”). We will talk more about it in the next posts, just know that it’s one of the oldest buildings that are still intact, with parts of its structure being of roman style.
In 1716, King Felipe V incorporated the postal service to the Spanish kingdom and its headquarters moved to Carrer Correu Vell (el correo viejo, the old post office).
That was not its final location, and the headquarters kept relocating to various places in the city.
Finally, in the beginning of the 20th century, the project that we’re observing now finally arrived.
Via Laietana was about to be open, a new avenue in the middle of “casco antiguo” that connected the modern “Barcelona del Eixample” with the sea. In this context, a new project for a post office building was created, whose activity had been transforming due to the arrival of new means of transport.
Features of the Post Office building
The building, designed by architects Josep Goday and Jaume Torres i Grau and of neoclassical style, was built between 1916 and 1929, and open at the same time as that year’s universal exposition, whose main venue was Barcelona.
Built with stones from Montjuïc digging site, a mountain that is a symbol of Barcelona, with a main facade that has 4 giant columns, a baseboard with the inscription CORREOS Y TELÉGRAFOS, four sculptures of feminine figures that represent communications, transportations and the Spanish royal house shield, at the time of King Alfonso XIII.
But without a doubt, the most attractive part lies inside the building. So don’t miss it when you are around this area.
This is a public building, which means there is no entrance fee, and the access is not restricted.
Honestly, most people don’t include this site during their visit, and miss the chance to enjoy the inside part of it. But it’s worth the effort to climb its stairs, and marvel with the crystal dome that crowns the central part of the building, filling it with natural light.
And what about using the postal service itself?: A postcard of Barcelona in your hand, sending it to a loved one, like in the “old days”.
Sitting in the post office stairs (maybe enjoying a sandwich from Bo de B), you will still be attracted to a weird shaped sculpture, full of colors, known as “La Cabeza de Barcelona” o “La Cara de Barcelona” (the head/face of Barcelona)
It was built between 1991 and 1992, key years for the transformations that the city was living, with the arrival of the Olympic games.
In that period, “Barna” was filling with new pieces of art, and this was one of them. Big and attractive: approximately 15mts high, and 6mts wide. It is a smaller version of one of the heads created by north American artist Roy Lichtenstein, from a series called “Pinceladas” (Brushstrokes).
In this case in particular, with its Pop Art language, “Cap de Barcelona” is an homage to the great catalan artist Antoni Gaudí.
What elements prove this?
The chromatic impact, the raised red spots and the ceramic coating in a mosaic kind of style, this technique was so common among modern artists, and so typical in the works of the creator of Sagrada Familia or Parc Güell.
Located in Passeig Colom, few metres from Moll de la Fusta, right in the middle of Barcelona’s traffic, it’s very hard to miss, and not to enjoy.
One of the best sandwich places of Barcelona, with affordable prices and an ideal location for everyone in Barcelona, both tourists and locals. A “bar on a budget” not to be missed, whenever in a rush, with few money in the wallet and very hungry.
We could say, without any fear of being wrong, that it’s already a classic of Barcelona.
Its reputation is so big that now goes beyond any frontier, and when you reach its door you’ll find out that its clients come from all over the world. Everyone who’s visiting Barcelona with a tight budget, but still craving for delicious things and very hungry, is usually waiting on the line to buy their sandwich in Bo de B.
It’s a little place, around the corner from the post office, located in one of the ends of the Barrio Gótico. They started this business 11 years ago, and the reputation they have gained has to do with the most important thing we are looking for when it’s time to eat: fresh products, tasty, with generous portions and affordable prices.
This is why this place gained a spot in our list of recommendations, and in this section we call “bars on a budget”, in which we like to share some info about places to eat and drink, with good quality, and without breaking the bank.
Truth is, to be clear: this is not exactly a bar per se.
As a matter of fact they don’t sell alcohol, and most people buy their food to take away.
We’re not going to lie, we want you to trust us, since Bo de B, even though their business model may not seem adequate, it’s perfect for this section, as far as quality and prices are concerned.
If you want to eat well and on a budget, this is the place to go.
You can always buy beers in any of the supermarkets that are nearby, that is never an issue in Barcelona.
Let’s now talk about the next thing coming, Bo de B: its (curious) name is in Catalan. “Bo” is good (bueno), and the B, of our dear Barcelona.
So its name is no lie: this is the Good of Barcelona.
What do they offer? Especially “bocadillos”, which means sandwiches.
You will find all the options in the window outside, so you can already decide which one you are going to enjoy, while you are waiting in line: beef sandwich, chicken, salmon, vegetables only and burgers.
All of those cost around 4 euros. For 50 cents more, you can add the Feta cheese, something we strongly recommend.
Now, if you have more time, can’t eat bread or want to sit down while eating and relax Bo de B has some tables (not many) inside the place.
You can eat your sandwich there, or enjoy any of the other options that they offer in the menu: their meals on plate.
They consist of a variety of vegetables, salads, with the option to add ingredients like chicken or beef for example, which are cooked on the spot.
These plates are big and generous, and even though they cost a couple of euros more than sandwiches, they are perfect if you want something natural and fresh, that will fill you up for many hours.
Let’s focus on something: the freshness of the products, especially here in Bo de B where they are cooked on the spot. When your turn finally arrives, they ask you for the option you chose, and the meat (already marinated) is cooked right there. So this is not a fast food place at all, and the lines during high season can get pretty long.
But it’s always worth the wait.
How does Bo de B work?
We tell you this because after years serving their customers, they developed a system that makes the place more efficient.
We are going to share this info, in case you are new to places like this. When you reach the place you will probably meet with the people in line. In fact, in our video we said that, at 12:05pm, 5 minutes after opening, there were several people before us.
This detail is essential: if you are going to buy your food to take away, like we did, the line to follow is the one that extends towards the right of the door (looking at the door). On the other hand, if you want to eat inside Bo de B, the line for that is on the left side. This way, they are able to serve us, their clients, more efficiently.
Here’s another detail: since there is not much space inside, the line is formed outside and only 1 or 2 people at a time are let in, as soon as they are done serving other customers.
Lots of rules, right? Don’t worry, this is not the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld. These people are lovely, and when you’re there, they will receive you with a big smile and a good vibe.
And now, with the sandwich in your hand, and your stomach begging for mercy after stimulating it with the aromas and colors of Bo de B, you look for a place to finally satiate your hunger.
The brave ones, or the ones with a very wide mouth, can eat and walk at the same time something impossible for most customers.
This is not the case, due to my tiny hands. If you are like me, and you don’t want all that you ate to end up on your clothes, let us suggest the perfect spot to eat your sandwich without fear: the post office’s stairs, right in front of Bo de B.
Same place we, and many more, did choose, in the video we already shared. The sun accompanies you, some pigeons as well, and this turns into a nice place to relax for some minutes, while enjoying the texture and all the great flavors that a nice sandwich like this has.
The warm bread, spongy inside and crunchy outside; the variety of vegetables, the spicy and marinated meat, the feta cheese, melting, and the sauces that keep it all together… they tend to drip a little, watch out for that.
So in the end, sandwiches in Bo de B are best eaten while sitting down, with your legs wide open, to keep your clothes clean, knowing that your mouth and hands are going to get dirty.
What a joy it gives, how delicious, and how good it is to have it for this cheap!
While you enjoy what you had in Bo de B you can check out some interesting spots nearby, like thePost Officeor theCap de Barcelona esculpture.
Here are the directions, for when you are in the Barrio Gótico:
Believe it or not, there are people who, when they see it for the first time, surrounded by cranes and laborers at work, think they are restoring it. Well no, it is not like that. The Sagrada Familia was never finished, hence all that movement around it.
It all started in 1882, when a neighbor from the area called Bocabella decided to promote the construction of a church in that area, which was not yet part of Barcelona (it was a town outside the city). An architect was hired but he only worked for one year, abandoning the project in 1883.
It is at this moment that Antoni Gaudí i Cornet enters the scene and the history of this temple changes forever. Gaudí wold dedicate almost 40 years of his life to the Sagrada Familia, until his death in 1926. And during so many years of work, he only built one façade and finished the crypt, where he is buried today.
That façade, that of the Nativity and the most famous of this temple, together with the crypt, are today an UNESCO World Heritage Site. And just by looking at them, one can understand why.
But the development of the project and its construction have not been easy. Financing was a problem, since Sagrada Familia had not received money from the State or the Church: it had always been maintained thanks to private donations or aid generated by the neighbors themselves.
Hence the time it took to complete it. Today, the Sagrada Familia can announce its completion date: the year 2026, when the 100th anniversary of the death of its creator, Antoni Gaudí, will be commemorated.
Tips to visit the Sagrada Familia
If you ask us which is the building / museum / attraction of Barcelona that you must visit, we would say that this is it. The Sagrada Familia is unique, its architecture is incredible and the experience of visiting it is unforgettable. So here are some tips for you:
Buying tickets in advance: This is very important, since most of the time, when you arrive at the church, you will discover that the tickets are sold out. To avoid wasting time, queues or stress (especially if you are staying in Barcelona for a few days) we recommend being proactive and buying tickets online. They are also a little cheaper than at the box office.
Since we are talking about buying online,here’s the link to the website where you can do it: www.sagradafamilia.org, the official website of the temple. Only on this website you can check the actual availability of tickets. There are many websites that resell tickets, but they do not always have availability in real time, and they tend to sell them a little more expensive, because they add a management fee. To guarantee that you will not have surprises, make your purchase on the official website.
Among the offers of tickets you will see that the cheapest one does not have any guided tour or audio guide. It only includes admission to the Sagrada Familia. If you are not on a tight budget, we recommend you to visit with a guide (audio guide or with an official temple guide). This way your visit will be complete and you will be able to understand everything that Gaudí wanted to convey with his culminating work.
When making the purchase, you will discover that you must choose an entrance time. It is the best way to avoid queues and also, by doing so, they control the number of people inside the church, as there is a capacity limit . Big advice: get tickets for the morning or midday hours. When the sun is up and through the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia, the spectacle inside is wonderful. Especially in winter, the earlier the better, because you will have better natural light.
And now, enjoy the experience of being in front of this work of art, that Gaudí has given us in Barcelona. And, in case you want to have a nice meal or a drink, before or after your visit, do not hesitate to go to RARO (click on this link to see the article).
In the same neighborhood where the Sagrada Familia is located (and the so recommended RARO, about which we talk in this link), a few blocks away, is another of the great modernist works of that period: the Hospital de the Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
This hospital is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the work of another great architect from the Catalan Modernism. His name was Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The first Hospital de la Santa Creu was located in the Raval neighborhood, and its construction began in 1401, unifying the six hospitals that had been in Barcelona until then, in one. It would be the city’s public hospital for almost 500 years. But by 1926 it was insufficient for a modern Barcelona, so the project of this new hospital began, which today is only a 10-minute walk from the Sagrada Familia.
In 1902 the cornerstone was laid and the inauguration of the new facilities would come in 1930. Sant Pau was added to the original name of the Santa Creu, in this new site, due to the contribution and legacy of the banker Pau Gil, that allowed the construction of this hospital.
In 2009, the sanitary activity moved to more modern facilities, in the far northern part of this architectural complex.
And today the Hospital de Sant Pau, as the locals call it, is a more than interesting museum to delve into the modernist world, but also in the new concepts of medicine of the early twentieth century.
The original project
It was conceived as a space that could house all the services inside of it and be isolated from the city. In fact, at the time of its construction, the hospital was far from the center of Barcelona and this area was an excursion destination on Sundays. That is why it was designed with its own streets, gardens, a church and even a convent.
It was supposed to occupy about 9 blocks, with a central building where the Administration tasks of the hospital were carried out. Then, about 27 medical and nursing pavilions were developed. All the buildings were linked by underground galleries, to transfer the sick, and all of them converged at the center of the complex: the surgical ward.
The architect would also pay special attention to the use of natural light and fresh air, considering that the recovery of a patient is not only related to medical care. It is also influenced by light, color, fresh air and the beauty of a garden.
Hence, the hospitalization wings had delicately decorated ceilings and walls, and a space similar to a winter garden, so that the sick could be surrounded by beauty, even in the midst of their seclusion.
If you are passionate about architecture, medicine, or you just really like to enjoy the beauty of an incredible building, be sure to take a tour of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, so close to the Sagrada Familia, that it would be a shame to lose the opportunity.
Both buildings are connected by Av. Gaudí, a tree-lined promenade full of gastronomic offers, where you will meet many locals who enjoy this public space.
The Hospital de Sant Pau has free visits (not free of charge, “free” means that they are done without a guide), from Monday to Saturday all day, and on Sundays and holidays the closing time is at 3pm. Anyway, as the hours can vary according to the season, we suggest to check out the hospital’s official website. They also do guided tours, on special hours depending on the language. Here’s the website, where you can also check the prices of the tickets.
And this is THE tip: if you are in Barcelona on the first Sunday of each month, you can enjoy this magnificent museum for free (now yes, free of charge!). We only recommend you to reconfirm the schedule (and even book the ticket online, free of charge) on the Hospital’s website, just to make sure there is no changes and that you get your free ticket.
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