The Cuiner de Damasc, as we have already said, has an unbeatable location if you are visiting the Old Town of Barcelona, and its heart: the Gothic Quarter. Although they have tables inside the premises, many also choose to take their kebab and eat it outside; and steps away, is the Placa de Sant Miquel, a large space to enjoy the sun and make yourself comfortable.
This square was not always like this
In fact, its configuration is quite modern, if we think that this place has been part of Barcelona for more than 2000 years.
So let’s review the changes a bit: in Roman times, some hot springs were located in this same square. But after the empire ended and with the consolidation of Christianity, the same space was occupied by a Romanesque church that was built on the structure of the Roman building.
The name of the current square comes from the name of this church, which was the Sant Miquel church.
The construction stood until its demolition in 1868, dated back in 1147, being one of the oldest churches in Barcelona. It is worth clarifying that before this, there had been another Romanesque church, which also was destroyed in 1145.
As the temple had been built on the bases of the Roman baths, the nave had the mosaics of this ancient construction on its floor, with motifs of fishes and monsters in black. Today, they are in the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia, for those who want to see them personally.
The 1147 Romanesque church underwent several renovations throughout the centuries. In the 16th century, a Gothic-Renaissance door was added on one side, which had the image of Sant Miquel on the tympanum.
In 1868 the demolition of the church was decided in order to expand the City Council offices, which ended a year later.
The church was “dismembered” and some of its elements can still be seen in Barcelona. For example, the Gothic-Renaissance façade is today part of the Church of la Mercè, in Carrer Ample. If you look closely, you can see on the stones the numbers that were used to identify the order of the stones, used in the transfer process.
The square today
Today, in the middle of the square, we see a sculpture that is very significant for the Catalan culture, but which generates some confusion at first glance.
More than one thinks they see a fence or the wire mesh that covers the champagne or champagne bottles. And if you are one of the latter, in reality, you are not so disoriented.
According to the sculptor, Antoni Llena i Font, the idea for this work came to him one day when he was buying wine and he saw it. He thought that “it was a very nice abstraction to make the castle, because it contains the idea of cohesion, fragility, transparency.”
Now, you may be wondering: what “castell”? Well there we go. One of the Catalan traditions that we like the most, and that is repeated every time there is a party in the cities and towns, is that of the Castellers: human towers, human castles, built on the basis of trust, cooperation, solidarity and a lot of effort.
And they represent what we can achieve together as a society, if we collaborate and put the best of each other for that common good.
The sculpture by Antoni Llena i Font is called Homenatge als Castellers, and although it was an idea in development since 2004, it gained momentum and materialized with its inauguration in 2011. And this materialization occurred because a year before the castellers were recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The work consists of 12, 10cms diameter stainless steel tubes, which intertwine until reaching 26.5 meters in height. At the same time, it represents the fragility and strength of a castle.
If you are far from Catalonia, we invite you to watch a video of one of the castellers performances on YouTube (you will find hundreds of videos). But if you are lucky enough to see them live, in these lands, do not miss the opportunity. It is a more than exciting show and always takes place around celebrations and parties.
And if you are truly willing to know this world of the castellers, we promise we will make a video about them, so you can know them more thoroughly. A promise is a debt.
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