The Habsburg dynasty left an important mark on Barcelona. For a short period of time, the city once again became the capital of the court, something that had not happened since the 15th Century. However, the city awoke from this Austrian dream and had to deal with troops loyal to the Bourbons who were advancing across Catalonia towards Barcelona.
This period is reflected in several medieval buildings, which were the focus of EAE’s cultural visit, in which students took a tour around the city’s Gothic Quarter, the neighbourhoods of La Ribera and El Born. The visit started in Plaza del Rei, which forms part of the Palacio Real Mayor complex, the residence and seat of government of the Counts of Barcelona’s and Kings of Aragon. The building that encloses this rectangular square is known as Casa Padellás, which dates back to the 16th Century and which was transported brick by brick from its original location on Calle Mercaders.
Inside, the students had the opportunity to look at a scale model of the city in the Medieval era, when the city walls enclosed Barcelona into what are now known as the El Gótic and La Ribera neighbourhoods. Remains of the walls can still be seen today at the bottom of Las Ramblas, in the Paral·lel area.
After this, the students moved on to Plaza Sant Jaume, where there are some very unique buildings, such as the Palau de la Generalitat, which dates back to the 17th Century, and the Barcelona City Council, which is more modern, although the 15th Century façade of the building and its old central doorway have been preserved to this day.
On these visits, students have the chance to learn about Barcelona’s history. For instance, Amanda Unda, a student on the Master in Marketing and Commercial Management, explained that her classmates on the Master had recommended the visits to her because they are accompanied by a guide and they let you discover parts and details of the city that you would not otherwise get to know. She is very interested in history, which is why she signed up for this tour. She is currently doing an internship and hopes to spend more time here.
Similarly, Maryerly, a student on the Master in Project Management, was interested to find out about the history of the places that they were walking through. “It is part of the city that I am not really familiar with and I am really keen to find out more. The visit is very interesting because know I understand lots of things about the mixture of more historical buildings with more modern ones in the city”. Maryerly would like to do an internship in Barcelona.
In the Middle Ages, the neighbourhoods of La Ribera and El Born were where the traders and craftsmen sold their wares, which is why many of the streets are named after trades. The guided tour continued along the popular Calle Montcada, which is the site of several medieval mansions, such as the one which is now home to the Picasso Museum and Palau Dalmases.
In the neighbourhood of La Ribera, Barcelona extends very close to the sea, which facilitated commercial transactions at the time. At this point of the tour, the students had the chance to look around the Basilica of Santa María del Mar, both inside and out. Construction on the basilica began in 1329, as can be seen on the stone slabs of the Portal de las Moreras, which leads onto the Fossar de les Moreres, which is a construction that exclusively belonged to the parishioners of the Port area and La Ribera. They were the sole owners of the materials used to build the temple, as they bore all the costs, either with their money or labour.
A key feature of the building is the fact that the entire population of La Ribera actively participated in its construction, particularly the stevedores at the dock, who transported enormous stones to build the church from the royal quarry at Montjuïc and from the beaches. In view of this, the basilica is also known as the people’s church.