Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Sant Jaume, the Roman Walls, Plaça del Rei and the Church of Santa María del Mar, in the Born neighbourhood, were the sights that the students visited on 27th November.
The Santa Llúcia Christmas Market is under way in the Plaça de la Catedral. EAE’s tour guides gave the participants an overview of the traditional products that can be found at this time of year, such as the Caganer and the Tió. On the steps of the Cathedral, they were also informed about the patron saints of Barcelona, the legends of Santa Eulàlia and La Mercè, which is celebrated at the end of September and is a public holiday in the city.
The maze-like streets of the Gothic quarter were included on this guided tour, leading the students to two locations with a wealth of history: Plaça Santa Jaume and Plaça del Rei. The first is overlooked by two buildings facing each other: the Barcelona City Council and the seat of the Catalan Government, the Generalitat. There is also a large nativity scene on display in the square.
The students were fascinated by the architectural treasures of the Gothic quarter. “This is my first cultural visit with EAE. I have already been to the Sagrada Familia and Barceloneta, but I am really enjoying this tour”, said Stefany Wilhelm, a Guatemalan students on the Master in Human Resource Management. “I am learning a lot on the Master. It is all new to me as I am a clinical psychologist”. Stefany would like to do an internship while she is studying here, before returning to her country.
Meanwhile, Columbian students Sindy Alonso knows various parts of Barcelona, including the Parc de la Ciutadella and Barceloneta. She is taking the Master in Human Resource Management, which she is enjoying but fins somewhat academic. “We need more practice”, she adds. She is looking for an internship to combine with her studies.
The beautiful, small Plaça de San Felip Neri was another meeting point, where the participants were told of some of the horrors of the Civil War, signs of which are still clear to see on the church’s façade, which is pockmarked with bullet holes from the period. This square is a peaceful haven in the city centre to relax and have a drink in the terrace of the hotel located there.
In contrast, Plaça del Rei is grand and monumental, surrounded by Gothic and Renaissance buildings, most of which form part of the Palau Reial Major, a palace that was the residence and seat of government for the Counts of Barcelona and the kings of Aragón. It includes some of the most important buildings of the palatial complex: the Tinell, which sits under the tower known as the Mirador del Rei Martí, the Chapel of Santa Ágata and the noble house of Lloctinent.
EAE’s visits seem like a great idea to the students. “They really enrich our experience in the city. I have had the chance to discover the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, etc. I am taking the Master in Online Marketing and Electronic Commerce and I chose EAE because somebody recommended it to me”, explained Jorge Álvarez, a Chilean marketing professional who believes that all things digital are the future. “If there is a good opportunity to work or do an internship here, I would stay for a couple of years”, he added.
Moving on the El Born neighbourhood, the EAE students had the chance to discover the Call, or old Jewish quarter, and the streets that are each dedicated to a different profession. Calle Argentería leads down one of Barcelona’s most beloved churches the Basilica of Santa María del Mar. The construction of the church began in 1329, as we can see from the door slabs on the Portal de les Moreres (which leads on to the Fossar de les Moreres mass grave memorial site). It is worth highlighting that it was agreed that the church originally belonged exclusively to the parishioners of the Port area and the La Ribera neighbourhood, as the sole parties responsible for the material upkeep of the temple, as they had funded its construction, whether in the form of money or work. It seems that the entire population of the La Ribera neighbourhood actively took part in the construction, particularly the dock workers, known as the Galafates de la Ribera or bastaixos, who transported the enormous stones for the construction of the church from the royal quarry of Montjuïc and the beaches, which is where the district’s church takes its name from. In 1383, the last part of the dome was put in place and the first mass was held the following year.