Today begins the Festival de la Merce, which will be celebrated until 24th September.During the 4 days there are many different cultural, artistic and festive activities planned for people of all ages.
The festival is organized to celebrate one of the patron of the Barcelona city , exactly the Virgin de la Merce who is responsable a number of miracles related to the city, according to legends. The first of legends says that on 24 September 1218 Virgen de la Merce appeared at the same time to King James I, Saint Peter Nolasco and Saint Raymond of Peñafort and told them to establish a a religious order to save Christian hostages in the lands occupied by the Muslims.
According to secend legend centuries later, in 1687, Barcelona was attacked by a plague of locusts and the locals prayed for help to the Virgin of Mercy. When the plague ended, they announced her as the patron saint of the diocese, and a year later Pope Pius IX officially declared her the patron saint of Barcelona. From 1688, Barcelona began to celebrate religious and popular holidays in honor of Our Lady of Mercy around September 24th.
If you are in Barcelona, I would definitely recommend going to one or all of the events planned during the festival. Everyone will find something interesting. You can admire the traditional side of Barcelona with events such as fire run, devils, human towers, falcons, giants. In the evening, there will be concerts, lights and visual shows on the street and in the Ciutadella park, or mapping on the city hall façade and fireworks.
I am pretty sure that when you were planning your holiday in Barcelona, visiting a cemetery isn’t something that crossed your mind. The cemetery of Poblenou is a hidden gem and I highly recommend you to find a bit of time to take a walk around it. The cemetery is located in the neighborhood of the same name in the city of Barcelona. Also known as the general cemetery of Barcelona, Cementerio del Este, Cementerio de Levante or Cementerio Viejo.
The citizens of Barcelona used to live surrounded by the city walls and tombs. Bacteria and diseases were spreading fast, causing epidemics and plagues. To stop this madness, the city hall decided to create the first cemetery outside of the city walls, in an uninhabited area, close to the Mar Bella beach. It opened in 1775.
At the beginning of 19th century, the army of Napoleon destroyed the tombs. In 1813, young Italian architect Antonio Ginesi was contracted to build a new cemetery. He designed it with two main parts, the section closer to the entrance being particularly complex with thousands of burial niches. Walking towards the back part of the cemetery, you will find the individual tombs of some of the most important and rich citizens of Barcelona. The tombs are spectacularly sculpted and decorated, in different styles and forms.
In 1821. Due to the terrible cholera epidemic in the city, which caused thousands of deaths, the cemetery space had to be fully utilized.
The area, since its inauguration, has been modified several times, the most important of which was in 1849, when Joan Nolla built a pantheon in which the works of famous architects and sculptors are concentrated. This space shows the will, wealth and social prestige of Barcelona’s bourgeoisie from the mid-19th century, even on the graves.
Gracia is a district of Barcelona that dates back to the 17th century. A small village of Gracia (Villa de Gracia) was built around one of the religious orders. In 1850, the small village was connected to the city of Barcelona, but never lost its own character. The district is famous for Casa Vincent by Antoni Gaudi, Park Guell and the Fiesta de Gracia, which begins today! If you’re in Barcelona, you can’t miss this most popular event. The people of Barcelona cannot imagine August without Fiesta de Gracia. The Fiesta de gracia is celebrated from 15.08 to 21.08 and is over 200 years old.
Why is it popular? Many streets in the Gracia district are fantastically decorated by neighbours. Each street has a different topic, you can admire: a garden with flora and fauna (Berga Street), a tent commemorating the novel La plaça del Diamant (Ciudad Real Street), Halloween (Fraternitat de Baix Street), a bar of the 50s. (Fraternitat de Dalt Street), environmental complaint of plastic sea (Jesus Street), Indian village (Joan Blanques de Baix Street), abstract landscape of emotions (Joan Blanques de Dalt Street) or Pantone colours (Pearl Street). All the decorations are made of recyclable materials (thank you, Gracia!). On the last day of the Fiesta one of the streets of Gracia is chosen as the best decorated and wins a prize.
If I still didn’t convince you to visit Gracia, remember that this year there are more than 900 different activities planned for people of all ages. You will find in Gracia: concerts, beer tastings, competitions, workshops, sports activities, parades, Castellers, neighborhood dinners, theatre, exhibitions and outdoor cinema. Go to Gracia and enjoy this amazing and unique event!