10 mar. 2014

Barri de LA RIBERA - El Born: When Barcelona was demolished

Were now is Parc de La Ciutadella, a whole neighbourhood named LA RIBERA stood 300 years ago.

To make a long story short, in 1705 Catalonia decided to ally with the supporters of Archduke Karl of Habsburg who claimed the throne of Spain in front of the Bourbon pretender. The Bourbons won the War of Succession and, in 1714, Catalonia suffered a heavy defeat. (A bit of history in the Generalitat de Catalunya website).

Taking the wrong side in that war had many unpleasant and long lasting consequences for Catalonia: restrains to Catalan economy, repression of the political institutions, a permanent contempt of Catalan culture and values, and, in Barcelona, the strict watchfulness of the population with guns placed in Montjuïc and in La Ciutadella ready to shoot the citizens, and the complete destruction of a big part of the neighbourhood of La Ribera.  

La Ribera was a vibrant neighbourhood with streets and buildings that dated back to the Middle Ages. All those were destroyed and the only remains to be seen are in Born Centre Cultural . If you go there, you will see the foundations of many houses and streets that were discovered when the works to turn the old market into a public library started, some years ago.

The mediaeval La Ribera was almost completely destroyed but part of its spirit remained in the surviving streets. Until 1971, Mercat del Born was the central market of Barcelona, and the streets that surrounded it were full of shops and dealers working in or for the market. With the closure of the market many of those shops closed, and little by little the activity of the neighbourhood changed. Now most of the old commerce activity has been replaced in favour of restaurants and shops focused mainly to tourists in what is known as Barri del Born.

And yet, something survives: A shop, known as MAGATZEM LA RIBERA (Plaça Comercial 11) still keeps the old times flavour. It is just in front of Mercat del Born (now Born Centre Cultural). And it's good place to buy excellent “bacallà” at a good price. They have also a good selection of wine, olives, and cheeses, among other delicacies. If you are near, come inside and have a look, even if you don’t have to buy a thing. It may not last long. 

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