Barcelona has been over time the muse of artists of all disciplines. Many writers chose it as the setting for their novels, allowing to get to know every corner through history while jumping from page to page. That is why, from Hostemplo today we bring you a very special visit to celebrate International Book Day: 8 recommendations to explore the streets of Barcelona through reading. Ready to travel back in time?
CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA (Ildefonso Falcones)
We begin our itinerary in medieval Barcelona, when the city lives its greatest economic splendor. “Cathedral of the Sea” tells us about the construction of the temple of Santa Maria del Mar, which can still be visited today in the Born district. The inhabitants of the humble fishing district of Ribera, where the city grew up, decide to build a temple, the largest dedicated to Mother Mary, with the participation and enjoyment of the neighbors. In the story, the main character, young Arnau, takes refuge in Barcelona fleeing his feudal lord and immerses us in a world where loyalty and revenge, betrayal and love, war and plague mix up, surprisingly recreating the lights and shadows of the feudal era.
THE CITY OF MARVELS (Eduardo Mendoza)
We leap in time and reach the last years of the 19th century and early 20th century. The title “The City of Marvels” refers to the process of modernization and change that Barcelona experienced on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the International Exhibition of 1929. The promenade and the monument of Columbus, the Moll de la Fusta, the origins of the Eixample (from the famous Cerda plan), the Magic Fountain of Montjuc or the Three Chimneys of Poble Sec are just some of the many constructions of that time. In the early stages of electricity and with a society evolving towards industrialization, the book narrates the journeys of Onofre Bouvila, an immigrant with no resources who delivers anarchist propaganda and sells hair-restorer, who ends up reaching the peak of financial and criminal power.
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND (Carlos Ruiz Zafón)
“The Shadow of the Wind” is a literary thriller set in Barcelona in the first half of the 20th century, from the last lights of Modernism to the darkness of the post-war period. Intrigue, suspense and historical novel are set in braiding plots and mysteries that have their starting point in a cursed book that the protagonist, Daniel, finds in an enigmatic place hidden in the heart of the old city: the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
LAST AFTERNOONS WITH TERESA (Juan Marsé)
With this work we arrive at the less tourist Barcelona, like El Carmel, in the middle of the post-war period. We also walk through a more unusual Barcelona, such as the upper part of the district of Gracia, Turó de la Rovira or Sanllehy Square. The novel tells us the love story between two young people, Teresa and Manolo, who live in disparate social contexts: she is the daughter of a wealthy bourgeois family and he is a young immigrant who makes a living in a humble neighborhood. Their history reflects all the contradictions of an era, the splendor and misery of the social classes, and the feelings of those who have lived a war, while being a subtle critique of the Catalan bourgeoisie of the time.
THE SOUTHERN SEAS (Manuel Vázquez Montalbán)
“The South Seas” is part of a series of police novels starring detective Pepe Carvalho in which the city of Barcelona acquires such prominence that it becomes another character in the story. The discovery of the body of a businessman on the outskirts of Barcelona and the consequent investigation lead Carvalho to tour the city from the upper wealthiest areas to the underworld, finding all kinds of people in his way. But this is not a common detective novel. The book is a profound critique of the Spanish society of the Transition period and a key piece to understand this important stage of the history of Spain.
NO WORD FROM GURB (Eduardo Mendoza)
This time Eduardo Mendoza takes us to pre-Olympic Barcelona, where Gurb, an alien who gets lost in the city when he lands, tells us through his own diary all kinds of adventures that take place while his fellow alien tries to find him. In this fun book the author portrays the true face of today’s man behind satire and parody through the peculiar skill of the protagonist to adopt any aspect he wishes.
86 CUENTOS (86 TALES) (Quim Monzó)
These 86 tales are the result of the review of the author’s five books of stories. There are 86 stories of fantasy and reality that introduce us to the particular world of the author with Barcelona as a stage. Daily scenes that lead to unexpected entanglements and encounters.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS (Milena Busquets)
We are already in today’s Barcelona and we go on holiday to Cadaqués with the protagonist of “This too shall pass”. There, the author recounts her personal experiences through the story of Blanca, who has just lost her mother. The book tells us about universal themes: pain and love, fear and desire, sadness and laughter, desolation and the beauty of the landscape, all through an intimate and profound, yet light to read, story.
How did you like our journey through the time and streets of Barcelona? If you have any other recommendations that may lead us to know corners and secrets of the city, let us know! In the meantime, we invite you to enjoy these stories so that you can soon come and visit in person the places where they take place. And remember, you can book your stay at Hostemplo through our website, you will have free breakfast throughout your stay!