20 de December de 1840 - La Audiencia Real, la Catedral, los jardines de la Ciudadela, los pavos, las murallas (1149 + 78)

I went on shore with one of our party to M. Gauttier d’Arc’s house, which, as is usual in Spain, consists of one floor, and in this case is a very handsome suite of fine large rooms. Our host was soon ready to go out with us, and his taste and information making him a valuable guide, we were delighted to profit by his kindness. And first we reached the Audiencia Real, a very curious and beautifully decorated old building,—a mixture of Moorish and later Gothic,—where the states of Catalonia formerly assembled, and which is still used on occasions of the sovereign holding audiences. There is a beautifully carved archway, and a very handsome and picturesque staircase (with the cloisters up stairs enclosed with glass) leads to the first floor, with beautifully ornamented architecture, from whence a door opens to a small square garden with fountains, and enormous orange-trees covered with fruit. In a room beyond is kept an exceedingly curious piece of needlework, of the date of 1500, of St. George killing the dragon, exquisitely worked, —the figures with much expression; and a most elaborate landscape of trees, houses, castles, rivers, horses, fields, and figures.

A curious missal may also be seen, if asked for, though they do not appear to take much care of it. It is on vellum, beautifully illuminated, and extremely well printed. It was executed at Lyons for the city of Barcelona, and is dated 29th April, 1521

The Audiencia Real is well worth seeing by those who come to Barcelona, though it is not much spoken of.

We next went to the cathedral; and wishing to walk over it more at leisure, we waited till mass was over, which to-day was numerously attended. The tribune of the former Counts of Barcelona remains on high, behind a grille; and midway up one side still exists a small but unattainable door, formerly leading to the chambers of the Inquisition, which joined the old cathedral.

In a side-room under many locks is an iron door, which lifts up with a strong pulley, within which is kept a very fine gold reliquary, hung all over with jewels, the gifts of different sovereigns, and among them the collar of the Toison d’Or, which the emperor Charles the Fifth gave when he held a chapter in the cathedral, when he first came to Barcelona in 1529. The arms of Henry the Eighth of England, among those of other knights, are painted on the seats round the choir, the carving of which and of the pulpits is beautiful, as well as most of the details of the building. I had never before heard of the beauty of this cathedral; and though much smaller, yet from its mournful grandeur as a whole, and exquisite detail, it is, in my opinion, to be admired next to Seville. We next ascended one of the towers, and came to a small habitation half-way up, where Mr. Hawke was residing, for the sake of drawing the details of the interior. The roof of the cloisters makes a fine terrace, and the view from the higher roofs of the cathedral, extending over the town to the mountains of Monserrat, is very fine. We then descended, and crossed the Rambla to a street in which we saw what little remains of the house of the unfortunate avocat who was murdered by the mob, two or three months ago, for calling out «Viva la Reina» on the previous evening. He killed ten men before he was himself assassinated. The assailants got possession of his house by making an opening through a side wall. Next day they dragged his dead body before the windows of M. Gauttier d’Arc, and before those of the Queen Christina.

On our way back to the ship we were joined by our consul, and several more of our friends, and walked round a public garden beyond the custom-house, laid out in parterres, fountains, and pieces of water, and called the General’s Garden. The citadel, which is on the north side of the mole, was built by Philip the Fifth, from the designs of Vauban, after he had reduced the Catalonians; and has six strong bastions, and covers a great extent of flat ground by the sea-side. Our friends accompanied us to the pier, where we took leave of them with gratitude for the kindness which, in spite of weather, had made our stay at Barcelona so pleasant. Had the season been less advanced, we should have liked to have complied with their proposal of escorting us to Monserrat, and some of the villages on the coast, which are said to be beautiful. We afterwards paid a parting visit to M. Rigault de Genouilly in the «Surprise,» to thank him for the assistance he had given us.

In the evening, we returned to the General’s Garden, and by a long alameda to the walls. There was great excitement in this part of the town, created by immense flocks of turkeys, which were promenading about on some waste ground, each flock directed and occasionally thrashed by six or seven peasants (the number being proportioned to the size of the flock), who surrounded by crowds of people, were admonishing their charge with long canes. The streets and walks were quite full, the population of Barcelona being immense. To-morrow all would be let loose, as it is the «fair of turkeys,» every individual considering it a positive duty to have one of these birds for Christmas-day, an occasion on which it is said all Barcelona goes wild. The poor people, who have no means of roasting them at home, send them to the bakers; so that sometimes these latter have six or seven thousand turkeys to dress.

We made the circuit of the walls, and found their strength very great. The fortifications which surround the town are admirably constructed; they are flanked on the eastern side by the low but formidable works of the citadel, and on the western by the towering ramparts of the fortress of Monjuich.

We returned by the Rambla and the rampart over the sea, under one end of which is a prison; and on the esplanade above, the troops were assembled, and the band playing; crowds of people extended all the way down the mole. The great walk on the walls, reaching the whole length of the harbor, was, as well as the mole, constructed by the Marquis de la Mina, who died in 1768.

Some troops were embarking on board the «Manzanares,» a fine Spanish twenty-gun brig for Port Mahon: these we were, however, destined to meet again sooner than any of us expected. In the evening we had a visit from M. Eigault de Genouilly, who came to give us advice and directions about our navigation through the straits of Bonifazio, by which we intended to proceed on our course to Civita Vecchia,

, Narrative of a yacht voyage in the Mediterranean during 1840-41 (1842).

Comentarios del compilador


I was going to write something about bloody guiri tourists but actually the bit about Barcelona going mad for turkey at Christmas (something not so typical these days, in my experience). Did this practice predate turkey eating in England?

I must say that when we prepared a ‘traditional’ English turkey roast with all the trimmings last year, the family loved it. One wonders why they bother with thin soup and fish most other years.

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