8 Books Set in Barcelona that you will love

Many writers have chosen Barcelona as the backdrop to their novel over the years and many have written guides to its streets, its secrets and its past. And it is true that Spain’s cultural capital lends well to the page: from historical dramas, post-war sagas and tales of the Barcelona bourgeoisie to anecdotes, ghost stories and legends.

We’ve compiled this list of 8 books for you to discover another side of Barcelona:  these novels will take you back in time to the Barcelona of the past, uncover its secrets and help you get to know its people and its culture.

Perfect for enjoying a beer or coffee on a sun-drenched terrace, when topping up your tan at the beach or on your journey to Barcelona. Just sit back and enjoy this literary tour of Spain’s cultural capital with these 8 books set in Barcelona.

The City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza

Set during the years between Barcelona’s Universal Expositions (1886–1926), we follow the footsteps of the protagonist Onofre Bouvil – an immigrant, deliverer of anarchist propaganda and hair-tonic seller. In a Barcelona on the cusp of cultural evolution, discover how this ordinary man’s ambition takes him to powerful heights.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This bestselling novel and first of the Cemetery of Forgotten books trilogy is set in a 1945 Barcelona. It is in this cemetery that the novel’s protagonist finds an unusual book that is to change life as he knows it.

What’s more, fans of the saga can visit the parts of Barcelona that inspired Zafón’s stories on one of the many “Shadow of the Wind” literary tours that take place around the city. 

The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

This historical drama set in 14th-century Barcelona takes readers on a journey through the construction of the city’s magnificent Santa María del Mar cathedral. A gripping tale of love, family and revenge, we’re sure you won’t be able to put it down.

The Time of the Doves by Mercè Rodoreda 

Written during her time of exile from Catalonia, Mercé Rodoreda’s bestseller is written in an unusual stream of consciousness style. This powerful and incredibly moving book tells the tale of normal girl named Natalia – known as La Colometa– during the civil war and post-war in Barcelona. In Catalan the book is named after Gràcia’s “Plaça del Diamant” which can be visited today.

We Had Won the War by Esther Tusquets

This bestselling novel set in post-Civil War Barcelona uncovers a perspective that is often excluded from Spanish war narrative: that of the winners. Through the author’s own memoir, she relates her experience of growing up among the Francoist bourgeoisie and her struggle to find her own place.

I’ll Give You the Earth by Chufo Llorens

This story of a young peasant boy set within the city walls paints a picture of medieval Barcelona. Discover this story of impossible love, passion, ambition and betrayal in the 11thcentury.

Un senyor de Barcelona (A Gentleman of Barcelona) by Josep Pla 

Available only in Catalan and Spanish, this biography by Josep Pla relates the life of Rafael Puget, a member of the Barcelona bourgeoisie through family portraits, anecdotes and memories.

Mysteries of Barcelona by Ernesto Milá 

This non-fiction guide uncovers long-lost facts and secrets of Barcelona. Divided into three sections that cover places, people and unusual traditions, this book is perfect for those who are looking to discover the other side of Barcelona.

We love reading about this wonderful city and we hope you also enjoy discovering its long-lost stories and uncovering its many secrets. Tell us, what’s your favourite book about Barcelona?

La Mercè 2017, the main event on Barcelona’s festival agenda

La Mercè 2017 is the main event on Barcelona’s festival agenda, uniting all of its neighbourhoods and serving as the city’s Festa Major.  This year it aims to extend further throughout the city by adding even more new venues and activities.

Every year, Barcelona invites a city from around the world to jointly celebrate the festival.  This year Icelandic capital Reykjavik has been invited to be this year’s special guest city and will be honoured throughout La Mercè.

Overall, it is a religious festival that has been celebrated since the Middle Ages and observes the holy feast day of Our Lady of Mercy.  It is the biggest weeklong festival in the city and an age-old tradition, but there are very up-to-date activity items as well, such as specialty markets, art displays and musical performances for example.

Gegants & Capgrossos – La Mercè 2017 

Catalunya has a great tradition for processions of giants or bigheads, which are tall, hollow structures with very large papier-mâché heads, each with a unique identity and character.  They are carried on top of people’s shoulders in a parade as they dance and run at the crowds.  Also, there are the Bestiari – which are figures of medieval, folkloric creatures.  This parade happens on the first day of the La Mercé celebrations.

Gegants Procession, September 22, Palau de la Virreina on La Rambla, 99, at 19:00h

The Correfoc – La Mercè 2017 
The famous fire run is always on September 24 – the actual saint’s day for La Mercé.  Performers dressed as devils and fiery dragons dance in a long procession through the city.  Hordes of “diables” hoist pitchforks, or forquilles, above their heads, with spinning fireworks attached that spray in all directions.  If you’re going to get a close-up photograph, then protective clothing is advised.  There is also an early fire run for children.

Correfoc (Adults), September 23, Via Laietana at 20:15h
Correfoc (Children) September 23, Via Laietana at 18:30h

Castellers – La Mercè 2017 

The Catalans are very good at building human structures. In fact he last few world records – 10 persons high – have been have been set in the region.  Participants, or Catsellers, climb on top of each other, interlocked into a delicate balancing act to get people to reach into the sky as far as possible.  The human tower is supported by a large number of people at the bottom, and then it’s a race to reach the highest point in strict formation before the structure breaks.

Human Towers, September 23, Plaça de Sant Jaume at 11:30h
Human Towers, September 23, Plaça de Sant Jaume at 12:30h

 

BAM
Barcelona Acció Musical has been running for over 20 years and hosts more contemporary rock and pop music concerts.  It runs in parallel to the main festival, and as Reykjavik is the partner city for this year’s La Mercé, then a contingent of its artists will perform, as well as national and internal artists.  Concerts usually take place at Plaza Real, Plaza Catalunya and at the MACBA, among many other intimate places and open-air venues around the city.

BAM, September 22-25, various venues
http://lameva.barcelona.cat/bam/en

AMICS DE LES ARTS CANET ROCK. FOTO: DAVID BORRAT. 04-07-15. CANET DE MAR. DIARI ARA

Piromusical – La Mercè 2017 
This is a critically acclaimed, professional fireworks display that takes place on the last night of La Mercè 2017 on Avinguda reina Maria Cristina.  You need to arrive early for the big finale, as thousands of people gather to watch this spectacular show.

Check the official agenda for more firework displays and digital light mapping events throughout the festival, at http://lameva.barcelona.cat/merce/en.

Piromusical, September 25, Avinguda de Reina Maria Cristina (Plaça Espanya) at 22:00h

The La Mercè Festival is a great way to see Barcelona at its best.  Your stay could be much more convenient with your own apartment.  Check our website for an excellent selection of short-term holiday rentals so that your stay in the city is as comfortable as possible.

Check the official agenda for more firework displays and digital light mapping events throughout the festival, at http://lameva.barcelona.cat/merce/en.