The exhibition “The Lost Neighborhood” Plaça Nova and the Cathedral Quarter, part of the celebrations of the “4 ¼” 425 years of the Feast of Sant Roc of Barcelona at the neighborhood of the Cathedral, is a vision of the neighborhood that was born in the wake of the Roman walls of the city and around the Plaça Nova, which became the vital, commercial, social and festive center of the city for more than six centuries, and the terrible consequences of the opening of Via Laietana first, then the bombing on January 30th 1938 and later the opening of the Avenue of the Cathedral, had for the residents and businesses and for a way to life, work, interact and celebrate that was exceptional, in the heart of the city. And, secondly, how the Feast of Sant Roc, as tradition and heritage of all Barcelona, is still the living testimony of this “lost neighborhood.”
Between 1909 and 1911, with the opening of the Via Laietana (1908-1913), streets belonging to the Cathedral Quarter such as de la Riera de Sant Joan, de l’Infern, de Sant Crist, de Graciamat, de l’Arc de la Glòria, del Bon Déu, de les Tres Voltes, de les Donzelles, d’en Vidal, de les Filateres or the square plaça de l’Oli disappeared under the bulldozer, and the streets de Copons, Misser Ferrer, de Ripoll or de la Tapineria were seriously modified. Similarly more than a dozen other streets of the neighborhood, such as Junqueres Montsió, de Sant Pere, de Santa Caterina, de Sant Just, de Santa Maria del Mar… would disappear or end up significantly torn. More than two thousand buildings were demolished -palaces, convents, churches, homes and shops that gave life to the old neighborhoods of the city. More than ten thousand people ousted from their homes.
On Sunday January 30th 1938, at half past eight in the morning, a squadron of the Italian legionary aviation, ally of Franco’s army, bombarded the city. The bombing dramatically affected the area of the Cathedral. Buildings of plaça Nova, plaça de Sant Felip Neri, of the streets de la Corríbia, del Bou de la Plaça Nova, dels Capellans, dels Sagristans, dels Arcs, dels Boters, de la Palla, de Montjuïc del Bisbe… collapsed or were damaged. At eleven AM, a second criminal bombing once again afflicted the neighborhood and even affected the health and emergency services that had come to help the wounded. That morning bombs left two hundred ten people dead and seventy-five injured. More than twenty buildings in the area of the cathedral were destroyed or seriously affected and many of the residents who survived the bombing were forced to leave their homes and their neighborhood.
After the war, Franco’s new municipal authorities, taking advantage of the effects of the bombing, rescued the former Interior Reform Plan project to demolish most buildings and open the Gran Via C. What would become the Avenue of the Cathedral slowly wiped away the streets of la Corríbia, del Bou de la Plaça Nova and de Sallent, and significantly transformed the streets of de la Palla, dels Arcs, dels Boters, dels Capellans, dels Sagristans, de Ripoll and the square plaça Nova. Demolition works were extended until 1958, with the demolition of the last houses on the street de la Corríbia and de la plaça Nova, and the modification of the two square towers and the section of the Roman wall that make up the front of the Archdeacon’s House.
The new renovation and demolition of buildings of the area represented a slow death of the neighborhood and a new diaspora of more than a thousand seven hundred residents. It was a brutal urban reform that didn’t count on its neighbors and businesses, nor with the traditional social cohesion of the neighborhood nor, even less, with its feasts and traditions. Mismanagement with unclear interests that dramatically wiped out an entire neighborhood: the neighborhood of the cathedral, “the Lost Neighborhood.”
Parts of the exposition:
The lost neighborhood. Homage to a lineage of Barcelona and its people
The Feast of Sant Roc, the joyful spirit of the plaçanovians (1884 – 1907)
Antoni de Paula Rigau, portraits of a neighborhood
The alive neighborhood:
People of the neighborhood
Shops, shopkeepers and vendors
Les Festes de Sant Roc, the resilient spirit of the plaçanovians (1908 -1958)
Glances: windows and balconies
Other feasts, traditions and… at the Cathedral Quarter
The lost neighborhood:
Disappeared and dismembered streets and squares
The fallen neighborhood:
Via Laietana opens its way with bulldozers (1908 – 1913)
The avenue of the Cathedral kills off the neighborhood (1940 – 1957)
The skinned Plaça Nova (1957 – 1958)