For the first time ever, Barcelona has been included in the ancient Greek myths about Heracles. As one of the myths tells us, Heracles was sailing with the Argonauts when fierce thunderstorms broke out unexpectedly. The hero’s boat was tossed by massive waves for many hours. Finally, he was lucky enough to moor his boat at Montjuic mountain. Heracles liked the place and named it ‘the Ninth Quay,’ or ‘Barca Nona.’ What are the other legends about the Catalonian capital?
- The first collection of exotic animals
In 1370, the King Pedro IV (Peter IV Ceremonious) made a gift to his spouse, Eleanor of Sicily. He gave her the Small Royal Palace located at Del Rey Square, the place where the official apartments of the monarch were located. According to the archive data of Aragon, the garden at the Royal Palace was full of exotic plants and animals, including lions, cheetahs, ostriches, and other representatives of foreign flora and fauna, which were brought to Spain exclusively to satisfy the king’s whim.
- The cabinet of curiosities belonging to the Salvadors
The Salvadors were a family of pharmacists and naturalists who enjoyed collecting animals and plants, usually dried or preserved in alcohol. In this way, they eventually created something similar to Kunstkamera, where visitors can see a variety of minerals, fossils, and many other curious things, including a library. This collection became the first museum of Barcelona to be open to the general public in the XIX century. Today, the preserved artifacts are displayed at the Institute of Botany. Additionally, one of the streets in the Raval district was named after one of the Salvadors—Jaime. Two monuments were erected to commemorate the same man in Ciutadella Park and in the hospital of San Pau.
- Hot air balloon flights
Apart from corridas, residents of Barcelona were fond of other spectacles that took place in the corridas arenas of El Torín, Monumental, and Las Arenas. Fransua Arban made history in 1847 for rising in the air in a huge hot air balloon. Success was achieved after numerous fruitless efforts. However, the ending of this story is quite dramatic: a sudden gust of wind blew Arban away along with his balloon. Reportedly, this was the last time anyone saw him.
- Sacrifice well
According to legend, many centuries ago on the site of the Gothic Church now called Sants Màrtirs Just i Pastor, there was a pagan temple for the worship of Mitra, a Persian God whose symbols included human sacrifice to the bull. Archeological excavations have since helped to shed light on the history of this site, confirming the only partial truthfulness of this legend. From the IV century on, Christian rites already were being performed here.
- Stubborn taxidermist
Lluis Soler Pujol, a taxidermist from Barcelona who lived at the end of the XX century, had the strange habit of displaying his works on the streets, which appeared to cause great obstacles for pedestrians. It was not uncommon to hear people complaining about him. Nevertheless, his ‘business’ prospered, and one of his most renowned shops was located on the Royal square.