Lively Carrer de Sant Pere més Baix is the district’s shopping street, lined with medieval and 18th-century palaces. The Farmacia Pedrell at No.52, the oldest in Barcelona, dates back to 1562; in 1890 it was given a Modernista facelift, with fine stained glass by Joan Espinagosa. Painter Isidre Nonell was born and died at No.50, in a typical artesan’s house of the early 18th century. Inside the courtyard at No.42, you can see a rare survivor of the barri’s old industry, the neo-Romanesque Vilumara textile mill.
A 16th-century townhouse at No.7, now the Institut del Teatre, was the Biblioteca Popular de la Dona. Founded in 1909 by Francesca Bonnemaison, this was Spain’s first public library built exclusively for women (they even had hot showers – another novelty in the neighbourhood). After the Civil War, it survived under the Falangist female auxiliary, although with an emphasis on home economics. The library survives on the first floor with its inscription from the great medieval philosopher Ramón Llull: ‘Tota dona val mes quan letra apren’ (Any woman who learns to read is worth more).
Images by: Akuppa John Wigham