Seldom featured in guidebooks, less publicized locales are a favorite of mine. You could say I have quite an interest in fringe sights. We tend to seek out the weird and unusual and will go to great lengths to find something different. The best part is most of the places are unassuming and peppered amongst the usual attractions. Sometimes it’s a creepy tour, a crypt, or even just a long forgotten plaque on the wall signifying a secret past. If you’re at all interested in seeing a less touristy Barcelona, keep reading.
/1/ Basilica Sants Just i Pastor
Pl Sant Just, 6/ Barri Gòtic/ website/
Nestled in a quiet square in the Barri Gòtic, Basilica Sants Just i Pastor is referred to as Barcelona’s oldest church. The Gothic structure dates from the 1300’s and was built upon the original spot of the Romanesque church, none of which remains today. From the outside, the basilica is quite unassuming and blends peacefully into the compact plaza. Venture inside and not only will you be impressed with the beautiful stained glass and Tarragona marble columns, but head towards the back of the church to the small chapel to see the eerie altar of the Souls of Purgatory.
/2/Shield of the Inquisition
Carrer dels Comtes near Museu Frederic Mares Plaça de Sant Iu, 5-6
While visiting the Catedral, take a walk to Museu Frederic Mares located right around the corner. It’s not what’s inside, rather, check out the wall along the museum on Carrer dels Comtes. There is a shield indicating that this spot was once the location of the Spanish Inquisition.
/3/ Catedral de Barcelona
Pla de la Seu/Barri Gòtic/website/
An impressive Gothic church at the center of Barri Gòtic is the Catedral. Also referred to as Santa Eulalia, patron saint of Barcelona, for whom this cathedral is dedicated. Her relics are entombed in the crypt beneath the altar. Wander around and you will find interesting reliefs of animals, cherubs, saints, and skulls alike.
/4/ CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona)
Montalegre 5/Raval/ website/
Less an oddity and more of a creative cultural space dedicated to exhibitions, films, education, concerts, and promotion of arts research, the CCCB is located in the Raval neighborhood. Currently, there is an exhibition called Metamorphosis highlighting works from the Brothers Quay, Starewitch, and Svankmajer. It’s an extensive peek into the bizarre and fantastical worlds of early animation, costume design, cinema, personal collections, and madness. I highly recommend a visit if this sounds like your thing. It’s worth the time and whatever you do, don’t rush. Eat lunch or something prior to entering so you can take your time and just when you turn a corner and think it’s over… but wait! There’s more! You won’t leave disappointed- maybe just a bit horrified.
/5/ Calle Josep Torres 20 (House of the Devil)
As the story goes, in 1892, a wealthy business man named Augustin Atzerias, fell upon hard times. His business was near bankruptcy and in desperation, he made a pact with the devil and sold his soul in exchange for money. As all good stories go, Mr. Atzerias bought a winning lottery ticket and hit it big time. To hold up his end of the bargain, he honored the devil by crowning the doors and some windows with demon heads. Unfortunately, the grand house is abandoned today, which is a shame since it has one of the fancier facades on the block, not to mention, all the sinister heads adorning it’s doorways. When we passed by, there was a sign hanging on the building and it looks like a developer is going to turn it into multi-unit dwellings and the devil heads along with the house’s storied past will be gone forever.