And here I thought the streets of Barcelona couldn’t get any prettier… then April 23rd comes along. Sant Jordi, or the Day of Saint George is a holiday much like Valentine’s Day in the US. The story is that St. George slayed the dragon to save a princess and after killing the beast he handed the maiden a single rose.
The men of Barcelona stop at stalls located all over the city purchasing stems for significant others, family and friends which tallies up to about 6 million roses sold in one day. Women return the favor by giving their sweethearts a book. So, what’s the connection with literature? April 23rd is not only St. George day but also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, so eventually the day was awarded “World Book Day” in his honor. Book shops set up roadside stands, authors will hold book signings and used bookstores have huge sales making it a good time to fill up your library.
So besides flowers and fiction what else goes on to celebrate Sant Jordi? Head to one of the many squares in the city to people watch, buy books, attend author meet & greets or see live entertainment. The Plaça Catalunya is a full of Sant Jordi stalls along with TV and radio personalities hosting their shows from the square. The Plaça Sant Jaume also comes alive with activities and be sure while you are there to get a space in line to see the inside of the city hall, it’s one of the only days that most all of the rooms are opened to the public and the building is an architectural and artistic beauty.
The Salo de Cent, or room of one hundred, is one of the more impressive rooms in city hall even though most of the building is decorated with ornate design and classical art, so I’d guess it must be the fanciest government building I’ve set foot in.
Just another day, hanging out in the Mayor of Barcelona’s office… no big deal.
Gaudi’s famous Casa Batllo is said to be inspired by the story of George and his dragon. If you walk across the street from the building you can see the roof “scales” and the windows and balconies start to morph into teeth, claws and bones. Take a tour on St. George day but make sure to purchase your ticket ahead of time online to skip the long line of visitors.