April 23rd is not a public holiday, but it seems so, as the streets of Barcelona are filled with people and bustle. A day to wander around Barcelona, a day for men to symbolically and ephemerally become knights and women princesses, and a day to promote book sales and, hopefully, reading too. But where are the stalls for selling books and roses located? Well everywhere. In any corner, you can find a stall selling roses, sometimes consisting of a small table with a bucket of roses, other stalls are larger and more elaborate. Any neighborhood bookstore will set up a stall in front of its store, but if you want to go to the area with the highest concentration of stalls, which constitutes a true book fair, you would normally have to go downtown, to Catalonian square. And from there go down La Rambla or go up Passeig de Gràcia.
About Sant Jordi's day
The day of Sant Jordi in Catalonia is the day when the streets are filled with stalls of roses and books. It is tradition that men give women a rose and that women give a book to men. We say it in plural because nowadays not only roses are given to the partner, but also to friends, colleagues ....
But, where does this Sant Jordi tradition come from?
From medieval legends, Sant Jordi, the knight who killed the dragon and saved a princess and the town in which he lived. From the blood of the dragon that spurted out grew a rosebush. From the gentleman who became a Saint for not persecuting Christians in the final stage of the Roman Empire, and from a “Lover's” Fair being held in Barcelona in the fifteenth century. And the April 23rd is also the International Day of the Book, so to the custom of giving a rose was added the habit of giving a book (1930).
Foto Francis Lenn (CC BY 2.0)
Book stalls, where to find them?
As we explained at the beginning of this article, book and rose stands can be found everywhere. We have also mentioned that the center of Barcelona is the main nucleus of the celebration. However, the center is not the only area where an authentic book and rose fair is organized. We indicate below, the squares, streets and avenues in which the greatest number of book sales stalls will be concentrated.
Areas with book stalls (2023)
- Ciutat Vella: La Rambla (where there will be a section for book professionals, another with rose stalls and a third, the lower section, with stalls for entities), Plaza Reial and the Passeig de Lluís Companys, which joins Paseo de Sant Joan.
- Eixample: the area around Passeig de Gràcia, from Gran Via to Avinguda Diagonal with several crosswalks that will connect Passeig de Gràcia with Rambla de Catalunya (an area that last year was called the superilla de Sant Jordi), Plaza de la Universidad, Passeig de Sant Joan (focused on comics, graphic novels, and children's and youth literature).
- Sants-Montjuïc: Rambla de Sants and Calle de la Diputació.
- Les Corts: Avinguda Diagonal, between Carrer Joan Güell and Carrer de Pau Romeva.
- Sarrià - Sant Gervasi: Sarrià square.
- Gràcia: lower part of Gran de Gràcia street with local bookstores and the traditional space in the Jardinets de Gràcia.
- Horta-Guinardó: Eivissa square.
- Nou Barris: canopy of Via Júlia a and Plaza del Virrei Amat.
- Sant Andreu: Orfila square.
- Sant Martí: Rambla del Poblenou.
Doors open for Sant Jordi (2023)
Barcelona City Council (pending confirmation)
On Sant Jordi Day, Barcelona City Council holds an open day. The tour begins at the door of Carrer de la Ciutat (Gothic façade) and you can visit the Black Scale, the Capella del Bon Consell, the Saló de Cròniques, the Saló del Bon Govern, the Sala del Treball, the office of the mayoress, the Carles Pi i Sunyer Hall, the Cent Hall, the Consolat de Mar Hall, the Tàpies Hall, the Carlos III Hall, the Despatx d'Honor, the Ciutat Hall, the Gothic Gallery and the Scale of Honor. You can also visit the M. Aurèlia Capmany Viewpoint, which is located on the ninth floor of the Novíssim building (you enter through Plaça de Sant Miquel). Various historical figures will receive visitors in the noble halls of the City Hall and in the courtyard of the City Hall you will be able to witness a puppet show The Legend of the Dragon, by the Galiot company (shows at 11: 00, 12:00, 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.).
Palau de la Generalitat
The Palau de la Generalitat joins the open day, so you can see its institutional and monumental spaces. The visit begins on the ground floor where you can see the Clavé Room, the Press Room and the Auditorium; and continues on the main floor: Tàpies Room, Torres García Room, Government Room, Sant Jordi Chapel, Sacristy and Sant Jordi Room. You can also visit the open spaces: Patio del Naranjos, Gothic Gallery, Gothic staircase and the Gothic patio.
Other cultural spaces that open their doors
- Sant Pau Modernist Venue: from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Mies van der Rohe Pavelló: from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Library of Catalonia: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (time to be confirmed).
- Ateneu Barcelonès: where outstanding texts of Catalan literature are read (time yet to be confirmed).
- Palau Güell: from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (free access but reservations are necessary).
- Institut d’Estudis Catalans (schedule pending confirmation).
- History Museum of Catalonia: from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Museum of Archeology of Catalonia: at 11:00 a.m. "Heroes for a day", special activity for boys and girls from 10 to 12 years old. You can also visit the entire museum.