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Creating tours that are interesting and educational for visitors and locals alike is a challenge every city, historic site or landmark faces. In every city there are plenty of typical tours showing the neighbourhoods, buildings and landmarks of the city from, let’s say, a traditionally academic point of view: “… to your left, the building X which was created by such on such date and it contains this and that…”. But in many cities around the world, like Barcelona, a new breed of specialized tours have sprung aimed at those looking for a view of the city or site from a different perspective: thematic and literary tours. Tours guided by expert historians, writers and other passionate professionals that bring old legends and stories to live once again. These once were off-the-beaten path tours (some still are!) but their popularity has brought them to the top of the bucket list of many visitors. Take a different view of Barcelona and learn its secrets and stories by joining one of these tours.

In this video the literary route of the Cathedral of the Sea is presented. This is a historical novel by Spanish author Ildefonso Falcones. The action takes place in 14th century Barcelona at the height of the Inquisition, with the construction of Santa Maria del Mar cathedral serving as background to the story. Medieval Catalonias’s caste system can’t keep a good man down in this absorbing epic, a Spanish-language bestseller. Arnau Estanyol, son of a fugitive peasant, starts out in 14th-century Barcelona as a lowly porter who carries stone blocks to a cathedral construction site and ends up a rich moneylender who saves the city from pillaging and frees the serfs of a barony he acquires by marriage. Alas, his dizzying social assent and defiance of the feudal order provoke enraged aristocrats—his status-obsessed wife included—into siccing the Inquisition on him. Arnau is a kindhearted, somewhat passive figure who combines piety, industry and cosmopolitanism to challenge a corrupt, dogmatic church and a parasitic nobility. The plot features thwarted romance, war, plague, immolations and self-immolations, set in a Machiavellian world ruled by privilege, cronyism and brute force. The melodrama is sometimes laid on thick, but Falcones’s rich portrait of medieval society is fascinating.

The audio of this video is in Catalan yet it will give you an idea on what to expect when visiting the place. The tour is offered also in English (see schedule)

More information:

Thematic and literary (in Barcelona)
… if in Tarragona:

Free walking tours  (what’s like?)
Walking with Architects

Note: Several tours in English are offered but not all of them, check first!

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Video: © Barcelona Cultura

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