MY POINT OF VIEW #9 (by Tatiana Sisquella)
The article I’m going to write today is to be read out in a low voice or in a whisper.
With your permission, I’m going to take the liberty of taking you by the hand and leading you to one of my favourite spots in Barcelona. I only have one request to make: don’t raise your voice, because we’re going to one of the quietest places in the open air in the whole city: the Plaça Sant Felip Neri.
If you’ve been to Barcelona before, you’re bound to have been very near this square, which lies on top of a former medieval cemetery. Maybe this is the reason why, when you walk into it, you are filled with a feeling of peace and serenity that is difficult to find in other areas of the city. The Plaça Sant Felip Neri is right in the middle of it all, between the Cathedral and the Plaça Sant Jaume, in the heart of the Old City. Of course you could also have seen it without ever having come to Barcelona. The film “PERFUME” and the Evanescence videoclip for “MY IMMORTAL” both chose it as a backdrop.
The square, which takes its name from a saint (although it could be the case of course that the saint takes his name from the square, but that’s another question), is today home to a school, a Baroque church and a 4-star hotel. It thus represents a little slice of life tucked away in this secluded place, where the shouts at playtime merge with the gurgling of the water as it spurts out of the fountain overshadowed by the church of Sant Felip Neri, all combined with the comings and goings of people looking for a moment’s peace amid the cosmopolitan bustle.
The Plaça Sant Felip Neri also does its best to hide certain chapters of history to which it was a witness, but doesn’t quite succeed. If you go there (and you must!), examine closely the walls bordering the square. The marks that can be traced on the surface are a permanent reminder of the impact of the bullets, the cross-fire and the shootings that took place here. And that’s not all. This square where young children now run, shout, laugh and grow, witnessed long ago the death of 20 little ones who took refuge in the church during one of the bombings of the Civil War.
All in all, make the Plaça Sant Felip Neri one of the focal points of your tour of the city. Maybe the Tourist Bus doesn’t come there, maybe it’s not where you’ll find that designer T-shirt you’d been looking for, or a bar with trance music to have a drink in, but that’s exactly why it’s so charming. You go to Sant Felip Neri just to spend some time there, to be there, to feel things…
Once you’ve been there a first time, go back again and notice how surprised people look when, lost or disorientated or simply distracted, they arrive in the square. That’s how you looked the first time you went there.
Question: Why Barcelona?
Answer: Because the children still play in the squares.