Plaça de Sant Felip Neri | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

The most enchanting corner of the Gothic Quarter

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Visitors are moved by this square hidden among the streets of the Gothic Quarter due to its serene beauty and its tragic history. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is a jewel that is well worth the effort of finding. Presided over by a charming fountain and dominated by a baroque church, the square is a living space whose stones have a tale to tell.

Why visit Plaça de Sant Felip Neri?

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is one of the city’s most special corners, a tranquil space where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is located at the end of two narrow streets that do not go anywhere else and it stands out due to its humility. It is actually just a small quiet space that is presided over by a fountain surrounded by Catalan Renaissance buildings, a school and a baroque church. But it bore witness to one of the cruellest massacres of the Spanish Civil War, forever marking both the people of Barcelona and the walls of its church.

To find the square you have to go deep into the maze of streets in the Gothic Quarter to Carrer de Sant Sever, in the Jewish Quarter, and then turn onto Carrer de Sant Felip Neri. This small street takes you to this romantic square, where, except at the start and end of the school day, the only sound you hear is the gurgling of the water in the square’s octagonal fountain. In one corner are the old houses of the Guilds of Boilermakers and Shoemakers, which had both been transferred from their original locations due to the opening of Via Laietana, the former from Carrer de la Bòria and the latter from Carrer de la Corríbia. In the other corner is the baroque church of Saint Philip Neri, which was built from 1748 to 1752 for the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of apostolic life, which was based in its annexe. It is a church with a Counter-Reformation floor plan that was designed by Pere Bertran with a single nave, side chapels and a facade that, in addition to an image of the saint, preserves the scars of a tragic episode.

On 30 January 1938, the Italian air force, which was providing air support to the Nationalist faction in the Spanish Civil War, dropped numerous bombs on Barcelona’s civil population, one of which hit the place where the square is today, taking the lives of 42 people, most of whom were children who had sought refuge in the basement of the church. The surrounding houses were also completely destroyed. It was the municipal architect Adolf Florensa i Ferrer, as the person responsible for the zone’s reconstruction project, who decided to recreate it as a square. The scars left by the bomb can still be seen on the facade of the church.

 

How do you get to Plaça de Sant Felip Neri?

On the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic hop off at the Barri Gòtic stop, from where you can walk to the square.

 

For the most curious of you:

  • Did you know? The square’s beautiful octagonal fountain, which was made by Joaquim de Ros i de Ramis, was originally crowned by a statue of Saint Philip Neri that was stolen a year after the inauguration of the square in 1963. It was replaced with a bronze statue by Josep Miret, which was also stolen. Since then the pillar of the fountain has been unadorned.
  • Local’s tip: The square was also one of the locations used for the filming of the film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and the video for the song "My Immortal", by Evanescence.