In this land, which today is the heart of the Gothic Barcelona, the Romans met to discuss the citizen’s concerns. In the place where tunics were worn, today there are grey suits. And where there was a discussion forum, today we have the Plaza de Sant Jaume and the City Hall.
As you can see the place hasn’t changed too much today, but now we are more interested its shape. If you stop in front of the side façade, which once was the main one, you’ll be facing one of the rare examples of civil Gothic that is still standing in Europe and that in the nineteenth century was very close to being demolished.
If you concentrate a lot, who knows, you might be able to hear the resound of the voices of the past in its corners, for example, one of the one hundred councillors who formed one of the largest city councils in the world back in 1369, when the Salon de Ciento was built.
The name of the room sounds very formal for a place of many centuries ago. Many rows, brawls and insults would have been heard in these rooms, the kinds that correspond to the meetings of any municipal government. The venerable Consell de Cent survived, until the War of Succession was resolved and the Bourbons arrived.
The building grew around the illustrious hall, in which every stone has its history. Even with all the reforms, still preserves its flavour and charm. Do not leave without taking a look at the patio and the Escalera Negra (Black Staircase), or without finding out who the so-called Everardo Nithard was.
Everardo was a German Jesuit priest who landed in Spain when Mariana of Austria, of whom he was a confessor, married Philip IV. When the king died, Everardo tried to control the kingdom. He spent his time robbing everyone and everything he could. It seems that he got too big for his boots and, being as arrogant as he was, ended up being hated by everyone. Also by the Consell de Cent, which still existed in 1668.
The thing is, the councillors took advantage of a couple of blunders from the hateful priest to have him kicked out to the Papal court in Rome, where he managed to become a Cardinal. He didn’t go any higher than this because he gave up and decided to die! But it is good to remember that "the hundred" councillors freed the country of such a wicked priest. We are very grateful for it!
As you can see, the building of Barcelona’s City Hall has stories to tell, and they are much more interesting than any daily news. So, let us finish with one that you probably don’t know: in the nineteenth century, Lluis Domench i Montaner renovated the Salon de Ciento, another architect was left disappointed… since the project presented by him was not chosen. His name was Antoni Gaudi!