It is well known that a few footprints of the Templars in a city always give more charm and ancestry to a population. So much that in some places they get to push things a little to affirm that the Knights of the Temple were there.
However, that is not the case in Barcelona; there is no need for it. The warrior monks were established here in the twelfth century, and there is evidence of that. What is not so clear is the exact place, but many history scholars would argue that it was, in what now is, the Casa de l’Ardiaca (or House of Arcediano), where the mysterious order raised its first barracks-fortress in the city.
The building still has that solid look, dense and impenetrable, that all fortress usually have, because that’s what it already was in Roman times. As always, there are visible traces of the Romans in the interior of the building which today are in the Historical Archives of Barcelona. But the trails of the discreet Templars are more challenging to find.
The Order, as you probably know, was founded in the year 1129, and ten years later the Pope Innocent II declared it independent from the regular prelates. Around those dates, they get established in Barcelona and build right here, at the end of Calle del Obispo (Bishop Street), a fortified house next to the city wall.
Could the actual building have a fabulous treasure hiding between its walls? We could expect anything from these people, so, while you’re busy looking for something, lets us tell you that the Templars were very much full of themselves. And because the medieval bishops weren’t short of their ego, the arguments in the city started to see who was better than who.
Pope Eugene III had to intervene, and finally, the knights of the red cross decided to leave this place and set themselves on the cross of the streets Avinyo and Cervantes with Temple Street. What a coincidence…
There they got settled and stayed until everything began to get twisted for the order. In 1312, after years of arrests and accusations, another Pope (this would be the third one) decreed the dissolution of the Temple and cast an evil eye on them.
But it happened that the King of Aragon did not dislike them, and he used the Order of Montesa so that the Templar properties did not pass into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller, great beneficiaries of the whole affair. A small mess that ended with the Templars giving the king their last possession of Barcelona, in which Jaime II would end up building the Palau Menor.
Unfortunately, there is almost nothing left of all that in the streets of the Gothic Quarter. You need to use your imagination because the Templars are one of those themes that give us a lot to play with. Without going any further, how can we forget the famous curse of the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, before being burned alive? But hey… that's another story.