Today I offer you a feast for the eyes, when I show you images of some of Barcelona’s old shops. There are still quite a few, both in the Old Town and in l’Eixample, but unfortunately they are becoming scarcer and scarcer…
Starting on La Rambla (above) a beautiful shop dedicated to men’s clothing, which was established in 1820. Below, an old shop which has been converted to an Irish Bar. This is not an ideal conversion (in my opinion) but at least the new occupants have maintained the old façade and are consistent in its upkeep, and so it looks pretty gorgeous still.
An example of shop closure in busy shopping street Portaferrissa. I truly hope this shop space will find new occupants to restore it to its former glory! If memory serves me, there used to be a shop dedicated to the manufacturing and selling of fans (hand fans, the typical Spanish kind).
Thriving thanks to its location on La Rambla, Casa Beethoven has been selling music scores for many years, beside the grand entrance of Palau de la Virreina.
It is rare to find shops these days, that are highly specialised and still sell the same products as when they were established, continuing with long-standing family traditions. Casa Morelli is one such shop, and sells only feathers. The other day it was closed, but I hope that was just a temporary thing!
A delightful update of an old shop is Coses de Casa near the Plaça del Pi. It has maintained the beautiful wooden shop front, whilst updating the product selection, which is presented in a tasteful manner, using the old shelves and other implements which were original to the shop. This, is the way forward as far as I am concerned.
A small shop, with (as you can see) a tiny entrance, is currently selling off its stock. They sell very beautiful prints and books. If you hurry, you may be able to lay your hands on some exquisite items yet!
One of my favourites: El Indio. Just around the corner from the Cute Suite, it is richly decorated and although it could do with a bit of cleaning, isn’t it gorgeous?
Look at the cobwebs (below) on the serious indian’s face!! (Although we would have to call him a ‘native American’ these days, of course…) Despite the layers of grime and shoddy upkeep even indoors (it has seriously wonky floors), this shop still sells the fabrics mentioned on its beautiful art nouveau signs.
El Transwaal is a shop that was established in 1888. It continues to specialise in the making and selling of uniforms, and only in 2006 set up a website. Their shop front was modernised some time ago, but the inside of the shop is still lined with wooden cabinets and gorgeous old fashioned counters, and in the back, behind a cordon, one can find a small atelier and stock room.
A delight for the senses, both inside and out, is Escribà, a sumptuous pastry shop that has various outlets in the centre of Barcelona. This one is on La Rambla, and was established in 1820. Very organic, true to the art nouveau style of the late 19th Century, that was so ‘en vogue’ in Barcelona, the outside is bedecked in mosaics made with glazed tiles, and sports a huge bas-relief, which was custom-made for the shop at the time.
Not very far from Escribà, we can find Ganiveteria Roca on Plaça del Pi. Housed in a building that is covered i delicate decorations (see below), this shop specialises in all things sharp: knives, scissors, razors… you name it, they have it.
Guanteria Alonso was established in 1905 under a different name (Tienda Center) and despite the name change, continues to be a family business, that specialises in gloves, fans and shawls, as well as beautiful lace mantillas. Well worth a visit.
This is another delightful shop: Joguines Monforte. Established in 1840, it has always been specialised in items related to billiards, cards, dominoes and chess. Now well over 100 years old, it also sells all sorts of board games and children’s toys.
On a very busy square at one end of Carrer Portaferrissa, you can find this gem of a shop: Filatelia Monge. The Monge family (considered among Spain’s pioneers in stamp and coin collection) established their first shop in 1878, in Carrer Escudellers, then moved to new premises in Pla del Teatre. Son Aureliano set up on his own, in Carrer Tapineria, and in 1948 moved to the current premises with his son. These days, fourth generation Monges continue to attend collectors of stamps and coins from all over the world in this beautiful shop that although opened in the middle of the 20th Century, has a shop front that is evocative of the times the family founded their business.
In the former Jewish Quarter of Barcelona, on Carrer del Call, you can find Sombrereria Obach. It stocks caps and hats for both men and women and maintains a look but don’t touch until attended policy by its strict, but friendly, shop keepers.
Finally (for today, at least) two more shops. One tiny shop in Carrer del Pi – how quirky is that? It barely takes up more than one tile width in the entrance to a residential building!
And a toy shop in Carrer Banys Nous, that has recently updated its stock. It used to sell old fashioned toys (made of wood and tin), but I suspect the current economic climate has forced the owners to sell much more modern toys to be able to survive. Oh well, if that’s what it takes…