Another week has flown by and it’s Friday yet again. What plans do you have for the weekend? The festivities for Barcelona’s patron saint La Mercè started yesterday, so I will be enjoying those as much as possible, take lots of pictures to show you and also try to sneak in a bit of beach time… But first, I’d like to take you to a lush courtyard. Let’s go!
The courtyard belongs to the ‘Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona‘ (loosely translated as the city’s historic archives), and this building is found opposite the archbishopric which I showed you the other day, on Carrer Santa Llucia 1. It is quite small, and overrun with tourists most of the time, but it is rich in detail, very pretty and filled with plants, so well worth a visit. The building is known as Casa de l’Ardiaca and was constructed onto parts of the old Roman walls in the 12th Century, and reconstructed in 1510, in the Italian Renaissance style much favoured in those days.
On its ground floor it is surrounded by a series of slim columns, and underneath their arches there are a couple of benches in the shade, as well as pretty tiles covering the lower portion of the walls.
The courtyard has a little surprise, for in the middle of the courtyard stands a very old, skinny and tall palm tree! To keep it and the surrounding building safe from possible damage (we do get some hefty storms here, every now and then), the palm tree is secured on many sides with cables.
But this lovely palm tree is not the only thing we can find in this courtyard, for there is also a cute fountain. It is quite coarse in style, but what makes it so delightful to me, is the little umbrella that covers it, and from which a trickle of water runs into the basins below. It is partly covered in moss and this just adds to its quaintness.
As with all buildings from the Gothic period, the courtyard is the first thing you encounter when you access the building, and to enter the main part of it, one must go up the stairs (found in one of the corners of the courtyard) to the first floor.
In the case of this particular building, the stairs also lead up to an open area on the first floor, a kind of balcony on all four sides of the courtyard, which is accessible to the public. On the way up, a gorgeous wrought iron lantern, apparently spouting from a branch with leaves and bearing fruits, has pride of place on the old walls.
When you arrive at the first floor, you’ll see that the old doors have been removed, and the doorways have been closed with glass panes (the main entrance now is found on the ground floor at the back of the courtyard). Behind these sheets of glass, dark blinds block the view to the inside, but thanks to these, the windows become reflective, and offer interesting mirror images of what is found on this floor.
On this floor there is a lot to see. Of course the trunk of the palm tree, which rises well above the archive building, and also the Cathedral’s tower in the distance, currently covered in scaffolding. But more importantly, the rich details of the archive building itself, or rather, its many windows (which, funnily enough, are all different) as well as the galleries on the top floor. All windows have been fitted with mirrored glass, creating many reflections, and offering different mirrored views from all angles of the balcony.
Potted plants stand guard in the four corners of this space, and lush creepers grow draped on the balcony’s banister. The fresh green of the plants create a delightful contrast with the stones of the surrounding walls, and their organic forms are a nice match for the rich carvings around windows and doorways.
The view down to the courtyard on the ground floor, shows just how small it is (little more than a sizable room) and it becomes clear just how wonderful it is that it still exists, palm tree, fountain, plants and all, for all of us to enjoy.
Before I go off to enjoy the weekend’s festivities, I must show you a couple of examples of the rich carvings, filled with angels, busty griffins and crests… think about how these were created, many centuries ago, by hand with a chisel and a hammer, blow by blow. Pretty amazing, right?
Have a great weekend!