BARCELONA’S ‘UNCOMFORTABLE MEMORY’ TOUR IS A UNIQUE AND EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE

Nations are built on uncomfortable truths.

The landmarks that make up a city can serve as a great point of pride for locals – and attract the eyes of tourists – but they can also hide a dark past. Barcelona, famed for football, architecture, and late nights, is slowly opening up about its history of slavery.

A new walking tour, called Es una memoria incómoda – an uncomfortable memory – guides participants around sections of the city that were defined by the slave trade. Everything from Palau and Park Güell, to the iconic structures of Antoni Gaudí, were thought to have been funded by the 19th century slave trade. Traders generated their money abroad, in Spanish colonies like Cuba where slavery was rife, but returned to Barcelona to spend it. The cash allowed them to buy their way into the city’s bourgeoisie and fund its unique architecture.


THE STATE OF ANTONIO LÓPEZ Y LÓPEZ, BARCELONA. PHOTO: JORDIFERRER. LICENSED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS

Much of the tour hinges on Antonio Lopez, an industrialist whose statue graces a square in the city named in his honour. A notorious slave trader, Lopez poured a huge amount of dirty money into Barcelona and had connections to Joan Guell and Gaudi. His statue is routinely defaced with red paint. The tour, organised by Memoria BCN, can be operated in English and is sure to be a fascinating, eye-opening and required experience for anyone who truly wants to understand a great city like Barcelona – the good, the bad and the ugly. Book here.

Generator Barcelona Awaits