Every city in the world has some dark hours, dark stories and legends… London has Jack the Ripper, and Barcelona has the Vampire of El Raval… And other figures of “questionable morality”. In the following lineS, we’ll give you a short tour of the Barcelona Noir, that is, the darkest legends and true stories that occurred in the ochre streets of this beautiful Mediterranean city.
With its picturesque streets, its beautiful beaches, its nice people and its yummy food, it may be hard to think that Barcelona has a dark side too. But it does: There is a Barcelona Noir, and we’re going to tell you all about it!
Barcelona Noir: Legends…
Barcelona is full of urban legends and ghost stories that will make the delights of those who have a taste for the macabre. Here you have a few of them:
- The smith who killed his apprentice: It is said that inside the old walls of Barcelona, there was a smith that grew jealous of his apprentice, who was getting better than him… And killed him. The murder was committed in Carrer del Portal Nou, which is very close to Arc de Triomf, and there is paranormal activity reported there every year. Some people swear to have heard piercing screams during the night…
- The book killer: In 1836, a French newspaper published an article about Brother Vicens, a former monk that had left the convent and had opened a book shop in the dark and narrow Carrer del Call, with the purpose of collecting all sorts of valuable books. One day, a student tried to buy an old, valuable manuscript from him, but they didn’t agree on the price. Finally, Brother Vincens agreed to exchanged it from another, more valuable one, but the student tricked him. The former monk had his revenge, as the student was found dead a few days after the incident. 11 more victims were found after, and the police found books they owned in possession of Brother Vicens. He confessed everything, saying that he had killed them because they possessed valuable books. The story of Brother Vicens was an invention of writer Charles Nodier, who published as an anonymous true story in the newspaper… And many believed it!
Barcelona Noir: … And facts
Besides these legends, that we don’t know if are true or not (although, as most legends, they probably have a little bit of truth that has been embellished among the centuries, thanks to the many storytellers), there are a few other dark stories that are historical and documented… Like the following, part of the Barcelona Noir:
- The Murder of carrer Avinyó: In 1949, prostitute Carmen Broto was brutally killed in carrer Avinyó, in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It affected Barcelona’s high class deeply, as she was one of the most beloved escorts at the time. She was a beautiful blond woman who attended all the soirees… Until a mace put an end to her story when she was only 25 years old. The crime had all the ingredients to become a legend: it was a crime of passion, as it was committed by one of her clients and another man. They tricked her into a night out, with the purpose of killing her and stealing her valuable jewels, presents of the rich customers she usually had. The killers were found quickly as they had left lots of evidence behind.
- The Vampire of El Raval: The story of Enriqueta Martí, the Vampire of El Raval, is probably the darkest true story of the Barcelona Noir; the city’s very own serial killer. Also known as the Vampire of Barcelona, she was a kidnapper, pimp and killer of children. Enriqueta Martí started as a nanny but soon turned to prostitution. In 1912, a five-year-old girl disappeared and the police, aware of the many disappearances of children that were taking place, started to investigate. Someone claimed to have seen the child, shaved, at Enriqueta Martí’s apartment. When they searched it, they found two girls and some ointments that she had made out of discharges of the children, that she sold to the bourgeoisie of the city. During the investigation, they discovered human remains in two other apartments where she had lived, and that she had been accused of sexually exploiting children in a brothel ¾however, her relationship to the Catalan bourgeoisie had help bury the case. She died in prison.
What did you think about these Barcelona Noir stories? If you enjoyed them, we recommend you to look for specific tours when you visit Barcelona, as there are some that are focused on these dark parts of the history of the city. And, as usual, if you know any other Barcelona Noir stories, don’t forget to tell us in the comment section!