Last Monday, 23rd of April was Sant Jordi, a Catalan holiday that combines the festivities of Valentines Day, World Book Day and the legend of Saint George all in one day! It’s a magical day for all Catalans and visitors.
On this amazing day the streets of the cities and towns of Catalonia are crowded with people. Traditionally on this day the men would give their loved ones a rose and the ladies would gift their men a book, although nowadays this is often reversed. The streets become a mass of colour as they are lined with rose sellers and book stalls, often with authors standing by willing to sign copies. For us at The Barcelonian, one of the most impressive displays on this day has to be the Casa Batlló.
What makes Casa Batlló more special on Sant Jordi than any other day of the year?
Well… as the legend goes, a long time ago, in Montblanc, a ferocious dragon, capable of poisoning the air and killing with his breath, had frightened the residents of the city. The residents, scared and tired of the dragon’s destruction and misdeeds, decided to calm him by feeding him one person a day that would be chosen randomly in a draw. After several days, the princess was the unlucky one in this draw.
When the princess headed towards the dragon, a gentleman named Jordi, dressed in a shining armor, riding a white horse, suddenly appeared to rescue her. Jordi raised his sword and stabbed the dragon, saving the princess and the citizens from the dragon.
It is said that from the dragon’s blood grew a rose-bush with the reddest roses that anyone had ever seen. Jordi, picked a rose from the bush and offered it to the princess.
And I’m sure you are wondering what does this have to do with Casa Batlló, well actually a lot!
Casa Batlló represents the Legend of Sant Jordi/Saint George.The legend has been a source of inspiration for many artists, but one of the most famous is Antoni Gaudí that staged the legend of Saint George in the architecture of Casa Batlló so that, over the years, this fantastic tradition would continue to live on.
The mythical legend is represented in Casa Batlló on the facade and in two specific places inside the house. On the roof the dragon’s back comes alive with the ceramic tiles in the form of scales and the back is pierced by the cross of four arms that evokes Saint George’s victorious sword.
On the top floor we find a flower-shaped balcony representing the princess’s balcony.
On the lower floors, the remains of the dragon’s victims are located on the balconies in the form of skulls and the pillars of the gallery that resemble the bones.
In the Batlló family’s private entrance hall, there is a staircase where the upper part looks like the vertebrae of an animal and which, according to popular culture, could refer to the spine of the dragon’s tail. Finally in the attic, the main hall of the catenary arches reminds us of the ribcage of a large animal.
Sending roses is the most significant thing about this festival. Anyone can make this offering, although as tradition dictates it is the man who must give a rose to his beloved. This is why every year Casa Batlló decorates the whole building with roses! Saint Georges heroic act of saving the princess by killing the dragon gave him the status of patron saint of lovers in Catalonia.
We love Barcelona. We love Catalonia. We want you to fall in love with it too!