Barcelona Skyline

Friday, 3 April 2009

Dragons, roses & books

Spring comes early here and with it Barcelona’s best day, April 23, La Diada de San Jordi , Barcelona’s answer to Valentine’s Day. On this sweet, joyful day the catalan lover gives his girlfiend a rose, and she gives him a book.

The origin of this custom is curious. According to the legend, San Jordi -the same as St. George of England- slew a dragon that was about to devour a beautiful Barcelona princess. From the dragon’s blood a rosebush grew, from that rosebush the hero plucked the most beautiful rose and gave it to the princess and from there a chivalric rose festival going back to the Middle Ages.

Books got into the act in the early 20th century to honour Miguel de Cervantes, the creator of Don Quijote and William Shakespeare; the greatest Spanish writer and the greatest English writer died on the same day, April 23, 1616.

The Ramblas take on a very different air during Sant Jordi: bookstalls and the color and scent of roses are everywhere, and love is in the air.

It seems everyone is strolling the Ramblas, leisurely leafing through books with their beloveds.

The Hotel Principal is just two blocks away.

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