PONT DEL CARRER DEL BISBE: THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BRIDGE IN BARCELONA
Every time I pass beneath the bridge on Carrer del Bisbe, known as the Bishop’s Bridge, I wonder how many photos I’ve appeared in due to the amount of tourists who stop to take photos there. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the Gothic Quarter and for good reason. It has a special charm that’s hard to describe unless you’ve been there. The confined area, the constant play between shadow and light, the unshakable feeling of being watched and realizing you’ve got dozens of gargoyle eyes on you, and the tranquility you breathe in despite being surrounded by tourists all characterize this magical spot.
This neo-gothic bridge was built in 1928 by Joan Rubió i Bellver, apprentice to Antoni Gaudí, and serves as the connection between the Cases dels Canonges, or Houses of the Canons, and the Palau de la Generalitat, seat of the Catalan government. The former was once home to regular canons and later became the official residence of the president of the Catalan government, a tradition that Francesc Macià started and Jordi Pujol would later decline to continue. The latter is one of the few buildings of medieval origin in Europe.
Carrer del Bisbe is one of my favorite streets in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella, or Old Town. It’s the route I always take when I want to walk around the city center. It connects the Plaça de Sant Jaume, or Sant James’ Square, and the Cathedral. In addition to the bridge, another cool detail along this street you might miss if you’re not paying attention is the Sant Jordi medallion. This work, commissioned at the beginning of the 15th century by the Catalan sculptor Pere Johan, depicts Sant Jordi, a local legend, slaying a dragon. It’s located just a few steps away from the bridge, walking towards Plaça Sant Jaume. Beneath Sant Jordi, you will see what appear to be two gargoyles flanking each side of the medallion. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice the one to the left is actually the princess that Sant Jordi is defending.
If you’re not familiar with the legend of Sant Jordi, you should read up on it so you can impress the locals. In Catalonia, Sant Jordi is a holiday that has been celebrated since 1456. Every April 23rd, the streets of Barcelona are flooded with roses and books. As the legend goes, a knight named Sant Jordi rescues a princess from a dragon. When he stabs the dragon with his sword, a rose bush springs from the dragon’s blood. Sant Jordi plucks a rose and gives it to the princess. To honor him, this holiday is celebrated by giving roses and books to your partner and/or loved ones. It’s undoubtedly my favorite Catalan tradition as I eagerly look forward to it every year. If you’re lucky enough to be in Barcelona on April 23rd, Sant Jordi will make you fall in love even more, if possible, with this amazing city.
And whenever you decide to walk down Carrer del Bisbe, make a wish while passing under the bridge. I have never done so, but I’ll be sure to make it a point to the next time.
To read more about the legends and mystery surrounding the bridge, check out our story here.
BY ISABEL TROYA & EMILY BENSON
PHOTOS BY ISABEL TROYA