correfoc - quirky Barcelona tradition

Quirky Barcelona

Here we’d like to share the lesser known parts of Barcelona with you; the unusual the strange, the odd, the unique, the special, the different. In short – the quirky!

Barcelona is a “mixed-up” place in the sense that, as befitting a “port city,” there is a centuries long tradition of cultures clashing here. The three most famous Catalan artists Miró, Tapies and Dalí illustrate this perfectly; their art can be playful (Miró), earthy (Tapies) or surreal (Dalí). In fact combining all of these (and many more) expressions on one canvas is not unusual for either of them despite our initial banal generalization. Catalan art and culture has always been characterized by this uneasy yet creative matrimony between the traditional and the avantgarde.

Quirky Barcelona Events and Traditions

Castellers – Don’t be alarmed if you come upon a large tower of bodies hovering perilously over a square. This is one of the most popular and typical of Catalan traditions; building towers of people, from the sturdy ones who form the foundations to the slim, agile ones who have to climb to the top. Since 2010 the practice is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

 Calçotada – December to April. It might sound peculiar that one arranges feasts all around Catalunya to celebrate an “onion”, but that’s what a calçotada is all about! A calçot is a leek like onion that is roasted on a BBQ and served with a sweet and spicy romesco sauce. A calçotada usually involves barbecued meat and the typical “catalan bread” with tomato and garlic. It is, in fact, delicious!

Correfoc – Literarily, this means “running with fire” (pictured above). People dress up as devils and light up their fireworks (while shop-owners barricade their windows) and wreak havoc around the city. This might not be as dangerous as it looks, people generally have experience with this, but if you put your self in the middle of this, don’t wear your driest hemp outfit! It is a staple of the La Merce fiesta, and others.

The Poetry Brothel – Can poetry readings be sexy? This is a poetry “brothel” than changes venue for the different readings and performances that are arranged. Keep abreast with the latest “word on the street.”

For more conventional (and essential) Barcelona events.

Quirky Shops in Barcelona

El Ingenio, C/Rauric 6 – Handcrafted toys and costumes (for fiestas etc.)  Barri Gotic

Chandal C/Valldonzella 29 – A funny gadget store where you buy a stylophone or a polaroid camera. El Raval

Freaks, C/Ali Bei 10 – Movie memorabilia, comics etc. with a tendency towards the strange and unusual.Eixample

El Rei de la Magia, C/Princesa 11 – A shop for anyone from the professional magician to the casual prankster.Born

Sikkerhetsbelte – This is not a shop, but the blog of one guy making cool bags using safety-belts (“sikkerhetsbelte” in Norwegian) as shoulder straps. His stuff can be bought at “Oslo” in Torrent d’Olla 164 in Gracia. Blog

For more conventional (and essential) shopping in Barcelona.


Quirky Barcelona Bars

  • Bar Marsella, C/Sant Pau 65 – Named so since the original owner who opened the bar (in 1820) was from Marseilles. Still, to this day, it is not hard to imagine, when inhaling your absinth here, that you are in a bar by the Marseilles harbor. Naturally Hemingway drank here. In El Raval.
  • Casa Paco, C/Allade Vermell 10 – It looks like a hole-in-the wall type of bar. In fact, that’s what it is, but the ambiance is relaxed and music is normally really good, from Northern Soul to Electronic. El Born
    El Bosc de les Fades, Ptge de la Banca 5 – Pining for the forest after many days of urban living? This bar in Barri Gotic could be your refuge with its rather pastoral interior design; it is like being in the middle of the forest! Barri Gotic
  • La Concha, C/Guárdia 14 – This is, in a manner of speaking, a theme bar dedicated to singer legend Sara Montiel. Very popular among transvestites and gays. Incredibly kitsch, but for anyone venturing deep into  the Raval a great place to experience the underbelly of Barcelona (while it still exists)! El Raval
  • La Bastarda, C/Balmes 122 – A retro, kitch bar/restaurant with a unique “dinner-show” every Friday. Eixample