The building of the City Hall of Barcelona is original from 1369. However, much of the building was destroyed on December 3, 1842, when General Antonio Van Halen, at the request of the regent, Baldomero Espartero, bombed Barcelona for eleven hours. More than 1,000 bombs dropped in the city, destroying 462 buildings. One of the most affected was the City Hall.
That is the reason why in 1847 the architect Josep Mas i Vila made a new facade following the neoclassical style. From then on, the Gothic façade became a secondary façade, facing Ciutat Street.
Many names for the same square
From 1840, the square was called Plaza de la Constitución. For this reason, a large plaque with this name was placed in the middle of the City Hall façade.
And although the name of the square was changing several times over the years, the plaque remained on the facade until 2013. It was surely removed to avoid confusion among tourists. It was difficult to know if they were in Plaça Sant Jaume, in Plaza de la Constitución, or simply in Plaza del Ayuntamiento or Plaza de la Generalitat, the other government building that is right in front of the Town Hall.
Who’s who on the Barcelona City Hall façade?
The main door is presided by 2 two statues that were made in 1844 by Josep Bover.
The person on the left is King James I. He was the founder of the Consell de Cent institution, the city government institution, made up of 100 councilors representing citizens from Barcelona. It was on 1249.
The one on the right represents one of the most important councilors of the Consell de Cent , Joan Fivaller, one of the most staunch defenders of the rights of Barcelona as a city.
Fivaller, among other things, is known for the episode that confronted him with King Fernando de Antequera.
When King Fernando I visited Barcelona in 1416, he did not agree to pay the vectigal , a municipal tax that charged the meat trade in the city.
The Consell de Cent decided to send a commission headed by the second counselor, Joan Fivaller, to make it clear to the king that he must pay that tax. Actually it was the Conseller in Cap, the first counselor, who should speak to the king. But that day he was sick.
Fivaller demanded that the king pay, and the king argued that “the king did not pay taxes, but taxes were for him.”
It was then that Fivaller replied with the famous phrase: “ Vectigalia rei publicae esse, non tua “(taxes are from the state, not yours). To avoid further tension, the king ended up paying.
The Gothic Quarter is full of stories, curiosities and legends. We will tell you a lot about them on our walk through the medieval city.