“Barçalona”, the Blaugrana City
08 June, 2015
“Our friend and companion Mr Kans Kamper of the Foot-Vallsection of the Sociedad los Deportesand former Swiss champion wishes to organise some football matches in Barcelona” read an advert in the weekly newspaper, Los Deportes on 22 October 1899. Hans Gamper, now known as Joan Gamper, was the Club's Swiss founder, player and president, and a key figure in the destiny of the Barcelona football team. He was already a prominent soccer player in his own country and, when he moved to Barcelona in 1899 for business reasons, he refused to forego his passion. He published the above advert in an attempt to perpetuate the sport. As a result, the foundational assembly of FC Barcelona was held on 29 November in the Gimnasio Solè. Located in Montjuïc del Carme Street number 5 (on the corner of Pintor Fortuny, near the Ramblas and very close to the Canaletes fountain), these premises went on to become a garage until they were bought by a construction company in 1996, demolished and rebuilt to be used as office space. However, a plaque at the entrance reminds passers-by that this place saw the birth of one of the most admired football clubs in the world.
From La Escupidera to Camp Nou
After continuously moving from one venue to another, Barça finally bought some grounds in 1909 between the streets Comte d’Urgell, Villarroel, Coello – now Londres – and Indústria – now París – where the first stadium was built. It was commonly known as La Escupidera (The Spittoon), given its small size. With a capacity for 6,000 spectators, it was almost too small from the outset. The numbers attending matches were such that those left outside would climb the outer walls of the premises in order to follow the game. The bottoms of these enthusiasts were exposed to the street, in view of passers-by, which is why Barça supporters are now known as culés (“bottomers” in Catalan).
In view of this, FC Barcelona moved to a stadium in the district of Les Corts, situated in the block delimited by the streets Numància, Travessera de Les Corts, Vallespir and Marquès de Sentmenat. Inaugurated on 20 May 1922, the stadium could initially hold 60,000 spectators. This enlargement also turned out to be insufficient to seat all those who wished to enjoy Ladislao Kubala’s football. This football wizard – included in the Barça "Holy Trinity" completed by Johan Cruyff and Leo Messi – was influential in the demolition of the Les Corts field and the construction of Camp Nou. The location of theformer stadiumis now commemorated by a plaque on an apartment block in Numància Street.
The new blaugrana colosseum, with a capacity for almost 100,000 people, was inaugurated on 24 September 1957 and has become a symbol of world football. A few metres from the stadium, encapsulating the essence of the club, stands the Masia Can Planas – a country house from 1702 that was until recently the residence of the blaugrana stars. For more information on Barça’s different headquarters, click here.
Between Euphoria and Faith
In February 1930, the weekly newspaper “La Rambla” was founded by Barça's president-to-be, Josep Suñol, with its headquarters at Las Ramblas number 13. Today, these premises are occupied by Núria Restaurant, just opposite the Canaletes fountain. At a time when football matches were not yet broadcasted on radio, the employees of the newspaper would hang a board from their office balcony with the day’s results. This was the way culés used to find out how well their team had done. If the score was satisfactory, the celebration would start. Since then, and still today, Canaletes fountain is the epicentre of Barça euphoria. Legend has it that, if visitors drink from the waters of Canaletes, they will eventually return to the city.
To wind up the celebrations, the football stars would end up on the balconies of the Generalitat de Catalunya and Barcelona City Hall in Sant Jaume square. Players, coaches and executives would then go to the Mercè chapel, a Baroque church located in La Mercè square, adjoining Carrer Ample and Passeig de Colom, to offer the winning trophy to the city's patron saint. Not very far from there is the cathedral of Santa María del Mar. This beautiful Gothic church was attacked at the beginning of the Civil War and most of the stained glass windows were destroyed. The government of the Generalitat insisted on its restoration, which was financed by various wealthy families of the time and Barcelona institutions, such as FC Barcelona. As a token of gratitude, the club's emblem was placed on the window in the church sanctuary. Indeed, football is a question of faith.
Barcelona is no doubt one of the most football-mad cities in the world. You can breathe Barça everywhere. Come and see it for yourself! Check out our flights here.
Images by Oriol Rodríguez, Juanedc, Maria Rosa Ferre, Jordi Ferrer, Enfo_34/ Fundació del FC Barcelona
08 June, 2015