Best Tips for Enjoying Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Find all the info you need about this Catalan festival!
Being the patron saint of Catalonia, Sant Jordi or Saint George is one of the most festive celebration days of the region. If you happen to be in Barcelona on the 23rd of April you will be lucky enough to witness one of the various special events unique to the Catalan culture. On Sant Jordi’s day the streets of Barcelona get filled with a special atmosphere and thousands of people celebrating love and culture. Catalans are striding through the city with red roses in search of the perfect book. This article is a complete guide with the best tips for enjoying Sant Jordi in Barcelona.
Traditionally, men offer a red rose to their lover while women buy a book for their partner.
In Catalonia, the legend says that after a harsh fight against the dragon, the knight Sant Jordi defeated it. The bleeding monster collapsed on the floor and a blood drop that reached a rosebush made it bloom abundantly. This is one of the reasons why red roses are given on this day.
There are other possible explanations to this tradition that dates centuries. During the 15th Century in Barcelona, the Fira dels Enamorats (the Lovers’ Fair) would see rose vendors gathering to sell the red flowers around Palau de la Generalitat. Men would offer them to their loved one. Roses were also offered to women who attended the Mass in the Sant Jordi chapel located in the same Palau. On top of this, roses were offered in the Roman times to celebrate in honour of the goddess Flora.
The red rose is the colour of passion and represents feminine love. When sold on this day, roses are often decorated with various elements. Sometimes they come with an ear of corn which symbolises fertility or the arrival of good weather. Usually, they are accompanied with a ribbon or a bow with the red and yellow colours of the Senyera, the Catalan flag.
On April 23rd roses will be sold in solidarity in the courtyard of the entrance of the City. The amount collected will go to non-profit entities.
Since 1930, this is a special day for literature. Indeed, the origin of offering a book to a male partner is due to the introduction of Book Day as part of the celebrations.
World Book Day is now a worldwide festival, however it all began in Catalonia when the Booksellers’ Guild and the Official Book Chamber established the 23rd of April as the best day to celebrate literature as it coincides with the death of wrtiters such as William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Garcilaso de la Vega. This is also the date when writers like Josep Pla, Maurice Druon, K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov or Manuel Mejía Vallejo were born or died.
The strong literary tradition of Barcelona and the commitment of the city to literature have meant its inclusion within the Unesco Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature. The designation implies a worldwide recognition of the literary sector and Barcelona’s literature.
Booksellers might sell the books you are looking for at a reduced fare; so get your list ready and stroll the streets on this day!
Places to Celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day
The Streets of Barcelona
The most iconic street of Barcelona, La Rambla, is without a doubt the epicentre of Sant Jordi’s Day. Plaça de Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya follow behind as the other unmissable places to visit.
Plenty of stalls selling books and roses line these streets and you will see long queues of locals waiting for their favourite authors to sign copies of their books. If this interests you, wake up early in order to avoid the long waiting.
Numerous events and performances will take place, such as poetry recitals, book readings, processions of gegants (giant figures) and performance of sardana, a typical Catalan dance. The proclamation of the event and a literary discussion will occur in the Saló de Cent situated inside the City Hall. The latter will be open to public on the 23rd.
Sant Jordi a Casa de les Punxes
The Casa de les Punxes is also joining the celebrations by offering a program of special activities. People of every age are welcome to pay a visit and enjoy some lively sessions designed to appeal to everyone.
There will be a themed guided visit entitled uncover the legend of St. George. Its objective is to investigate the origins of the legend and its connection with the fairytale building and its architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
For a magical and unforgettable experience, there will be a chance of enjoying a romantic gala dinner on the rooftop of the building in an intimate and special setting.
Sant Jordi at Casa Batlló
Like last year, Casa Batlló will celebrate this day by covering its balconies with a mantle of red roses that will decorate the main facade from April 20th to 23rd.
You could also purchase a limited edition of a manual about love on the street just in front of the main facade. The entire proceeds of the books sold will go to a local foundation.
Sant Jordi at La Sagrada Familia
World icon Sagrada Familia has this year decided to provide a different Sant Jordi experience by presenting to the public a program of activities to bring the dream of Gaudí to the public.
On Sant Jordi’s Day, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. the cathedral and Gaudí’s former residence in Park Güell will offer free access to all Jordis, Jordines, Jorges and Georgines as well as George and Georgina and all other international namesakes who want to visit the monuments.
Photo on Visual hunt
Before and during Sant Jordi’s Day, you will be able to attend various literary events and discover some popular sites with a different aspect.
Món Llibre: 6-7/04/2018
The two weekends before San Jordi's Day, children and young adults are the centre of attention at a book festival dedicated to them, Món Llibre. The event takes place at the CCCB and the MACBA.
Sant Jordi Dialogs: 20-22/04
To whet people’s appetite before the big day, the Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Institute of Culture organises Sant Jordi Dialogs. This event that highlights the city’s literary tradition (declared by UNESCO as City of Literature 2015) is dedicated to national and international authors and their work.
The Auditori Disseny Hub Barcelona will host conferences and talks featuring famous literary artists.
Friday 20th of April
6.00 PM – La mirada singular with Amélie Nothomb and Sergi Pàmies.
8.00 PM – Familia y conflicto with Carme Riera and Najat El Hachmi.
Saturday 21th of April
5.00 PM – La fantasía, la mejor manera de acercarse a la realidad with Philip Pullman and Albert Sánchez Piñol.
6.30 PM – África, cuna de historias with José Eduardo Agualusa and Xavier Aldekoa.
8.00 PM – Vida y literatura with Fernando Aramburu and Anna Guitart.
La Nit del Drac: 22/04
At 8.30 PM, the Plaça del Rei will organise tributes paid to Catalans authors, whose birth or death anniversaries fall on that day.
Sant Jordi Bread
A proper main in Catalonia is obviously accompanied with succulent food. Try the Sant Jordi bread, a soft loaf made with walnuts, cheese and sobrassada, a spicy sausage typical in the Balearic Islands. This combination creates the colours of the Catalan flag.
Where to Stay
It’s always very convenient to stay close to this kind of event. That’s why ChicRoom Barcelona offers various comfortable, elegant and centrally located apartments for you to make the most of your experience in Barcelona.
Browse our selection and find your accommodation in Barcelona today!
Living Principal Passeig de Gracia on ChicRoom Barcelona