Barcelona Dragons: Old and new

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Gaudi’s captivating mosaic dragon in Parc Guell is just one of many dragons kids will see on a visit to Barcelona.

Dragons (dracs), portrayed in paintings, sculpture, architecture, processions, chocolate, souvenirs, are very much a part of the history and culture of this city.

Saint George (Sant Jordi), patron saint of Catalunya province, is famous for saving a princess and killing a dragon – two more dragon slayers in Barcelona are Archangel Michael and Wilfred the Hairy.

Some tips to identify different heroes and dragons, and where to see them in Barcelona.

 

Archangel Michael

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Archangel Michael is a biblical warrior saint, who defeats evil in the form of a dragon.

Archangel Michael is not unique to Spain – he is revered throughout Europe and the Middle East, and appears in many churches and monuments (including Mont Saint-Michel in France, Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome). Michael is represented with spreading angel wings, holding a sword or lance and shield, the dragon is often has multiple heads.

Look for Archangel Michael in medieval paintings in the Museum of Catalan Art (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), and Barcelona Cathedral, St. Bernard – St. Michael Archangel Chapel.

 

Saint George (Sant Jordi)

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Very popular in Barcelona, Saint George (Sant Jordi), is the patron saint of medieval knights, and portrayed wearing armor, carrying a shield with a cross, and sticking the dragon with a long lance or sword.

In the legend of St. George, when a dragon threatens the kingdom, a maiden is offered as tribute. Just as the king’s daughter is about to be eaten up by the dragon, Saint George arrives in the nick of time, kills the dragon and rescues the princess.

Barcelona celebrates Sant Jordi day on April 23. During Corpus Christie celebrations in late May or early June, a giant paper-mache dragon is carried in the parade, and other dragons are “fire-breathing” fireworks.

Look for Saint George and the dragon in the following locations:

Cathedral of Barcelona, fountain in the cloister.

Casa Amatller, Passeig de Gracia

Silver statue, Museum of Catalan Art

Placa de Sant Iu, Carrer del Bisbee.

Palau Generalitat, Placa de Sant Jaume.

Sagrada Familia basilica.

 

Wilfred the Hairy

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Wilfred the Hairy (Guifre el Pelos) and his encounter with a dragon is a unique Barcelona legend. Wilfred became count of Barcelona in 878, and is considered the founder of Catalunya.

In legend, departing Moors left the gift of a dragon, that lived in a cave in Catalunya. The dragon ate peasants and knights, breathed fire, and was impossible to kill. Wilfred the Hairy (or Wildfred’s father) fiercely attacked the dragon with an oak branch, which the dragon broke in half, but Wilfred persisted and dispatched the dragon with his lance and sword.

Look for this wonderful 14th century bas relief of Wilfred attacking the dragon with his wooden branch (photo above), at Placa de Sant Iu (church of St. Ives), Carrer del Bisbee.

Also on the same column, next to Wilfred is Saint George in armor attacking his dragon.

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More Dragons

Dragons (some without heroes) are everywhere you look in Barcelona:

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Find the huge green paper-mache dragon carried in Corpus Christi parades in the Giant’s Museum – La Casa dels Entremesos.

 

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At the Chocolate Museum ( Museu de la Xocolata) are two chocolate dragons – Gaudi’s Parc Guell dragon in white chocolate, and Sant Jordi’s dragon.

 

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Gaudi’s dragon appears in sorts of souvenirs – pencils, stuffed animals, figurines, mugs, etc.

 

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The Casa Batllo by Gaudi is the biggest dragon of all. Go up to the rooftop to see a ridge of wavy ceramic tiles like the back of a dragon, and tower with four armed cross like Saint George’s shield.

 

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