In a slightly more melancholy sightseeing day, I headed to some of the “hidden gems” (according to a local) of the city: the Cemeteri de Poblenou, the oldest cemetery in BCN, and the Monumental bullring, the last functional bullring in BCN, both of which were within a 10-minute bicycle ride of my apartment.
The Cemeteri de Poblenou is the oldest cemetery in the city, and home to many of BCN’s famous sons/daughters: composers, architects, authors, and politicians, all laid out over an expansive and beautifully constructed cemetery. While sightseeing in a cemetery sounds strange (and believe me, feels strange), the cemetery entrance had a self-guided touring brochure, and offers 4 guided tours per week in both Catalan and Spanish. Certainly not the spooky haunted cemetery feeling that one would expect. The spooky thing, however, were the cats. THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF CREEPY CATS THERE. Just enough to make you shiver when you see something moving around the corner. However, the memorials of the cemetery were absolutely beautiful, spectacularly sculpted, and would make anyone feel privileged to be interred there. Definitely look for the “Petó de la mort” (“Kiss of Death”), since it was probably my favorite for its intricacy.
The 40,000-seat Monumental bullring is the last of its kind in BCN, as bullfighting was banned in Catalunya in September 2011. While southern Spain (Andalucia) still has a thriving bullfighting tradition, Catalunya has been moving away from this for some time now and had its last ever bullfight in Monumental on El Diada (the September 11th festival). Another bullring in the city (Plaça de Toros de les Arenes) has been INGENIOUSLY transformed into a shopping mall in a true show of resourcefulness and creativity. Now, Monumental (and adjacent museum) stands empty, open for sightseers but missing the action of the crowds.