Cementiri de Poblenou
Avenida Icaria, s/n
08005 Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: 934 841 999
Number of Interments: uncertain, since the cemetery was destroyed and rebuilt on the same spot.
Size: I can’t find the acreage anywhere, but it’s only an hour or two of exploration.
Open: Daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Poblenou Cemetery dates to 1775, when it was the first modern cemetery in Europe to be built outside its city’s walls. The original cemetery was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1813. After the invasion, the graveyard was expanded and rebuilt by architect Antonio Ginesi. The Bishop of Barcelona re-consecrated it in April 1819.
Poblenou Cemetery is walking distance from Barcelona’s Yellow Line (Line Four) metro. Get off at Llacuna station and walk east on Carrer Ciutat de Granada four blocks toward the Mediterranean. The street dead-ends at the cemetery wall. Turn right and follow the wall around to the grand entrance. Good to know: there is no water for sale in the cemetery, but there is a corner store right outside the metro station. Make sure you have a small bill to make your purchases. They can’t change larger denominations.
Also called Cementiri de l’Este, Poblenou Cemetery is comprised of three sections. The first is a labyrinth of seven-story-high burial niches. That’s followed by a section filled with Neo-Gothic mausoleums and Gothic-style chapels built for Barcelona’s wealthiest families. The third section mixes niches, monuments, and common graves where the poor are buried.
The monuments include works by some of the most important sculptors and architects working in Barcelona in the 19th and 20th centuries. Plaques identify most of the significant works, so it’s possible to tour the cemetery by yourself. Pick up the free multilingual map from the cemetery office. While it doesn’t offer a lot of information beyond the names of the artists or architects responsible for the tombs you’ll visit, it will point you toward 30 breathtaking points of interest.
If you speak Spanish, the cemetery offers a free tour that covers about 100+ years of the history of the cemetery and the city it serves. The tour visits 30 tombs and lasts an hour and a half. It takes place the first and third Sundays of the month at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The best-known grave monument in Poblenou marks the final resting place of textile manufacturer Josep Llaudet Soler. “El beso de la Muerte” (The Kiss of Death) was designed by Joan Fontbernat and carved by Jaume Barba in 1930. It is a larger-than-life marble of a young man slumped to his knees, being supported by a winged skeleton. Death bends over to touch her teeth to the youth’s brow. Make sure to walk all the way around the statue to appreciate all of its details.
Another lovely sculpture shows a winged angel raising the swooning soul of a maiden toward heaven. The sculpture, carved by Fabiesi, dates to 1880 and adorns the grave of Pere Bassegoda.
Also buried in Poblenou is “Santet” or Little Saint Francesc Canals I Ambros, who died in a fire at a neighbor’s home in 1899. The 22-year-old was selfless in life and is believed to have supernatural powers after death. People leave photos and flowers in the niches surrounding his grave.
Other famous Catalans are buried in Poblenou, including composer Josep Anselm Clave, politician Narcis Monturiol (who also invented a submarine), and film actress Mary Santpere.
Poblenou Cemetery is part of the Cemeteries Route in Europe, which leads visitors to some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world: http://cemeteriesroute.eu/cemeteries.aspx
APP Cementiri de Poblenou is available at Google Play or for the iPhone at the App Store.
You can follow the cemetery on Twitter @cementirisbcn or on Facebook at cementirisdebarcelona.