This is our 3rd trip to Barcelona and I’ve been looking for things to see and do other than the big tourist attractions. Whenever I begin my internet search, I head 3 or 4 pages in to the results to begin finding Barcelona’s road less traveled. I believe I found such a place today: The Reial Academia de Catalunya. This is a place situated almost directly behind the Boqueria, yet it can go completely unnoticed. Finding information about this place online is almost impossible. I found one website, only in Catalan, that said it was open for free self-guided tours on Wednesday mornings from 10-12. Being on vacation, we have gotten accustomed to waking up around 11am, but on this particular Wednesday morning, I dragged my husband out of bed to go see an old medical university. There was also the possibility that we could get there and it would be closed or even non-existent, which is very common.
Upon arrival around 11am, tours were being given with a guide at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30 advertised for 8 euros (which we wound up paying 5 euros each) on Wednesdays and Fridays. They also offered an evening event on the weekends with an illusionist and cava, which I could find no further info on. The tour would be given in Catalan, but we received tablets that would translate in English. Besides us, there was a large tour group of what appeared to be college students. For a moment, we thought they might be medical students but as we toured the space, these students could have not been more disinterested in the tour and proceeded to sit on the floor of each room and close their eyes, waiting to be released back to the Ramblas by their chaperone.
The space was fascinating. We visited the different meeting halls, classrooms, the library and the president’s office. The big payoff is to visit the Amfiteatre Anatomic Segle XVII, where medical students would watch surgeries performed on the marble table. Santiago Ramon i Cajal was an important figure here, who was instrumental for merging medical practice and neuroscience. Prior to this, it was two conflicting schools of thought. Barbers were also a part of the surgery process as their cutting abilities were precise. There was also a wall constructed around the building created from the bones of the cadavers, that was either not available to view or no longer in existence. My understanding of Catalan only takes me as far to ask for a glass of wine in a bar. I am not a morbid person. I faint at the sight of a waiting room but this was fascinating. I took pictures but they just don’t do it justice. I shot a few panoramas of the Amfiteatre. Notice the right side of the photo where this tour group used the plush velvet fringed benches as an opportunity to get a little shut eye (see the one in the upper right with his shades on, another kid holding his head up with his hands). My husband and I are both college professors and we were calculating participation points on this field trip opportunity.
A view from the top of the Amfiteatre.
All in all, this was exactly the type of tour I was hoping to find within the cracks of the Gaudi tiles and have another one in the works that I’ll hopefully share in the near future. If you’re looking to visit this space, and I highly recommend, you’ll find it off the Liceu metro line on Carrer del Carme, 47.
Okay, as I finished writing this post, I went to the website and found an update to the tours! I promise this was not there yesterday, but now you have it! Check it out here: http://www.ramc.cat/visites.asp.