The History of Barcelona is also written by the victors and they happen to be men. These are some some of the women that have been in the shade.

If you search in Google for artists, poets, singers or celebrities who have excelled in the history of Barcelona, ​​most of the results show male names. It takes a lot of research to discover a single woman. If the intention is to investigate if they have any relationship with La Rambla, the task gets complicated. This is a ridiculous sample of those rebel,  fighter and intellectual women who are part of the history of Barcelona and, specifically, of La Rambla, the most famous street.

Maria Francesca Fiveller, the ‘Virreina’

Palau de la Virreina is located at La Rambla, 99 as a stately building from the 18th century. Manuel de Amat y Junyent arranged its construction when he returned to Barcelona with a great fortune after being dismissed as viceroy of Peru. Amat liked ostentation and showcased his fortune, a practice he continued practicing in the Catalan capital. That’s why it was ordered to build two palaces, one at La Rambla and another at Gràcia, where current Plaza de la Virreina is located.

On the other hand, Maria Francesca Fiveller was engaged to Manuel de Amat’ s nephew. However, they never got married (the circumstances were never known?. To repair family’s honor, she was married to the Viceroy of Peru, who was three times older than she. The marriage lasted three years until the death of the husband. He gave Maria Francesca Fiveller his fortune but most important, a place in the history of Barcelona.

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Palau de la Virreina at La Rambla in Barcelona.


Eulàlia Ferrer, a press fighter

In the nineteenth century it seemed impossible for women to lead a library or being in charge of a newspaper. However, Eulàlia Ferrer, who was born in a family of booksellers and printers, got it. At the age of twelve he inherited the family business. This love for letters made her meeting Antoni Brusi i Mirabent, who worked binding and selling books.

Together they founded a printing company that they registered with both names, something inedit. In 1808 the war between Spain and France broke out, with the consequent Napoleonic invasion. Eulàlia and Antoni moved their company to Tarragona to print the anti-French publications La Gazeta and Diari de Barcelona. This newspaper which would last until 1994.

After the conflict they returned to Barcelona but in 1821 her husband died of yellow fever. She alone took the reins of  Diari de Barcelona and made sure that her children traveled and learned. When she was sure she left the business in good hands, she retired.

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‘Diari de Barcelona’, the newspaper that Eulàlia Ferrer managed.


Anna Monner, the actress who didn’t want to perform

Anna Monner never wanted to become an actress. Her father was an actor and had a theater company so she had grown up in this world of entertainment. She saw it full of vices, ungrateful and rude people. However, she had a gift. In 1865, with only eleven years old, he made his debut at Teatro Tirso de Molina. Her great gifts gave her  a lot of roles, which she always received with reluctance.

She performed at Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatre Novetats, Principal theater of La Rambla and in the Romea theater. Here she was part of the cast of actors of Frederic Soler, Pitarra. At age of 53, she left the stage due to paralysis but theater pursued her until her death.

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Anna Monner.


Francesca Bonnemaison, culturing women workers

Francesca Bonnemaison was a pedagogue who took very seriously  the education and training of women workers of her time. In 1909 she founded the Institute of Culture and Popular Library of La Dona, a space that  became a cultural institution in just one year. Women were forbidden to go to university but found in Bonnemaison a way to learn everything that was banned for them. For free, they read, attended specialized lessons, learned languages ​​and science.

Bonnemaison was a conservative feminist that is, she fought for the education of women as long as family institutions were respected. When the Spanish Republic was declared, she demanded the legalization of women’s vote, founded the women section of the Regionalist League and even presented herself for an election. During the Spanish Civil War she went into exile in Switzerland with her friend and ally Francesc Cambó.

He returned in 1941 but by then, the Spanish Falange had shaped the Institut in his image and likeness for his Women’s Section. Bonnemaison disassociated himself from this new approach until his death.

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Francesca Bonnemaison.


Aurora Bertrana and her Oceanic Paradises

Aurora Bertrana is known, among other achievements, for founding the first female jazz band in Europe. But she was also a traveler and adventurer. At the beginning of the 20th century it was inconceivable for a woman to see the world she enjoyed. Her family tried to tie her to a world of sewing and bobbin, a fact that strangled her until suffocation. They also closed her the doors of writing because according to her father, author Prudenci Bertrana, writing was not a profession of ladies.

Bertrana found music a way to escape. She earned her first salary playing at a café in La Rambla. Then she moved to Geneva where she founded a jazz trio in the framework of the ‘happy’ twenties. However, that Europe full of conventionalisms and prejudices was too small for her.

Neither her strength and freedom of spirit managed to avoid being married to an electrical engineer who courted her. Far from getting depressed, Bertrana took the opportunity to move with him to Polynesia. There she retook writing and published Oceanic Paradises, which explains the clash between family values ​​of the Old Continent and the freedom of the Maois.

She also explored Morocco alone and during the Spanish Civil War in Spain she helped Catalan republicans. Her husband run away with her secretary and supported Franco side. The victory of the dictator drowned her but luckily, she was able to refuge in her writing until she died in a gray Spain in 1974.

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Aurora Bertrana at Polynesia.


Júlia Casas, the happiest girl in La Rambla

In the 19th century, the florists came to La Rambla to give life, joy and color to the street. And they got it. In one of the social  gatherings organized around their stalls impressionist painter Ramón Casas met Jùlia Peraire. She was a lottery seller and her personality dazzled the artist. She was twenty-two years younger than him and became his muse. You just have to take a look at Casas’ pictorial work to verify that obsession.

They wanted to get married Casas wealthy family did not approve the union. At that time, a freethinking, lively and passionate woman like Peraire was synonymous with dubious morality. Casas rejected his family encouraged by Peraire and moved to live with her. They married in the Bonanova church and never had children because Júlia didn’t want them. The bourgeoisie of the moment neither approved this relationship between a high class painter and Jùlia Peraire but that never mattered to them.

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Júlia Peraire portraited in ‘La Sargantain’ by Ramón Casas.