Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri still preserves the remains of a bomb that killed 42 people (most of them, children) during Spanish Civil War.

Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri (Sant Felipe Neri plaza), located at Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, can be described as a bittersweet spot . On the one hand, it is a quiet place in which children play and couples share their love. That produces joy and peace, it makes you breathe some kind of special calm. On the other hand, if you look at the holey walls that surround it, this feeling is replaced by melancholy. These holes are the scars of a tragedy that occurred during Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

One of this war’s worst episodes happened on January 30, 1938. The Italian Legionary Aviation, which was an ally of Francisco Franco (who’ll lead a dictatorship in Spain during almost forty years), attacked Barcelona’s main areas. That means, Eixample, Barceloneta and, especially, the Gothic Quarter. They used a lethal technique addressed to optimize the number of deaths. It consisted on bombing a place, stopping the fire, making civilians believe that the attack was over so they leave their hiding places and refuges and, when that happened, restarting the manoeuvre.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, in Barcelona


The remains of a tragedy

The Church of San Felipe Neri- which gives its name to the square- was used as a refuge for people living  in the occupied areas and students from the school next to the church. During the attack, one of the bombs exploded in the church and killed 42 people, most of them children.

A plaque in Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri records the tragedy and pays tribute to the victims. However, the most striking reminder is on the walls of the church. The wall’s holes are the remains of the shrapnel from the devastating bomb. Today, the children of Escola Sant Felip Neri usually play here during their recess. That’s where that bittersweet feeling comes from, it’s a place full of life but also of death.