Books about Barcelona

10 of the best books set in BarcelonaThese are our 10 best books to read set in Barcelona.


Written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and published on 2001, our favourite , together with the Cathedral of the Sea. With The Shadow of the wind you will meet the Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War. This wonderful gothic literary thriller is an amazing promenade through the streets and squares of the city center and also the avenues on the north of the city. The rest you have to discover youself!
ICONO services offers a literary tour about this book.


This bestseller was written by Ildefonso Falcones on 2006. The action takes on the 14th century , at the height of Inquisition, Jewish persecuccions, slavery, comercial port trades and freedom. The construction of Santa Maria del Mar church by the sailors of Barcelona runs parallel to the life of Arnau, the main character of the book.

Santa Maria del Mar is 5 minutes walk from our hotel , the Duquesa de Cardona, and is , in our opinion, one of the nicest cathedrals of the city. Literary tours are also organized with ICONO services


Written by Eduardo Mendoza on 1986. This extraordinary novel fictionalises the teeming life of the city between the Universal Expositions of 1888 and 1929


By Mercé Rodoreda, one of the big names of the contemporary catalan literature of the 20th century. Written on 1962, the TV created a successful film show about “La plaça del Diamant”, the original name of the book in catalan . This novel is regarded by many as the greatest novel written about the Spanish civil war. Natalia ( La Colometa ) personal history is also the history of many locals in the city of Barcelona.
The story takes place in one of the most beloved quarters for locals in the city: el “Barri de Gracia”, a quarter full of lively narrow streets and squares .


Everyone knows what FC Barcelona footbal team means for the citizens of this city . Known as “més que un club” – “more than a club”, this books reflects the story of Barça, the city’s legendary football club founded in 1898, and also the epic story of Barcelona and the Catalan nationalism.

After the Spanish Civil War, football at the stadium of the locals teams was a meeting point of “semi-freedom” to express themselves with the company and on the language of Catalunya.

This book was written by Jimmy Burns and published on 2000


George Orwell published this book on 1938. The classic account of Barelona and Catalonia during the Spanish civil war, as Orwell describes the hopes and betrayal of the Spanish revolution, his experiences and observations.


Many were the people who exiled from Spain during and after the Spanish Civil War, and this book is about these people. Obviously, this novel was banned in the country until after Franco died.  By Juan Goytisolo, 1966


Robert Hughes published this book on 1992, scrolling through Barcelona violent history , with kings, poets, revolutionaries and magnates . The novel is also history, travel guide and labour of love from the well-known art critic, using proportion , humor and “seny”, the Catalan world for common sense law of behaviour.


Written by Manuel Vázquel Montalbán on 1977.  A director of a multinational conglomerate is murdered , and his widow seeks out private investigator Pepe Carvalho, who had met and forgotten the playboy executive after their single chance encounter


Colm Tóibín , 2002. The booker prize-shortlisted novelist has lived on and off in the city since the 1970s and here offers his own highly readable account of its culture and history.




Memorable quotes about Barcelona

Hans Christian Andersen and Barcelona



Visits Barcelona on 1862, and says :
” We crossed spacious streets, with building resembling   palaces, in La Rambla promenade ; the shops were well illuminated and there was movement and life… I did not decide to go to sleep, even though I wished to, so I could rise early and contemplate, in daylight, this city, unknown to me: Barcelona, capital of Catalonia ”


      DON MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRAMiguel de Cervantes and Barcelona

The most famous writer on the spanish literature, and his worlwide read book ” Don Quijote de     la Mancha”, dedicates some words to the city of Barcelona as follows.

“Barcelona, archives of courtesy, shelter of the foreigners, hospital of the poor, father-land of  the brave , vengeance of the offended and pleasant correspondence of firm friendship, and in site, and in beauty, unique”
Don Miguel de Cervantes lived on Passeig Colom 2, in front of the port, and just few block from our hotel Duquesa de Cardona. Our hotel was one of the palaces where the nobles and royal families lived on the XVI century .

Le Corbusier and Barcelona


Letter to the members of the GATCPAC on 1928, talking about Barcelona:

” Allow me to state here how much I love Barcelona , an admirable city, a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future ”


Freddie Mercury and Barcelona


Barcelona ” Olympic Hymn song of Barcelona 1992, Freddie Mercury sings together with the famous catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé.

” Such a beautiful horizon, like a jewel in the sun , for you a will be a seagle of your beautiful ocean . The bells are ringing, open up your doors to the world


XVII Century, ” El Criticón”

” Barcelona , centre of the wise, model of purity, quarry of Kings ”

XV-XVI Centuries. De rebus Hispaniae memorabilibus

” Barcelona was a most illustrious city for its princes and most noble , its knights ; its richness and great prosperities where known all over the world for being marvelous and vigorous , and therefore, exposed to envy… ”

XII Century

” It is a little and beautiful city, situated near the seashore… Traders with merchandises come to it from all over: from Greece, Pisa, Alexandria , Holy Land, Africa and all its surroundings ”


The famous north american director made a romantic – comedy film called Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz , Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem.




Codorniu Cava

Vineyard at Sant Sadurni d’Anoia

Apart from learning how the Codorniu wine label originated in 1551  – some of the documents from that era have been preserved – a tour around the estate will take you through the whole process of transforming ripened grapes into bottles of bubbly. The building are of modernistic design, set in lush gardens. The tours are free. Although they tend to get booked up. you will be fitted in if you turn up unannounced most of the times. You also get to taste the end results. The one to ask for, and buy, is the Anna de Codorniu cava which is made from the chardonnay grape and is delicious, and only 6.5 €. The label is named after an heiress to the Codorniu heritage who in 1659 at the age of 14 married a neighbouring wine-grower called Miquel Raventós, thus switching ownership of the vineyard.

It was a subsequent generation of the Raventós family who two centuries later started prodcing cava and when Manuel Raventós took over the business in 1885 he decided to focus exclusively on producing the sparkling wine, travelling to France to learn the French art of champagne-making.

How to get by car from Hotel Duquesa de Cardona Barcelona: take the A7 towards Tarragona and Lleida, exit 27 to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. Journey time, 30-40 minutes.Cava Codorniu Sant Sadurni d'Anoia


The Jewish Quarter Barcelona

Jewish quarter synagogue Barcelona El CallThe current lack of Jewish presence on the streets makes it hard to believe that Jews thrived here for over a thousand years and, before the 14th century pogroms, made up over 15% of Barcelona’s population. The city is now wnjoying some of the first signs of Hebraic regeneration in over 500 years, with a recent influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Argentina, newly established synagogues , study centres such as the Chabad Lubavitch and even the Jewish Film Festival .

The best place to start a half-day tour of Jewish Barcelona is the Call ( from the Hebrew work kahal, which means communitiy of congregation), a tiny patch of narrow medieval streets to the west of the cathedral. Despite heavy taxes and few civil rights, the Jews prospered here; by the 13th century, the Call hels over 4000 inhabitants and was regarded as one of the most religious and learned Sephardic Jewish communities. Beginning at Plaça Sant Jaume, head west down C/Call, once the Call’s main street and where the ghetto gates at either end were locked at night. The first street to your righ is C/Sant Honorat, where the water fountains were located; the second is C/Sant Domènec del Call, once the religious heart of the Call, and home to the main synagogue, kosher slaughter-houses and schools; the third street is the Call’s western boundary of C(Arc de Sant Ramon, where there was once a Jewish women’s school.
The Christianised street names are the result of the vicious pogrom of 1391, when the Call passed into the hands of the king, inhabitants were murdered of forced to convert to Catholicism and emblematic buildings were decorated with Catholic effigies.