Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia

Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
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Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia. Main plaza square in the Vila de Gràcia neighbourhood, often just called Gràcia. Vila de Gràcia is in the Gràcia district of Barcelona and is considered the old town of Gràcia that included also Camp d'en Grassot i Gràcia Nova.

The square is home to the Gracia town hall built by Francesc Berenguer i Mestres. In the middle of the square stands the magnificent 33m bell tower built by Antoni Rovira i Trias in 1862. It has 4 clock faces - one on each side. The clock was made by the Swiss clockmaker Albert Billeter. The bell tower is on a square base and features a fountain.

Bell towers are called 'campanarios' in Spanish langauge and 'campanars' in Catalan. The Gracia bell tower is a civil bell tower, not a church one. It was built so that everyone in Gracia neighbourhoods could see it because there was no high church bell tower in Gracia.

At the top of the Gracia bell tower there is a legendary bell - the Gracia Bell - 'Campana de Gracia' called "La Marieta' which means Ladybug. In 1870 during the 'call-up revolt' - called 'l’Aldarull de les Quintes' in Catalan and 'la Revolta de les Quintes' in Spanish - protesters kept the bell ringing constantly for five days from 4th to 9th April.

The Spanish army besieged the Gracia neighbourhood and bombarded the bell tower to silence the bell, but without succes. This name of the revolt 'la Revolta de les Quintes' is from the incident which was to protest against the Spanish government's law to draft one-fifth of the young men in Barcelona into the Spanish army for the war in Cuba.

The revolt stared in April 1870 when Gracia village women built a fire on the plaza by the bell tower burning records of Gràcia residents looted from the town hall on the plaza to protest against the order. After 5 days the revolt ended in defeat for the villagers after General Eugenio Gaminde bombarded the rebellious village of Gracia from the plains of Barcelona. A cannonball did hit the bell and cracked it, changing its sound forever, even after it was later repaired in 1882. 'La Marieta' and the bell tower became symbols of the revolutionary spirit of the Gracia neighbourhood, which  endures to this day. Gracia still has a fierce village spirit and they still celebrates the anniversary of the revolt in April.

Today 'La Marieta' rings to mark time, once at quarter past, twice at half past, three times at 45 minutes and then the number of the time at the hour. The bell inspired La Campana de Gràcia magazine, which was a Catalan Republican Anarchist weekly satire magazine published for 64 years until it closed in 1934.

The plaza changed name in 2009 to 'Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia' from the former name 'Plaça de Rius i Taulet' which was the fourth name of the plaza. The square is also often called Plaça del Campanar, Plaça de la Vila, Plaça d'Orient and sometime la Plaça del rellotge.

Related pages

Gracia festival - festa mayor Gracia
Pictures Festa Major Gracia