The legend of Sant Jordi and the Casa Batlló
Sant Jordi‘s festivity is celebrated with great enthusiasm every April 23 on the streets of Catalonia, where the custom is to give books and roses. This day is known worldwide for being the day of the book, but in Catalonia, honoring Sant Jordi, is a celebration of love (Catalan Valentine’s Day) and has behind it a legend unknown to many.
The legend of Sant Jordi tells that a dragon that lived in Montblanc (Tarragona) had frightened all the inhabitants of the town, who, finally, decided to sacrifice one person a day to calm the insatiable hunger for blood of the fierce dragon, which would be chosen at random.
After days of following this practice, luck wanted that the princess would be next on the list. When she was heading towards the dragon, a knight in shining armor and on a white horse named Sant Jordi, rescued the princess, crossing with his sword the chest of the dragon. He saved the princess and freed all the citizens of Montblanc.
From the spilled blood of the dragon, rose a rosebush with the reddest roses among all roses that had ever been seen. Sant Jordi, plucked a rose and offered it to the princess. Hence the custom of giving roses to the most beloved women this day.
The legend has been a source of inspiration for many artists, among them Antoni Gaudí, who represented the legend of Sant Jordi in the architecture of Casa Batlló, in Barcelona, so that this tradition would continue to live through the years.
This fantastic legend can be enjoyed from the facade of the building. On the roof, where the dragon’s back appears, which comes to life with the ceramic tiles in the form of scales, and is crossed by the four-armed cross that evokes the sword of Sant Jordi. On the top floor, you can see a flower-shaped balcony alluding to the princess’s balcony.
In the lower floors of the facade, are the remains of the victims of the dragon, represented in the balconies in the form of skulls, and in the columns of the rostrum, representing the bones.
Finally, at the entrance hall to the house, there is a staircase whose finishing touches remind us of the vertebrae of the dragon’s tail. and finally, in the attic, there is a main room formed by catenary arches that evoke the rib cage of the dragon.
Gaudí represented all the details in this peculiar house of the city of Barcelona so day after day the wonderful tradition of this festivity would be reminded both locals and visitors.
In what places is Sant Jordi celebrated?
This legend also travels to some countries more of the European Community, like England, Greece and Portugal. Although in Barcelona this day is celebrated with more fervor, since all its main streets, such as Las Ramblas, Paseo de Gracia and La Rambla are dressed up with roses and books stalls to receive their citizens.