Sant Pau del Camp

Barcelona has so many famous buildings, none more so than the spectacular offerings from Antoni Gaudi, but the old quarters of El Raval house a real gem that not all of the guide books will tell you about.

Barcelona’s turbulent history is still very visible in and around the city centre or “Cuitat Vella” (old town), along the old boundary walls of Sant Madrona on Paral·lel Avenue for Sant Pau del Camp Church in Barcelonaexample, and the Gothic architecture around the city, but perhaps the greatest sign of the age of “Barcino” as the Roman’s named the city, is the church of “Sant Pau del Camp” - Saint Paul of the countryside – which is the oldest church in Barcelona.

Visitors to Barcelona will be more than familiar with the famous Las Ramblas street – the heartbeat of the centre of the city and one of the un-missable attractions. This street is actually a dry river bed and separated the citadel (now the Gothic Quarter) from the rest of the countryside - now the multi-cultural Raval district. A wander into the Raval offers some great attractions with Gaudi’s Palau Güell just off las ramblas on Nou de la Rambla, and the Modern art museums in the north, but the real beauty is the Sant Pau del Camp church. Part of the beauty of this church is the simplicity – the church is a typical Roman stone walled church and looks exactly the same on the inside as on the outside. No gold icons, no stained glass windows – Sant Pau del Camp transports you back a couple of centuries. A visit to the cloister, with the damp smell and the imposing square shaped patio built soon after the main structure gives even more history.

Details of the origins of Sant Pau del Camp are sketchy at best. According to the official pamphlet given to visitors, Earl Guifrë Borell founded the church between 879 and 911 according to his gravestone found early 1596 -  currently attached to the left had wall of the church. The church suffered looting in 985 by Al-Mansur’s troops and has also seen the administration change hands various times until been declared a national monument in 1879.

What is however plain to see is that Sant Pau del Camp is one of the most simple yet most beautiful churches that Barcelona has to offer.

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