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The women hidden behind the heritage spaces of Barcelona

Domingo, 1 de november de 2020
  • The women hidden behind the heritage spaces of Barcelona

It's no secret that history has traditionally been given male names to tell, leaving women in the background.

At Sternalia, however, we always emphasize the female gender, as they have also played a relevant role in many of the city’s heritage spaces and have many curiosities to teach us. Therefore, in this post we want to review some of the protagonists who have given life to the buildings of the city and who have played a prominent role in their respective times.

First of all, if we look at the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia, we already find two names of prominent women who were great ‘fighters’ of their historical stage, achieving great feats in a world reserved for men as medicine was then. Dolors Aleu and Martina Castells were among the top three doctors in Spain and both studied at the Faculty of Medicine, which was located at the current headquarters of the RAMC. In fact, Aleu was the only one who came to practice the profession, and the building that hosted her studies still retains her doctoral thesis (“On the need to guide hygienic-moral education along the new path of women”). After overcoming obstacles to be officially recognized, she opened a clinic where she attended to women of all social backgrounds.

In the case of Martina Castells, this female character failed to exercise and died at the age of 31 due to nephritis during pregnancy. Behind the chapel of Sant Llàtzer, in Padró square, there are gardens dedicated to her.

Another woman also linked in some way to medicine is Nuria Pla Monseny. The only daughter and heiress of Ramon Pla and Assumpció Monseny, she completed her studies in this scientific field in 1940 at the University of Barcelona, ​​also becoming one of the first women to graduate from this faculty in Catalonia. But Nuria Pla became more important because she created the Ramón Pla Armengol Private Foundation ‘post mortem’ in honor of her father, and there is one of the most important collections of antique furniture in Spain. In addition, her multifaceted personality and great business acumen led her to take over the pharmaceutical institute founded by her father in 1940.

Three more female figures are relevant in this case in the Old House of Convalescence, inaugurated in January 1680. During the seventeenth century, one of the most important problems of this building was obtaining the necessary resources for its financing. For this reason, in addition to the donations of Consell de Cent and Diputació de Barcelona, ​​it also required private capital. Four nobles from Barcelona made donations that made their construction possible in Carme Street: Pau Ferran, Lucrècia de Gualba, Victòria Astor and Elena Soler. In fact, at the monumental entrance of the House you can find four murals with polychrome tiles that tell the story of the donor families, with the coats of arms of each of them.

Finally, we would like to highlight the figure of Isabel de Requesens, who shares the name of one of Barcelona’s heritage sites: the Requesens Palace. This woman, from an important Catalan family at the time, on the death of her father, married her cousin Ramon Folc de Cardona-Anglesola, viceroy of Naples. Thus, Isabel de Requesens became Vice Queen of Naples, as well as being Countess of Palamós, of Trivento and Avellino and lady of the Barony of Calonge. He resided at the Requesens Palace, which since 1917 has been the seat of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

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