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Sant Jordi in Barcelona

On April 23, we celebrate the Diada de Sant Jordi throughout Catalonia, also known as the Catalan Valentine’s Day. This is celebrated by exchanging books and roses, a tradition that stems from a very old legend and remains very popular to this day. Sant Jordi is one of my favorite festivals and certainly one of the most special and romantic days in Barcelona. In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this special holiday and what there is to do during Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

The legend of Sant Jordi

According to legend, Sant Jordi (Saint George in English) was a brave knight who helped a princess escape from the clutches of a dragon.

The legend tells that the village of Montblanc was terrorized by the dragon, which devoured everything. The king had given him all the animals to eat, and after they were gone, they had agreed to draw lots each day to give a villager to the dragon as a victim.

And so it went until the day the princess was chosen. She was drawn as the victim, and with much pain and tears, the king had to let her go. But just in time, the handsome knight Sant Jordi came to her rescue. He killed the dragon with his sword and saved the princess from death.

The legend tells that from the blood of the dragon, a rose bush bloomed.

And of course, this story ends with a happy ending because Sant Jordi was allowed by the king to marry the beautiful princess as a token of gratitude.

Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Sant Jordi in Barcelona

Traditions during Sant Jordi

From the legend, the tradition arose for men to give a red rose to their beloved, while women give men a book as a gift.

The tradition of the book originated because April 23 has been National Book Day since 1930. It is also the day of the death of two of the greatest writers, Cervantes and Shakespeare.

This tradition is shared not only with your loved one but is also celebrated extensively. You can give a rose or a book to anyone you love. For Catalans, Sant Jordi is therefore the day of love and culture.

👉 Continue reading about the tradition of giving roses and books during Sant Jordi.

Stalls selling roses for Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Stalls selling roses for Sant Jordi in Barcelona

What to do during Sant Jordi in Barcelona

The day of love is celebrated in Catalonia on April 23. Barcelonans also hit the streets en masse in search of a rose and a nice book to give as gifts. Everywhere there is a cheerful atmosphere, and the streets are filled with stalls where you can find books and roses, alongside many Catalan flags, as Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia.

Below, I’ll show you what there is to do during Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

Buying a book or rose

During Sant Jordi, on April 23, stalls are set up on every street corner in the city selling books and roses. So, don’t hesitate and do as the locals do: buy a book or a rose for your loved one!

But be aware: during Sant Jordi, roses are sold individually. So, it’s not the intention to buy a bunch of roses unless you want to give one to multiple people.

Strolling through the city

Locals take to the streets in droves during Sant Jordi, searching for a nice book or rose to give as a gift. For many, it’s a tradition to stroll through the Ramblas, Passeig de Gràcia, and Rambla de Catalunya. There, the most stalls are set up in succession, and there’s always a lively atmosphere.

Don’t miss the facade of Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, which is often decorated with thousands of red roses during Sant Jordi, and that of the Generalitat de Catalunya on Plaça de Sant Jaume.

Casa Batlló tijdens Sant Jordi
Casa Batlló during Sant Jordi

Getting your book signed

During Sant Jordi, there are also many book signing sessions with various famous authors. Most of these take place at the stalls along Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça Catalunya, and the Ramblas. It’s a unique opportunity to have your favorite book signed by the author themselves!

Attending special events

Additionally, many buildings host open days during Sant Jordi. This allows you to visit special places such as the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, the Palau de la Generalitat, the City Hall, the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, or the Ateneu Barcelonès for free.

At the Antiga Fàbrica Damm site, there are also free concerts known as the Sant Jordi Musical. Furthermore, at Creu Croberta, in front of the Mercat d’Hostafrancs, there’s a special market called Fira de Sant Jordi a Creu Coberta.

Stalls selling books for Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Stalls selling books for Sant Jordi in Barcelona

Enjoying Pa de Sant Jordi

Finally, there are several sweets closely associated with April 23, such as the Pa de Sant Jordi (a bread with cheese and sobrasada, a type of spreadable sausage from Mallorca) and various cakes themed around Sant Jordi. You can find these delicacies at the bakery.

Good to know

  • Although Sant Jordi is celebrated grandly in Catalonia, it is not an official public holiday.
  • Sant Jordi is also the patron saint of Catalonia.
  • The rose symbolizes love, and the book represents culture.
  • Keep in mind that there may be extra crowds in the center of Barcelona and on public transportation.

These were my tips for Sant Jordi in Barcelona. Are you in Barcelona during Sant Jordi this year, or have you visited Barcelona during Sant Jordi before? Leave a comment! I’m curious about your experiences. Bona Diada de Sant Jordi!

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Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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