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The Barcelona of Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Barcelona of best-selling author Carlos Ruiz Zafón is mysterious, dark, and ominous. But those looking for the Cemetery of Forgotten Books will be disappointed: the cemetery, supposedly located in a side street off the world-famous Las Ramblas, has never existed! However, many of the other locations in Zafón’s books do exist, or did exist, and the fun part is that you can actually visit many of these Gothic streets, old-fashioned shops, and lively cafés!

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Tour in Barcelona

Curious about Zafón’s Barcelona and his characters, then follow my walking tour below! I’ll take you on a tour along some of the most representative places from ‘The Shadow of the Wind‘, ‘The Angel’s Game‘, and ‘The Prisoner of Heaven‘.

1. Rambla de Santa Mònica

We start our Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s tour in Barcelona just like his first bestseller, ‘The Shadow of the Wind‘, on the Rambla de Santa Mònica. This is where the book begins with a young Daniel Sempere (the protagonist of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’) walking with his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. At the end of the Ramblas, you see the bronze statue of Columbus appear; this also frequently returns in Zafón’s books.

2. Carrer de l’Arc del Teatre

We then visit the place where the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books would have been located. Zafón placed this special place somewhere along the narrow and just as dark Carrer de l’Arc del Teatre, a side street left off the Ramblas. Here begins the story of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, when Daniel chooses the novel of Julian Carax from all the books of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

3. Plaça Reial

The beautiful Plaça Reial is the place where the impressive apartment of bookseller Gustavo Barceló is located, where Daniel meets his first love, the blind Clara Barceló, and where he gets to know the poor Fermín Romero de Torres.

4. Café de l’Òpera

Isabella Sempere, Daniel’s mother, was presumably poisoned in this café at the front of the Gran Teatre Liceu, something we are only told in the book ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’.

5. Carrer Baixada de la Llibreteria

Crossing the Plaça Sant Jaume square, where the Catalan government building and Barcelona City Hall are located, we arrive at Carrer Baixada de la Llibreteria. In the shop of Papirvum (Carrer Baixada de la Llibreteria, 2) Zafón placed the fountain pen specialty store where Daniel found the fancy Montblanc Meisterstück pen that supposedly belonged to the writer Victor Hugo.

6. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

The quiet Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is the place where Daniel visits the mysterious Nuria Monfort, one of the people helping him figure out the story behind Julian Carax. She would have lived in a building at the entrance to the square. Zafón describes this square as “a small respite in the maze of streets“.

7. Carrer Petritxol

The authentic granjas on Carrer Petritxol are also often used by Zafón as a meeting place for his characters. In the book ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, for example, we see that Daniel and his beloved, Clara Barceló, always came here to enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and ladyfingers.

8. Ateneu

The Ateneu Barcelonès, on Carrer de la Canuda number 6, was also the scene of Daniel’s appointment with bookseller Gustavo Barceló in ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and the place he returns to in ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ to search the Ateneu library for information about his rival Mauricio Valls.

9. Els Quatre Gats

Zafón situated not only Daniel’s meeting with bookseller Gustavo Barceló at the famous restaurant Els 4 Gats but also the meeting of Daniel’s father with his mother in 1932. This is also one of Daniel and Fermín’s favorite places, where they often came to eat. It’s worth noting that you can dine here yourself!

10. Carrer de Santa Anna

Just a stone’s throw away from Els 4 Gats, we find Carrer de Santa Anna. In this street, Daniel and his father lived and below it was their bookstore, ‘Sempere and Son’. Behind it is the church of Santa Anna, where Fermín’s wedding to Bernarda in ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ takes place.

11. Carrer de Joaquín Costa

At Carrer de Joaquín Costa in El Raval was the pension of Doña Encarna, where Fermín rented a room.

12. La Paloma

The famous modernist dance hall La Paloma (Carrer del Tigre, 25) was the chosen location for Fermín’s bachelor party.

13. Ronda de Sant Antoni

Ronda de Sant Antoni is another prominent place in ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. The book tells us that Antoni Fortuny had a hat shop on Ronda de Sant Antoni, at Plaça Goya, 15. It is also the place where Julián (Antoni’s son) and his wife Sophie lived, in an apartment above the hat shop, and where they get to know their best customer, the haughty, majestic, and arrogant figure of Don Ricardo Aldaya. The hat shop that inspired Zafón can also be found in the city. For this, visit Sombrerería Obach, on Carrer del Call number 2.

14. Passeig de Gràcia

The chic Passeig de Gràcia also often appears in Zafón’s books. Daniel and Fermín almost every Sunday went to Café Novedades (at the corner of Carrer Casp) and to the Fémina cinema (at the corner with Carrer Diputació). Although both locations really existed and were very popular at the time, they have unfortunately now disappeared from the streetscape. However, you can stroll along Passeig de Gràcia just like the characters in Zafón’s book.

15. Carrer Flassaders

David Martín, the hero of ‘The Angel’s Game‘ lived in a house on Carrer Flassaders, in the La Ribera district. The neighborhood lives in the shadow of Santa Maria del Mar, one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the city. With Zafón’s books, we visit places including the Mercat del Born, Passeig del Born, and Parc de la Ciutadella.

16. Estació de França

Various stations in Barcelona also pass by in Zafón’s books, such as the beautiful train station of Estació de França. Characters like David in ‘The Angel’s Game’ and Fermín in ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ have been here.

17. Somorrostro

The old and infamous shantytown of Somorrostro (where now the beach section of Platja de Somorrostro is located) is also a location that you often find in Zafón’s books. It is, for example, the place where David visits the Witch of Somorrostro in search of answers in ‘The Angel’s Game’ and the place where Fermín ended up after his imprisonment in ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’.

18. Cementiri del Poblenou

The headquarters of the newspaper ‘The Voice of the Industry’, for which David worked, was behind “the forest of angels and crosses at the cemetery of Pueblo Nuevo”. The Cementiri del Poblenou comes across in Zafón’s book as a gloomy place and is also where Sempere’s father was buried.

19. Avinguda del Tibidabo

The mysterious mansion on Avinguda Tibidabo number 32, along the chic residences towards the top of Tibidabo, is also an important location in ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ that you don’t want to miss as a fan. However, for this, you need to take the Ferrocarrils to Avinguda del Tibidabo (L7), and then use the century-old Tramvia Blau, which also appears in Zafón’s books.

20. Montjuïc Castle

The climax of Zafón’s intrigues in ‘The Angel’s Game’ begins in the then-prison of Montjuïc Castle. This is the place where David Martín and Fermín Romero de Torres meet each other and where unreal scenes take place.

Extra Tip: Dining at Zafón’s Eateries

In addition to the famous bohemian café-restaurant Els 4 Gats, Zafón frequently mentions other restaurants and classic eateries in Barcelona that you can still visit. If you want to dine completely in the atmosphere of Zafón and visit the cafés and restaurants where his characters have been, go to the following addresses:

  • Can Solé (Carrer de Sant Carles, 4) Metro: Barceloneta (L4)
  • Casa Leopoldo (Carrer de Sant Rafael, 24) Metro: Liceu (L3) en Sant Antoni (L2)
  • Colmado Quílez (Rambla de Catalunya, 65) Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (L2, L3 en L4)
  • Can Lluís (Carrer de la Cera, 49) Metro: Sant Antoni (L2)
  • 7 Portes (Passeig d’Isabel II, 14) Metro: Barceloneta (L4)
  • Los Caracoles (Carrer dels Escudellers, 14) Metro: Liceu (L3)
  • El Xampanyet (Carrer de Montcada, 22) Metro: Jaume I (L4)

Zafón’s Walking Route in Barcelona

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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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