{Spain} Museu del Calçat

July 4, 2012

Spain

I guess it being the 4th of July today I should be writing about one of the many museums in the USA I’ve been to, but it’s been two weeks since I last reported from my trip to Barcelona and I still have six more museums to write about, so I better keep going! The Museu del Calçat, or Shoe Museum, is situated in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona’s historic town centre. It’s quite aptly housed in what used to be the medieval shoemaker’s guild premises, though the facade was actually moved to its current location from its previous spot in front of the cathedral. On the facade, you can see the lion of St Mark, patron saint of shoemakers, and you can make out shoes carved into the stone work above the upper storey balcony windows.

The museum isn’t very big – just one room plus the foyer at the entrance – and the slightly musty smell of old leather conjures up many a museum stereotype, but it also has a certain charm. Yes, there may be bigger, more comprehensive shoe museums out there, but the Museu del Calçat manages to cover the historical scope from the 2nd to the 20th century, with every exhibit lovingly labeled in both Spanish and Catalan. From early Roman leather sandals to modern satin shoes with diamond encrusted heels, there’s a shoe for almost everyone, even firemen and clowns. The earlier examples are all reproductions, but those from the 17th century onwards are originals.

Besides the shoes, boots, sandals and slippers on display, there are also some tools, shoe patterns and animal hides on display, as well as various certificates and medals from the shoemakers’ guild and some 19th adverts for shoes. And as evident in many of the other museums I visited in Barcelona, the Catalan pride for their history and culture shines through, so there’s one case displaying shoes from Catalan celebrities, such as climbing boots from the first Catalan expedition to Mount Everest, sports shoes from players of the FC Barcelona football club, and a pair of smart shoes from the President of the Catalan Government.

If you want to take a break from all the art museums and immerse yourself a bit more in medieval Barcelona, then the Museum del Calçat would be a quirky little alternative, and at only 2.50 Euro (kids under 7 go free) it won’t exactly burn a hole in your pocket. Be sure not to miss the giant wooden shoe in the entrance, the cast for the Columbus Monument on the famous La Rambla street not far away from the museum, which marks the site where Christopher Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas.

PS: Happy 4th July to my US American readers!

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    […] dedicated entirely to this. Other museums I’d visited, such as the Motor Museum and the Shoe Museum, had already made it clear that Catalonia is very proud of it’s history and heritage, and […]

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