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The Palau del Lloctinent

In the heart of Barcelona, flanked by the imposing Cathedral and the Gothic Quarter, stands the Palau del Lloctinent, also known as the Lieutenant’s Palace, stands as a silent witness to the city’s rich history. Built in 1557 by order of Emperor Charles V, this Gothic-Renaissance building was conceived as the official residence of the viceroy of the Spanish Crown in Catalonia, although it was never occupied by this high office. It has also been the seat of the Inquisition, and from 1836 to 1993 it was the headquarters of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon.

Walking along the façade of the Palau, on Carrer dels Comtes, several figures stand out for their explicitly sexual poses. Legend has it that these sculptures were commissioned by King Charles I to provoke the bishop, with whom he had a dispute, since at that time the main door of the cathedral was in the same street, opposite the façade of the Palau de Lloctinent.

Whether the anecdote is true or not, the figures represent a challenge to the morals of the time.

If we pay attention to the same façade, we can see stones with Hebrew inscriptions, from a Jewish cemetery that was located on Montjuic (Jewish mountain, as its name indicates). These stones are actually tombstones, which were used for the construction of the Palau de lloctinent. After the massacre that took place in 1391, which led to the disappearance of the Jewish quarter, more than 300 people died and the Jews who decided to stay converted to Christianity. It is believed that these tombstones were used to pay off debts that the Jewish community had acquired. They are best seen on the wall facing the Plaça de Sant Lu, in a side street of the cathedral, near the staircase. On one of the tombstones you can make out the Hebrew words of mourning and lamentation.

The gravestones in the Palau Lloctinent are a reminder of the intolerance and discrimination that minorities have suffered throughout history. They bear witness to the violence against the Jewish community during the Middle Ages, and invite us to reflect on the importance of tolerance and respect for diversity.