Entrance to Museu Etnològic

©Esme Fox/Lonely Planet

Museu Etnològic


Delving into Catalonia's rich heritage, Barcelona’s ethnology museum presents an intriguing permanent display from its 70,000-object collection, with multilanguage panels. Exhibits cover origin myths, religious festivals, folklore, and the blending of sacred and secular. There are several gegants (massive Catalan papier-mâché figures), including depictions of King Jaume I and Queen Violant, and a dragon (you'll have to imagine the spewing burning embers it emits) and devil costumes used in correfocs (fire runs), which still figure prominently in Catalan festivals.

The collection also has instruments and archive images of traditional dances from the Catalan Pyrenees, plus accoutrements of bygone days showcasing the region's blacksmiths, winemakers, weavers, fishers, apothecaries, shepherds, potters, toymakers and even saurí ('diviners'; those tasked with finding water and hidden things). International finds include a couple of magnificently carved 19th-century doorways from South India.

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