Both Barcelona and Paris are full of mythical and historical legends that attempt to explain every aspect of each magical city. Some are quite likely true, based on historically proven facts (though always with a touch of storytelling), whereas others have yet to be proven or disproven. Many of these stories have been passed down through generations, and are an important part of the cities, as we know them today. Both Paris and Barcelona offer a series of guided tours through their winding streets dedicated solely to the myths and legends of the area, but here is a small sneak peak for those who just can’t wait to get aboard a Renfe-SNCF in Cooperacion train to hear every single one!
Seafront - Montjuic mountain
The origin of Barcelona
Although today a Spanish city, Barcelona is said to be of Greek origin. Legend has it that 400 years before the foundation of Rome, Hercules set out with Jason and the Argonauts (a band of heroes from Greek Mythology) across the Mediterranean Sea in search of the Golden Fleece – the fleece of the golden-haired, winged sheep, believed to be a symbol of authority and power. They set out on 9 ships, but before long, they got caught in a violent storm just off the Catalan coast. After being separated during the storm in desperate attempts of survival, 8 ships reunited on the calm sea, but one of them could not be found. Hercules quickly set out to find the ship, and after many, many days searching without any luck, he finally found it stranded at the foot of a hill – a hill that we know today as the Montjuïc Hill. Seeing the shipwreck, he hurried over to see if anyone or anything could be salvaged from the wreckage, and miraculously found the ship destroyed, but all of the crew alive.
The crew brought Hercules onto shore, to show him the unbelievable beauty of the place where they had washed ashore. In awe and under the spell of the charm of the city, they decided to name it the Ninth Boat – La BarcaNona, which later became Barcelona.
It is also said that during his short time there, Hercules met an enchantingly beautiful woman, named Pyrene, with whom he fell deeply in love. Sadly, him and his crew had to continue their journey in quest of the Golden Fleece, leaving her behind, but named the fascinating mountain region they had come across after her, the Pyrenees.
Bell towers - Basílica Sanata Maria del Pi
El Campanario de Santa Maria del Pi
Legend tells us that that while building the bell tower, the builder and architect came across a big problem: he found he did not have enough stone to continue building. The Devil, always on the look out for the chance to trick people, conveniently showed up to selflessly offer his services. He spoke with the builder, and explained regrettably, that with his busy schedule, he did not have the time to physically help with the building of the church. He could however, provide the man with the necessary stone to complete the job. The builder, seeing no other option, accepted the deal, agreeing in exchange to turn his soul over to the devil upon completing the 100th step of the tower.
The man, however, did not want to die, and as such, suspended the construction of the bell tower once the 99th step had been built. Instead, he dedicated his time and life to other parts of the church and smaller details, buying himself enough time to live a long life and die of old age. He left the bell tower unfinished, for his son to complete, as his son had made no such pact with the Devil, and could not be held accountable. The Devil was naturally very unhappy with having been tricked by a mere human, and in his rage came to the bell tower and stamped down on the 100th step, leaving a large footprint on the step’s stone to send a message , he would not be fooled again. Word spread, and people were fascinated not only by the story, but also by the ability of a mortal man to trick the Devil himself out of taking his soul. The town mayor, unhappy with the amount of people visiting the bell tower instead of church, had the stone of the 100th step replaced, which is why we can no longer see it today. It is said that the original stone slab with the imprint of the Devil’s foot is hidden somewhere inside the church, but has to this day not been found.
Catacombs corridor - Catacombes de Paris
Most certainly not for the faint-hearted, there is little doubt that there are few sites easier than Paris’ Catacombs. Though perfectly safe to visit the areas reserved for tourists and visitors, accompanied by guides and groups, only 2 of the 320km of the so-called “World’s largest grave” is legally open to the public. The Catacombes were built in the 18 hundreds due to the overflowing of graves at the time, and houses the remains of over 6 million people, whose bones line the walls of the dark tunnels.
As one may expect, there will always be few mischievous who are daredevil enough to defy the laws and safety regulations, and many have taken it upon themselves to explore the restricted areas of the Catacombs. Besides illegal, it is very dangerous, for both earthly and supernatural reason.
The tales of their fate are many and varied, and all still to be proven. The most popular, of course, are those of the spirits and ghosts of the people whose remains lie under the city, which punish any who dare to disturb their peace by entering.
This aside the more obvious and logically explained dangers: the restricted areas of the catacombs are vast and empty, with few exists that are spread far apart, and no light to show the way. Getting lost is easy, and without anyone to help you, getting out seems quite slim a possibility.
Overview of Eiffel Tower - Paris
Eiffel Tower Suicide turned into a marriage
After some research, skeptics managed to track the origin down to a news report, which stated the following. It seems that one fateful day, in November of 1964, a young, 17 year old girl know as Christiane, attempted to end her life by jumping off the famous Eiffel Tower. She is said to have come to Paris from Normandy some months before, in hopes of getting a job selling perfumes, and was able only to find work as a housemaid. Fate would have it that she met a strikingly handsome young man and fell madly in love, believing finally that there had been a reason for her journey to Paris, despite her bad fortune.
Extremely happy and believing him to be her soul mate, they got engaged to be married. For reasons unknown to this day, but surely speculated on, the young man broke off the engagement, leaving young Christiane engulfed in sadness and depressed, beyond the point of no return. Seeing no other alternative to her grief except to end her own life, she took the elevator up the Eiffel Tower., she went to the second landing first, but found the railing to be too high to get over. She then rode back down to the first landing, and after much hesitation and roaming around, jumped off the edge. She claims to have felt nothing, and she went down the 182 feet towards the ground below, but by some miraculous stroke of luck, fell into a Renault car. The roof of which caved in and softened her blow , surviving with only a broken leg to tell the tale. The owner of the car, who happened to be passing by precisely at that moment, was taken aback by what he had just witnessed and rushed to her aid. By an ironic twist of fate the two fell in love and got married soon after, and lived happily ever after. Interested in the Eiffel Tower? Check out 10 facts you might not know about it