Why Is Barcelona Called the City of Dragons?

Although the first mention of dragons came from ancient Chinese documents, surprisingly, Barcelona is called the city of dragons. But why is that? Well, firstly, there are over 500 hundred dragon statues, varying in size, located in the city. Various apartment buildings, churches, parks, streets, and squares are home to dragons, ready to awe visitors.

legend of george in the city of dragons
Luis D. Urea

There are different views and explanations as to why dragon holds such a big place in Catalonia’s culture. One of those is the legend of Saint George and the dragon. Every year on the 23rd of April, Barcelona celebrates the day of Saint George. It is a national festival where lovers give each other roses, similar to Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14.

the city of dragons and festival roses
Martí Casas i Payàs

According to the legend, George was a knight in the 11th century. Accidentally, he ran across a princess who was about to sacrifice herself to an evil dragon that was terrorizing her city. George saves the princess and goes on to defeat the dragon on the condition that the city converts to Christianity. He injures the dragon with his spear and then beheads it with his sword.

the guell entrance
Rita Norton Mazza Galindo

One of the examples of dragons in Barcelona is the Casa Batlló house which looks like a dragon’s back. Locals call the house the house of bones or the house of dragons. This is because the façade symbolizes the deaths of many princes and heroes who attempted to kill the dragon before George but failed. The house’s designer and architect Antoni Gaudí himself said that the legend of George inspired the building.

casa batllo of the city of dragons
Casa Batlló by Gaudí, Barcelona

The dragons are not only urban-level legends but they can be seen in institutional buildings as well. The Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, the historic palace, and the seat of the presidency also has a sculpture depicting the legend of Saint George defeating the dragon. Moreover, the sculpture and the gargoyles around it date back to the 15th century.

catalonia presidential residency sculpture
Jordi Ramos

Another icon of Barcelona that makes it the city of dragons is Casa Bruno Cuadros or the House of Umbrellas. It is a late 19th-century building that has traces of modernist, Egyptian, and Japanese architecture. The building has one of the more traditional representations of dragons where it is situated horizontally as if it is flying and guarding the house.

house of umbrellas dragon

One of the most beautiful parks in Barcelona, Parc de la Ciutadella, also has a dragon fountain. It is the work of Antonin Gaudi when he was just an architecture student. Gaudi took inspiration from the fountains in Rome with mythological figures springing out of them, so he tried to imitate them. The dragons were a nod to the Castle of Three Dragons nearby.

the dragon fountain
Viajando Com Carol

Whether they are represented as forces of evil or wise guardians, Barcelona has a lot of dragon statues and sculptures lying around or flying about. Culturally and historically, the image of the dragon is apparently very important to the Catalonians to the point that they call their city the City of Dragons.

the dragon of the city of dragons