Without missing his weekly appointment with readers, the journalist and columnist of La Vanguardia Xavi Casinos has reached the respectable figure of 500 installments of Secret Barcelona in the digital edition of the newspaper. At the end of the text we collect his selection of the 10 most striking places in the series.

This Sunday’s article reaches this round number in a story that deals with Via C, the avenue that at the beginning of the 20th century had to cross Ciutat Vella perpendicular to Via Laietana, but in the end only the Cathedral Avenue and that of Francesc Cambó. Casinos confesses that he had never thought of writing so many articles about the most unknown Barcelona: “I was doing it and I wasn’t aware that it had been going on for so long. I thought it would last a few months and I never imagined I could have found so many stories. In journalism, it has been the most consistent project I have ever done,” he says.

For a decade, the writer has been uncovering the most unprecedented side of Barcelona’s history, the B side of the city, as he has defined it on some occasions. When he walks the streets, where the eye of another mortal may not be able to see, he is able to not miss the slightest detail to discover new stories. From a stone to an ancient inscription, it helps him pull the thread and uncover unknown passages in the city. For example, the information that illustrates this article. That look that he captures in one of the chimneys on the roof of the Palau Güell, one of the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí, the trencadís-shaped silhouette of Cobi, the Olympic mascot with the symbol of the Barcelona ’92 Games, after a restoration before the Olympics. You have to look at the center of this image to find the silhouette:

Although Casinos acknowledges that locating it was not easy: “For this story, the photographer Pepe Encinas gave me the tip, although not the exact chimney. I had a hard time finding it. Since Pepe is a joker, I even thought he had played a joke on me. But, after a long time, I finally found it.”

This palace, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, also hides another story uncovered by the journalist that is now included in the visit to the Secret Palace Güell, which shows hidden spaces normally closed to the public. On the walls of the old room of the employee who took care of the stables there are still more than a hundred graffiti made by inmates when the building housed a police station at the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 1940s.

Casinos, with extensive experience in local information, have been able to access places restricted to the general public. Among them, the old historical archive of the Barcelona cathedral, worthy of a setting for Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or the basement of the century-old Can Waldes clothing factory in Poblenou with dozens of connected rooms covered in ceramic tiles. glazed ceramics that were ancient oil tanks. There have been more underground and almost secret spaces, such as what appears to be a planned platform and stairs that now lead nowhere, in the metro tunnel under Via Laietana, between the Jaume I and Urquinaona stations.

The author points out that one of the keys to success is that what he explains “exists and can be verified.” In fact, some of his items are also located on public roads. In this sense, the ruins of a fort near the Horta labyrinth park, testimony of the first Carlist war, or an anti-tuberculosis center from the beginning of the 20th century that never functioned on the Collserola mountain. Among his other favorite stories, the remains of the observatory on Passeig de Gràcia from where the Sputnik satellite signal was captured in an feat carried out by a group of young astronomy fans or the replica of the Court of the Lions of the Alhambra in Granada in a building in Sant Gervasi.

The 500 secret Barcelonas are not the only anniversary celebrated this year since the series celebrates a decade of life in 2024. In 2014, a first article was published about the ghost stations of the Barcelona metro and that’s where it all began. In addition, these stories have their paper version with the publication of five books, the first in 2016 with the title Barcelona. Històries, curiositats i misteris and the four subsequent volumes under the name of Barcelona Secreta (Viena Editorial).

For the peace of mind of readers, Casinos still has many stories to tell and already has some in mind, such as the one called El Negro de la Riba, the figure of the figurehead of an old ship whose reproduction is exhibited on a façade of the Barceloneta and is waiting to be shown the original piece. The future of Barcelona Secret is assured with his fine observation skills, as a great fan of Sherlock Holmes that he is and follower of one of his maxims: “Once the impossible has been ruled out, what remains, however improbable it may seem, must be the truth.” ”.