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The giants of Barcelona

The giants can be seen walking on the street only during a traditional festival and when it happens, you will not feel it neither see them but you will hear them.

For each step, they don’t shake the floor so you won’t feel it. They are not as tall as the cyclops so you won’t see them. Everywhere they go, you will hear the popular music so you will know that they are coming.

Of course, there is another easy way to see them, to know when and where a local festival will be celebrated and check the program, in fact it is the best way or you can try your luck by just coming in Barcelona.

The giants are figures of tall size made by wood

representing kings, queens, nobles... dressed in traditional clothes. Historically, they appeared in 1424 in the city during the corpus procession but only man ones. The woman giants will be created during the 16th century but in Catalonia, they will appear only during the 19th century. Moreover, it was during this century that they will appear not only during processions but also during carnivals and festivals.

During the dictatorship, they had to hide and it will be only in 1980, 5 years after the death of Franco, that they will see the sun again including associations and groups will be founded in order to organize giant meetings.

The old ones will be restored and new and replica ones will be done with new materials. These contemporary giants are made of glass fiber and other materials more light than the traditional ones but still, some are in wood too.

Actually, when you hear someone telling you about the giants of the city of Barcelona, he/she is referring to a couple formed by the king James I and the queen Violant of Hungary. They are the oldest ones of Catalonia and nowadays, the ones going on the street are a replica dating from 1992. Moreover, they have their own dance.

Other giants are also important like the dragon and the eagle and of course some not. During the congress of catalan popular and traditional culture in 1995, they are classified in 5 different categories:

  • The traditional giant (gegant tradicional) refers to the taller giant representing a symbol of collective and festive
  • The giant (gegantó) refers to a giant taller than a human being but less than the traditional one
  • The little giant (gegantet) refers to a giant of an adult size so a kid can wear it
  • The bag giant (gegant de motxilla) refers to a giant without a body so a person can wear it on his/her back as a shoulder bag
  • The handy giant (gegant manotes) refers to a giant without a solid arms but totally covered by a dress so it can touch people freely

For all of them, only 1 person can wear it. As you can guess, during a parade of giants, many breaks are done allowing to the people to rest or to let someone else to wear it. Normally, the taller one is also surrounded by some people doing the role of guide and assistance.

If you want to see the royal couple, go to the Virreina palace (la rambla 99) and if you want to see the others, go to the Entremesos house (plaza beates 2) but if you want to see them on the streets, you will have to be in Barcelona during a festival. I will recommend you to read my 2 other topics, Traditional festivals of neighborhood and Local festivals of Barcelona.