Do you like old shops? Those where everything is designed to display the products and make them stand out. Those where, wherever you look, you find giant mirrors, columns, staircases, giant cash registers and hidden details that transport you to another era. Many towns and cities have made an effort to keep the shops as they were, without modernising them unnecessarily. You can find examples just walking around, but there are places where these shops have become their own identity feature. Do you know where they are?
The shops on Plaça Gran in Calaf
Near Igualada, moving inland, we find the town of Calaf. In the historical centre, near the walls and the castle, you will find an arcaded square with a cobblestone floor: Plaça Gran. Some of the disused buildings have been restored to show what the shops used to be like in the early 20th century, before the Saturday market moved from the square and its liveliness dwindled. These museum spaces exhibit a wine cellar, Juan Oller's printing press, the Cal Mestres patisserie, Cal Feu grocers, the Cal Sala grocery store, the Cal Garriga haberdashery and perfume shop, a school and the Vetes i fils Cal Cisteller haberdashery.
Art Nouveau and Noucentisme shops
Art Nouveau (Modernisme in Catalan) was an artistic trend that spread throughout the area and among the population. The Catalan bourgeoisie hired Art Nouveau architects and artists to build their houses. So did city councils, as many of the municipal architects were influenced by the artistic trends of the periods.
On Carrer Raval de Montserrat street, in the centre of Terrassa, you will find an Art Nouveau building decorated by the Art Nouveau painter Joaquim Vancells. In 1908, it housed the Vídua Carné confectionery, whereas its residence was on the first floor. In 1934, it became the Albiñana chemist's, a business that has remained to this day. All the Art Nouveau architectural elements have been preserved: the façade with glazed ceramics, also worked in wrought iron and murals by the same architect.
Opposite to it is the Mercat de la Independència (Independence Market). With its triangular floor plan, it is the work of municipal and Art Nouveau architects Antoni Pascual, who began the work in 1904, and Melcior Vinyals, who finished it in 1908. With cast-iron columns supporting the structure, it features skylights that let in natural light. You can buy fresh fish in the smallest wing and meat, fruit, vegetables, spices, pulses, etc. in the others.
The Targarona patisserie opened in Igualada in 1929. With its Noucentisme air, decorative elements are still preserved in the interior and in the stained glass windows. They have adapted to changes in society and innovated their products, as evidenced by the 2022 Innovation Award they received during the Pastry Shop Gala. With more than ninety years of history, they combine signature products with more classic, traditional ones.
Route of iconic shops in Vic and Mataró
The Fons d'Imatges del Comerç de Catalunya (Fund of Trade Images of Catalonia) has developed the project La Ruta dels emblemàtics (the Route of iconic shops), a compilation of historical shops with both cultural and tourist value. In Vic, there are about fifteen establishments, most of them around Plaça Major: haberdashery, chemist's, jeweller's, bookshop, etc. These are shops with historical and/or heritage value. In the centre of Mataró, you will also find shops in these categories. Most of them are located in the triangle formed by the Basilica of Santa Maria, the Town Hall and Plaça de la Muralla.
Mercantic Vintage Village in Sant Cugat del Vallès
If you are interested in vintage furniture or old things, the Mercantic is a permanent market of antiques and vintage dealers. It opened in 1992 in a pottery factory founded in 1956. It is a good place to stroll around and discover vintage furniture and antiques, from old military tricycle helmets and cash registers to a telephone box brought over from London.
If you like to visit towns and cities and do a bit of wandering, you can also make the most of your time and go there when there is a craft, medieval or vintage fair. It is a way of killing two birds with one stone.
Old shops in Calaf
Ruta dels emblemàtics (Route of iconic shops)