The Shadow of the Wind, the bestseller by Carlos Ruiz Zafón that has conquered the hearts of readers the world over is set in the Catalan city of Barcelona, in the years after the Spanish Civil War and shows us a wonderful Barcelona full of dark alleys, hidden places and intriguing inhabitants.Follow the footsteps of Daniel Sempere and Fermín as they try to resolve the mystery of Julián Carax.
It all starts down at the old port in Barcelona, where we find the Maremagnum today. When Clara didn’t show up at Daniels birthday party, he stormed out of the house and wandered through the streets before he finally sat down at the steps by the water. It was here that Laín Coubert first approached him. You can see Montjuïc (the Jewish mount) from here, though the cemetery where Daniel’s mother is buried lies more to the west.
Let’s head down Las Ramblas, until we see the beautiful Plaza Real on the left. In the middle you’ll find an emblematic fountain, surrounded by palm trees. The square is always full of people, since there are countless restaurants and bars to be found. It is also the place where the wealthy Barceló and Clara used to live, in their spacious luxury apartment. And on a dark and rainy night, it was below the arches of this square that Daniel met the drifter Fermín, who would later become his good friend.
As you continue along Las Ramblas, one can imagine what it must have been like in these days without the souvenir shops or street entertainers. It was on a certain misty morning at the beginning of the summer of 1945 that 10 year old Daniel followed his father to the cemetery of forgotten books. Sadly, even the ‘large door of carved wood’ that gives access to this mythical place was invented by Ruiz Zafón, but the curious among you can go see for yourselves in the Calle Arco del Teatro.
Almost at the top of Las Ramblas, on the right side is a busy shopping street, the Calle Santa Ana. Nothing to see but big chain-stores such as Zara, Mango et al, but in this very street there used to be an old and dusty bookshop, specialized in collector’s editions and second-hand books. Sempere & Sons, the lifework of Daniel’s father and their home. At the end of this street, turn right towards the cathedral. It dates back to the 13th century, and on its steps is where the parents of Julián, Antoni Fortuny and Sophie Carax met for the very first time.
A fine read indeed and if you’ve ever lived in Barcelona it will captivate you even more so.