Basea, the small square in Barcelona where the crossbowmen trained

* The author is part of the community of La Vanguardia readers.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 10:36
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Basea, the small square in Barcelona where the crossbowmen trained

* The author is part of the community of La Vanguardia readers

To better understand the old streets and squares that the city had in its ancient times, there is nothing better than reading two books published in 1865 by Salvador Manero in two volumes: The streets of Barcelona, ​​by Víctor Balaguer i Cirera. Born in Barcelona on December 11, 1824, writer, journalist and politician, he was one of the figures of the Renaixença, known as "the troubadour of Montserrat."

In the political section he was Minister of Overseas and Minister of Development three times. But for this reason he does not appear in this article, but rather as the person chosen by the municipal authorities to create the nomenclature of the streets of Eixample, giving names to the numbers made by Cerdà when designing the primitive Eixample.

The Basea square, Balaguer presented as a space that was located between the streets of Jupl and Pom d'or, in a place where the public crossbow shooting school was located.

At that time when firearms did not exist, armies had other types of attack and defense weapons and applicants to join crossbow companies were trained in their use.

Initially, the Council of Cent designated the place to train crossbowmen in the use of the crossbow, later, it hosted the performance of the best crossbow shooters.

The place was renamed at that time according to the field in which these exercises took place, that is, the plaza de la bassetja or lloch de la bassetja.

Balaguer commented that public games were held there every year and that the winning archers received a silver cup.

He continued writing that King James the conqueror, after taking the city of Valencia, created a company of archers, known as "Centenar", made up of one hundred individuals, all of them countrymen, skilled and of good conduct.

The original Basea street was very different from the current one with a longer route. It began on Argenteria Street parallel to the sea and turned sharply to Plaza del Ángel, describing a route almost in the shape of a right angle.

It met Baixada del Caçador street, which brought you closer to the church of Sant Just, where it widened forming a small square, the Plazoleta de Basea. It had a fountain in the center protected by four boundary stones. It was named Plazoleta de María Isabel, in honor of the first wife of Fernando VII.

Although I am inclined towards Víctor Balaguer's theory, other intellectuals have had different positions and each of us can choose the one that seems most true to us.

Carreras Candi believed that the name came from the 14th century due to some ponds that were in the place until the reform with the urbanization of Via Laietana in 1909.

Another opinion was given in the compilation of the Rubrics of Bruniquer, a compilation in the form of a chronological account of the provisions, laws, privileges and facts noted in diaries of the city from 1249 to 1714, in which he described that the Baixada de Bosot alley, disappeared in the 17th century.

There are also those who attribute the origin of the word "basea" to the number of existing water ponds due to the large number of establishments run by leather tanners.

Some scholars comment that in this alley there was a door that entered the Requesens palace, in past centuries it was like an escape door to leave the palace without being seen.

They also comment that, if we walk along the end of Lladó street and continue along Obispo Cazador, when we reach the houses at the end of Lladó street and we could go back in time, we would verify that the current houses are based on the original one. Basea.

With the urbanization of the current Via Laietana, a part of Basea street disappeared and the area underwent the current changes with the opening of Subteniente Navarro street that runs parallel to the old wall.