Narrow corridors and stairs and rooms with old filing cabinets and original furniture from the 15th century. It is the old historical archive of the cathedral of Barcelona, with very restrictive access. It evokes, saving the distance, something similar to what Umberto Eco described in The Name of the Rose. Today, all the documentation no longer occupies those noble rooms whose time stopped six centuries ago, but was transferred to a place with optimal conservation conditions in modern compact filing cabinets.
Daniel Duran is the current technical director of the archive and he does not hide the fact that he considers himself privileged to work in this unique space and with such relevant documentation. The oldest documents date back to the 9th and 10th centuries and correspond to the archive of the cathedral itself, but also of the capitular, that is, of the activity of the canons that made up the chapter. However, there are also parchments from the 7th century, found in the filling of the covers of old volumes that had been recycled.
The old rooms that for centuries housed the cathedral archive are of extraordinary beauty provided not only by the Gothic architecture, but also by the furniture in perfect condition. These are hundreds of cabinets and trunks that still bear the labels of the old classification, many of them with geographical references. The archive also contains various collections initially outside the cathedral, such as that of the Sant Sever college of pensioners, dissolved in the 1960s; the school for orphans; that of Pia Almoina, and some private ones, most of which come from the legacy of merchants, so they are not only part of the history of Barcelona, but of the entire Mediterranean, Duran points out.
A fund of 45,000 scrolls is also preserved. Most of them correspond to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and are the most important collection of an institution. The National Historical Archive has more, but they come from different funds. Another relevant part of the archive is the registry of marriages throughout the diocese from 1451 to 1905, unique in Europe and of great importance for genealogists.
The archive is completed by an outstanding collection of manuscripts and incunabula, the most important being a missal from Santa Eulàlia from the early fifteenth century. Finally, a collection of recycled Hebrew documents found inside the covers of old books. In short, a wonder hidden between nooks and old walls of the cathedral.