A never ending story…
… since 1890
Restaurant Ca L’Estevet
132 years in the heart of Barcelona
This property was present and witnessed Barcelona’s move from the late nineteenth century.
Originally known as “Fonda Navarro”, first as a pure warehouse, then as an eating house. In 1940 the site changed hands and was called Ca L’estevet, however, it was also known as “La Mariona”, the owner’s daughter who attended the vatried clientele with memorable savvy and grace.
Ca L’Estevet is a part of the rich history of the city as a rallying point of the certain nuclei of Barcelona’s society, which had its great moment from the formation and development of the ineffable “gauche divine”.
“The table at the back”
La taula del fons del restaurant, autèntic “privat” que solia prendre’s a l’assalt o baix consigna, va ser llençat a la fama per Alberto Oliveras, Català Roca, Marc Aleu i altres noctàmbuls significats de llavors.
The table at the back of the restaurant, authentic “private” which used to be taken by assault or under reservation was launched to fame by Alberto Oliveras, Català Roca, Marc Aleu and others.
By day the soul of it was Xavier Corberó, mainstay of the social and artistic community that had the table at the back of Ca L’Estevet. The table, as there have been trends and times, has been occupied by the troupe of “La Chunga”, Analia Gadé or Vicente Parra and even the people who came to watch the boxing matches in the now defunct “Price”. Alberto Puig Palau, Gades, Serrat, Ibáñez Serrador and many others discussed projects whilst sitting at the table.
The reports of La Vanguardia filled its capacity at noon, and today there are two cultural center of reference, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) and the “Centre de Cultura Contemporànea de Barcelona” (CCCB), as well as neighboring universities, while at night it still remains one of the most traditional meeting places.
The “Raval” of Barcelona
Before the 14th century, the Raval district was just an open field with cultivated land that covered the city of Barcelona. In Roman Barcelona, there were local roads that outlined the outline that the neighborhood had later.
The monastery of Sant Pau del Camp was the first important nucleus of the Raval, before the 10th century, around which there was a small medieval village linked to the monastery. The growth of Barcelona shaped the Raval in the space that takes the form of a diamond between the second belt of walls (James I in 1268, the Rambla) and the third and last belt (Pere el Cerimoniós, 1348, the rounds and Avinguda del Paral·lel).
The Raval was located on the side of the main roads: the Portal dels Tallers, through which farmers entered goods to supply Barcelona; the Portal de Sant Antoni, the most important access in the city, and the Porta de Santa Madrona, next to the Drassanes, the only one that remains standing.
The city of Barcelona was drowned by the walls of James I and Peter the Ceremonious decided to make the third walled belt. It was necessary to ensure the expectations of urban growth. There was a general tendency in many cities of the time, to encircle within the walls the expanse of land sufficient to provide for the subsistence of the inhabitants in times of wars and sieges. Another reason was to locate the most annoying or unrecommended establishments, services and activities outside the city center. But all expectations of the city’s growth were dashed. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, due to economic difficulties (maritime trade shifted to the Atlantic), political (Barcelona was ruined by the war against John II) and social (demographic decline due to plagues and epidemics) paralyzed the growth of the Raval, which remained as an area of activity mainly agricultural.
Between the 15th century and the confiscation of Mendizábal in 1837, the Raval became a “land of convents”. The large amount of building land gave rise to the installation of religious orders in the framework of the Counter-Reformation promoted by the Council of Trent (1543-1563).
At the beginning of the 18th century, industries began to be set up in the middle of orchards, convents and guild houses. The ban on the import of printed fabrics in 1718 favored the emergence of manufacturing. Between 1770 and 1840 the definitive industrialization of the Raval district took place. From the second half of the 1700s new streets began to appear with factories and houses for workers. The guild houses disappeared or were subdivided into many rented houses to accommodate the many peasants fleeing the famine in the countryside (agricultural crisis of 1765-1766). Factory workers stayed to live in the Raval, close to work. This neighborhood became the densest in Europe and was used to the last square meter buildable. Between 1783 and 1785, the Erasmus Gònima industry was set up and the largest textile, yarn and print factory of its time was built.
The working hours of the workers were twelve hours (from five in the morning until eight in the evening). In 1829, according to the Manufacturers’ Register, there were 74 textile manufacturers, 2,443 looms and 657 spinning machines in the Raval. The Bonaplata factory stood out, located in Carrer dels Tallers. It had between 600 and 700 workers and was the first steam-powered. The culmination of this whole process was the installation known as the factory house, where the factory facilities, the institutional representation and the residence of the manufacturer coincided. This is the case of Industrial Spain in 1839 in Carrer de la Riereta. The Raval was the only place within the walls where large buildings could be built, as it was unattractive to do so outside due to political instability (Carlism and banditry). In addition, it was close to the natural exit of Barcelona as a port city.
The maintenance of low wages, long working hours, the closure of factories as a show of strength for manufacturers, the abolition of the charity soup, and the persecution of workers’ associations caused it to explode on July 2, 1855. a strike under the general slogan of the right of association and the ten-hour working day. Workers’ revolts against modern mechanization and various cholera epidemics led to the decision to demolish the walls in 1859 and allow urban and industrial expansion outside an unhealthy and easily controllable urban core by a labor movement that he was beginning to organize. The business exodus to the Barcelona plan began in the early 1960s. A long list of manufacturers left the neighborhood following the hygienic theories of Ildefons Cerdà. In the new city model, the Raval occupied a peripheral situation as a working-class residential neighborhood. At the beginning of the twentieth century it continued to have an eminently working-class social composition. The movements of the neighborhoods reached an importance that went beyond their borders. The first Spanish Workers’ Congress was held in 1870; In 1871 the main Catalan union of the time, the textile, joined the First International, and in 1888, on the street of the Workshops, the call came out to gather all the delegates of Spain to found the UGT in the same neighborhood.
The Raval was increasingly becoming a residential area for the lower-income classes, of which immigrants (universal exhibitions of 1888 and 1929) were a prominent part. This proletarian extraction played an important role during the Tragic Week (July 26-31, 1909), during which the Raval was one of the main scenes of the burning of convents and the confrontation with the army.
Human overcrowding, a narrow and winding road network, the proximity of the port and the dedication of many buildings to bars, performance halls and houses of tolerance, ended up forming an area south of the Raval that around 1925 the journalist Àngel Marsà named it Barri Xinès. The destruction of the war and the misery of the post-war period greatly damaged the nightlife of the neighborhood, in a process that ended with the decree closing the prostitution houses in 1956.
The first voices calling for the improvement of the neighborhood arose in the 1930s, during the Second Republic 1931-1936, with the proposals of GATCPAC architects. The Macià plan provided rationalist and integrated solutions to the problems of the neighborhood. But it was the bombs of the Civil War that made the first urban improvements in the south of the Raval (Avinguda de García Morato, today Avinguda de les Drassanes). During the eighties of the twentieth century, the Administration promoted a determined policy of reforms and rehabilitation of housing, opening of spaces and creation of facilities for the community, which was leaving in the background the name of Chinatown to recover the historical name of the Raval.