Books and the City

Sala Ciutat, translating into the City Room, is the place for books about Barcelona. History, architecture, vintage and contemporary photography, city illustration, customs, secrets, symbols, districts – briefly any topic on Barcelona can be found, here.


When browsing through the books it’s easy to find out original stories on Barcelona, especially as most books focus upon photography, illustration, city symbols and city neighborhoods. There’s an entire collection dedicated to each and every barrio of Barcelona, so only this might be enough to ensure a different approach on your city walks.

Let’s take the Ramblas, for instance. It’s one of the most touristic and crowded places of the city, still it’s got something, a je ne sais quoi, a special vibe. Below are some original ways of seeing the Ramblas in the photographs of Frederic Ballell, illustrating Ramblas in 1907 – 1908, and showing about how much of the old habits of taking a promenade are still alive today – or not.

Then, if interested in a special atmosphere or light, you can see the place through the eyes of Gerard Rosés, renowned Catalan artist, whose hand drawings are published in the book of The Drawn City.

Or you can enjoy a large format photo book of the Barcelona of 1959, as seen by Leopoldo Pomés one of the renowned photographs of these times, who has intensively worked with advertising, models and nudes, as well as with photo reportage, having large series of photos of everyday Barcelona.

Barcelona 1959 - Leopoldo Pomés
A woman in the middle of Las Ramblas. Another woman walking down Balmes street, a man from Barcelona, a doorman at the entrance of some house in the Eixample, anonymous pedestrians walking along the Ramblas… black and white images that tell the story of a city from a particular epoch in time. A tremendous amount of compressed humanity in 80 photographs by Leopoldo Pomés, making up an overall view of Barcelona from the late fifties. This is a photographic project that lay dormant for more than half a century, stored in the drawers of a cabinet. The texts are in Catalan, Spanish and English.

Another local icon of Barcelona is, among many others, the brand of Cacaolat, continuing the rich history of chocolate in Barcelona. La Granja Viader, the oldest farm in Barcelona (and just a few steps away from Las Ramblas), with over 150 years of history, was the place where Cacaolat was born and sold, until the late 60s’ when Clesa bought the brand, and the book below, documenting a retrospective on Advertising and Ephemera in Barcelona, includes all their ads, among many others on food and beverage, clothing, luxury items, household goods, cars… By the way, you can still have hot chocolate (and many other sweet treats) at La Granja Viader.

Sala Ciutat is located on one of the narrow streets of the Gothic area, namely on the Carrer de la Ciutat. The history of the building goes back centuries ago and is linked to various extensions carried out on the Barcelona City Council Buildings. Now, it is a bookshop specialised in publications in Barcelona and showcasing the work of local illustrators visions of the city.

The wide range of publications runs from comics to works on philosophy, city planning and poetry, as well as books ranging from history to fiction, all with Barcelona as their common theme.


The illustrated mezzanine or Altell Il·lustrat, the upper part of the walls of the bookstore, is a space for large-format graphic presentations created by various illustrators, with Barcelona as the central theme. It changes twice a year, around Sant Jordi and La Mercè. The artists that illustrate the venue are chosen by a committee of experts. Miguel Bustos, an illustrator and graphic designer from la Sénia, is the artist currently on display.

The illustrations of Miguel Bustos depict the diversity of the city on all of its aspects, also including urban symbols – such as the Owl, a big dimensions advertising sign of the sixties that is still part of the city. Its eyes are lit by night and, if you wait long enough, the owl blinks.

The bookshop’s catalog can be viewed on the website of Barcelona Llibres.

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