Sant Felip Neri is one of our best kept secrets, although it is increasingly visited by tourists, that are usually surprised when they find this little oasis in the middle of the Old Town.
Sant Felip Neri is one of those places where you can actually breathe the history of Barcelona. The baroque church, the Renaissance house...and the shrapnel marks on the facade of the church.
Do not be fooled: these are not the testimony of executions of priests during the Civil War, as some have tried to make us believe. These scars were caused by the bombs that Franco's National Aviation, with the help of the Italian fascist army launched over Barcelona 75 years ago now. The bombing, which was done in two shifts with the intention of making it more deadly, was one of the first to be made over the civilian population instead of attacking military targets, and caused hundreds of deaths throughout Barcelona. Only in Sant Felip Neri 42 people were killed, many of whom were children who were trying to shelter from the bombing in the basement of the church.
All buildings in the area were destroyed, leaving only the facade of the church standing, and the area was later rebuilt, creating the little square, adapting two Renaissance facades to create two new entrances, bringing parts of buildings that had been sacrificed when the Via Laietana and the Pla de la Catedral was opened.
It is very important that the Sant Felip Neri remains as the oasis it is now, as it also is that we do not forget our history and pay respect to the victims by explaining the true facts of what happened here.