Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A hole in the wall for Barcelona’s unwanted babies
Up until only a few years before the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s…
Hiding inconspicuously in the heart of El Raval is a small wooden inlet that was once attached to the House of Mercy. Although it looks like ornamentation, or a small shrine of sorts, the inlet was in fact a rotating wooden, turntable used to anonymously drop off donations for the church, including unwanted infants.
Originally founded in the late 16th century, the building at 17 Ramelleres became an orphanage in the 19th century. Like many other orphanages and convents at the time, a main feature of the building was its wooden turntable, which allowed the destitute to place their babies on it and anonymously spin them into the arms of a staff member inside the home.
Active from 1853-1931, the turntable saw hundreds of babies come through its portal into the orphanage. Other donations were occasionally dropped off including money and groceries, but mostly, babies were left by parents that did not or could not take care of them. Today, a small wooden inlet is the only remnant of Barcelona's walk-up orphanage and baby drop-off.