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One of Europe’s oldest pharmacies, on display in Catalan town

More objects from the medieval Esteva Pharmacy are set to be shown in the Llívia museum once restored

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22 October 2018 01:13 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Picture, if you will, a pharmacy, centuries ago: desks and shelves lined with leather-bound tomes and glass jars and bottles filled with extracts, tinctures, powders, and herbs. You might as well be imagining the ancient Esteva Pharmacy, one of oldest in Europe, which is now going to put even more items on display.  

This, in the town Museum in Llívia, in the Pyrenees. Four more objects will be added to the display: two signs and two polychromatic boxes (the latter, dating back to between the 16th and 18th centuries). Once these are restored, they can be shown alongside the scores of items that already take visitors centuries back in time. Indeed, the signs are so old that the last name has since changed spelling: once spelled with an 'a' at the end, it has now changed to an 'e.'

The Esteva pharmacy is thought of as one of the oldest in all of Europe. Dating back to the 15th century and acquired by the family at the beginning of the 17th century, remaining open until 1926. One of the grandchildren of the last pharmacist of the establishment, Bruno Esteva, still remembers stories his own father told him about the apothecary, and the curious way it would treat a common cold.

It entailed, recalls Esteva, “taking live snails, crushing them, adding honey and eating them raw,” a remedy which, ironically, helped affirm that “the mere idea of having to eat that already cured you.”

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  • One of the grandchildren of the last pharmacist of the Llívia Pharmacy, Bruno Esteva, showing documents to the Llívia Museum Director Gerard Cunill on October 17 2018 (by Albert Lijarcio)

  • One of the grandchildren of the last pharmacist of the Llívia Pharmacy, Bruno Esteva, showing documents to the Llívia Museum Director Gerard Cunill on October 17 2018 (by Albert Lijarcio)