Catalan town makes old shops into museums
The project aims to re-use spaces and revitalize a once-bustling, historical area
The Catalan village of Calaf, in central Catalonia, has its own market every Saturday. A long time ago - as far back as the 13th century, in fact - the market was held in the Plaça Gran square of the town, so much of the commerce blossomed under the historical archways that surrounded it. As the town grew, the market and many shops moved to new areas, and Plaça Gran, little by little, lost the buzzing commerce that once defined it. Now, the Calaf City Council has decided to bring new life into the historic and emblematic area.
The City Council plans to do so through its new project, which will take some of these old stores and turn them into interactive museums. Called 'Shops of the Plaça Gran, lost treasure', the proposal will showcase how the businesses were before they closed, serving as a new tourist attraction for the town.
The project is already underway, with three shops already being restored and expected to open to the public in February. Seven spaces will be opened to the public in total, including a general store, a haberdashery, a school, a pastry shop, a print shop, a hardware store and a wine cellar.
The Councilor for Trade and Tourism, Montserrat Mases, noted that one of the facts that surprised them the most, when they opened the doors to the old businesses, was that many of the shops had been "left untouched," their interior exactly the same as the day they had closed, some mid-20th century. “The idea is to recover the essence of Calaf inside these stores," she said.
"The idea is to recover the essence of Calaf inside these stores"
Montserrat Mases · Councilor for Trade and Tourism
Calaf’s Plaça Gran, an important point of trade
"Citizens from Calaf could buy everything they needed without ever leaving the square," stated the Councilor for Trade and Tourism. The activity in this area of the city was very intense, since “farmers met and traded, there." But, once the main square lost its vitality and importance as the city grew outward, then "the few shops that were left closed their doors once the owners retired,” said Mases.
One of the shop’s past owners is Jaume Oller. He had a printing in the Plaça Gran and moved it to a more modern part of town 20 years ago. Oller noted that many businesses moved to the new part of the city to find larger areas and spaces adapted to their needs. Regarding the City Council project, Oller said that it’s important for new generations to find out, firsthand, what old business were like.
Calaf's Plaça Gran square itself was built in several stages from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, and there are several important buildings, such as the Town Hall, and the church of Sant Jaume.