Fodor's Expert Review Casa de la Misericòrdia
With its charming ivy-covered and palm-shaded courtyard, this property was once a vocational school and a home for the children of the destitute. Founded in 1581 by theologian Don Diego Pérez de Valdivia, it functioned throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century as an orphanage for girls. The excellent bookstore La Central del Raval, next door at Carrer Elisabets 6, was formerly the institution's chapel. Around the corner (or through the bookstore) on Carrer dels Ramelleres at No. 17, a ring of wood in the wall just above waist level is all that remains of the ancient torno, or turntable, standard in early orphanages and cloistered convents. Alms, groceries, and unwanted babies alike were placed in this opening slot, to be spun anonymously into the hands of the convent staff. The building now houses an archive of historical documents—the oldest of which date to the 14th century.