Església de Betlem

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Església de Betlem

The Church of Bethlehem is one of Barcelona's few baroque buildings, and hulks stodgily on La Rambla just above Rambla de les Flors. Burned out completely at the start of the Civil War in 1936, the church is unremarkable inside; the outside, spruced up, is made of what looks like quilted stone. If you find this less than a must-see, worry not: you have all of Barcelona for company, with the possible exception of Betlem's parishioners. This was where Viceroy Amat claimed the hand of the young Virreina-to-be when in 1780 she was left in the lurch by the viceroy's nephew. In a sense, Betlem has compensated the city with the half-century of good works the young widow was able to accomplish with her husband's fortune. The Nativity scenes on display down the stairs at the side entrance on La Rambla at Christmastime are an old tradition here, allegedly begun by St. Francis of Assisi, who assembled the world's first such creche in Barcelona in the early 13th century.

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