Gegants i Capgrossos, and the lamentable closing of El Ingenio

Heads at El Ingenio. Barcelona, 2015
Heads at El Ingenio. Barcelona, 2015


Gegants i Capgrossos…that’s “Giants and “Big Heads” in Catalan. You’ll see them at various festivals, most recently at the Les Festas de la Mercè here in Barcelona (a huge event each September).

There has been, for many, many years (since around 1835-1838!), a shop in Barcelona (El Ingenio) that made and sold these HUGE humorous noggins along with slightly smaller versions (as above). You could pick from quite a variety and be fully up to snuff for even the best of local festivals. Indeed, today, you are sure to find El Ingenio gegants or capgrossos in festivals all over Catalunya.

On the shelves, you could also feast your wide, childlike, eyes on unusual and very traditional puppets, strange and classic old-time toys, costumes, all manner of magic props and tricks, and so on and on and on. It was a shop stuck in the 19th century and full of titillating treasures–all articles not easily found anywhere else under the Mediterranean sun. A definite Dennis the Menace or Dora the Explorer paradise!

Unfortunately, the shop is closing and is selling off their entire inventory. Here is the kicker: they are closing after over 175 years in business! [See december, 2016 UPDATE below!!!]

Imagine that, 175 years (though not always the same family-owner, apparently). When the store first opened in 1838, Martin Van Buren had just succeeded Andrew Jackson as the U.S. President, and Isabella II was the child Queen of a monarchical Spain!

The relevant details in case you can get there before the doors shut for good sometime this fall:

El Ingenio, Carrer Rauric 6, 08002 Barcelona, Tel: 933 17 71 38

[UPDATE, December, 2016: The shop will NOT be closing after all! Another specialty shop, El Rei de la Màgia, has apparently purchased this long-standing and unique business and will continue it in the same tradition, preserving the ambiance and customs of the the original place. If you read Catalan, you will find an article explaining the details of the transfer of the business HERE. Another nice link, in Spanish/Castellano, which includes a short video tour and interview with the last owner, is HERE. For those limited to English, try THIS LINK, for a summary of what the shop was all about. Wonderful news and I am happy that this beautiful Catalan  tradition will continue on!]


Take care! Near the shop, you may run into some strange folks along the ancient narrow streets.

Tintin, maybe…

Tin Tin in Red. Barcelona, 2015
Tintin in Red. Barcelona, 2015


Or Betty Boop…

Betty Boop. Barcelona, 2015
Betty Boop. Barcelona, 2015


Or even Pablo Picasso himself…

Pablo Picasso. Barcelona, 2015
Pablo Picasso. Barcelona, 2015

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