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Barcelona's Baby Donation Hole Is a Clue to Its Scandalous Past

Picture of Charlotte Peet
Commissioning Editor
Updated: 1 April 2017
Tucked away in the depths of gritty El Raval district lies Barcelona’s biggest kept secret: The Baby Drop-off. This inconspicuous small wooden inlet was once the House of Mercy’s answer to surrendering infants securely.

“Where do babies come from?” is always an awkward question that many like to keep a mystery. Today, we prefer to have children believe that storks deliver babies in small cloth bundles to the doorstep of a happy couple who unwrap their precious newborn. But if there is no happy couple at the doorstop, where do they go? The Baby Hatch.

Add a darker twist to the tail and you have the reality of 16th Century Barcelona. At a time when both cholera, as well as religious and social stigma towards illegitimate children was rife, this walk-up orphanage provided a discrete drop off point for people to discard their unwanted children. The egg-shaped turnable feature allowed people to place a baby on it and anonymously spin them into the loving arms of a staff member – we like to call it Barcelona’s baby-saviour.