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The Unique Beauty of Barcelona's Funeral Carriages

Picture of Tara Jessop
Updated: 27 April 2017

The only museum of its kind in Europe, Barcelona’s Funeral Hearse Museum is – as its name suggests – entirely dedicated to the cars and carriages that take Barcelona’s residents on their last voyage. We sent our video team to check out this most deathly collection of vehicles at their home in the Montjuïc Cemetery.

Prepare to feel chills up your spine as you take a tour of Barcelona’s Funeral Hearse Museum, a unique collection of vehicles, ornamental objects and other paraphernalia used in Spanish funeral ceremonies. The museum was opened in the 1970s, when the decision was made by the local authorities to preserve the collection of defunct funeral carriages owned by the local cemetery.

Until recently the collection was housed in the basement of the Sancho d’Àvila funeral parlour, the oldest of its kind in Spain. However, in 2015 the museum was re-housed in the Montjuïc Cemetery, one of the largest and most historic cemeteries in Barcelona, located on the outskirts of the city.

The museum’s collection is composed of 13 funeral carriages, six vehicles for carrying relatives and three modern motor hearses – including a striking 1950’s metallic Buick. Together they constitute an important remnant of Spain’s cultural heritage, telling the tale of the country’s social understanding of death and the afterlife.

These ornate vehicles are prime examples of Baroque and Art Nouveau design, especially the more prestigious carriages which served only to transport the city’s most illustrious residents. Equally remarkable are the white carriages, designed for carrying the corpses of children and virgins. Unsurprisingly, the carriages abound with mythological references and symbolism, including religious symbols such as Christian crucifixes as well as references to the Ancient Greek gods – such as the goddess Athena, who is often represented as an owl.