Hiding in plain sight, in the middle of El Raval, there is a small wooden door that was once attached to the Provincial Home for Maternity and Foundlings of Barcelona. Nowadays, that small round door looks more like a decoration than anything else, but that is the infamous Barcelona’s baby drop-off. And, when we were in Barcelona, we had to visit the location and take pictures of it.
We were in Barcelona for a couple of days at the end of April 2019, and we were looking for different things to do. We knew we needed to eat burgers somewhere but… What else? One of my co-workers is from the city, and he shared with me this. I know it sounds completely insane, but this story is true.
When it comes to public care for impoverished women and mothers, until the late 19th century, there wasn’t much. The only social resource available to them were based on religious charity, and they treated women as sinners in need of repent. But, with industrialization, things needed to change. Waves of women came from the fields to work on the growing city of Barcelona. Most of the were seeking work as domestic servants and factory workers, and they had some free time, so the number of the so-called illegitimate births grew. Many of these mothers were single and miserable, and they were forced to give away their children to charitable institutions.
This is where Barcelona’s baby drop-off came to be. The turnstile in front of the Provincial Home for Maternity and Foundlings of Barcelona was a place for mothers to leave their infants discreetly. It was done to remove some of the shame and injustice that these mothers were forced to face for giving up their offspring.
At the time, many infants didn’t survive to celebrate their first birthday, but those who survived were sent to the neighboring House of Charity. There, boys would be trained as salesclerks, and girls would be trained as domestic servants.
But everything came to an end in December 1936, when the Government of Catalonia authorized abortions and became one of the most advanced health systems in Europe. The baby dispensary at the Home of Maternity changed and became a facility where women could receive safe medical treatment.
Barcelona’s Baby Drop-off was active from 1853 until 1936 and saw hundreds of children come through its turntable. Today, the only thing left is a small wooden inlet that feels like it’s hidden in plain sight on a charming square at El Raval.
Barcelona's Baby Drop-off in El Raval
If you want to visit Barcelona’s Baby Drop-off, you should take a look at the map above since it’s kind of tricky to find since it’s just a small round door on a wall.
Barcelona’s Baby Drop-off in El Raval
17 carrer Ramelleras