L’OU COM BALLA, A BARCELONA TRADITION
How this Corpus Christi tradition started remains a mystery: That day, many fountains of the Barcelona Gothic Quarter are decorated with flowers and cherries, then an egg that has been previously emptied of its yolk and white through a small hole that is then carefully resealed with wax, is placed on top of the water jet. As long as the water keeps flowing, the egg will remain on top of the water, “dancing” without falling (or if it falls, the water pressure makes it quickly rise again).
The Ou com Balla has been documented already since the XV century, and it’s believed to symbolize the holy bread (the egg) and the wine (the water).
This is where you need to go for corpus christi to see it:
Cathedral of Saint Eulàlia
The tradition of the dancing eggs is said to have started in this Catedral around the mid 1400’s. Their flower and fruit decoration is one of the most outstanding ones, and to avoid the crowds that used to gather in the cloister to see it, nowadays the egg is dancing not just on the Thursday of Corpus Christi, but most of that week. You have no excuse to miss it! Seeing the Ou com Balla is a great excuse to visit the Cathedral.
Nearby, in the Gothic courtyard that was once part of the garden of the Royal Palace (and unfortunately later on, headquarters of the Inquisition), you’ll see another dancing egg. The orange tree garden invites you to relax while admiring this hypnotic tradition. And when you are done, you might want to check out this unique art and antiques museum or just enjoy a coffee in their outdoors cafe.
Palau del Lloctinent
A bit further down the street, another quiet Gothic patio invites you to take some of your best pictures of dancing eggs, as their fountain is shorter and it allows for better pictures. The place was once the Archives of the Crown of Aragon, before becoming the headquarters of the Spanish Viceroy.
Casa de l’Ardiaca
Another popular place to gaze at the Ou com Balla is the former Administration of the Cathedral, later Board of the city layers and now Archives of the City. Their fountain is almost as beautifully decorated as the one in the Cathedral, and it’s also quite tall – what makes it more impressive. Go upstairs to the upper balcony to get an unusual shot of the dancing egg from a higher angle.
While most dancing eggs in Barcelona are located in the Gothic Quarter near the Cathedral, during Corpus Christi you can find the Ou com Balla in some other unexpected city sites. The Poble Espanyol was built for the 1929 World Fair with the aim of showing visitors the traditional architecture from the various regions of Spain. At the very end of the enclosure, crossing a medieval gate and a bridge you’ll get to a recreation of a Pyrenean Romanesque monastery. Right outside of it, a fountain with views over the city is the chosen spot to make the egg dance.
AND BONUS! The best place to see some other gorgeous Corpus Christi festivals:
A short 30min train ride will take you to the charming seaside village of Sitges, that for Corpus Domini celebrates one of its most popular festivals: the contest of Flower Carpets. Locals carefully arrange flower petals along the streets creating beautiful patterns and drawings, and the best design receives a ceramic plate that is proudly displayed in the walls of the street: some of them display a huge collection of them! By the way, if you still want to see the Ou com Balla, you’ll be able to see it in the Maricel Museum, too.
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: Had you heard before about the Ou com Balla tradition?