Josep Miracle Can Mantega – Four Things from my Time

Josep Miracle

Can Mantega – Four Things from my Time


In his memoir, Josep Miracle recalls with a certain nostalgia “that house where my parents went to live (which) had a large orchard in front of it and a vast expanse of fields behind it, presided over by an authentic farmhouse. It was can Mantega. And I know the delight to see the waves of wheat swelling in those fields … “

Four Things from my Time” Josep Miracle (Memories)


Josep Miracle explains, for reasons unknown to him at the time, he was separated from his parents and sent to live in his godmother’s house at number 30, carrer del Nord (now carrer de Galileu) to receive a “sea water treatment” brought by his godmother’s son from can Tunis. From the house, he spent hours observing the fields of  can Mantega were organized, witnessing the men working long days in the orchard and inspecting the vegetables that were cultivated there. 


In 1819, Sants was still an independent town. The newly constructed  Canal de la Infanta brought waters coming from the Llobregat river, to irrigate the land in Sants, making this area mainly agrarian. The land where the current park stands was part of a large plot of land extending to Galileo street. It was owned by Pere Coll i Rigau and on it stood a farmhouse called can Mantega. Coll came from a humble family of farmers. He left his family in Baix Empordà at the age of 13 to come to Barcelona in transit to Cuba. Baltazar Parera Coll, his great-grandson, tells us that in the port of Barcelona he met a schooner captain who gave him passage on condition that he takes care of the horses during the transAtlantic passage.

The young Coll made his fortune by building a match factory that competed with the monopoly of the Spanish state in Havana. He became known in his time as the “Destroyer of the phosphorus monopoly.” After his success with matches, he set up another company, this time producing tobacco, called the “Sin Real Fábrica de Cigarrillos” (Without A Real Cigarette Factory). The official reason for this curious name is that he started the company without having a ‘real’ (which was worth half of a peseta at the time). Unofficially it refers to the fact Coll’s was not a Royal (state-owned) factory. When he eventually returned home, he bought Mas Gelbert in Pals and fought for and reintroduced rice cultivation in the area using new technologies based on the “constant circulation and renewal of water to prevent its rot”.  

Pedro Coll Rigau is the father of Pere Coll Llach, a well-known politician and businessman, friend of President Companys, and Commissioner of Public Order of the Generalitat of Catalonia until the Acts of October (1934). Josep Pla dedicated one of his Homenots to him.

In 1960, 42 years after the death of Pere Coll, the land divided by this descendents, was “forcibly expropriated” to extend the surrounding roads of Rosés, Melcior de Palau and Joan Guell (passing through the middle of said land), and build the Parish of Sant Joan Maria Vianney, in carrer de Joan Güell, 60. Three years later, in 1963 the new park surrounding the still erected can Mantega farmhouse was inaugurated. In 1966 the Parish Church and Avenida Madrid were inaugurated in the presence of the Francoist mayors of Barcelona and Madrid of the time. Since then, the park has had its ups and downs. It fell into oblivion by the authorities, and deteriorated until restructuring in 2016.

Listen to the audio (in catalan) read by Carles Ramos i Portas. Read an abstract of the text.


Texts Source: Tot Recordant en Tv Costa Brava, Memòria de Sants, El punt avui,, Masies de Barcelona y Wikipedia

Source Archive images: Arxiu Municipal Contemporani de Barcelona (AMCB) and Arxiu Municipal del Districte de Sants-Montjuïc (AMDS), Carta Històrica de Barcelona Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) 

For more information on the other works of art participating in the exhibition, see Related Exhibitions


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