With a population of approximately 50,000 people, Barcelona’s El Raval neighbourhood has always had a rather dodgy reputation.
Despite being the home of one of the world’s most famous food markets (the Boqueria) Barcelona’s grandest theatre (El Liceu) and two of my favourite museums (the MACBA and the Maritime Museum). Not to mention loads of excellent restaurants and bars. The Raval is still commonly referred to as the Barri Xino or red light district.
At the start of the 20th Century the Raval was the most densely populated urban area in Europe and home to Spain’s most notorious serial killer; Enrqiueta Martí aka The Vampire of Ponent Street, The Vampire of Barcelona or The Vampire of the Raval.
Enriqueta Martí was born in Sant Feliu de Llobregat in 1868. As a young woman she moved to Barcelona, initially working as a servant or nanny before becoming a prostitute and witch-doctor.
She claimed to be able to cure tuberculosis and other then uncurable diseases using spells, potions and ointments made from the blood, flesh and bones of kidnapped children that she routinely murdered. She also ran a brothel which specialised in supplying child prostitutes to wealthy customers.
It isn’t clear how many children Enriqueta kidnapped and killed during the twenty years that she was at large. When she was finally arrested in 1912, police found the remains of some of her victims in her home at number 29 Ponent Street (now called Carrer de Joaquin Costa).
Despite widespread public outcry, Enriqueta Martí never stood trial for her crimes. After her arrest she spent fifteen months in the Reina Amalia prison before being beaten to death by other inmates. The prison has since been torn down and replaced by Plaça de Folch i Torres.
Books about the Vampire of the Raval
Her macabre story has inspired several books, a film, various TV programmes, blog posts and a musical:
- Los Diarios de Enriqueta Martí (The Diaries of Enriquetta Marti) – Pierrot
- El Misterio de La Calle Poniente (The Mystery of Poniente Street) – Fernando Gómez
- La Mala Dona (Barcelona Shadows) – Marc Pastor
- Enriqueta La Vampira de Barcelona (Enriqueta the Vampire of Barcelona) – Film by Ricard Reguant
- La Vampira del Raval (The Vampire of the Raval) – Musical by Albert Guinovart
Image Source: The black and white photo of Enriqueta Martí is in the public domain and was downloaded from Wikimedia. Other photos used in this post were taken by the author and are copyright barcelonalowdown.com