Sin city Gaudí’s proposed redemption for the ‘City of Bombs’.

On the Rosary portal of the Sagrada Família, which leads from the Nativity facade into the cloister, a sculpture entitled the ‘Temptation of Man’ can be found. It depicts a worker dressed in overalls turning away from a demonic figure, which proffers an Orsini bomb. This particular type of bomb—an improvised explosive device—was used by anarchists throughout Europe in the latter half of the 19th century as a hand grenade. It is Barcelona’s connection to the Orsini bomb that undoubtedly inspired Gaudí’s interpretation of the ‘Temptation of Man’.

By the mid-19th century, rapid industrialisation had resulted in deep divisions across society. Class conflict had become frequent and furious in Barcelona, where anarchism was the political persuasion of the city’s workers. Almost four decades of sporadic, brutal attacks followed. The Orsini bomb became the weapon of choice for local anarchists, and the resulting violence soon earned Barcelona a reputation as the ‘City of Bombs’.


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