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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca Ramsay, MA

A Brief History of the El Gato del Raval in Barcelona

What is the El Gato del Raval?

El Gato del Raval, or ‘the Raval Cat’, is a charming two-metre-high bronze sculpture by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

The Raval Cat

El Gato del Raval History

El Gato del Raval is perhaps an unexpected symbol of Barcelona, but the chubby bronze cat has captured the hearts of many who visit the city, and most who live here. It’s the work of artist Fernando Botero, a Colombian sculptor and painter originally from the city of Medellín. With his smoothly rounded body, stubby gold whiskers, and tail like an enormous party balloon, El Gato is a quintessential example of the artist’s exaggerated and exuberant style. Like all public buildings and monuments that make an impression, it’s become recognisable by its own name: Boterismo.

El Gato was purchased by the city council in 1987, but until 2003 the poor creature had been wandering the city in search of a permanent home. First placed in the Parc de la Ciutadella near his fellow animals at Barcelona Zoo, the well-fed fellow was then moved twice more: first to the Olympic Stadium, and later to a square by Barcelona’s medieval shipyard. The bronze sculpture finally found its home here in the heart of Barcelona’s Raval neighbourhood, at the end of the newly created Rambla del Raval. El Gato is now a fixture in the area, and a favourite meeting-place of all who pass through. You’ll most likely find him covered in excitable children – which seems, with impossible neatness, to explain his endearing, yet ever so slightly strained, expression.

If you have fallen for this friendly creature, you’ll be pleased to know that a bronze sculpture of a horse, also the work of Botero, resides in Terminal 2 of Barcelona Airport. El Caballo shares El Gato’s comically disproportionate anatomy and is an unexpected but welcome sight for any exhausted traveller arriving in the city.


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