Carrer Joacham Costa – today home to many a fashionable shop and quirky bar, and the elegant Casa Admiral, located at number 33 – one of the oldest pubs in Barcelona, along with a multitude of Pakistani shops, has not always been this way.
Before 1923, the road was called Carrer Ponent and was home to something very dark and very different. For it was on Carrer Ponent that one Enriqueta Martí Ripollés once lived, a notorious woman, known for committing some of the most depraved crimes, including those of child prostitution, child abduction and infanticide.
Enriqueta was a country girl who moved to the city of Barcelona in order to earn money in the employment of rich Barcelonans. She then became the madam of her own brothel, which was aimed at the city’s upper classes. Many rich men were happy to pay Enriqueta generously in order to get their perverted hands on young children. Children that she would kidnap from the dark streets of Raval. Whatever they wanted, Enriqueta was happy to oblige and able to provide.
Darker still was Enriqueta’s line in miracle skin creams that she peddled to the rich ladies of Barcelona, which, unbeknownst to them, contained a very special ingredient: the body fat and blood of young children.
Enriqueta was finally arrested in 1912 and was accused of the abduction and murder of dozens of children, although only 12 were identified. Earning Enriqueta the monika of ‘Vampire of Ravel’ and putting her firmly on the map as one of the most infamous denizens of not just the barrio, but the entire city of Barcelona.
So if you ever find yourself at Casa Admirall, remember that just a few feet from where you sit, some of the most depraved crimes in the city’s history, once took place.