Casa del Dimoni: named after a pact with the devil?

07/02/2015 08:15h

Alan Moore

In the “Gypsy area” of Gràcia neighbourhood, in Carrer de Josep Torres, stands a building known as the Casa del Dimoni, or House of the Devil. According to legend, the industrialist Agustí Atzeries was ruined halfway through the refurbishment of this building. In order to complete the work, he sold his soul to the devil and, soon after, they say, he won the lottery. In gratitude, Atzeries then dedicated the house to the devil.

Legends about pacts with the devil have always abounded. Even today, during these recession-hit times, some speak of selling their souls to Satan in return for financial aid. Anyway, that is what the industrialist Agustí Atzeries is said to have done in 1892. It all began when, halfway through work on his house, at 20 Carrer de Josep Torres, he became penniless.

Carme Cristià, of Gràcia’s History Workshop, explains that Atzeries was ruined as the result of a Gypsy curse with work on his house only half-complete. But the industrialist was so enamoured of the building that he swore he would sell his soul to the devil if he could only find the money to finish the works. Soon after, he won the lottery, no one knows whether through pure good fortune or due to Satanic intervention, and not only did Atzeries sell his soul to the devil, but he also dedicated his house to him.

That is what the owner required of the architect commissioned to carry out the alterations, Joan Baptista Pons i Trabal. No wonder, then, that this eclectic work by the Barcelona architect should be so different from his other buildings, such as the Torre Bellesguard in L’Arboç and the Modernista Casa Pons i Trabal in the Eixample district of the Catalan capital.

It was the local residents who, learning about the story and noting how Atzeries had ordered his home decorated, baptised the building with the name of Casa del Dimoni. On the ground floor, the devil faces, conserved intact, continue to startle passers-by. For the house, built in the late-nineteenth century, seems not to have suffered from the passing of time, although the murals devoted to the devil have been lost.

At present, the house is boarded up with bricks, and a sign announces the construction of apartments in the building, scheduled for completion in 2012, though the site remains unchanged. Once more, some say this is the devil’s work. What is certain is that the exterior of the building, with its demoniacal motifs, will be conserved in time, as it is listed in the catalogue of architectural heritage. Moreover, Gràcia is so fond of this legend that the La Vella de Gràcia “colla de diables”, or devil group, are presently constructing the Atzeries “demon”, taking their inspiration from one of the figures on the wall.