Urbanista #23 Babe Drop-Off or “The Lathe” of the Orphans in Barcelona, Spain

At number 17 on calle Ramelleres, there is a circular window known as “El Torno” or “The Lathe” of the Orphans. Single mothers were frowned upon in these days and they left their children through this hole so that the nuns would take responsibility for them instead.

In the heart of El Raval in Barcelona thousands of people passing daily next to this small wooden inlet that was once attached to the House of Mercy. Next to it on the left you can find a metal plate with slot for coins, used to anonymously drop off donations for the church.

Originally founded in the late 16th century, the building at 17 Ramelleres became an orphanage in the 19th century. Like many other orphanages and convents at the time, a main feature of the building was its wooden turntable, which allowed the destitute to place their babies on it and anonymously spin them into the arms of a staff member inside the home.

Active from 1853-1931, the turntable saw hundreds of babies come through its portal into the orphanage. Other donations were occasionally dropped off including money and groceries, but mostly, babies were left by parents that did not or could not take care of them. Today, a small wooden inlet is the only remnant of Barcelona’s walk-up orphanage and baby drop-off.

Location on Wikimapia:

 

Urban Exploration Rating:

Trespassing Status – Free/Public access located on the street

Accessibility – ⑩∕⑩

Dangers Level/Risk – ①∕⑩ Danger can come from pickpockets on the street

Spooky Level – ②/⑩

Urbex Level – ②/⑩ – Beginners

Fun – ⑤/⑩

Total: 4 / 10

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