For Sale: Soprano’s favourite Barcelona view

A spectacular villa in the hills overlooking Barcelona, that once sheltered the President of Catalonia as he attempted to flee Francoist forces, and was a favourite haunt of Montserrat Caballé, has come on the market.

For Sale: Soprano's favourite Barcelona view
Villa Paula in the Collserola Natural Park Photo: Lucas Fox

The Villa Paula was designed by renowned architect Jerome Granell I Manresa in 1912 and offers original features, including a tower room with 360-degree views, that it is no wonder it was special for Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballe, 81.

In Pics: The Local´s Spanish property of the week.

"She favoured the upper balcony where she would sing to 'her beloved Barcelona'," current owner Tony Hayes told The Local. "She was a friend of the previous owner, a Cuban merchant, and he said it helped her when she was feeling sad.

"I like to think of her singing 'Barcelona'," he said, referring to the duet she sang with Freddie Mercury that became the official anthem of the 1992 Olympics, held in Barcelona.

The Modernista property, which is one of the largest privately owned plots in Barcelona with 41,000 m² across landscaped terraced gardens, has a place in a darker period of history.

It was in cellars that have now been restored into a bodega that Lluís Companys i Jover, the leader of the ERC and president of the Catalan parliament at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, hid out before fleeing into exile in France.

When the bodega was cleared during renovations two wooden stools were found, one covered in wax from the candles by which the communist leader would read.

"We were told by the previous owner and from some historians that Lluis Companys did indeed hide in Villa Paula before going to Paris to visit his sick son," said Hayes.

"It is believed that he hid in a cistern under Villa Paula when the troops would search house to house; the cistern has since been converted into a bodega."

The former president is buried in nearby Montjuic after being shot by firing squad when the Nazis caught him and returned him to the Franco regime.

The house, which now has an infinity pool with views extending across the hills over the city and to the Mediterranean beyond, boasts eight bedrooms, a spa and a gym with original features such as stained glass windows and mosaic tile flooring, preserved and carefully restored.

The property is being offered by Lucas Fox. Price on request.

See our gallery of the Property of the Week

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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.