Priapus of Hostafrancs – Barcelona, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Barcelona, Spain

Priapus of Hostafrancs

This generously endowed statue once stood guard outside a Roman home. 

Priapus is a minor fertility god in Greek and Roman mythology, usually depicted with a large, erect phallus. Given this rather prominent feature, it should be no surprise that he was a popular figure in art.

But his worship wasn’t all about cheap laughs or pornography. Priapus was also a symbol of health and fertility, so it was not unusual to find frescos or sculptures depicting him in people’s homes.

One such home was a villa located on the Via Augusta, today’s Carrer Creu Coberta in the Hostafrancs neighborhood. A statue of Priapus from the second century was discovered there in 1848. It was once three meters tall, though it now lacks a head. The sculpture depicts the god hitching up his tunic to hold a bounty of fruits and vegetables, while also showcasing his most important part. It most likely served as the entrance to a garden or the home itself.

The Priapus statue was donated to Barcelona after its discovery, but not put on display in the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia until 1986.

Know Before You Go

Take the L1 or L3 metro to Plaça d'Espanya. When entering the museum, the Priapus is in the gallery to your immediate right. (If doing the audio tour, the statue would be the last thing you see.)

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