Spanish balcony owners try to cash in on pope's visit
Many residents of the two Spanish cities which Pope Benedict XVI will visit this weekend are trying to cash in on his trip by renting balconies with views of the sites of services for hundreds of euros.
One ad on online advertising site Mercattel offered spots Thursday on the balcony of an apartment promising views of the entrance to the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona which the pope will visit for 300 euros (420 dollars) per person.
"See it and enjoy this unique moment from the first line," the ad said.
The pope will consecrate the Sagrada Familia, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece, on Sunday, a day after he visits the pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela in northeast Spain.
The famously unfinished building, whose spires covered with glazed ceramics dominate the Barcelona skyline, will receive the official status of basilica following the consecration and masses can be celebrated there.
Currently only the building's crypt has been consecrated by the church.
Another ad offers a balcony on a Barcelona street where the Popemobile will pass through on its way to the temple that fits between four to eight people for 400 euros "with free aperitifs".
Ads offering balconies for rent in Santiago de Compostela have also emerged, including one charging "a very interesting price" for a veranda overlooking the vast Plaza Obradoiro outside the city's cathedral where the pope will celebrate mass on Saturday.
But Catalan daily newspaper La Vanguardia said few people have been able to rent their balconies, in large part because of the strict security measures put in place around the sites where the pope will celebrate mass.
Shop owners and residents who live around the Sagrada Familia must prove their identity and their place of residence to police to gain access to the area, it said.
Daily El Pais meanwhile reported that 20 percent of hotel rooms in Santiago de Compostela were still free for the weekend of the pope's visit.
They were all sold out last weekend, with demand boosted by the fact that Monday was a national holiday.
© 2010 AFP