Palau de la Música Catalana, the modernist gem of Barcelona

The Palau de la Música Catalana is an auditorium, located in the Ribera district of Barcelona. It is one of the most beautiful examples of Modernist architecture in Spain. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

History of the Palau de la Música Catalana

The Palau de la Música Catalana was commissioned by the Orfeón Catalán to Luis Domènech i Montaner to be its headquarters. It was built between 1905 and 1908. Very advanced construction solutions were applied in the project. In addition, great harmony was achieved between architecture, sculpture, stained glass and ironwork.

The construction was carried out by Catalan patrons and investors, all of whom were music lovers. Years before, this Catalan bourgeoisie had already participated in the construction of the Liceu. The aim of the Orfeo Catalán Association is to promote Catalan culture, and specifically Catalan music.

What to see in this modernist monument

The Palau de la Música Catalana has a central metal structure, covered by glass. This combination creates an environment in which all the applied arts are intermingled.

On the outside, the building’s original façade stands out, as it is now accessed by a more modern one. It is arranged at an angle to two narrow streets. Here the red of the exposed brick and the white of the stone contrast.

It is presided over by the sculptural group of La canción popular catalana, by Miguel Blay. It is conceived as a prow, on which are St. George, a sailor, a child, and an old man. A female figure is represented as a figurehead. Everything symbolises a space for the whole village.

Catalan song on the façade of the Palau

The rest of the façade is arranged on three floors. The first floor has a balcony with seven groups of two columns decorated with mosaics. On the first floor, on the columns, the busts of illustrious musicians such as Bach, Beethoven and Wagner, made by Eusebio Arnau.

The façade is topped by a pediment with a mosaic of the senyera by Lluís Bru. In the centre, a queen with a distaff presides over a party. This scene would be inspired by La Balanguera, a Mallorcan poem.

The large columns that supported the arches leading to the building also served as ticket offices. They had a small arch as a window and were decorated with trencadís.

One of the ticket offices of the Palau

Without doubt, the other great attraction of the Palau de la Música Catalana is the Concert Hall. Its walls are full of large stained glass windows, and in the centre of the ceiling there is a large skylight, made by Antoni Rigalt i Blanch. The golden windows in the centre form a sun. On the edges, blue and green glass accompany female busts.

This whole set of stained glass windows filters the light, which illuminates the columns decorated with glazed ceramic mosaics. At the intersections of the arches there are fans in the form of peacock tails. All these colour and light effects give the ensemble a great deal of theatricality.

Concert hall of the Palau

A new group of sculptures separates the stage from the stands. This is a work by Diego Massana, completed by Pablo Gargallo. On the right is a bust of Beethoven. Above, a representation of the Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, paying homage to the music of Central Europe.

On the opposite side, the world of Catalan music is represented. At the height of Beethoven’s bust, that of José Anselmo Clavé. Above it, a large tree covers both the Catalan composer and a group of singers.

Detail of the Ride of the Valkyries

In the semicircle of the stage, eighteen muses are represented, made in mosaic and relief. They are the work of Eusebio Arnau, Mario Maragliano and Lluís Bru. Each of them carries a musical instrument.

Muses on stage

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