The Palau de la Música Catalana (or Palace of Catalan Music, in English) is the most stunning concert hall I’ve ever seen in my life and the only one declared World Heritage by UNESCO. Built between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeó Català – a choral society founded in 1891 – this music auditorium is situated in Barcelona, Spain.
The architectural masterpiece was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the greatest representatives of Catalan modernism. Besides having formidable acoustics, the Palau de la Música Catalana is richly decorated with stained glass, mosaics, ceramics, sculptures, murals, and wrought iron elements!
So, do you want to know more about the Palau De La Mùsica Catalana: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Palau de la Música Catalana
- How to Get to the Palau de la Música Catalana
- What to See at the Palau de la Música Catalana
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- More Posts about Castles and Palaces
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Brief History of the Palau de la Música Catalana
After having founded the Orfeó Català (or Catalan Orphean, in English) on September 15th, 1891, the conductors and composers Lluís Millet and Amadeo Vives decided to hire the renowned architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, to design a modernist building, which would serve as the headquarters of the new choral society.
At that time, Lluís Domènech i Montaner had already started the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (or Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul, in English) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the Palau de la Música Catalana – and was one of the figures of Catalan modernism, alongside Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
After less than three years of work, the Palau de la Música Catalana opened to the public. Since its origin, the auditorium was used for symphonic concerts and instrumental recitals, receiving the most renowned conductors and performers in the world: Richard Strauss, Pau Casals, Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Montserrat Caballé, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Josep Carreras…
There were also numerous orchestras and choirs that played on the stage of the Palau de la Música Catalana, from the Wiener Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, to the Escolanía de Montserrat, Cappella Musicale Pontificia, Orfeón Donostiarra, Wiener Sängerknaben, Coro Gulbenkian, etc.
Did you know that the Palau de la Música Catalana was part of Spain’s tenth set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 21st session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Naples (Italy), between December 1st and 6th, 1997.
Four other Spanish sites were announced in the session: the Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona; Las Médulas; Pyrénées – Mont Perdu; and San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries.
Nowadays, Spain is the fourth country in the world and the third country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites, right after Italy and Germany, and tied with France. It has forty-nine heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!
In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit ten of them:
- Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (2000)
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
- Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
- Old City of Salamanca (1988)
- Old Town of Santiago de Compostela (1985)
- Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
- Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (2021)
- Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) – Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Crypt of Colònia Güell, Nativity Façade and Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Palau Güell, and Park Güell
How to Get to the Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana is located in the historic center of Barcelona, a few meters from other cultural attractions. For example, in this area, you can also visit the Barcelona Cathedral (450 meters), the MUHBA – Museu d’Història de Barcelona (450 meters), the Plaça de Catalunya (600 meters), or the Passeig de Gràcia (650 meters) – the avenue where you’ll find Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà!
In other words, to get to the Palau de la Música Catalana, you only have to choose one of these means of transportation: metro line 1 or 4 (Urquinaona station); RENFE or FGC train (Plaça Catalunya station); or bus numbers V15, V17, or 47 (Metro Urquinaona stop).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Palau de la Música Catalana is open every day from 9 am to 3 pm (for guided tours in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, or Italian) or from 9 am to 3:30 pm (for self-guided tours, with an audio guide in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian, or Korean included). Both modalities have an estimated duration of 50 minutes.
As for tickets, the self-guided tour costs €15 and the guided tour costs €19. You can buy tickets at the physical box office from 08:30 am to 3:30 pm (Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt) or from 09:30 am to 3:30 pm (Carrer del Palau de la Música), but I recommend that you book them in advance at the official website of the Palau de la Música Catalana.
EXTRA TIP: Holders of the Barcelona Card have a direct -25% discount at the Palau de la Música Catalana!
What to See at the Palau de la Música Catalana
Vestíbul & Escala
The Vestibule of the Palau de la Música Catalana (in Catalan, Vestíbul) corresponds to the old entrance to the concert hall, which was carried out through the Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt until the end of the 1980s. And when you arrive at this space, the first thing you see is a monumental double staircase, which leads the spectators to the upper floor.
Illuminated by imposing lamps supported by columns, the Staircase of the Palau de la Música Catalana (in Catalan, Escala) is almost entirely sculpted in marble – with the exception of the balusters, which were made with yellow glass. On the other hand, the floral motifs of the steps and the ceiling are made of ceramic.
Sala Lluís Millet
Lluís Millet Hall (in Catalan, Sala Lluís Millet) is a waiting hall (or rest hall), located on the first floor of the Palau de la Música Catalana, right in front of the auditorium. Dedicated to the co-founder of the Orfeó Català, this wide space is frequented by spectators during concerts and recitals intermissions.
In terms of ornamentation, the Sala Lluís Millet features a series of glass doors and windows, embellished with colorful stained glass. Even more spectacular is the modernist-style iron chandelier, which was installed in the center of the room, giving it great sumptuousness. The bronze busts that complement the decoration were placed in 2015 and honor musicians and personalities linked to the Palau de la Música Catalana.
The Terrace of the Palau de la Música Catalana (in Catalan, Terrassa) is a sight almost as mesmerizing as the interior of the concert hall itself.
Comprising a double colonnade covered in mosaics, this balcony can be accessed from Lluís Millet Hall, through the glass doors I mentioned earlier.
Here, no two columns are the same. And it’s almost impossible to ignore the immensity of patterns and colors designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which gives the Palau de la Música Catalana such a unique and characteristic identity.
The originality and creativity of the Terrace of the Palau de la Música Catalana can also be admired on the Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, even before entering the monument (or after leaving)!
Sala de Concerts
The Concert Hall (in Catalan, Sala de Concerts) is the “heart” of the Palau de la Música Catalana. With a capacity for more than 2000 people, it has seats spread across the audience (on the ground floor), on the first and second floors, and in the organ galleries (above the stage).
And did you know that the Palau de la Música Catalana is the only auditorium in Europe lit entirely by natural light during the day? This is due to the magnificent central skylight, made by Antoni Rigalt i Blanch. Formed by thousands of pieces of stained glass, this inverted dome in shades of gold and blue is a representation of the sun.
The side walls are made up of stained glass windows and mosaic arches, as well as tile medallions with the names of notable composers. And the ceiling was outlined with white and red ceramic roses. Once again, the predominant motifs are naturalistic (flowers, leaves, peacock feathers, etc.).
The Stage of the Palau de la Música Catalana (in Catalan, Escenari) is, with the skylight, the place that most reveals that the building was commissioned by a choral society. Have you noticed that the dome includes a female choir? And that the stage has eighteen muses? The most curious thing about these mythological entities is the fact that half of their body is a sculpture (by Eusebi Arnau) and the other is a mosaic (by Mario Maragliano and Lluís Bru)!
The arch over the front stage was sculpted by Didac Masana and Pablo Gargallo. On the left, you’ll see a bust of Josep Anselm Clavé under a tree, as well as a group of girls alluding to his choral composition “Les flors de maig”. On the right, you can appreciate the “Ride of the Valkyries”, from the opera “Die Walküre” (1870) by Richard Wagner, plus a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven framed by two Doric columns.
Foyer (or Cafè Palau)
Cafè Palau is a restaurant, cafe, and bar in the center of the Foyer, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and even post-show drinks every day from 9 am to 12 am.
On concert days, spectators enter the Palau de la Música Catalana through the Foyer. But this vestibule has only existed since 1989, after a deep structural intervention. Restoration and expansion works lasted much of the 1980s and were led by architects Óscar Tusquets and Carles Díaz.
For visitors to the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Foyer is the last point of interest in the audio guide. The decoration of this space is much soberer, but I particularly like the brick arches and the pink, green, and yellow ceramic flowers!
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