The Poble Espanyol in Barcelona (in English, “Spanish Village”) is an open-air architectural museum located in Montjuïc Park – a hill in the southwest of the city, that houses dozens of museums and monuments (such as the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Montjuïc Castle, the Joan Miró Foundation, or the Magic Fountain).
Designed specifically for the 1929 International Exhibition, the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona is made up of more than a hundred points of interest, spread over four major geographic areas of Spain: North, Center, South, and Mediterranean. And most of them are full-scale reproductions of buildings, squares, and streets across the country!
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- Brief History of the Poble Espanyol em Barcelona
- What to See at the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona
- Practical Guide to the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona
- More Posts about Spain
- More Posts about Museum Guides
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Brief History of the Poble Espanyol em Barcelona
When the palaces, pavilions, and other structures began to be built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition, someone had the extravagant idea of creating a kind of “Iberian village” in the middle of the event enclosure. The aim was to introduce visitors to the essence of life in small villages in Spain, as it was here that most of the population was concentrated at that time.
The Poble Espanyol in Barcelona was conceived in thirteen months, based on a project by the architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera, and also had the artistic advice of the art critic Miquel Utrillo and the painter Xavier Nogués. And to reproduce a “Spanish village” as authentic as possible, the four authors decided to visit 1600 villages across the country!
Here, you won’t find replicas of the great emblematic monuments, only examples of typical and popular constructions. Thought as an ephemeral attraction, which would be demolished at the end of the 1929 International Exhibition, the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona proved to be a success and ended up being preserved until today!
What to See at the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona
As I mentioned earlier, the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona has over 100 points of interest – 117, to be more specific. Of these, there are several cafes, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, craft workshops, a theater, and even a contemporary art museum called Fundació d’Art Contemporani Fran Daurel.
In addition, there are many replicas of monuments and places in Spain, representing fifteen autonomous communities: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Cantabria, Castile and León, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Community of Madrid, Extremadura, Galicia, Navarre, Region of Murcia, and Valencian Community.
The Plaça Major of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona is a replica of the Plaça Castellana de Riaza (in Segovia, Castile and Leon). Common to almost all Spanish cities, towns, and villages, the central squares are the heart of towns and the place where the most important community events take place (such as markets and fairs, religious celebrations, popular festivals, solemn ceremonies, etc.).
The concept of “plaça major” follows the tradition of Classical Antiquity, more specifically of the Greek Agoras and Roman Forums. In Plaça Major of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, the surrounding buildings come from various parts of the north and center of the country and mainly house tapas bars and restaurants of regional cuisine. And movie lovers will certainly recognize this square from the movie “Perfume – The Story of a Murderer”!
The Town Hall is the building that stands out the most. Its exterior was inspired by the Ayuntamiento de Valderrobres (in Teruel, Aragon), while the interior is an imitation of the Great Hall of the Palau de la Generalitat Valenciana. Apart from that, it’s worth mentioning the Bandstand and the recreation of the bell tower of the Monestir de Santa Maria by Gerri de la Sal (in Lleida, Catalonia).
Rincón del Triste
At the southeastern end of the Plaça Major of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, there’s a small cul-de-sac called Rincón del Triste (in English, “Mourner’s Corner”). Now, the unusual name of this alley comes from a popular legend about a count, who had a very ugly daughter and whom he could not find a man to marry.
Seeing his daughter’s suffering, the Count decided to disguise himself and woo her at the foot of her balcony, reading her poems he had written. However, shortly after, the man became very ill and died. Faced with the double tragedy of her father’s death and the disappearance of her lover, the young woman ended up dying of sorrow!
Camino de Santiago
Despite being divided into four themed zones (Nord, Centre, Sud, and Mediterráneo), the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona has a fifth zone: the Camino de Santiago. Geographically, the Way of Saint James belongs to the north of Spain, but the truth is that this route has its prominence in this open-air architecture museum.
It’s estimated that more than 200 thousand pilgrims hike St. James Way every year, coming from 100 different countries. In fact, this pedestrian route is so important in historical and cultural terms that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1993, under the name “Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain”!
Torre de Utebo
The Tower of Utebo of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona is an almost perfect copy of the bell tower of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Utebo (in Zaragoza, Aragon). Constructed in the 16th century, the original tower is a sublime example of Mudejar art (an artistic style developed between the 12th and 16th centuries in the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula, where elements, shapes, and materials of Muslim influence predominate).
In addition to presenting a mixed floor plan (the lower part is square and the upper part is octagonal), the Utebo Tower stands out from the rest of the architectural landscape, because of its truly mesmerizing ceramic enamel decoration. On this small-scale model, this meticulous work was done by ceramist José Roig Ginestós, whose family worked in an atelier inside the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona.
The Utebo Tower is also known for hosting the multimedia experience “FIESTA – The soul of Spain”, inaugurated in March 2018. Through the use of video mapping, this 150 m2 space recreates some of the most iconic popular festivals in Spain (such as La Tomatina, the Castells, the Correfoc, the Andalusian Holy Week, the Sanfermines, and the Patum de Berga).
Museu Fran Daurel – Collecció d’Art Contemporani
The Fran Daurel Museum – Contemporary Art Collection opened to the public on December 1st, 2001, with a series of rooms where paintings, sculptures, ceramics, tapestries, drawings, and graphic artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries are exhibited. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to take photos inside, but admission is free for all visitors of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona.
The museum’s collection brings together more than 300 works from distinct artistic movements, which include expressionism, surrealism, hyperrealism, and conceptual art. Among the more than 80 painters, sculptors, and other artists represented (Spanish and foreign), it’s impossible not to mention the great geniuses Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró!
Font de Prades
The Prades Fountain is actually a copy of a Renaissance fountain, which adorns the Plaça Major de Prades (in Tarragona, Catalonia).
At the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, the fountain is located in Plaça de la Font, a very picturesque square surrounded by restaurants and shops from the three regions of the Mediterranean: Catalonia, the Valencian Community, and the Balearics Islands.
There’s a very curious tradition associated with the original Prades Fountain. Apparently, there’s a “Cava Festival” (a type of sparkling wine typical of Catalonia, which is produced following the same method as Champagne), which is celebrated in the third week of July. And during this popular festival, the fountain spouts cava instead of water!
Monestir Romàniq de Sant Miquel
At the eastern end of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, you’re going to find a fascinating Romanesque monastery, which is made up of replicas of elements from four different Catalan monuments:
- Floor plan – Església de Sant Sebastià de Montmajor (municipality of Caldes de Montbui, comarca of Vallès Oriental, province of Barcelona)
- Main door – Església de Santa Maria de Porqueres (municipality of Porqueres, comarca of Pla de l’Estany, province of Girona)
- Cloister – Monestir de Sant Benet de Bages (municipality of Sant Fruitós de Bages, comarca of Bages, province of Barcelona)
- Belfry – Campanar de Sant Genís de Taradell (municipality of Taradell, comarca of Osana, province of Barcelona)
Therefore, the Romanesque Monastery of Saint Michael brings together some of the most notable features of Catalan Romanesque architecture: strong Lombard influences, colorful frescoes (many of the originals are on display at the National Art Museum of Catalonia), absence of an ambulatory, square bell towers with several floors and windows all around, etc.
When I visited the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, there were no visitors in this area of the enclosure. As it’s in a more remote part, I don’t think it attracts so many crowds. But the fact that it’s a monastery and that it’s so peaceful only contributes to an even more reliable reproduction!
The five “Feeling Spain!” kiosks are audiovisual spaces where you can learn more about the geography, architecture, gastronomy, and popular culture of each of the five themed areas of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona (North, Centre, South, Mediterranean, and Way of Saint James).
I know I put these five “information desks” last on this list of must-see points of interest at Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, but of course, you can (and should) visit them as you explore each area of the museum. This way, you can better understand the buildings and structures you’re going to see!
Practical Guide to the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona
In my opinion, the easiest way to get to the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona is by metro. To do this, just take the L1 or L3 lines to Plaça d’Espanya station and then walk about 850 meters to the museum enclosure. This walking route takes just over 10 minutes and, along the way, you’ll see old palaces and pavilions from the 1929 International Exhibition!
1. Take advantage of Extended Opening Hours
Of all the places I visited on my itinerary in Barcelona, this open-air architecture museum is the one with the longest opening hours. The Poble Espanyol in Barcelona is open every day of the year, from 10 am to 8 pm (on Mondays), from 10 am to 12 am (from Tuesday to Sunday), from 9 am to 3 am (on Fridays), or from 9 am to 4 am (on Saturdays)! Unbelievable, right?
This late closure is mainly due to the restaurants and nightly entertainment (such as flamenco shows). Even so, it’s important to note that the workshops and shops are open from 10 am to 6 pm (in winter), from 10 am to 7 pm (in spring and autumn), or from 10 am to 8 pm (in summer). And the Fran Durel Museum is open every day (except on January 1st, December 25th, and 26th), from 10 am to 7 pm.
2. Look for Online Discounts
The ticket to visit the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona costs €14 (adults), €10.5 (students), €9 (pensioners), or €7 (children from 14 to 12 years old and admission after 8 pm), and there’s also a family ticket at €36 and a combined ticket with the National Art Museum of Art at €20.
But beware, because these are the prices at the physical ticket office! If you buy your ticket online through the official website of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, you can benefit from a discount! And Barcelona Card holders have a direct discount of -25%!
TIP: Now and then, even more attractive promotions show up. For example, when I visited the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, I was able to buy a general ticket for €8 (instead of €14)!
3. Plan a Whole Day in Montjuïc
Montjuïc hill became world-famous for having hosted the 1929 International Exposition and the 1992 Summer Olympics. So why not dedicate a whole day to discovering this historic area with such a rich cultural heritage? In the vicinity of the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, you can visit dozens of museums, monuments, gardens, and other points of interest, such as the:
- Anella Olímpica (or Olympic Ring)
- CaixaForum Barcelona
- Castell de Montjuïc (or Montjuïc Castle)
- Estadi Olimpic Lluís Companys (or Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium)
- Font Màgica (or Magic Fountain)
- Fundació Joan Miró (or Joan Miró Foundation)
- Jardí Botànic de Barcelona (or Botanical Garden of Barcelona)
- Jardins de Joan Brossa (or Joan Brossa Gardens)
- Jardins de Joan Maragall (or Joan Maragall Gardens)
- Jardins de Laribal (or Laribal Gardens)
- Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer (or Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Gardens)
- MNAC – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (or MNAC – National Art Museum of Catalonia)
- Museu Etnològic de Barcelona (or Ethnological Museum of Barcelona)
- Pavelló Alemany – Fundació Mies van der Rohe (or German Pavilion – Mies van der Rohe Fountain)
- Teatre Grec (or Greek Theater)
- Telefèric de Montjuïc (or Montjuïc Cable Car)
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