Tucked in between some buildings in one of the side streets along Via Laietana, Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural gem. This iconic concert hall in modernista style has been acknowledged as an UNESCO world heritage since 1997.
This is a cafe in the building, a meeting point for the guided tour.
This building was built for The Orfeó Català, a Catalan choir, by the renowned architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It was financed with public funds. The costs rose and rose because the architect only wanted the best of the best for this project. Built from 1905 to 1908 it was finally inaugurated on February 8, 1908.
This is not just a concert hall but it represents the spirit of Catalan culture. Nowadays Orfeó Català foundation manages this stunning building. The choir itself still holds repetitions and shows here, as other well-known performers from singers, bands, classic orchestras, dance companies and many more.
The guided tour starts with a visit to a repetition hall where a short film tells a story about the building and its history. There are guided tours combined with choir repetition as well.
This is the foyer where visitors to a concert can enjoy a chat or a drink before the show starts. Look at the stained glass and the many busts of world-famous composers outside. What makes it special of Palau de la Música Catalana is its location, in the middle of the neighbourhood. As it was built to bring the culture to the inhabitants of Barcelona. By doing this the owner, Orfeó Català promotes the Catalan culture.
This is the only pic I could make from these gorgeous colourful mosaic columns. There were other participants of the tour who took their time taking pics but I wanted nobody on mine so I waited and waited. This is the best shot I made, in a hurry as I didn’t want to miss the guide who carried on with his explanation.
Main entrance. In the old days, chariots with horses transporting public for the show, stopped here. Now it is part of the building and the lane is closed. Can you imagine how it was?
Look at the detail of this balustrade, found across the building. It is a breaded iron work, covered with glass. All handmade. Domènech i Montaner worked together with craftmens and artisans such as: sculptors, painters, mosaic makers and iron smiths for the exquisite rich details, just like he did with his other masterpiece, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Do not be fooled by its name, it was a hospital but it is now a largest Art Nouveau site, give it a visit when you are in Barcelona.
Voilà! I present you the main concert hall, the pièce de résistance of this building. The light is amazing! Domènech i Montaner had geniously reckoned with the light fall in the building. The natural light illuminates the hall effortlessly. The way it falls in combination with the present colours inside is just breathtaking. The light feels warm and has a golden glow. I lack superlatives to describe it.
A closer look to the stage allows us to see the details. Left and right there are Greek muses each holding a music instrument. Floral ornaments are everywhere. The arch is richly ornamented with garlands, representing Wagner opera, Valkyrie if I’m not mistaken (it was not easy to listen to the guide and capturing the pics at the same time :)). If you can see it, there is a figure of Pegasus, looking down the stage.
The noble organ in the center is still in use. You see the light dome above? That is part of the apartment above it. One of the choir dirigents or the architect himself used to live up there with his family.
Close up of the stained-glass skylight in the center of the ceiling. It represents golden sun and blue sky with ornaments in pink in various shades.
The rozettes (rose figures) in various colours were made by hand. They are richly spread around. If you closely on the windows there are symbols of Saint George (San Jordi in Catalan), the red and white cross and red and yellow stripes of Catalan coat of arms.
In the time of Franco occupation, the balustrade had been covered with pieces of wood to protect peeking under the ladies dress who sat on the balcony. So pity because this removed all the unique details but on the other hand it is how it happened. It is part of the building history.
Descending these stairs, the guided tour ended here. Palau de la Musica has an attractive programme, show of various artists.
Sometimes Palau de la Música Catalana is mistaken as Gaudí’s work but Barcelona is not about Gaudí alone. I do think Domènech i Montaner is often overshadowed by Gaudí although he was as good as the latter. Each of them has a distinguished individual style which together support the Barcelona style art nouveau. The style that makes the city of Barcelona so special.