A concert hall designed in the Catalan modernista style by Lluís Domènech i Montaner whose stunning architecture can be admired during a concert or viewed in all its glory on a full tour of the building.
Is it really worth visiting a concert hall when there’s no show on? Trust us when we say yes, yes, yes! This is no ordinary concert hall, after all. There’s so much to explore at this masterpiece of Catalan modernism, including 2000 flowers, life-size horses and a forest. What more could you want?!
The Palau de la Música Catalana (that’s Catalan for Palace of Catalan Music) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its own choir and fully functional concert hall. And that’s what makes this place so special.
The sizeable building is tucked away between the houses on a cramped street in the Sant Pere neighbourhood. You might also be fooled into thinking it’s two separate buildings since half of it has been modernised with a glass front and expanded with new buildings.
Let’s start at the beautiful old entrance that provided the only way into the concert hall until 1989. You’ll have to look up high to catch a glimpse of the busts of famous composers like Bach, Beethoven and Wagner and a large group of sculptures called ‘The Catalan Folk Song’ on the corner.
Can you spot St George, the patron saint of Catalonia? There are references to the three symbols of the Palau de la Música Catalana and what it stands for – Catalonia, universal music and nature – to spot throughout the building.
Our tour takes us on through a series of prestigious rooms, each with its own special character and charm. The vestibule and large foyer with its brick pillars and arches. The understated yet elegant rehearsal hall. The spectacular staircase. And the Sala Lluís Millet, a rest area and meeting point flooded with natural light. From here, we can step onto the balcony and admire its beautifully colourful pillars representing an urban forest.
It goes without saying that the concert hall is the main attraction and beating heart of the palace. Take a seat and quietly take in the room around you.
You’ll be able to spot a large organ, plenty of sculptures and depictions including 18 muses, Wagner’s Valkyries appearing from the ceiling and busts of Anselm Clavé on one side and Beethoven on the other. Not to mention all the nods to nature in the form of roses, palm trees and fruits. Apparently, you can count 2000 flowers in total throughout the building.
Another spectacular feature you can’t miss is the stained-glass skylight designed to look like the sun and allow plenty of natural light into the hall below.
If the stage isn’t already in use, you’re very welcome to tread the boards yourself. Don’t forget to look out and take in all the splendour of the hall whilst you’re there. And the view is just as impressive from the upper level.
If you’re not on a guided tour and have plenty of time to linger here, we highly recommend looking at all the finer details.
Once you’re back outside, you’ll also want to check out the new entrance. Behind the glass front, you can even see the original side wall (although this will depend on the lighting on the day). The forecourt is a fantastic place to stop for a moment and reflect on everything you’ve seen here so far. Did you know that there used to be a church on this very spot?
PALAU DE LA MÚSICA A BIT OF HISTORY
The concert hall was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the main protagonists of Catalan modernism and a contemporary of Gaudí himself.
You may be surprised to learn that the building wasn’t commissioned by the city of Barcelona. It was actually created as a new HQ for the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891 and one of Catalonia’s top choirs to this day.
The construction work started in 1905 and finished in 1908, having been funded by local textile manufacturers and music fans – much like the Gran Teatre del Liceu (known for its opera and ballet productions) 60 years earlier.
Ever since its doors were officially opened in 1908, the Palau de la Música Catalana has been known as a dynamic concert venue that welcomes musicians of all nationalities and genres with open arms.
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, having undergone modernisation and expansion work between 1982 and 1989 that didn’t change the building’s original decor or structural integrity yet allowed for the space to be used in new ways. The materials were the same as those used back in the day by Domènech i Montaner – stone, brick, iron, glass and ceramic. One of the main elements of the extension work was the new six-floor building that is now home to dressing rooms, a library and an archive.