Plaça Reial Porches full of life at the heart of the city
Plaça Reial (detail). CC BY-SA 3.0 - Josep Renalias / Wikimedia Commons
The natural annex of La Rambla, the Plaça Reial is one of the most emblematic squares in Barcelona. Built in the mid-19th century in order to spruce up the Gothic quarter, this is a clear, clean and open space constructed amid the high density of buildings in the old town of the city.
Francesc Daniel Molina led the architectural design project, inspired by the French neo-classical squares of the 17th century. The construction began in 1848 in a space formerly occupied by a Capuchin convent. The square is surrounded by a complex of identical buildings that are raised on semi-circular arches: above the arches, two main floors are framed by a giant order of Corinthian pilasters; the 4th and top floors are recessed, forming an attic floor, and are crowned by a cornice with balustrades.
The portals and façades are decorated with Hellenic terracotta, busts of navigators, coats of arms supported by Indian children and busts of explorers of the Americas, following the neoclassical style in an age in which Spain had already lost all its continental colonies. Behind the arches are shops, situated in a space that is protected thanks to the porches with Catalan vaults.
The centre of the square is dominated by the fountain of the Three Graces, a cast iron ensemble manufactured in the workshops of Durenne in Paris, surrounded by two street lamps with 6 arms, an early work of Antoni Gaudí. In the centre of the square and dotted about irregularly, there are the emblematic palm trees of different heights. And it is these that give the Plaça Reial its characteristic appearance.
Designed originally for the bourgeoisie of the time, the Plaça Reial has been, throughout its history, one of the epicentres of the Bohemian lowlife of Barcelona.
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What can I do?
In addition to being a meeting point and somewhere to rest, the Plaça Reial hosts a variety of open air shows and concerts for La Mercè festival or during the Grec summer festival. Every Sunday, it is filled with collectors looking for coins, minerals and stamps in its popular flea market.