Travels in Spain, Barcelona and Leaving the Best Till Last

Casa De La Musica 09

‘For us, the hall ranks alongside the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, or the Royal Albert Hall in London’  – Lluís Millet

Friday the 15th June was my birthday and on account of having one or two glasses of wine over what was really sensible I was surprised next morning over breakfast to find so many night time pictures in my camera of the Sagrada Familia; also, I was wearing a brand new Barcelona tee-shirt.  Wow, I must have way too many because it turned out that I had been shopping as well!

It was our last half day in Barcelona and after breakfast I walked to the tourist office and bought tickets to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palau De La Musica Catalana and on the way back to the IBIS hotel I bought another Barcelona tee-shirt and the only explanation that I have for that is that the alcohol was still working its way through my system.  I am pleased to report however that I hadn’t lost complete control of my senses or of my wallet because it was only a cheap tourist shop and not the official Sagrada Familia boutique with prices to match the height of the towers.

After packing and checking out we set out now on foot back towards the old Gothic Quarter of Barcelona which was relatively straight-forward now that we had mastered the geography of the grid system of Eixample and within half an hour or so we were close to our intended destination.  Actually, even though we had made an unscheduled stop at a market hall we were about thirty minutes early.

Palau De La Musica 06

We had bought scheduled tickets for the Palau De La Musica and this seems to be the preferred way of doing things in Barcelona these days.  There are discounts for booking on-line and a guaranteed timed visit but, maybe I am a bit old fashioned here, the system seems to rob a city visit of any spontaneity and imposes time pressures that are a bit of a burden and I found that I was forever keeping an eye on the clock I suppose that a city that has thirty-five million visitors a year needs to have some sort of organisation.  Some statistics suggest that Barcelona is the fifth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Rome and Prague.

So we waited for the visit to begin and the sense of expectation began to rise as we sensed that what was about to begin was going to be rather spectacular.  And we were not disappointed.

Palau De La Musica 05

The Palau is an icon of modernist architecture in the city, if there were to be an arm wrestling competition with the Gaudi experience then this would hold its own for sure.  It is an exercise in opulence, grand salons, tiled columns decorated to reflect nature and a concert hall that would surely distract any performer or spectator through a musical performance of any kind.

And at the very top of the building a great glass dome, a drop of water hanging from the ceiling like a tear from a melting icicle with reflections of the sun, a source of both light and inspiration.  Effectively, this is a large skylight, the centre of which forms an inverted dome over the rectangular auditorium, the dome is described as ‘a giant droplet just about to fall from the ceiling‘, or ‘one of the most remarkable works of stained glass art of our times’. The effect is such that the hall is claimed to be the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light.

Palau De La Musica 03Palau De La Musica 07

For me this was the highlight of the visit to Barcelona and we had saved the best till last.  In a city that has Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia the Palau De La Musica was easily the best of all attractions and my advice to anyone going to the city would be to make this an absolute priority visit.  It has grand architecture, a riot of colour, opulent decoration and a rich musical history.  It left me wide eyed and open mouthed, overawed and drooling.

It was fabulous and I could have stayed there all day but the tour was drawing to an inevitable close and after a final look around the ornate reception area we were back on the streets and in  our favourite bar at Plaça Catalunya making an assessment of our visit before returning to the hotel to take a taxi back to the airport and a flight home.  I was planning to pick out my top five places in Barcelona but it was impossible, I had enjoyed everything about the city and the short five day visit.  I might have to go back!

Barcelona Tee Shirt

34 responses to “Travels in Spain, Barcelona and Leaving the Best Till Last

  1. Impressive . . . you went shopping!

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  2. That is an amazing place. It’s just gone on my list – though Barcelona sounds far too busy for comfort.

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  3. That’s a very impressive glass dome. I can’t think off hand of anything similar to it.

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  4. I wholeheartedly concur. 🙂 🙂 How pompous does that sound, Andrew, but I absolutely do! I would have loved to experience a musical performance there, and if I ever go back… improbable. I’m still desperately trying to fit Korcula, Sicily and maybe Rome into the plans. 😦 I found the time slot a bit irksome too, but wholely understandable. I never bought the t-shirt though. Must drink more, next time 🙂

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  5. What a stunning place!

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  6. I had no idea about the Palau and I have been to Barca at least ten times for work, football & sightseeing. It looks stunning and a must see if I go again. That glass roof is superb.

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  7. Are you sure you didn’t dream all this? You will drink wine from cracked jugs, maximum contamination with hallucinogens perhaps!

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  8. Like Wilburs’ post above I also didn’t know about The Palau. I will make sure to check it out.Haven’t been to Barcelona for a while. Overdue. Don’t know if you’ve been to Girona Andrew but it’s worth a few days.
    Ken

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  9. Beautiful writing to match the photography

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  10. I spent two hours in Barcelona in January 1975 and it was closed so I saw nothing. Now you go and show me what I missed and I am so disappointed. Brilliant stuff Andrew.

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  11. Stunning – like many others, I have never heard of this. Gaudi seems to crowd everything else out. I agree about the timed ticket thing – i’m a wanderer not a rigid planner when we go away and this works against that. But, as you say, it is probably the only way to deal with mass-tourism.

    PS Cool t-shirt, well-shopped!

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  12. I found much to enjoy. That was until my purse was snatched and all four tires cut.

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  13. Have to chime in that I really, really like the Palau and its marvelous skylight far better than the “Gaudi experience”. A bit of something for all tastes, eh?
    Nice t-shirt, too! and a happy belated birthday!

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  14. What great information! I have Barcelona on my itenirary in June, so I am savoring each suggestion.

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  15. I found your post very interesting and enjoyable as always Andrew!

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  16. How are the acoustics in that Palace of music or whatever it’s called, not exactly the Sydney Opera house but looks like it has a darned sight more character

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  17. Pingback: Thursday Doors, Palau De La Musica in Barcelona | Have Bag, Will Travel

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