Squeezed between fancy Modernista façades of the Passeig de Gràcia is the inconspicuous Regia perfume shop, with a surprising Museu del Parfum tucked in the back, devoted to the history of the perfume bottle (sadly, you can look but can’t sniff).
The display begins with tiny Corinthian alabastrons from the 7th century BC and Roman glass phials, still bearing an iridescent shimmer. It culminates in the newest 21st-century scents. Some of the prettiest are the atomizers from the early 20th century, with long, tasselled pumps to spray perfume in great, film-star clouds; the fanciest split like golden eggs to reveal dozens of tiny phials.
There are a couple of exclusive flask designs from Dalí (for Schiaparelli) and Lalique (for Coty Cyclamen), and some shockingly un-PC titles — it’s unlikely The Little Woman would be a big seller now. The collection, built up over 40 years and now one of the biggest in the world, has bottles from all over, including Thailand, China and the old USSR (Red Moscow, decorated with a red star and a silhouette of the Kremlin by night).
Passeig de Gràcia 39
Hours Mon-Fri 10.30am-8pm; Sat 11am-2pm; closed Sun and holidays
Adm €5, reduced €3
metro: Passeig de Gràcia
+34 93 216 01 21
Images by: Joel Montes de Oca