Barcelona’s university is the heir of the Estudi d’Arts i Medicina, founded by King Martí in 1401. Planned and built between 1860 and 1873, the university was the first monumental building in the new Eixample. The architect, Elias Rogent i Amat, was a disciple of Viollet-le-Duc, and used the Romanesque idiom to evoke Catalunya’s roots; he reached his decorative zenith in the lavish Romanesque-Byzantine Paranimf, or auditorium (open by request).
The courtyard to the left of the entrance, the Pati dels Lletres (courtyard of literature), with its orange trees and two-storey arcades, is especially pretty, as are the cool, lush garden and pools in the back. Like most totalitarians, Franco was keen to get students and their irritating ideas out of the city centre, and in the 1950s most of the university was relocated to the new campus in Pedralbes.
About 200m southwest of the square on Passatge de Sant Bernat is the most important of the few buildings that went up during the Republic: the pale rose L-shaped Dispensarí Antituberculosós (1934–8), an exemplary modern clinic designed by Josep Lluís Sert and Josep Torres Clavé. The roof was made into a sun terrace and garden that offered the tubercular a chance to take the air.
Plaça de la Universitat
Image by Jesús Corrius