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Plaça Reial

Barcelona’s parlour and nightlife node

Plaça Reial

This arcaded oasis is Barcelona’s only square designed as a set piece, and the only one ‘twinned’ like a city, in this case with Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. In recent years, its bars and clubs have become one of the cool nightlife spots in the city.

It replaces a Capuchin convent that had the dubious distinction of being the first to be burned in the first church-burning uprising, in 1835.

This was sparked by a disappointing bullfight held to celebrate Queen Isabel II’s birthday. The angry crowd dragged the last dying bull to the Capuchin convent, where orators whipped the bystanders into a frenzy with tales of wicked plots by Carlists and priests.

When the rubble was cleared, the land was auctioned off and Francesc Daniel Molina won the competition to design the square, in 1848. He enclosed it in harmonious neoclassical residences that contained shops and cafés on the ground floor; it was modelled after Madrid’s Plaza Mayor and decorated with terracotta reliefs of busts of great navigators and discoverers of America.

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Renaissance, Baroque & Neoclassical

Modernista Art and Architecture

The Ramblas

Streets & Squares

Top Sights

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Laura Padgett