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Palau de la Música

 

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Considered one of the finest examples of Modernist architecture in the world, this fabulous building should not be missed by anyone on a trip to Barcelona. Built between 1905-1909 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, GaudíŽs closest competitor in elaborate Modernist masterpieces, the palace is still in full functional use as a concert hall after an extensive restoration.It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

Located in La Ribera district, close to El Born and the busy Via Laietana, visitors are often surprised to come across this architectural wonder on an apparently humble backstreet.Almost as impressive from without as within, if in a rush even taking the opportunity to admire the façade is a worthwhile experience.It is a riot of colour combining the materials of mosaic, exposed brick, stained glass and glazed tiles on a two storey colonnade.
At first sight there almost seems too much for the eye to take in, but close examination reveals busts of Perlini, Bach and Beethoven atop the brightly coloured columns, varied floral designs and a mosaic depicting the Orféo Catalán (Catalan Choral Society) by whom the building was commissioned.

If the exterior is considered impressive, the interior is almost overwhelming in its design, but it is important to note that Domènech i Montaner ensured the space was fully functional as a concert hall as well as being visually stunning. Most instantly noticeable is the massive stained glass window ceiling, making it the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated solely by natural light during the daytime.The theme running through the decorations is one of choral music, befitting the building’s choral society owners, and this can be seen throughout from details in the stained glass windows to the various busts and sculptures of composers and choirs.A heavily sculptured arch divides the stage from the auditorium (preventing it being used for stage productions as many views would be blocked); ever popular are the dramatic riding Valkyries leaping out from the stonework.

The Palau de la Música is always in use for concerts and shows, with its 2,200 seating capacity frequently sold out.Artists performing in the palace range from the London Symphony Orchestra to Spanish Guitar Festivals or even the Brazilian beats of Gilberto Gil.

Guided tours are available for the interior of the Palau in English, Spanish and Catalan, but if in town for long enough seize the opportunity to go to a concert and enjoy the architecture and the music it was designed for all at once.Ticket prices can be as low as €7, depending on the artist