Modernista movement reached its aesthetic culmination in this magnificent concert hall (1905–1908), designed by renowned architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The lavish façade, ringed by mosaic pillars and brick arches, just hints at what awaits within. Domènech’s “garden of music” (as he called it) unfolds beyond the front doors, with each surface of the ornate foyer, from pillars to banisters, emblazoned with a flower motif. The concert hall – designed so that its height is the same as its breadth – is a celebration of natural light and forms, climaxing in a stained-glass, golden orb skylight that showers the hall with sunlight.
Topping the concert hall is a breathtaking, stained-glass inverted dome ceiling surrounded by 40 angels. By day, light streams through the fiery red and orange stained glass, illuminating the hall.
The main, semicircular stage swarms with activity – even when no-one’s performing. Eighteen mosaic and terracotta muses spring from the backdrop, playing everything from the harp to the castanets.
Blurring the boundaries between the outdoors and the interior, Domènech encircled the concert hall with vast stained-glass windows to let in sunlight and reveal the changing times of day.
A bust of Catalan composer Josep Anselm Clavé (1824–74) celebrates the Palau’s commitment to Catalan music. Facing him across the concert hall, a stern-faced, unruly-haired Beethoven represents the hall’s classical and international repertoire.
Charging forth from the ceiling are winged horses (by the sculptor Eusebi Arnau), infusing the concert hall with movement and verve. Also depicted is a representation of Wagner’s chariot ride of the Valkyries, led by galloping horses that leap toward the stage.
Designed as a rehearsal space, the semicircular, acoustically-sound Chamber Music Room is a smaller version of the massive concert hall one floor above. In its centre is an inlaid foundation stone commemorating the construction of the Palau.
Named after Catalan composer Lluís Millet, this immaculately preserved lounge boasts gorgeous stained-glass windows. On the main balcony outside are rows of stunning mosaic pillars.
Modernista architects worked with ceramic, stone, wood, marble and glass, all of which Domènech used liberally, most notably in the opulent foyer and bar.
The towering façade reveals
Modernista delights on every level. An elaborate mosaic represents the Orfeó Català choral society, founded in 1891.
Over 300 concerts and dance shows are staged each year, and seeing a show here is an experience not to be missed. For traditional Catalan dance and choral singing, look out for the
Cobla, Cor, i Dansa series (usually begins February).
Perhaps the most famous choral group to perform here is the Orfeó Català, for whom the concert hall was originally built. This 90-person chorus performs regularly and holds a concert on 26 December every year. Book in advance.