Photo by Stefano Politi Markovina
Ask any local what their favorite Barcelona building is and there is a strong chance they will say the Palau de Musica Catalana, a Catalan music hall in La Ribera, the old city, right next to the city's Gothic Quarter.
Built by Lluis Domènech i Muntaner between 1905 and 1908, the auditorium in La Ribera is the only one in Europe to be illuminated entirely by daylight, a vast and intricate skylight resembling the sun at its center and graceful stained glass windows around the organ pipes filtering colored rays. The stage surround is jampacked with imagery, framed by winged horses, Valkyries, palm trees, flowers, fruits and busts of Beethoven and Anselm Clavé, a choral director who was instrumental in keeping Catalan folk songs alive.
The Palau today offers Catalan music and dance, folk and choral music (it was built for a local choir, the Orfeó Català) and performing in it is considered as prestigious as in the much posher Liceu opera house because of its pure Catalan roots. Discount tickets are often available on the day of a performance but at the very least, sneak a peak into the gorgeous vestibule, a fantasy of marble staircases, gold glass balustrades, and ornate columns.
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