Palau de la Musica Catalana

Barcelona, Spain | C.1908

Photo Credit: Hope Polonnikova

These seats are far from the most extravagant feature of the Palau de la Musica Catalana. This jewel box of a building is filled to the brim with exuberant sculptures, mosaics, and plentiful stained glass. It is the only auditorium in Europe that’s illuminated during the day entirely by natural light, and the only venue in this style to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Architect Llui’s Domenech i Montaner designed the space in the Catalan Art Noveau style, specifically for the Orfeo Catala, a choral society and leading force in the Catalan cultural movement known as the Renaixenca, or the Catalan Rebirth. 

The Palau has promoted local composers and artists, such as the Orquestra Pau Casals, since its opening in 1908. As the central concert hall in Barcelona, the Palau has also hosted a slew of contemporary artists including jazz greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.

While the Palau contains a stage, it’s not technically a theater. Massive sculptures flanking the stage make the use of scenery nearly impossible. The walls on each side consist primarily of stained-glass panes set in magnificent arches, and a large stained-glass skylight serves as the concert hall’s centerpiece. This design was intended to represent the sun and the sky, and is the reason the hall needs no electric lights during the day.

Extensive restoration and remodeling in the 1980s once again infused a sense of revival and rebirth to the historic space. Now, the Palau hosts more than half a million people attending musical performances ranging from symphonic and chamber music to jazz and Nova Cançó

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