PLAÇA DEL REI, Exterior

Audio File length: 2.47
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Alyson, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through Plaça del Rei, which is the heart of medieval Barcelona.

This rectangular square is a perfect example of Catalan Gothic style and was formerly the home of the Palace of Barcelona's counts and the sovereigns of Aragon.

The buildings that face it belong to the Royal Palace complex and are, for the most part, occupied by MUHBA, the Barcelona City History Museum. MyWoWo will accompany you on a tour of the museum later, where you'll cover a thousand years of the city's history from its foundation attributed to Emperor Augustus up to the Middle Ages.

But let's concentrate on the exterior for now. The medieval scenery is impressive, and inspires grandeur: you won't believe it, but in the past this austere square was also used as a market for flour!

The Royal Palace that you can recognize for the external staircase is Romanesque with a rich Gothic decoration of arches and rosettes. The structure dates back to about 1150, but all the kings of Catalonia have little by little added additional buildings and ornaments, and today its predominantly 14th-century appearance is a remarkable example of Catalan Gothic civil architecture. Next to the entrance portal you can see the 14th-century Palatina Chapel dedicated to Saint Agatha, with its beautiful octagonal tower.

Look at the southwest corner: do you see that tall, scenic, five-story tower with overlaid loggias? It's the Mirador del Rei Marti that was built to commemorate the last Catalan king, and is said to have been considered the tallest building in the world at the time.

From the square or the nearby Carrer dels Comtes de Barcelona, you can reach Palau de Lloctinent (Lieutenant's Palace) that was built in the middle of the 16th century as a residence for the Spanish Viceroy, which is today home to the Aragonian crown archive, with a collection of historical documents of inestimable value.

 

FUN FACT: they say that here at the Royal Palace, the Catholic sovereigns Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabelle of Castile welcomed Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas. It was here, in the "Saló del Tinell", that the navigator told the king and queen of his adventures in the New World for the first time.

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