Great Place Wednesday: Plaza de España; Barcelona, Spain

Plaza de España is one of Barcelona’s most important squares, built on the occasion of the 1929 International Exhibition, held at the foot of Montjuïc, in the Sants-Montjuïc district. It was designed by Josep Amargós.

One of the city’s biggest squares, it is the junction of several major thoroughfares: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Avinguda del Parallel, Carrer de la Creu Cobertaand Carrer de Tarragona, and leads to the Palau Nacional through Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, which houses one of Barcelona’s finest museums, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

  • Venetian Towers – they are 154 ft tall and lead the way to the MNAC via Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, an avenue commonly used to host trade fairs.
  • Parc de Joan Miró – previously known as Parc de l’Escorxador (Abbatoir Park), it is nowadays named after the Catalan painter Joan Miró, whose 22-metre-tall statue Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird) can be seen in one of its corners.
  • Arenas de Barcelona, a bullring – It was built in 1900 in the Moorish Revival style and has been converted into a shopping center.

The square was built on a site that had been previously used for public hangings, until the creation of the now demolished Ciutadella fortress in 1715, where the gallows were moved. It was designed in 1915 and built in 1929 so that it could be ready to host the 1929 Universal Exposition. In 1928, the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, who led the Spanish government at the time, ordered the pulling down of the four Ionic columns known as Les quatre columnes, built ten years before by Puig i Cadafalch, that symbolised the four bars of the Catalan flag as part of his banning of all Catalan symbols. The square has been in public use since then.

Aerial view of Plaza de España. The long shadows on the lower right are cast by the Venetian Towers.

View of Venetian Towers overlooking Plaza Espana