One of the most visited places in the city of Barcelona is the Plaza de España, a popular meeting point, being as it is a hub for some of the most important streets and avenues in the city centre. Almost a hundred years old, this historic square has nothing to envy its counterparts from the rest of Spain. As we will discover below, part of the charm of Barcelona’s Plaza de España lies not only in its history, but also in its architectural and sculptural features, such as the unmistakable fountain located in its heart. Do you feel like discovering why it is worth a visit?
We all know that there are about 20 Plazas de España in Spain, but did you know that this name has also been given to squares outside our borders? Some good examples are the Place d’Espagne-Spanjeplein in Brussels, the Praça de Espanha in Lisbon, the Piazza di Spagna in Rome or the Plaza de España in Buenos Aires, not to mention those in Miami or Bosnia and Herzegovina, among others. But, if we had to choose just one of them, that would be Barcelona’s Plaza de España.
We are referring to one of the most iconic and recognisable squares in the Catalan capital, present in any tourist guide worth talking about. It occupies some 34,000 square metres, where day after day (especially during the high season) hundreds of tourists come flocking in. These crowds are not random; beyond the undeniable beauty of Barcelona’s Plaza de España, it should be noted that it is located at the crossroads of the Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, a major avenue in the city.
On the other hand, the streets surrounding this square are chock full of places and buildings of interest to visitors wishing to discover the greatest number of tourist attractions without exhausting themselves getting there. So much so, that very close to Barcelona’s Plaza de España you can find the Las Arenas Shopping Centre, the Campaniles, the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc or the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC), the latter being a must for any traveller with an interest in art, as inside we can examine one of the most important collections of Romanesque art at both national and continental level.
A square modelled after St. Peter’s in the Vatican
The origins of Barcelona’s Plaza de España are closely related to the 1929 World’s Fair. Just as the Eiffel Tower was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, this plaza was born in view of the most important exhibitors of the time, from Germany, the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, France, Hungary or Italy. Ildefonso Cerdá was responsible for designing and developing his first models, which were to be crystallised under the hands of Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Guillem Busquets and Antoni Darder.
Between 1926 and 1929, the “Ciudad Condal” witnessed at first hand the construction works that would culminate in the colourful Plaza de España in Barcelona, a circular structure that stands out especially for its fountain and its profuse decoration. Although it may surprise you to hear it, this square has strong Italian influences. In fact, it was very roughly based on St. Peter’s Square, located in Bernini’s Vatican City.
As is evident, the most notable attraction is the majestic fountain that stands in the centre of this square, created by Josep Maria Jujol, with abundant sculptures by Miguel Blay, with the invaluable help of Miquel and Llucià Oslé. With a style between the Baroque and the Greco-Roman styles, this fountain houses countless iconographic images, representing scenes of historical relevance. We can find, for example, several statues of James I of Aragon or Isabella the Catholic, or symbolic representations of Abundance or Navigation. Also deserving special attention is the way in which the landscaped layout, discreet but noticeable, contributes to the beauty of the spot.
The fact is that Barcelona’s Plaza de España has earned a place in our history. Today, it prides itself on being one of the most popular points of interest among national and international travellers. So, if you are passing through the Catalan capital and you want to visit an exceptional square, the Plaza de España can’t be left out.