The Palace of the Generalitat, presidential office and residence
- Sant Honorat Street's Gothic Façade
- Conference Room
- Antoni Clavé State Rooms
- The Press Room
- Central Courtyard
- Bisbe Street Façade
- Gothic Gallery
- Mare de Déu de Montserrat Hall
- The President's Office
- Archives Chamber
- Saint George's Chapel
- 12 Orange Tree Courtyard
- Neo-Gothic Bridge
- Presidential Staff Offices
- Antoni Tàpies Rom
- Torres-Garcia Hall
- Gold Room
- Hall of Sant Jordi
- Saint James Square Vestibule
- Plaša Sant Jaume's Façade
- Cases dels Canonges
- The Carillon
It is one of the most outstanding façades in Catalonia's singular Gothic architecture. It skilfully overcomes the vertical drop prompted by the street and draws the two resulting walls nicely and with a balanced composition. The two superimposed rows of windows, the so called "coronelles", give it an imposing and at the same time beautiful touch. The two large windows, with two thin columns (also called "mainells"), provide a glimpse of the noble nature of its most significant inner spaces. Saint George's coat of arms lies on top of the main entrance. On both sides, one can find the entries for the guards in the old times, as clear from the sculptured figures on each door's keystones. Even today, one of these doors serves as an entry and exit point for staff and supplies.
The Conference Room is on the ground floor of the Palau and has the capacity to accommodate over 200 people. It hosts an array of events that require a space with the same symbolic importance only the Palau de la Generalitat can offer. Additionally, the room is equipped with the necessary technical equipment to hold a wide range of events.To read more:
The transformation of this function room in 1993 was conditioned upon the space acquired in 1912 when the old embankment of the Orange Tree Courtyard was emptied during the times of Enric Prat de la Riba. Since then the soil necessary for the trees is found in drawer boxes integrated within the concrete ceiling between the covered vaults and the slab floor.
To obtain a room with sufficient capacity and vision, the 1993 reformation saw the removal of the pillars that had previously occupied the room while the existing arches and vaults were maintained under the Orange Tree Courtyard.
Annexed to Conference Room are the Antoni Clavé State Rooms which take up the remaining space under the Orange Tree Courtyard. Dedicated to the to important Catalan artist,Antoni Clavéi Sanmartí (1913-2005) was appointed to paint the large canvases on display in these 17th century together with a selection of his earlier and especially important pieces.
The Antoni Clavé State Rooms constitute the antechamber, or foyer, to the Conference Room and give way to the new Press Room.
Entering from the Antoni Clavé Hall and with its façade on Carrer Sant Honorat, two 17th century rooms were converted to form the Government's Press Room. Endowed with the latest technological equipment, the Press Room accommodates the press corps where they are briefed on the most significant developments, and particularly on Government Accords.
The Central Courtyard is an extraordinary exponent of the typical courtyards that have constituted the core and hallmark of Catalan noble houses since the 13th century. This is perhaps one of the best examples due to to its singular character, its beauty and its preservationTo read more:
Open, bright and rich spaces are characteristic of the late-Gothic architecture of the interior wall defining the courtyard, as interlaced fretwork on the first floor and very open on the ground floor which leads to the second courtyard giving way to Bisbe Street. The profusion and the quality applied on the sculpture should also be noted, from the smallest ones on the staircase up to the 26 lively gargoyles that frame the skylight. Each gargoyle corresponds to a pilaster which culminates with a pinnacle, each one interlinking the open spaces that form the sunlit gallery. Everything has a stately elegance but it is also friendly and welcoming, effectively fulfilling the basic functions of the original site, essentially a place of reception and introduction as well as of distribution.
It can be accessed from the door on Bisbe Street, from Sant Honorat Street and from the vestibule on Plaça Sant Jaume.
The Protocol Services and External Relations offices are on the mezzanine floor. Government and Presidency institutional events are organized here as well as the representation of institutional and president in events celebrated inside and outside of the Palau.
Formal access to the gallery and the Noble floor offices is from the open staircase beside the courtyard.
The Bisbe Street (or carrer del Bisbe) entrance is very interesting from a heritage point of view. It holds a stone sculpture, which is a masterpiece of international gothic art. Its central element is a representation of Saint George riding a horse in high relief inside a medallion, which is part of the railing crowning the gate's wall. People have valued the sculpture's detail, rhythm, expression, and realism. Its author, Pere Joan, started it when he was just 20 years old.
The railing rests on the ornamented wall with a frieze made up of blind arches. These arches emerge from 27 small figures, which due to their realism and liveliness, seem to reproduce the faces of passers-by from 1418.To read more:
The false gargoyles leaning out from their bases are also very expressive. One of them, adjacent to the medallion, appears as the princess depicted in the legend of Saint George.
The Palau of the Generalitat's inner courtyard is surrounded by a gallery, or colonnade, of great architectural interest. The resulting space has a unique appeal, perhaps due to the appearance of the lean, very fine, columns which have a filtering effect as the light passes through the courtyard's inner and outer spaces, overlaid with a very gentle tone, which can be fully appreciated when walking from one corner to the other, in accordance with the building's principal function as the Public Administration.To read more:
On the corner, the open staircase draws our attention as we see two robust classical roman pink marble columns, finely decorated with grotesque Renaissance reliefs meet with an astonishing capital which hangs at the very top of the stairs. The assembly is the result of a transformation made 110 years after its initial establishment when an effort was made to place more importance to the Chapel of Sant Jordi, which had been moved there from its previous position on the ground floor. As we approach the Orange Tree Courtyard, three carefully decorated doors appear on the walkway, placed there in the 16th century.
Consistent with its purpose, the gallery hosts important rooms on each side of the courtyard. As we continue to walk along colonnade, we pass what appears to have been the old Account Archives, or Arxiu de Comptes, which rests beside the chapel. As we continue through the gallery we see the inner Noble staircase, built in 1870, which brings us to the 17th century doors that form the entrance to the Hall of Sant Jordi. Across the galley, on the Sant Honorat Street side, rests the old Cambra dels Oïdors (Oidors Chamber), now the President's Office which continues into the old Consistory Chamber, or Sala del Consistori which, since 1928, has been named the Saló de la Mare de Déu de Montserrat (Our Lady of Montserrat Hall). Finally, as we approach the Orange Tree Courtyard, three carefully decorated doors from the 16th century appear on the walkway.
The room received its name following the 1928 refurbishments, however, it retains its original structure along with as the initial cantilevered ceiling and sculptures. During its early stages, around 1425, it was the Palau's most important chamber and was used as the Generalitat's cabinet meeting room. It faces Sant Honorat Street, where it can be seen from outside through its three Gothic windows. The hall currently serves as antechamber or greeting room for the President's Office.
This chamber once belonged to the Oïdors de Comptes (Hearers of Accounts or Auditors). Together with the Members of Parliament, they played an important role in the Generalitat by forming the Government cabinet. The President's Office has a small door which provides access to the Gothic Gallery and contains one of the large mullioned windows on Sant Honorat Street's Gothic Façade.
This room is currently used as a working office and serves a representative function of the Presidency.
It is customary to consider this room as the old archives chamber, where the house's records and official documents would rest and where the account regents and other officials would work.
From 1975, the room was decorated with murals and a stained glass window by Jordi Alumà, allegorical of the Palau's history. The room is now used as a waiting room for the President's visitors.
Since the XII Century, Saint George has been a figure strongly connected to the Catalan-speaking lands. Together with Our Lady of Montserrat, he is the patron saint of Catalonia. This chapel was the last work that Marc Safont did at the Palace of Generalitat, following a decision by the Catalan Parliament. The references to Saint George that one can find at the Palace of the Generalitat are outstanding, as are the architecture and equipment of this chapel. It was built on the ground floor, but in 1548 it was moved to its current location, in the noble floor's gallery.To read more:
With small detailed features more commonly seen in goldsmithing and a beautifully finished fa├žade with flamboyantly delicate details, the Chapel of Sant Jordi is an exceptional piece of art. The inner square floor and starred rib vault should appear as it had done prior the 18th century expansion. The altarpiece was painted by Bernat Martorell, the altar's linen embroidery, which fortunately can still be seen, was designed by Antoni Sadurní, and the beautiful unparalleled silver statuette of Saint George along with other ornaments, form an artistic ensemble of exceptional substance.
Towards 1738 and 1768, the chapel was extended with a rectangular crown, a small false dome and enclosed by four suspended capitals. The altar's silver antependium replicates Antoni Sadurn├ş's Gothic façade and was made by the jeweller Ramon Sunyer in 1956. In this segment of the chapel there are two monumental Baroque candelabra which date back to 1670, as well as two Flemish tapestries by G. Pannemaker from the same century.
The Orange Tree Courtyard has become the building's defining feature. In addition to their central courtyard, for centuries rich urban houses would have an orchard or a patio where orange trees would be planted. The first stage in the building's expansion was northward and was primarily the work of architect and carpenter Antoni Carbonell. He built the two llotges, half medieval half Renaissance style, as well as the original orange tree courtyard. It was due to the owners and Carbonell's efforts in spearheading the project, that the expansion could take place following the model initiated by Marc Safont in the Gothic Courtyard. This had a very clear impact, especially later on since the same blueprint was followed in the Palau's final northward expansion, directed by the Ferrer family.To read more:
The formal and levelled continuity of the above gallery effectively integrates the first addition of the Sala Nova del Consistori (Consistory New Hall), which would later be called Saló Daurat (Gold Hall ), and the remainder of the building until reaching the perimeter's closure. The result of which can still be appreciated, as it remains to be a pleasant area full of life and beauty.
Surrounding the courtyard are the more important conference rooms as well as various Presidential Cabinet offices.
The bridge connects the historical building of the Palau de la Generalitat with the presidential residence in the Cases dels Canonges (Houses of the Canons). It emerges from the Orange Tree Courtyard and crosses over Carrer del Bisbe. It was inaugurated in 1928, in the midst of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, which was not without controversy. The bridge's picturesque flair has contributed to its remarkable success among tourists. It contains notable samples of the quality work characteristic of early Modernist craftsmen.
The section of the building facing Carrer de Sant Sever and the Orange Tree Courtyard was constructed in the 17th century to hold the Palau's arsenal. The area is now used to host the offices of the Presidential Cabinet.
When originally built, this room served as an archive. It faces Carrer Sant Honorat and Carrer Sant Sever and it is now used as a meeting room for the Technical Council, a collegiate body bringing together the secretary generals of the different ministries to assist Government.
The room took its name in 1990, when it received a piece by the artist Antoni Tàpies devoted to Catalonia's four great medieval chronicles, "The Four Chronicles". In 2006, the large mural and round table were moved to the Saló Daurat (Gold Room) after it was refurbished to serve as the meeting room for the Executive Council.
The Joaquim Torres Garcia Hall contains the frescos that were painted on the walls of the Sant Jordi Hall between 1912 and 1916 by the great painter himself. They were commissioned by Enric Prat de la Riba, President of the Barcelona Provincial Council and later of the President of the Commonwealth of Catalonia (Mancomunitat de Catalunya).
Various ceremonial and official events, including the signing of agreements are held in the Torres Garcia Hall. On special occasions, such as a guest visits, the room can be converted into a dinning hall.
The room was built to hold Consistory meetings, the highest body in the Government of Catalonia. The magnificent and spectacular panelled ceiling is the defining element of this room. The portraits of Catalan sovereigns that were commissioned to Italian painter Filippo Ariosto and usually hang on the room walls are currently undergoing restorationTo read more:
The room's current appearance is the result of a provisional restoration of the hall for its use as a government office. The gilded coffered ceiling dates back to 1578 and the large round table at the centre of the room is from the Tribunal de Cassació (Court of Appeal) of the Generalitat during the Republic. Furthermore, the mural by Antoni Tàpies pays homage to the writers of the Four Great Chronicles of Catalonia's medieval history.
Just as it did during the times of its construction, this glorious room hosts the meetings that occur between the Executive Council and the President of the Government and is where the transcendent decisions are made that affect the entire country.
The Hall of Sant Jordi was envisaged in 1597 as the new Chapel of Sant Jordi. It is a unique three-nave temple, built on the first floor of the Palau. Resting on the same floor as the Gothic Gallery and the Orange Tree Courtyard, it is part of the Renaissance structure built by the architect Pere Blai.To read more:
The preserved marble floor rests on flat brick vaults over the vestibule that gives way to Plaça Sant Jaume. Slender but rigid pillars support the vaults, which like the previous ones, are made from flat bricks and take a very unique and bold shape. The resulting space, transformed by the surrounding art painted in 1928 during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, is majestic while the size of room is well balanced and pleasant.
The Hall has remained as one the most solemn and central spaces not only in the building, but in Catalonia's civic, political and cultural life as well. Institutional events of great importance, such as the President's inauguration and ceremonies paying tribute to illustrious members of society, occur in this great hall. It has also been a central lobby giving access to the side offices on the wings of the Palau.
The vestibule corresponds to the Hall of Sant Jordi's naves. Here the pillars are much lower and robust. The very thin and low vaults are in fact made of brick, despite appearing like they were made from stone.
The only people to regularly use this entrance are the president, the ministers and the various individuals attending institutional events. It is also used as an entrance for official vehicles. The Guard responsible for the security of the Palau, welcomes members of the Executive Council and reports to the president every day.
Built approximately in 1600 in front of a much smaller area than the current one which took its present form after the demolition of Saint James' Church in 1823, the façade was intended to bring the building closer to the city's most prestigious zone while expanding its existing construction with new facilities.To read more:
The architect Pere Blai constructed the best and most monumental example of Renaissance civil architecture in Catalonia. The façade is an original and attractive piece, well composed with an array of materials, colours and textures. It has an air of Renaissance Roman palace and evokes the work of Michelangelo in the Senatorial Palace of Rome.
Inside the niche, sculpted in relief, are the busts of the three deputies of the Generalitat who ordered the construction of the fa├žade, the entire Renaissance structure and the north segment up until Sant Sever Street. Above it, lies the Coat of Arms with the Cross of Sant Jordi, Seal of the Institution. The sculpture of the Saint, patron of Catalonia, was created by Andreu Aleu in 1860.
The Cases dels Canonges, or "Houses of the Canons" (clergy) are a building complex of medieval origin and characteristics, located on the other side of the Neo-Gothic Bridge which spans the width of Carrer del Bisbe (Bisbe Street). They were rebuilt in the late 1920s to extend on the existing facilities and refine the surrounding area. The houses were reformed to serve as the residence of President Francesc Macià, where, in 1933, he would eventually pass away in. In addition to the presidential residence's rooms, the Cases dels Canonges currenly holds government offices.
The Palau de la Generalitat's current carillon has 49 bronze bells and weighs a total of 4,898 kilograms. This number of bells gives it the category of a concert carillon due to a pitch range extending to four chromatic octaves.
It was made by Petit & Fritsen in Aarle-Rixtel (Netherlands) and inaugurated on December 21st 1976, a few months before President Tarradellas ' return from exile and the re-establishment of the Generalitat.
Appearing in the video, Anna Maria Reverte (carillonista del Palau) ) interprets the 3rd and 4th Movements ( Valsa-Chôro i Gavota-Chôro, respectively) from H. Villa-Lobos' "Suite Populaire Brésilienne".To read more:
The carillon is a singular musical instrument that can interpret a wide array of compositions as well as multitude of adaptations that are written specifically for it. Many world famous concert carillonists have played the Palau's carillon on special events.
For more information, contact the carillon mailbox.
Auditions and Concerts
There are usually daily auditions (from Monday to Friday) at noon and at 6pm played by the Palau's carillonist and occasionally on Saturdays at midday. On these auditions, the carillon can be heard from the streets of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.
Concerts can be heard from inside the Palau of the Generalitat, the Orange Tree Courtyard and the Gothic Gallery depending on the weather conditions. In these spaces the acoustics are at their optimum level and, along with the auditory, a visual image of the instrument's keyboard being played can be seen through a closed television circuit. The entrance is free but once the capacity is full one can always listen to the interpretation from the streets of the Gothic Quarter.
The season offers midday concerts every first Sunday of each month (except on August and September) with a wide arrange of pieces, from the classical to the more popular works, as well as concerts on La Mercè or Sant Esteve festivals. Additionally, in the month of July the International Carillon Festival concert takes place in Barcelona at 9 pm.
The estimated duration of each of these concerts is 60 minutes. Attendees are asked not to enter or leave until the concert is finalised so as to not interrupt the audition.
Visits to the Palau are also offered on the second and fourth weekend of each month. Arrangements to take part in these guided visits should be made previously through the website or by calling 012.
The Palace of the Generalitat, presidential office and residence
The Palace of the Generalitat is the seat of Catalonia 's government and presidential office. Inside, the intense activity befitting a government takes place. In this building, one takes decisions having an impact on the life of Catalans. It is also a place where the country's most relevant political and institutional events and functions are held: high-level meetings, institutional visits, the award of honours and medals, audiences, receptions ...
From a historical perspective, the origins of the 'Diputació del General de Catalunya', popularly known as the Generalitat, lie in the ancient Catalan Parliament. This was a parliamentary representative assembly which shared power with the king. It was the earliest such institution in Europe. The first president of the Generalitat was Berenguer de Cruïlles, elected by Parliament at its 1359 sitting in Cervera. In the year 1400 the Generalitat bought the buildings located on this same site in order to establish the institution's permanent headquarters. The main façade (1597-1619) is the work of Pere Blai. It is the main example of civilian Gothic architecture from the Renaissance era in Catalonia.