Plazas (Plašas) in Barcelona
On this page, I introduce some famous and partly gorgeous plazas of Barcelonas. The diversity of the well worth seeing plazas of Barcelona vary from the undiscoverable small and cozy plaza as the Plaša del Rei up to plazas that form a geographical centre or a centre in terms of traffic as the Plaša de Catalunya. During the tours, one inevitably passes some of the plazas, the others have to be searched.
Plaša de Sant Jaume
The Plaša de Sant Jaume is the most traditional and significant plaza of Barcelona; When more than 2.000 years ago, Barcelona was still a Roman city, the plaza Plaša de Sant Jaume was the centre of the city. Today, the plaza forms the political centre of Barcelona and Catalonia.
The plaza is captured by two distinctive buildings at the northern and the southern side: at the northern side, there is the Palau de la Generalitat. In this state palace, the independent governance of Catalonia resides. As the entrance to the palace is heavily guarded around the clock, one already guesses that in the interior, there are some high executive politicians hidden. The building itself is approximately 500 years old and appears to be gorgeous and expressing the Catalan pride. In the centre, there is a massive cupola with a wonderfully adorned cupola hall underneath.
Right at the front, thus at the southern side of the plaza, there is the Ajuntament. It is the city hall of the city Barcelona. There are some irregular guidances in the week-ends, either through the city hall as also through the state palace.
Plaša de Catalunya
There is no tourist who does not pass the Plaša de Catalunya. The plaza is neither beautiful nor interesting, but it forms a kind of city centre; As from here, in southern direction, the famous promenade La Rambla begins. To the northern direction, the gorgeous streets Rambla de Catalunya begins. The Plaša de Catalunya is not only a traffic junction for cars but also a central station for numerous bus lines and trains.
Why do i say that the plaza is not beautiful? Viewed from above, the plaza first impresses by its size and the circus in the middle. But on the plaza, thousands of pigeons live that are fed by the tourists and apparently found here their cockaigne. The buildings around the plaza do not form an architectural unit; the plaza was oftenly rebuilt and changed. On the Plaša de Catalunya, one can indeed rest on one of the numerous benches that partly are located under trees; but the traffic noise from the rotonda does not make possible to have a real relaxation.
To the contrary, the big fountain is nice when it is active. And one thing is really certain for the Plaša de Catalunya: it is a plaza at which people meet and make appointments. As here, practically all buses and subway lines arrive, everybody arrives here. And from here, also any tour can be started.
For those who want to have an overview of the Plaša de Catalunya, I can recomend the neighboured department store Corte Inglés. by taking the lift up to the highest floor, one will find numerous restaurants of different levels. From here, one has a wonderful view to the Plaša de Catalunya as also to the Montju´c and other outstanding sightseeings of the city.
Plaša del Rei
One of the most inconsiderable but most beautiful plazas of the city is the plaza of the King (Plaša del Rei) amidst the oldtown. I say inconsiderable due to the reason that in the best case, it can only be found by coincidence, as it is very difficult to find in the narrowness of the oldtown valleys. But those who walk straight from the subway station Jaume I in direction to the cathedral, will find a little loophole that leads from the south side to the nice plaza.
The Plaša del Rei gets its beauty either through its isolation as also through its atmosphere. The plaza is surrounded by medieval buildings that are very stony but also a little adorned.
In long week-end nights, there is really party at the Plaša del Rei: here, the Catalan people meet to folk dance: it is danced to traditional music partly with a partner, partly in round dance; Everybody can join, also tourists, but they should be able to dominate the dance and its procedure.
The royal plaza Plaša Reial (attention, there is a Plaša Reial and a Plaša del Rei) is located very close to the Rambla; a small alleyway leads to the beautiful plaza that is full of life. By visiting the Plaša Reial during the day, one finds a nicely adorned plaza with neo-classical buildings and laborious fronts. In its centre, there is the fountain of the three Graces.
The plaza was originated in the middle of the 19th century as per a French model. Before that, there was a Capuchin convent on this place. In the 80ies, there was the drug and prostitution scene settled here. But today, there is party at this place if one goes there in the evenings. In the basements of the buildings that surround the plaza, numerous restaurants and coffee bars invite to stay there. Here, there is hustle and bustle until late at night; Numerous street performers and musicians entertain the tourists in the restaurants and coffee bars. But one cannot expect a good quality in these pubs, but therefore a bombastic atmosphere in the week-ends up to the early morning hours.
The Plaša d'Espanya is not only one of the biggest plazas of the city, it is also one of the most important traffic junctions of the city. From not less than 6 directions, the wide and highly frequented roads come together at the Plaša d'Espanya, thereunder the big Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and the Avinguda del parallel that runs at the bottom of the Montju´c parallel to the latitudes of the earth. It is logical that due to this reason, the Plaša d'Espanya is circumnavigated by a dense and hectic traffic on several tracks during the whole day.
In the centre of the plaza, that can only be reached by the nearly perilous crossing of the circular road, there is the monument Espa˝a Ofrecida a Dios, in English: Spain is consegrated by god. What is more impressive than the fountain in the centre are the two equal towers at the southern side of the plaza, that form a huge portal for the fairground at their front.
The Plaša d'Espanya is surely not a beautiful plaza. Actually, the plaza is not even well worth seeing due to fountain monument and the two towers. But one inevitably passes this plaza , as the gorgeous plazas that are located behind it, the Plaša Marqués de Foronda and the Plaša de les Cascades up to the Palau Nacional, give a gorgeous and imposant sight to the Catalan pride and grandiosity.
Plaša de Toros
If one visits the Plaša d'Espanya, then one should also experience the Plaša de Toros. It is located right at the northern end of the Plaša d'Espanya. The big arena has a diametre of more than 50 m and offers space for 15.000 people. The redish building is well worth seeing due to its adorned walls with numerous superposed arcades.
Everybody should decide by himself if he wants to see the spectacle of a bullfight. but anyway, it is impressive to stand in front of a real bullfight arena at the Plaša de Toros.
Arc de Triomf
By walking from the northern entrance of the Parc de la Ciutadella and/or from the Museu de Zoologia for a couple of hundred metres to northern direction, one finds a nice and long extended plaza; at its left and right, there are both traffic directions of the Passeig Lluís Companys. But at the northern end of the park, the imposing triumphal arch of Barcelona glistens. Of course, this Arc de Triomf of the Catalan capital cannot compete with the one of the French capital, but it still impresses the visitors of Barcelona from all directions.
On the occasion of the World Exhibition of 1888 in Barcelona, the Arc de Triomf was arranged as a kind of main portal. With its brick structure, the builder Josp Vilaseca reminds on the moorish architectural style of the first turn of millennium. The building appears gorgeous and showy, but at the left and right side of the plaza, one still finds a pleasant calmness and relaxation on one of the benches.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz