Plaça Reial (The Royal Square) is a popular square in Barcelona, located in the center of the city, in The Gothic Quarter. Situated in the old town area, near La Rambla, Plaça Reial is known for the lively atmosphere it constantly provides to its numerous visitors. Therefore, with time it has become one of Barcelona’s most-visited tourist attractions, renowned for the various entertainment events that take place here and the community gatherings.
Today, Plaça Reial is an area full of bustling activity. It is home to a remarkable array of bars and restaurants, surrounded by palm trees, The Fountain of the Three Graces and the impressive street lamps created by Antoni Gaudi, which elegantly light the square during the evenings.
History of Plaça Reial
Plaça Reial’s current identity has been shaped by a few resounding historical events. During the 18th century, the land was owned by the Capuchins, who built Santa Madrona monastery on this spot between 1718 and 1723 (for additional information – History of Barcelona).
The monastery was destroyed by fire in 1835 and soon after, the City Council made deliberate efforts to construct a theatre in its place. However, a few years later, the City Council considered the idea of building a square instead. Thereby, in 1848 the Catalan architect, Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó, was chosen to design the new town square, Plaça Reial. The architect’s vision was influenced by neoclassical architecture, hence his outstanding artistic touch is considered today a symbol of timeless elegance.
As the name implies, The Royal Square was initially built to honor King Ferdinand VII and to be inhabited by the wealthy citizens of Barcelona, transforming it into a relatively affluent area during the 19th century (for additional information – Barcelona during the 19th and 20th Century).
In 1982, the square was entirely rehabilitated and it has successfully become one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona since.
What do you see in Plaça Reial?
The Fountain of the Three Graces
The Fountain of the Three Graces (Fuente de las tres Gracias), designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias, was inaugurated in 1878 and it is installed in the center of the square. In Greek mythology, the three goddesses, Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia, are the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, and they represent beauty, charm and grace. Being inspired by such intriguing tale, the fountain is a mesmerizing piece of entertainment, which invites visitors to relax and socialize. Consequently, it often serves as a meeting point.
| The Three Graces Fountain in Plaça Reial
The Street Lamps Designed by Antoni Gaudi
In 1879, Antoni Gaudi’s street lamps were installed in the proximity of the fountain, counting as the architect’s early work for Barcelona. The two street lamps were Gaudi’s first post-graduation project, whose signature style reflects a fine line between modern architecture and symbolism. The design gracefully portrays a winged helmet and a dragon, a symbol which can be found in Gaudi’s other works in Barcelona.
Up to this day, the architects’ authentic street lamps are able to evoke the distinct atmosphere of the city during the end of the 19th century.
Nightlife in Plaça Reial
Plaça Reial is known for its vivid nightlife and it has become a notorious gathering spot where tourists can easily mix with locals. When the sun sets, the visitors can enjoy a casual stroll through the square, but also a few unique late night experiences provided by the wide range of restaurants, bars and music venues (for additional information – Visit Barcelona at Night).
One of the busiest places in the nightlife scene is Los Tarantos Flamenco Show. The club hosts eye-catching flamenco shows and it attracts a significant number of visitors, who become a part of the dynamic and vibrant atmosphere with great ease. The intimate venue features a considerable number of remarkable performers, therefore it is an excellent option for those who want to celebrate the art of dancing flamenco.