Barcelona’s first big urban renewal project in the 19th century, this large and harmonious square occupies the former site of the Santa Madrona Capuchin monastery, which had been demolished at mid-century. Inspired by the renewal projects of Paris, architect Francesc Daniel Molina conceived the Placa Reial as a residential square formed by buildings with two stories and a partial upper floor. These days it’s surrounded largely by cafes, and although it attracts many more tourists than locals, it is still a great place to sit beneath an arcade, drink beer, and observe the scene. The fountain of the three graces in the center is flanked by handsome Art Nouveau lampposts that were Antoni Gaudí’s first commission (1878). He decorated them with a caduceus (a messenger’s wand with two snakes entwined around it) and winged helmets—attributes of Hermes, patron of shopkeepers.
MapMetro: Liceu Barcelona
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