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Catalan Parliament Building

The old citadel’s military arsenal is now the Catalan Parliament Building

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An 18th-century building used as a military arsenal was transformed in 1932 into the Catalan Parliament Building. It is a robust construction covering a surface area of more than 5,000 m² composed of two central structures in the form of a cross that, after four decades under the Franco dictatorship, in 1980, was restored and readapted to house the 135 parliamentarians who represent the people of Catalonia.

Why visit the Catalan Parliament Building?

The current site of the Catalan Parliament, located in Ciutadella Park is a building that was designed as a military arsenal by the Flemish-born engineer George Prosper Verboom from 1716 to 1748. It is an imposing construction, erected in stone from Montjuïc Mountain with red tiles and arranged into two robust structures in the form of a cross, enabling the creation of four internal courtyards. On top of the central pavilion there is a dome. Its most notable external features are the arches that form the porticoed ground floor.

The history of the building dates back to the 18th century, when Philip V razed the district of Ribera to build a defensive citadel, after which the park that currently occupies the land is named. The only remnants of its constructions are the palace of the governor, currently Verdaguer secondary school; the chapel, which is now a military parish church; and the arsenal, which was used for a number of different purposes before it became the seat of the parliament of Catalonia.

In 1889 the old arsenal of the citadel was converted into a royal palace by Pere Falqués, Barcelona’s municipal architect and the designer of the famous lampposts on Passeig de Gràcia, who opened three balconies on the first floor, decorated the entire facade with sgraffito work, raised the central structure of the building and placed on the facade the stone shield that had graced one of the side doors of the citadel.

Subsequently, when the park was restored in 1927 a garden with a central pond with a replica of the "Desolation" statue by Josep Llimona was added.

On 14 October 1932 Barcelona City Council transferred ownership of the palace to the region of Catalonia to act as its parliament building and the corresponding adaptation and decorative work was undertaken. With the start of the Franco dictatorship, the palace was used as a barracks and it was not until 1980, following the advent of democracy, when it was re-established as the Parliament of Catalonia.

 

How do you get to the Catalan Parliament Building?

Hop off at the Zoo stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic to get to the Catalan Parliament Building, which is located in Ciutadella Park.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? Although the Ciutadella Park fortress theoretically had a defensive function, it was actually used to repress the public. From 1719 to 1866 thousands of political prisoners were sent to the dungeons of Sant Joan tower, which was located next to the park’s current lake, where they were tortured.
  • Local’s tip: If you go to Ciutadella Park, spend some time in the Joan Fiveller Garden, which is just in front of the parliament building. It is a spot with lush plant life, on the other side of which you will find the former governor’s palace and the chapel.
  • A must: To learn about 18th-century Barcelona.