Els Porxos d’en Xifré / Porxos Vidal-Quadras | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Els Porxos d’en Xifré / Porxos Vidal-Quadras

Two Neoclassical porticos that have made history

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Two large buildings surrounded by Neoclassical porticos are among the legacy left behind by rich men who had made their fortune in the New World upon their return to Barcelona. Pla de Palau, one of the city’s best locations in the 18th and 19th centuries, was the site chosen for two of the period’s most elegant and modern buildings, which left their mark on the square.

Why visit Els Porxos d’en Xifré / Porxos Vidal Quadras?

Porxos d’en Xifré is the popular name given to an imposing residential building formed by five structures surrounded by a portico. It is actually called Casa Xifré and was built from 1836 to 1840 by Josep Buixareu and Francesc Vila on the block formed by Passeig d’Isabel II, Carrer de Llauder, Carrer de la Reina Cristina and Pla de Palau.

The building, which is in the Isabelline style, is one of the most interesting examples of Barcelona Neoclassical bourgeois architecture. It was commissioned by Josep Xifré, who upon his return to Barcelona after making his fortune in America wanted to build a set of two detached houses, each one with its own staircase and central courtyard, that would be imbued with homogeneity by porticos ("porxos") on the facades of Pla de Palau and Passeig d’Isabel II. Its other architectural features include the Ionic pilasters on the facade and its pediment, which features a clock surrounded by allegorical reliefs on the subject of time, while the decorative elements sculpted by Marià Campeny on the corners of the facade represent Trade, Industry, the Navy, Mercury, Neptune and America. One of the city’s most emblematic establishments was installed on the ground floor of the building inside the porticos: the 7 Portes restaurant.

But these are not the only porticos at Pla de Palau. In 1839, the Vidal Quadras brothers, who had made their fortune in Cuba, bought a plot on Passeig d’Isabel II at auction and decided to commission Antoni Rovira Riera to construct a building in the same style as Casa Xifré. This was the origin, in 1842, of a construction that occupies an entire block with a ground floor, three upper floors, attics and a terrace roof. On the ground floor, as stipulated by the owners, porticos formed by thirteen arches plus one on each side were built. Five years after it was built, the brothers opened a bank in it, Casa de Banca Vidal Quadras.

 

How do you get to Els Porxos d’en Xifré / Porxos Vidal Quadras?

Both buildings are located at the Pla de Palau – Parc de la Ciutadella stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? It was in one of the rooms of Porxos d’en Xifré where Pablo Picasso lived with his family when they arrived in Barcelona in 1895. The young Picasso would climb up to the terrace roof of the building to paint his first urban landscapes, many of which are on display at the nearby Picasso Museum.
  • Local’s tip: In addition to the 7 Portes restaurant, which is one of the city’s oldest and most popular, Porxos d’en Xifré is home to a variety of other eateries. It is a good place for a bite.
  • A must: To discover Barcelona’s Neoclassical architecture.