La Llotja and Pla de Palau | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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La Llotja and Pla de Palau

Barcelona’s economic and administrative centre in the 13th to the 19th centuries

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Medieval Barcelona’s main commercial square, where the city’s first exchange building was located. As the gateway for goods and people coming into the city by sea Pla de Palau was one of the major points of entry to Port Vell and the centre of commercial trading.

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Why visit Pla de Palau?

Pla de Palau was originally an extension of the beach, where importers and retailers made their exchanges.

A building expressly for trading and commercial business, La Llotja, was built in the 14th century at the behest of King Peter the Ceremonious, on the site of the old Contract Hall that had housed the Consulate of the Sea, the institution that oversaw the city’s maritime activity. The building has undergone numerous expansions, the most important of which took place in the 18th century, when the troops of King Philip V converted it into military barracks and changed its style in accordance with the Neoclassical tastes of the period. Fortunately, this did not affect the original Gothic hall, a splendid example of civil architecture, which is 14 metres tall and is supported by four columns and six arches that culminate in a flat wooden ceiling. In the spandrels of the arches you can see alternating crests of the king and the city, in reference to the original construction, which was fostered by Peter the Ceremonious and the Council of One Hundred.

Over the course of its history La Llotja has also been a fine arts academy (Picasso and Joan Miró studied there), Barcelona Stock Exchange and even the first venue to host a performance of an Italian opera in Spain. Now the old exchange building is home to the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and the Sant Jordi Catalan Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

Pla de Palau is also home to another major Neoclassical palace, the old Barcelona Customs Building, which was built from 1790 to 1792 by the Count of Roncali. Its most outstanding features are the three doors on its facade, the central one of which is decorated with four pairs of Tuscan columns on a black marble plinth, which runs along the entire perimeter of the building.

Finally, Pla de Palau is home to the Nautical School of Barcelona, which was built in the 1920s on the same site of the old Portal de Mar, one of the ten portals that formed part of the second city wall, which connected the Port of Barcelona to Plaça de Pla de Palau, the economic and administrative centre of Barcelona from the 13th to the 19th centuries.


How do you get to Pla de Palau?

On the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic hop off at the Pla de Palau – Parc de la Ciutadella stop.


For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? Pla de Palau was the place where Spain’s first photograph was taken. It was on 10 November 1839.
  • Local’s tip: Don’t be surprised if you are enveloped by the aroma of good cooking in Pla de Palau. This square is often the venue for gastronomic events such as Born Street Food, which brings together the best chefs in the Born district.
  • A must: To access El Born from the sea.