A Neoclassical palace in the middle of Modernista Barcelona
On the corner of Passeig de Gràcia and Avinguda Diagonal there is a building with intense green gardens. It is Palau Robert, which was built from 1898 to 1903. It was the private residence of the Marquis of Robert, who was an aristocrat, financier and politician. It is now home to various exhibition halls, the Catalonia Information Centre and the Catalonia Tourist Office in Barcelona.
Why visit Palau Robert?
Palau Robert is an example of Neoclassical architecture from the turn of the 20th century that contrasts with the period’s Modernista current. The palace, the residence of Robert Robert i Surís, the Marquis of Robert, is built in stone from the Montgrí massif. It was designed by the French architect Henri Grandpierre, who had worked at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition, although the construction work, undertaken from 1898 to 1903, was directed by the architect Joan Martorell i Montells.
It is a construction with a rectangular floor plan around an internal courtyard covered by a skylight. One of its best features is its gardens, which were designed by the municipal gardener Ramon Oliva, who also designed the gardens in Plaça de Catalunya. They are surprising due to the quantity and density of plant life in the three large flowerbeds and their palm trees, which are from the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition.
In 2003, the architect Sílvia Farriol remodelled the old garages in which owners’ vehicles had been parked and converted them into two multipurpose halls. She also remodelled the green zone and demolished the wall on Carrer de Còrsega, replacing it with a railing that allows the garden to be seen from the street. The furniture was produced by Miguel Milá in accordance with a design by the landscape architect Bet Figueres.
Now the gardens are open to the public and Palau Robert is home to an exhibition centre with four halls, a space for conferences, the Catalonia Information Centre and the Catalonia Tourist Office in Barcelona.
How do you get to Palau Robert?
You can easily get to Palau Robert from the Passeig de Gràcia – La Pedrera stop on the Red Route and the Blue Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic. Just walk up Passeig de Gràcia towards Avinguda Diagonal and you will see it on the left corner.
For the most curious of you
- Did you know? In the 1930s, the second Marquis of Robert commissioned a refurbishment project that consisted of converting the palace into a leisure complex to be called the ‘Lido’ with a hotel, event rooms, a theatre, a cabaret and a fronton court. The idea did not prosper and in 1936 President Tarradellas allocated the building to the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Culture.
- Local’s tip: The gardens of Palau Robert are an oasis of peace in the middle of one of the city’s busiest areas. They are the perfect place for a rest.
- A must: For those who have overdosed on Modernisme and want to see more sober architecture.
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