“The Palau de la Música Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a home for the Orfeó Català, financed by popular subscription. The building is located in Sant Pere district, one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona…The modernist building is designed around a central metal structure covered in glass, which exploits natural light to make the make Domènech i Montaner’s masterpiece into a magical music box which brings together all the decorative arts: sculpture, mosaic, stained glass and ironwork.” https://www.palaumusica.cat/en
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE DESCRIPTION
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
UNESCO World Heritage Site description are available for use under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 The UNESCO text has edited to focus on the Palau de Musica.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE DESCRIPTION – START
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau are two of the finest contributions to Barcelona’s architecture by the Catalan Modernista architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an exuberant steel-framed structure full of light and space, decorated by the leading artists of the period. It has uniqueness, authenticity and beauty and is an unparalleled Modernista example of a public concert hall whose symbolic, artistic and historical value is universal. The Hospital de Sant Pau is also daring in terms of design and decoration, although perfectly suited to the needs of patients. Of exceptional interest, it is the most outstanding example of its kind because of its beauty, size and unique design.
The Palau de la Música Catalana was exceptional from the moment of its conception, because of two very important innovative factors: a special concept of space and a very intelligent use of the new technologies developed during the industrial revolution. The reticular steel frame, which made possible extensive open floor spaces with an absence of structural facades, replaced by a glass skin, was an innovative architectural concept of great importance. The whole building was designed as an interactive space, minimising the distinction between exterior and interior by making the best possible use of natural light, a key factor in enjoyment of the interior space. All of this is brought together by the use of traditional arts, with a unique use of decorative motifs, of great authenticity and beauty, in an unprecedented example in the Modernista style (a movement parallel to Art Nouveau) of a concert hall with universal symbolic, artistic and historic values.
These are two of the earliest and finest examples of Modernista architecture, of exceptional importance, both as manifestations of human creative genius and works of art, because they offered new architectural, typological and artistic solutions to facilities for music and medicine.
Criterion (i): The Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona are masterpieces of the imaginative and exuberant Modernista style that flowered in early 20th century Barcelona. They are the work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the acknowledged leaders of this influential architectural movement.
Criterion (ii): The Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona are outstanding examples of the Catalan Modernista style, movement that played an important role in the evolution of 20th century architecture.
Criterion (iv): The Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau are two of the finest (and earliest) examples of the Modernist style in architecture and of exceptional importance, both as manifestations of human creative genius and works of art.
The property includes the whole of both its components. The boundaries of both monuments include all the attributes that express their Outstanding Universal Value.
A major comprehensive restoration programme (structural, interior and facades), as well as a modernisation of the functional requirements (acoustics, thermal insulation, etc.) was carried out on the Palau de la Música Catalana in 1988.
Because of these works to maintain the integrity of the structures, adverse factors affecting them are largely insignificant and of external origin (air pollution; dust and water (rain/water table)). Appropriate measures are being taken to suppress them, such as vehicle circulation limitation.
Both monuments possess a high degree of authenticity. Great care has been taken to replace damaged elements such as external tiles with exact copies of the originals. In the Palau de la Música Catalana, ingenious methods have been used to install modern technical equipment such as air conditioning, soundproofing, etc., and to reinforce structural elements, as well as in the careful restoration of the facades. It retains its original use as a concert hall.
Protection and management requirements
The Palau de la Música Catalana was declared a national monument in 1971.
The Palau de la Música is used as a concert hall and also for public visits. It is owned by the Orfeó Català, a private choral association, and is managed by the Palau de la Música Catalana Consortium, with members nominated by the municipal administration, Barcelona City Council, the Government of Catalonia and the Orfeó Català. This body was refounded as Fundació Orfeó Català – Palau de la Música Catalana. It has a special section responsible for heritage and for the restoration work in recent years. There is a strategic management plan and a maintenance plan, which are regularly updated. There is a procedure for the use of the spaces.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE DESCRIPTION – END
Palau de la Musica is characterized by light. The central stained glass ceiling represents the sun
FEMALE MUSES OF WORLD MUSIC
The walls enclosing the stage feature 18 sculptures of women playing musical instruments form various parts of the world. The figures are meant to reflect and celebrate the universality of music.
FLAG OF CATALUNYA
The flag of Catalunya features throughout the Palau de la Musica. This is to remind visitors that Modernisme is an expression of Catalan cultural identity.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
Barcelona Modernisme Route. https://rutadelmodernisme.com/en/
Barcelona Turisme. www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/
Hughes, Robert. Barcelona . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 1992.
Palau de la Música https://www.palaumusica.cat/en
Phillips, Jr, William D.; Rahn Phillips, Carla. A Concise History of Spain (Cambridge Concise Histories). Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Steves, Rick. Rick Steves Spain (Travel Guide). Avalon Travel, 2016.
UNESCO World Heritage Foundation. whc.unesco.org/
EDITOR AND LAST UPDATE
John William Bailly 27 June 2022
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