Thursday, January 31, 2019

Barcelona's City Hall is a Sunday treat

The Gothic-style gallery at Barcelona's City Hall is formed by arches supported
with decorated capitals.

During the week, Barcelona's City Hall (Ajuntament de Barcelona) is all business, but on Sundays, visitors are welcome to come inside this splendid building and discover a bit of the city's history. Located in the heart of the Gothic quarter, Casa de la Ciutat was built in the 14th century. Designed to be a casa (or house) where city councillors could meet, debate and made decisions, the building has undergone many changes since medieval times. Thus, City Hall is a working museum, complete with art and architecture that mirrors the changes that Barcelona has undergone through the centuries.

Sculptures of King Jaume I and Councillor Joan Fiveller
flank the entrance to Casa de la Ciutat, Barcelona's City Hall.

Casa de la Ciutat faces the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya on Plaça Sant Jaume. The armed officer at the front door of the neolassical facade, points us toward the entry around at the corner past the tourism office. 

The Courtyard of Barcelona's City Hall contains sculptures
by various artists with connections to the city.

We pass two large tapestries honoring the city's industries on
the way up the Staircase of Honour at Barcelona's City Hall.

The Saló de Cent in Barcelona's City Hall contains an alabaster altarpiece
with the city's coat of arms guarded by mace-bearers.

We check out the sculptures by various artists located in the courtyard under the building before heading up the Staircase of Honour to the Saló de Cent. This large hall was built between 1369 and 1373 for the Consell de Cent (Council of One Hundred) by master builder Pere Llobet. Over the years, there have been many alterations to the hall, some necessitated by age, others by war. The striking altarpiece and Gothic-style chairs were added in the 20th century.

Seats for Barcelona's City Council are situated in front of
the visitors and press galleries at Casa de la Ciutat.

A semi-circular half dome rises above council chambers
in Barcelona's City Hall.

Next door is the Sala del Plenari Carles Pi i Sunyer (the Plenary Hall). These days, full City council meetings are held here. The presidential table is surrounded by fifty wooden seats. There also are galleries for the public and press. Overhead, is a half dome with a stained-glass skylight. The room's semicircular shape makes it difficult to take pictures that properly show why this is my favorite room in Casa de la Ciutat.

Saló de les Cròniques in Barcelona's City Hall contains murals
depicting Roger de Flor's expedition to the Orient.

What strikes me most about our next stop, Saló de les Cròniques, is the shiny black marble floor and the walls and ceiling decorations, which give the room its name. Events from Roger de Flor's expedition to the Orient in the 14th century are chronicled in these huge murals by painter Josep Maria Sert. Each oil painting was done on cloth that had previously been covered in gold and silver leaf. 

A chapel is located off the Saló de les Cròniques in Barcelona's City Hall.

The sculpture by Josep Viladomat at the top of the Black
Staircase in Barcelona's City Hall is entitled La bana
(The Warm Welcome).

After passing through the Gothic Gallery with its arches, columns and gargoyles, we descend the Black Staircase. No guessing needed here: Its name comes from the color of the marble from which it is made. The large colorful mural on the wall was painted by Miguel Viladrich in 1930 and is a tribute to the people, products and traditions of Catalonia.

The mural along the Black Staircase in Barcelona's City Hall
pays tribute to Catalonia.

Barcelona's City Hall (Ajuntament de Barcelona) is open to the public on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission is free.