You’ve probably heard of Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) or Casa Batlló. But when I saw the Palau de la música catalana, it was love at first sight, taking the #1 spot on my list of must-see attractions in Barcelona.
Lluis Domenic I Montaner was the architect.
The Palau stole my heart: a stunning building, renowned for its superb acoustics, and for me, Catalan Art Nouveau at its best.
It is a love poem written with mosaics and stained glass, dedicated to the joy of music.
Montaner built it for the Orfeó Català, an amateur choir set up in 1891 and the building is still privately owned.
Unfortunately that means no photos allowed when you take a guided tour.
Which I decide to do (the tour, not the photo taking).
I just need to find the ticket office.
I see the sign above. I think it points to the nearest door.
It does. Only problem: the door is locked.
But, as with every person in love, no obstacle can stop you from pursuing the object of your dreams.
Not one to be hoodwinked by simple signage, I walk to the end of the building and come to a tree-lined lane.
Garbage can, bicycle, nothing about tickets.
I turn and walk back towards the sign, continue past it and check every door I see.
I retrace my steps and turn down the lane, passing the bike and the garbage can.
On the other side of the glass wall I find a courtyard café and an entrance into the main foyer of the Palau.
The ticket office has to be here.
I find a tourist boutique. A few tables next to a bar. Posters advertising upcoming concerts. No ticket office.
The gods of all things melodic and lovely are smiling down on me.
Concierto de Aranjuez (by Joaquín Rodrigo) is advertised for the coming Friday (this is Tuesday).
I love that piece of music. Had the classical guitar existed for the Greek muses, Euterpe would have composed for it.
I’ll see about ticket prices while booking the guided tour.
If I can find where.
A man emerges from a side door with some pamphlets in hand. I intercept him and ask about the ticket office.
“It’s outside, past the café, second door on the right.”
Of course it is. Why should it be anywhere near the sign I saw at the front of the Palau?
I didn’t think this building was part of the Palau. It’s at the end of the lane, tucked into the left-hand corner opposite the outdoor café. When I get right up to it, I can see “taquilles” almost camouflaged on the brick wall (okay fine, I don’t have the best eyesight in the world).
“Tickets” in English.
Now I’ll find out about my concert.
I’ve asked about Friday’s recital. I hadn’t seen anything about Carmina Burana. Though I like Orff’s composition, what I really want is Concierto de Aranjuez.
Has it been cancelled?
“There’s a poster inside about Concierto de Aranjuez,” I say.
The cashier types it into her computer.
Why is it so goddamn difficult to get information from people? Information that will incite me to spend money here?
Maybe the concert is in a secondary hall, not the fabulously gorgeous main hall I’ve heard about. Maybe it’s sold out?
“It’s in the main hall,” she answers my query.
“Are any tickets left?”
“Yes,” she swings the computer screen around for me to see.
Any wonder so many empty seats are available?
The Palau’s main auditorium is exquisite; there’s almost too much to take in: a giant inverted stained glass skylight sparkles overhead, stained glass windows, sculptures of muses, valkyries and winged horses.
And of course, the marvelous acoustics.
So, even though it may require substantial effort on your part to spend money here – do it.
Go to a concert at the Palau, or at the very least, take a guided tour.