The Palau de la Generalitat, headquarters of the Ministry of the Presidency

The Palau documentary

  • query_builder  2019
  • date_range  17 minutes

The Palau de la Generalitat is the headquarters of the Ministry of the Presidency and the Government of Catalonia. It is a building that bustles with activity, where decisions that affect the lives of all Catalans are taken.

It is also the venue where Catalonia’s most important political and institutional events are held, including high-level meetings, institutional visits, award ceremonies, audiences and receptions.

The Diputació del General de Catalunya, known popularly as the Generalitat, has its origins in the Corts Catalanes (Catalan Courts), a parliamentary representative assembly that shared power with the monarch and was one of the first institutions of its kind in Europe. The first president was Berenguer de Cruïlles, appointed to the Corts de Cervera in 1359. In 1400, buildings at the site were acquired to house the institution’s permanent headquarters. The main facade (1597–1619), designed by Pere Blai, is the prime example of civilian Gothic architecture of the Renaissance era in Catalonia.

Portada del llibre: El Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Resum de 600 anys d'art. See the brochure
The Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya.
600 Years of Art

Get to know the Palau de la Generalitat

1

Facade on Carrer Sant Honorat Marc Safont, circa 1415–25

Facade on Carrer Sant Honorat

This is one of the most impressive facades in the distinctive style of Catalan Gothic architecture. It skilfully solves the problem posed by the irregular line of the street with two walls, achieving an elegant and compositionally balanced solution. The two rows of mullioned windows give the facade an imposing air while enhancing its beauty. The larger windows, each with two thin columns, offer a glimpse of the nobility of the Palau’s most significant interior spaces.

On each side of the main entrance, marked by the coat of arms of Saint George, are the doorways once used by guards, as indicated by the relief figures on the keystones. One of them still serves as an entrance and control point for staff and services.

2

Conference Room

Conference Room

The Conference Room, located on the ground floor, can accommodate over 200 people. It is used to host a variety of events that require a venue with the symbolic status that the Palau offers. The room is equipped with the technical equipment needed to hold a wide range of events.

The Conference Room was created in 1993 in spaces that the building gained in 1912, when an embankment in the Courtyard of the Orange Trees was hollowed out in the time of Enric Prat de la Riba. Since then, the roots of the trees are contained in large box structures integrated in the reinforced concrete ceiling between the vaults below – covered in trencadís (broken tile shards) – and the flagstone paving of the courtyard above.

To create a room with enough seating and good sight lines, the remodelling of the space in 1993 included the removal of a number of pillars, while the system of arches and vaults beneath the Courtyard of the Orange Trees was maintained.

3

Antoni Clavé Rooms

Antoni Clavé Rooms

The Antoni Clavé Rooms adjoin the Conference Room and occupy the rest of the space under the Courtyard of the Orange Trees. They are named after the prominent Catalan artist Antoni Clavé i Sanmartí (1913–2005), who was commissioned to paint a series of large pieces for the space, which are displayed together with a selection of his earlier and especially significant pieces.

The rooms serve as an antechamber to the Conference Room and also lead to the new press room.

4

Press Room

Press Room

Two 17th-century rooms, with an entrance from the Antoni Clavé Rooms and a facade facing Carrer de Sant Honorat, were remodelled to create a new press room. Equipped with the latest technology, the space is used for press briefings and to make important official announcements, particularly concerning resolutions adopted by the Executive Council.

5

Central Courtyard Marc Safont, 1424–25

Central Courtyard

The Central Courtyard is an extraordinary exponent of the characteristic courtyards that Catalan noble houses built from the 13th century on were organised around. Thanks to its distinctiveness, beauty and good state of conservation, this is probably the best example.

Notable architectural features of the courtyard, which is characterised by late-Gothic forms, include an architecture of clear, broad and rich spaces, surrounded by interior walls, with extensive openwork on the first-floor gallery. On the ground floor, the Central Courtyard is very open, to a second courtyard that leads to Carrer del Bisbe. The abundance and quality of sculpture elements is also noteworthy, from the smallest pieces on the staircase to the 26 expressive gargoyles that adorn the perimeter of the opening to the sky. Each gargoyle is attached to a pilaster topped with a pinnacle, and between them are the openings of a sunny gallery. Everything has a stately elegance, but it is also a welcoming space that to this day efficiently performs the basic functions it was designed for, serving as a reception and presentation space, as well as providing access to other parts of the building.

The courtyard can be reached through the doorway on Carrer del Bisbe, from Carrer de Sant Honorat, or from the entrance hall adjacent to Plaça Sant Jaume.

The mezzanine floor houses the Protocol and External Relations Office. Institutional events of the Ministry of the Presidency and the Catalan government are organised in these offices, and staff work on matters related to the representation of the institution and the president at events held at the Palau and elsewhere.

The gallery and upper-floor offices are reached via an elegant open staircase on one side of the courtyard.

6

Facade on Carrer del Bisbe Marc Safont and Pere Joan, 1416–19

Facade on Carrer del Bisbe

The entrance from Carrer del Bisbe is of great interest from a heritage standpoint. It features a sculptural work in stone that is a masterpiece of Gothic art. The piece centres on a depiction of Saint George on horseback, in high relief, inside a medallion that forms part of the crowning balustrade of the wall. The work has been praised for its detail, rhythm, expressiveness and realism. The sculptor, Pere Joan, started working on it when he was just 20.

The balustrade that crowns the wall is embellished with a frieze of blind arches that rise from 27 small figures, which, thanks to their realism and vividness, seem to capture the faces of passers-by in 1418.

The false gargoyles that project from the base are also highly expressive. One of them, next to the medallion, depicts the princess from the legend of Saint George.

In addition to conveying a sense of the power of the institution on a street that was more important than Sant Honorat, this large doorway on Carrer del Bisbe also gave access, on the same level, to the courtyard. As a result, it is still used today as an entrance for service vehicles.

7

Plaça de Sant Jaume Entrance Hall Pere Blai, 1597–1619

Plaça de Sant Jaume Entrance Hall

The entrance hall leads onto Saint George Hall. Here the pillars are much lower and thicker. The vaults are very narrow and low. They appear to be made of stone but are actually executed in brick.

This doorway is generally used only by the president, ministers, and public figures who are being received at the Palau or attending institutional events there. It is also serves an entrance for official vehicles. The Guard Service welcomes members of the Executive Council and reports to the president every day.

8

Plaça Sant Jaume Facade Pere Blai, 1597-1619

Plaça Sant Jaume Facade

The Plaça Sant Jaume Facade was built around 1600. At the time, it gave onto a space much smaller than the current one, which began to take shape following the demolition of the old Saint James Church in 1823. The facade was intended to open the building up to the most prestigious place in the city while also expanding it with the addition of new spaces.

The architect, Pere Blai, built the best and most monumental example of Renaissance civil architecture in Catalonia. The facade is a beautiful, original work – well composed, with a variety of materials, colours and textures. It has the air of a Renaissance Roman palace and evokes Michelangelo’s work on the Senatorial Palace in Rome.

Within the niche, sculpted in relief, are busts of the three members of the Generalitat who commissioned the construction of the facade, including the entire Renaissance section and the part on the north side, as far as Carrer de Sant Sever. The upper part of the facade displays the coat of arms with the Cross of Sant Jordi, a distinguishing symbol of the institution. The sculpture of Catalonia’s patron saint was executed by Andreu Aleu in 1860.

The Carillon

In the video, Anna Maria Reverté (the Palau’s carillonist) plays "Variations on a Theme by Sor", op. 15, by Miquel Llobet.

History

The Palau de la Generalitat’s carillon has 49 bronze bells and its total weight is 4,898 kg. With this number of bells, the instrument has a range of four octaves on the chromatic scale, which makes it a concert carillon.

The carillon was made by Petit & Fritsen in Aarle-Rixtel (Netherlands) and inaugurated on 21 December 1976, just months after the Generalitat was re-established.

MORE INFORMATION AND TO SIGN UP

lock_outlineUSE OF COOKIES

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By using our website, you accept the use of cookies.

More information