On La Rambla, the beautiful Barcelona avenue famous for its extensive collection of cafes and street vendors selling food, flowers, and homemade gifts, sits a structure dating back to the 1770s. On this three-quarter-mile road, this 18th-century structure is now the site of the Barcelona City Council Culture Institute and information center. In the past, however, it was the Palau de la Virreina or Virreina Palace.
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A Palace For A Viceroy
The palace once belonged to Manuel Amat i Junyent, a viceroy who was the Spanish empire‘s main leader in Peru. Returning from his tenure there in 1778, Junyent lived there with his wife until his death. The building changed owners and remained a private residence until 1944 when the city bought it and converted the building into a multi-use area until the 1980s when the city’s cultural department was established. A gem of the city’s surviving baroque era, the house features a façade with sculpted pilasters and a huge balustrade that lines the staircase leading into the building’s interiorized courtyard. The Palace is a three-story building with countless rooms on each floor. It now houses various exhibitions on art, photography, and literature, and it’s also available to rent out for meetings and classes.
A Home For Culture
The Culture Institute was established in 1996 and took up shop at Virreina. Its purpose is to build on the city’s reputation for preserving surviving structures with modernized infrastructure. The Institute has an extensive resume of different exhibitions and continues to promote cultural projects in the city. Currently, they are showing Patrick Faigenbaum and Joan Roca’s Barcelona, Besòs View photography gallery and Yves Bélorgey’s gallery on a French street’s singular standing of old ruins in a modern world. It has joined a list of other centers specializing in exhibiting such culture, but its location gives it a unique meaning.
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This palace is just one on a long list of historical sights that Barcelona has for everyone to visit. The Palau de la Virreina is among the list of Baroque residences across Europe that survive to this day and open to the public. Yet this one stands in the center of Barcelona within reach of everyone who passes by.
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*Main photo by PCB75 via Visualhunt
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