Barcelona's main arteries converge on the Plaça Espanya, but it's much more than a traffic hub. Barcelona's most monumental square, it marks the gateway to the trade-fair site and Montjuïc Hill.
The intersection of the Gran Via, Paral·lel, Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina, Carrer Tarragona and Carrer de la Creu Coberta centres on this large plaza. In 1929, Josep Maria Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned to design the plaza for the International Exhibition. Modernisme had gone out of fashion and the architect chose a classic style with baroque influences that set out to impress all the visitors to the exhibition grounds.
The plaza became the gateway to the fair and the architect Jujol designed the sculpturally rich, ornamental fountain in the centre. On one side of the square, you can see the brick buildings that were hotels at the time. On the other side, is the old Arenes bullring, which has now been converted into a shopping and leisure complex. At the entrance to the Avinguda Maria Cristina, two tall towers – which are replicas of Saint Mark's campanile in Venice – stand guard over the exhibition site. The view from here is unbeatable. At the end, the unmistakeable outline of the Palau Nacional is silhouetted against the sky, with the Magic Fountain below it. This is probably one of the most beautiful and spectacular places in Barcelona.
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