La Virreina. Centre de la Imatge
A baroque building welcomes you in Barcelona's Rambla, past Carme street, and it will awaken your curiosity because its highly-decorated façade and the interior courtyard and staircases give a glimpse of wealth and power. Go inside Palau de la Virreina and maybe you will be surprised by some art exhibition organised there.
A mysterious aura surrounds this building in Ramblas, where nowadays the headquarters of Barcelona's City Council Culture Institute (Institut de Cultura de l'Ajuntament de Barcelona) are located. Behind its name we will find that the vicereine (virreina in Catalan) was the wife of Peru's viceroy, Manuel Amat Junyent, Castellbell's marquis. He wanted to show his wealth by building a very ostentatious residence in Barcelona. He chose a style between baroque and rococo, which was not quite common in the city. The marquis himself directed the work from Peru with the help of the architect Carles Grau between 1772 and 1778. However, the viceroy did not enjoy the residence for a long time because he died shortly after returning to Barcelona. His widow, Maria Francesa de Fiveller and de Bru, was the main occupant.
It is worth visiting the Palau de la Virreina, a jewel of Barcelona's local baroque, contemplating the main façade decorated with pilasters and a large balustrade with twelve vases and going into the interior courtyard from which a staircase starts. Temporary exhibitions, usually related to art, photography or literature, are held in this Rambla's palace. There is a culture information and ticket sales office for a wide range of shows on the ground floor of the palace. Palau de la Virreina has a baroque and rococo style very unusual in Barcelona. It is one of the emblematic places in the Rambla that is worth seeing.
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