Placa Reial also known as the Royal Square, is a square in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. It is situated beside La Rambla and is the only arcaded square of the city, which boasts character and makes it exceptional. It borders the Rambla of the Capuchins, Ferran Street, Colon Street and Escudellers Street. The square constitutes to a famous touristic attraction, especially at night and is well known for its open-air terraces and popular meeting place during the summer.
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History of Placa Reial
Between 1842–1848, a convent and then later converted into a theatre, was originally based on what is now known as Plaça Reial. It was then designed by Francesc Daniel Molina Casamajó in the 19th century as a square to be inhabited by affluent families; its demise in class has corresponded inversely with its popularity. Following a complete renovation of the square in 1982, it is more popular than ever, both day and night.
Places of interest on Placa Reial
As the peoples’ panacea since 1823, the Herboristeria del Rei, on Carrer Vidre (just off the square) is said to be one of the oldest shops in Barcelona. What remains of the original Elizabethan style decoration was created by Soler Rovirosa, one of the great theatre scenographers of the 19th century. Boasting a wide range of natural remedies, this shop is definitely worth a visit.
In the square there is a central iron fountain named “Tres Gràcies” (Three Graces), which was designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias and two lanterns that were designed by Antoni Gaudí, look at the top of a helmet lamps highlights a winding dragon with which the architect conveys the heroism of medieval Catalan conquerors. Around the square you can see a number of details like the busts of sailors and American explorers and badges.
Events on Placa Reial
Since it was opened in1848 to honour King Ferdinand VII, hence the name “Royal Square” it has lost some limelight however, It is still known for its many outdoor venues and events central to the plaza.
The most important annual Catalan celebration is La Merçè. And since 1871 La Fiesta de la Virgen Merçè has held parties in Placa Reial each year on 24th of September. It is a festival of live music, fireworks and gegants i capgrossos (stilted-people with giant papier-mâché heads that parade the streets).
Regardless of whether you are in Barcelona during September, every Saturday the plaza hosts a free open-air musical concert at 12noon. And on Sunday mornings, between 10am and 2.30pm stamp and coin collections from around the world are bought and sold.
As soon as this is finished, an impromptu flea market run by local elderly people takes place. Although, be wary of your belongings as pick-pockets love all markets!
Nightlife on Placa Reial
The Plaza is more famous nowadays for its nightlife as there are a variety of clubs each catering to different tastes in music and entertainment. Be sure to check out the “secret” Pipa Club (pipe smoking club). Hidden away up an innocuous stairwell the club opens at 11pm and serves drinks with a view of the square up until 5 or 6am. Prices for drinks range from around €3 for a beer and €5 for mixed drinks.
The most popular, are Sidecar, Factory Club and Karma. They are both fun nights out and are frequented by foreigners and locals all year round. Entrance typically varies from €5-15 depending on the entertainment.
Sala Tarantos and Sala Jamboree are connected internally, both offering particular styles of music. During the week, Jamboree focuses on jazz, where Tarantos targets flamenco, dancing and music. Live shows are performed daily, in easily-accessible shortened formats. With prices starting at €5 they are a brilliant way to experience the passion and style of Latin culture first-hand. At the weekend Jamboree becomes more of a touristic hot-spot, musically moving into more commercial genres like dance and R’n’B. And during the summer nights, the square is bursting with enticement and buzzing with people from all over the world.
Living near Placa Reial
If you’re staying in Barcelona, living near this famous square is ideal as the scene is tranquil and the location is central to everything, being in the heart of the city. Not forgetting its stunning view of beautiful long palm trees, magnificent architecture that dates back to the 19th century and the buzzing atmosphere, all year round. There are many apartments available which are close to the square and La Rambla in general. Make sure to visit Placa Reial and book your accommodation in advance!
- Address: Plaça Reial, 1 08002 Barcelona, Spain
- Transport: Metro: metro Liceu or Drassanes | Buses: bus 14, 59, 91 | Walking: Follow Las Ramblas down towards the sea as far as La Rambla dels Caputxins, then after Teatre del Liceu and on the opposite side of the street take Carrer de Colom, which leads into the square.
- Insider tip: Sometimes tourists get confused with Placa Reial and the similarily named Placa del Rei. If anybody gives you directions including any of the two, double check and ask again which of the plazas they are referring to.