“ Built between 1926 and 1929, the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) responds to the initial idea of bringing together in the form of a village, conceived as a single unity, representative samples of the architecture of the various regions of Spain. At p „
On my recent visit to Barcelona with work I was able to add a couple of days to explore the city once my meetings were over. I'd been to Barcelona a few times now both with family and through work but there were still many places that I didn't have the chance to visit. One of these was Poble Espanyol, which is located near the Montjuic park where the 1992 Olympics were held. The nearest station was Espanya, which is a good 10 -15 minutes walk away. I'd read plenty of reviews about Poble Espanyol prior to visiting but the place seemed to really divide opinion - here were many reviews praising Poble Espanyol while an equal number really did not rate the place at all. I wanted to form my own opinion and so headed off to explore.
Poble Espanyol is an open-air museum that celebrates Spanish culture and architecture. If you've visited Spain you'll know what a diverse country it is and how each region has its own culture, architecture and identity. The architecture in cities like Madrid is quite gothic in appearance and are in line with much of the rest of Europe but as you move to the South the architecture changes significantly and the buildings have beautiful sun-baked terracotta walls and their own charming courtyards. The site itself is split into areas which each concentrate the architectural features of a specific region of Spain, covering areas such as Andalucia, Golithia, Catalonia and Asturias to name a few. There is a 9.50 Euro entrance fee to visit Poble Espanyol. I visited mid-morning at around 10.30. After paying the fee I entered the site through a huge wooden door that reminded me of an entrance to a medieval castle. I was given a map to help guide me through the complex. There was also the option of hiring an audio guide but I opted against this.
On entering the complex I couldn't help but notice how quiet the place was. Compared to the hustle and bustle of central Barcelona and Montjuic, which I'd just passed through this was surprisingly empty. There were only a couple of other tourists and a small group of school children around at the same time as me.
I started my journey by turning left at the entrance and walked down a street which had typical buildings from Cantabria. This was a region of Spain I'd not visited before so wasn't really sure what the architecture would be like. The buildings were quite medieval in appearance. Most buildings along the street housed café's or shops selling souvenirs and traditional handicrafts. I spent some time browsing the shops and found them to be selling items that were similar to those you could buy in the city but at a slightly higher price!
Alongside the shops there were several buildings in which Spanish handicrafts were being made. In the complex there are around 40 such craft workshops where visitors can view handicrafts being made and also buy them. These range from glass blowing to jewellery making, from painting to sculpture making. Unfortunately when I visited quite a few of the workshops were closed though I did see some decorative glass pieces being hand-made which I found fascinating. I was amazed at the skill involved in melting, blowing and shaping glass and saw some really beautiful (but expensive!) decoration pieces being made.
I travelled through each of the regions admiring the buildings. My favourite region was Andalucia which had some charming buildings and winding streets and white-washed buildings. I've been to Granada and Cordoba in Andalucia and it brought back some pleasant memories of my trip.
It took me around 50 minutes to wander around the entire complex and whilst I found the buildings and workshops interesting to look at I was not entirely satisfied with my visit. In a lot of ways it just seemed a bit gimmicky to me - a way of enticing tourists to buy expensive souvenirs and expensive food. In other words it was really a shopping complex that you had to pay to enter and then buy expensive things from!
The complex has been advertised by the tourist board as somewhere you can go and have a nice meal in the evening but I think it's quite cheeky to charge people to enter if they want to go out for a meal! I have to say though that I did think the workshops were interesting and a good place to visit though I was disappointed that more were not open. During my walk-around I must have passed only 3 other visitors - the entire complex was extremely quiet and as such didn't really have an exciting atmosphere.
As I explained at the start of this review Poble Espanyol has really divided the opinion of people who have visited. After visiting myself I would have to side with those who were less than impressed with the complex. It seemed to be an over-priced shopping complex and as charming as the buildings were I would much rather save my money and visit the actual places represented!
As I have recently returned from Barcelona, I thought i would get a few Barcelona related reviews done asap, before the memories fade away... so here goes with my first, Poble Espanyol.
Poble Espanyol is a Full-scale replica of popular architecture that can be found throughout the entirity of spain, it was built (as wee many things in Barcelona) for the 1929 Exhibition and took three years to complete. The Poble Espanyol (or Spanish Village) is an enclosed site that has examples of many of the different and interesting building styles that can be found in mainland Spain, as well as a large number of outlets that sell locally made products ranging from Jewellery to wooden toys, and several restaurants, bars, and later in the night even Night-clubs.
The site takes about two to three hours to make your way around and has some very picturesque spots, including a monestary. In the gardens of the monestary there is a sculpture garden, which has numerous modern works by local Spanish and Catalan Artists. and offers a spectacular view across Barcelona.
the restaurants are a little overpriced, but then the location is the obvious reason for this, however the bar food and drinks at some of the establishments are very reasonable.
I dont really think that it is one of the best places to take young children as they wouldn't appreciate the architecture or art, but for the history and art buffs out there it is a must do.
entry prices vary by time and month... we paid Euro8 each after 8pm, during the day it is Euro15.
Promoting itself as "A Picture of Spain", the Poble Espanyol brings together in one setting the unique styles of architecture from all over the country. The "Spanish Village" was built between 1926 and 1929 for the Barcelona Universal Exposition. Situated at the foot of Mount Montjuïc, this was the picturesque site of the 1992 Olympic Games, within the large patch of green known as "Parc del Migdia" in the southwest of the city. Travelling there is not the simplest of tasks, since the park is one of the few places into which the Metro does not penetrate (and quite rightly too!). The nearest Metro station is Espanya, in the square of that name. Stroll up the impressive Maria Cristina Avenue, lined with trees and ornamental cascade fountains, and frequently featured on postcards. A series of stairs and escalators brings you past the monumental Magic Fountain to the Palau Nacional. The latter is well worth visiting in its own right, as it houses the Catalonian National Arts Museum with a splendid Gothic and Romanesque art collection. A pleasant walk and 975ptas (~£3.90) later, and you're inside! Phew! The Plaza Mayor greets you on entry, a massive square containing cosy cafés and congregating crowds. It's the centre of all activity, and a fine place to peruse the guide and get your orientation. The guide is seriously invaluable as you explore the Poble, as I found the buildings to be poorly labelled. The Poble (amusingly pronounced to rhyme with "gobble" by our witty group!) proudly claims to be "a watercolour painting which portrays the different peoples and cultures of Spain, represented in the form of streets and squares, monuments and buildings". That statement eloquently sums it up; as you wander through the aesthetically pleasing alleys, admire and absorb the samples of architecture from Zaragoza, Sevilla, Girona, Málaga, Navarra, Barcelona itself and many other places.
If that had been all, the Poble would have earned the full 5 stars. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was uncomfortably commercialised and touristy. Every other building was a tacky souvenir store, packed with visitors trawling through postcards, pottery and paintings. Admittedly, I too succumbed and bought an olive plate, which was very traditional according to my Spanish companions. However, to be perfectly blunt, this was the exception rather than the rule. Depending on how smitten you are by the stalls, the Poble takes an hour or two to appreciate fully. According to the guide, the venue also hosts discos and bars, which are open until 4 AM; we visited in the afternoon and didn't experience them first hand! On leaving the Poble, we trekked uphill to the Funicular Railway station at the top of Mount Montjuïc, which provided a cheap, quick and enjoyable journey down to Paral.lel Metro station back in the centre of town. It's worth digressing at this point to discuss the Spanish way of life. Owing to the searing afternoon heat, mealtimes tend to be shifted back a couple of hours. Dinner at 8 or 9 PM is considered the norm and the nightlife becomes lively much later on. In conclusion, the Poble Espanyol presents an overall vision of Spanish urban constructions, but feels like Disneyland trapped inside a pretty Spanish village. Not exactly my cup of tea and one of the only low points of my holiday in Barcelona. NB. This is the 6th instalment of my BS series. For the introduction, please kindly turn to "BS Uno - The Odyssey Begins"; general information on Barcelona is scattered throughout the series. Thanks for reading!
Built between 1926 and 1929, the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) responds to the initial idea of bringing together in the form of a village, conceived as a single unity, representative samples of the architecture of the various regions of Spain.