Plaça Reial, known as Plaza Real in Spanish, is a well-known tourist area in Barcelona. Plaza Real means ‘Royal Plaza’ (Reial is Catalan for ‘Royal’) and it is where you will discover the first commissioned works of Antoni Gaudí. The square, with the large fountain, numerous palm trees, streetlamps, and elegant ambiance is on the Barri Gótic side of Las Ramblas. It was designed in the 19th-century by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó. The great plaza is surrounded by numerous restaurants and nightclubs.
Plaça Reial history
The square you see today was originally a convent. It was renovated and used as a theater from 1842 to 1848. The square was then designed to be inhabited by wealthy families. However, due to its popularity during the post-Civil War years of the 1940’s the aristocratic and homeless lived on the square. In 1982 the square received a complete renovation, which has made it more popular now than ever before.
The first commissioned works of Antoni Gaudí are located inside Plaça Reial. Two street lamps are located within the square, one on each side of the Font de les Tres Gràcies. They feature coiled dragon-headed serpents heading up to a winged helmet. The streetlamps were installed in 1879.
Font de les Tres Gràcies
Font de les Tres Gràcies, known as ‘Source of the Three Graces’ in Catalan, was created in 1867 and installed in the square in 1876. The fountain was a monument dedicated to Ferdinand the Catholic, in the square that was left by an old monastery of Capuchins. The original fountain was disliked by the local citizens who demolished it. It was replaced by another fountain that received many changes over the years. The current fountain was installed in 1926 and restored in 1983. The three figures that are standing back-to-back with their hands and arms intertwined are goddesses. Aglaya, goddess of the charm; Eufrósine, goddess of creativity; and Talía, goddess of fertility.
Restaurants, tapas and bars on Plaça Reial
The entire square is surrounded by restaurants, tapas places, and bars. Most restaurant prices here are less than that on Las Ramblas; however, they are still not cheap. Anytime you see few locals, you know the prices and not the best in the city and the quality is also not the best.
That said, Les Quinzes Nits is a fair value considering the setting and location. Taxidermista, which has similar long lines as Les Quinzes Nits, has a unique feel with its natural science museum and taxidermists look.
The plaza is well-known for locals and tourists in the area who don’t want to go to the other famous bars in the Eixample area of Barcelona. These bars generally open around 11:00 pm and close between 5:00 and 6:00 am. Entrance fees can be between 5 EUR (5.60 USD) and 15 EUR (16.85 USD) depending on the venue and entertainment for the evening. Drink prices here will be very similar to the rest of the city with beer around 5 EUR (5.60 USD), mixed drinks 10 EUR (11.25 USD), and specialties like mojitos around 15 EUR (16.85 USD).
Events on Plaça Reial
Primarily known as a popular meeting place with restaurants and bars, Plaça Reial is also home to many celebrations throughout the year. La Merçè is the most important Catalan festival. The annual celebration for La Fiesta de la Virgen Merçè is held on September 24th. The festival entertains spectators with live music, gegants i capgrossos (giant papier-mâché heads on top of stilted-people that parade the streets), and fireworks.
Open-air concerts take place throughout the year as well as a large New Year’s Eve celebration. On Sunday mornings at the end of September, a stamp and coin collection market takes place. These collections from around the world are bought and sold between 10:00 am and 2:30 pm. As with any market and busy place in Barcelona, you must be very careful with pickpockets.
Walking is the best way to get around central Barcelona. Plaça Rieal is located just past Teatre del Liceu on the opposite side of the street, heading towards the sea. Carrer de Colom is the name of the street that takes you into the square.
If you are taking the metro, you will want to take the Green Line 3 and get off at Liceu. Then follow the walking directions above.
Buses number 14, 59, and 91 will also take you to the area.
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