Behind a 250-metre-long wall covered to overflowing with bougainvilleas lie Barcelona’s most majestic gardens: the Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes. Both French and English in style, a touch Romantic and very luxuriant, they take you back to a time where splendour and majesty were key landscape features.
When you pass through the magnificent wrought-iron entrance gate you are greeted by a large space, at the centre of which lies an oval-shaped pool with a sculpture of a woman in the middle.
The park came about as a result of a fire which, on Christmas Day in 1875, destroyed the 17th-century building on the Pla de Palau that had been the residence of Spain’s royal family during their visits to the city. The new royal residence, promoted in 1921 by the then mayor of Barcelona, Joan Antoni Güell, was built on land owned and ceded by the Güell family, where there was a mansion that had been restored.
The mayor handed over the new residence to King Alfonso XIII in 1926. When the Second Republic was declared in 1931, Spain’s treasury minister donated the palace and its gardens to the City Council, which opened them up to the city, with the royal premises becoming the Museu d’Arts Decoratives. The Residència Internacional de Senyoretes Estudiants (International Residence for Female Students) was established on the building’s second floor.
The City Council handed over the building and its gardens to the Generalitat of Catalonia in 2004, and it is now used for official ceremonies and receptions.
The gardens’ age means you can find some rare species there. Groups of flowers at the entrance and, behind them, a slight slope covered in grass, with highly sculpted sweet bay and sweet orange trees, and a small waterfall complete an ensemble of great beauty.
Nicolau M. Rubió i Tudurí was commissioned with converting the existing cultivated land and gardens into the gardens we know today. In doing so he respected, among other hundred-year-old trees, an important collection of Himalayan cedars. One of these is listed in the Barcelona Catalogue of Trees of Local Interest, together with a stone pine (Pinus pinea) on the grassy area next to the palace and a Sictus tree (Tetraclinis articulata) located very close to the pool at the park entrance.
There are other species of cedar besides the Himalayan cedars mentioned above, such as the Atlas cedars (Cedrus atlantica) to the left of the park entrance, and a few Japanese and incense cedars. Two rows of large-leaved limes along the garden’s the main axes, which lead to the palace, also stand out.
There are conifers all around, including stone pines, Aleppo pines, cypresses, Monterrey cypresses and Arizona cypresses. Prominent among the shrubs are the large sweet bays and boxwood, while bougainvillea is the queen of the climber plants and ivory the queen of the creepers.
Art and Architecture
There are unique features all around the gardens. The pool at the entrance to the grounds is dominated by a marble nude female figure, Mediterrània (Mediterranean, 1962), created by Eulàlia Fàbregas de Sentmenat. Inside the park you will find Enric Casanovas’ bronze statue, Nu (Nude, 1930), which represents a woman standing, half naked. Outside there are stone sculptures created by a variety of sculptors between 1928 and 1929: Àngel Tarrach’s Figura femenina (Female Figure); Jaume Otero’s Al·legoria de Tarragona (Tarragona Allegory); Manuel Fuxà’s allegory dedicated to Lleida, Agricultura (Agriculture); two female figures, one by Josep Llimona and the other by Enric Casanovas, and Marina, an allegorical female figure representing fishing, by Eusebi Arnau. The most outstanding, however, on the grassy area next to the palace is Joan Borrell i Nicolau’s sculpture, Nu femení agenollat (Female Nude Kneeling, 1916).
A sculpture by Agapit Vallmitjana i Barbany, depicting Isabel II holding up her son Alfonso XII in her arms (1861), dominates the square overlooking the palace. Other sculptures in the background add the finishing touches to the ornamentation in this part of the gardens.
In the little bamboo wood there is the Font d’Hèrcules, a stone and wrought-iron fountain designed by Antoni Gaudí (1884). For many years it was hidden by the vegetation and it was only rediscovered in 1984, when the site was undergoing a major clean-up.
Landscaping and Design
Either side of the entrance pool, gravel paths start to criss-cross the park and let you gradually discover it. They also provide access to a central avenue dominated by large-leaved limes.
This is shaded, like the resting areas with benches on both sides, where the vegetation is dense and exuberant and four large vases stand out. Large, regular grass parterres can be found on both sides of this central avenue.
If you continue walking up, the paths will take you to the Royal Palace located in the heart of the park. A semicircular square opens out in front of it, surrounded on both sides by a large balustrade decorated with sculpted white-marble busts.
The path leads to two works designed by Antoni Gaudí: a parabolic pergola covered with creepers and climbing plants – an umbracle, in fact – and, in a small corner, a fountain, the Font d’Hèrcules, whose water flows out through a wrought-iron dragon’s head.
A more contemporary feature that you will find in the gardens is the Kolonihaven, a little house for children’s games designed by the Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue team of architects.
|de l'1 de novembre
al 31 de març
|Cada dia||de 10:00 h a 19:00 h|
|de l'1 d'abril
al 31 d'octubre
|de 10.00 h a 20.00 h|
Abans tenien un horari de tancament aproximat, en funció de l'horari solar
(tancaven quan es feia fosc, al capvespre).
Tanquen quan es celebren actes institucionals en el Palau.
- Sections of this equipment
- Àrea de joc infantil