El Poble Espanyol (The Spanish Village) is an open-air museum that was built in 1929 for the International Exhibition. It is meant to allow visitors the opportunity to experience Spain using full-scale reproductions of the country´s most important places and buildings. To achieve this, 117 buildings, streets, and squares were reproduced to scale over a surface area of 49,000 m2, and a total of 15 different regions of Spain are represented.
The city planned to demolish it after the exhibition but it was finally preserved due to its popularity and the fact that so many people spoke out against its destruction. The idea came from the architect Puig i Cadafalch and the main collaborators of the site were Roman Reventós and Francesc Folguera, both architects, and two artists, Xavier Nogués and Miguel Utrillo. The four of them travelled around the country collecting material in order to best represent all of Spain and managed to visit 1,600 towns and villages in total.
Those seeking a more authentic Spanish experience might find it a bit touristy but for visitors who have only a short time to spend in Spain it´s ideal for learning about the history and culture of the country without leaving the city.
In addition to being an open-air architectural museum, El Poble Espanyol is also considered an arts and crafts community. There are more than forty different craft workshops offered, all of which offer the opportunity to discover design and production techniques. Ceramics, sculpture, leather, photography and espadrille making are some of the workshops currently offered. In fact, El Poble Espanyol has been declared an “Area of Craft Interest” by the Catalan Government due to its dedication to traditional hand-made products.
As part of its commitment to the arts, El Poble Espanyol also has a series of exhibition spaces with a variety of contemporary art. The Fran Daurel Foundation has more than 300 works of art by contemporary artists, and the Espai Agustí Massana is a gallery where temporary exhibitions are held. There is also a sculpture garden, which is a large outdoor space with 27 different sculptures.
For children, El Poble Espanyol offers a variety of activities designed especially for young people that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Many of the workshops are directed towards children and there are also activities such as stories and puppet shows that they can enjoy. El Poble Espanyol offers children the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Spain in an environment that is more open and less restricted, so it´s ideal for parents who feel that their children may be too young for more traditional museums.
El Poble Espanyol also has a variety of shops, restaurants, and discos. The shop hours are 10:00am to 6:00pm in winter, 10:00am to 7:00pm in spring and autumn, and 10:00am to 8:00pm in summer. A variety of different items can be found, but El Poble Espanyol is excellent if you are looking for original, hand-made gifts, such as ceramics, jewelry, or tapestries, and in many of the shops you will have the opportunity to speak to the designer or creator of the products. In many cases there is also the option to have the products personalized.
Just as you would expect, the majority of the restaurants in El Poble Espanyol serve traditional Spanish food. In addition to restaurants there are several cafes and tapas bars. There are also some restaurants that offer shows along with the meal, such as Tablao de Carmen which offers a Flamenco dinner show, and La Bodeguita del Poble, which also offers music and dance shows. If you prefer to bring your own food and drink, there is a picnic area where you can enjoy your meal.
The two discos are La Terrazza and Penelope. Terrazza is an open-air club so it is only open in summer (mid-May to mid-October) on Fridays and Saturdays. It´s open from 1am to 5:30am but in true Spanish fashion it doesn’t really get hopping until around 3:00am so unless you want to be the first to arrive it´s best to avoid coming before 2:00am. The other, Penelope, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from midnight to 5:00am, year round. Both are quite trendy so make sure to dress appropriately.
El Poble Espanyol is located in Montjuic (Av. Marquès de Comillas, 13). The nearest metro is Plaza Espanya but it´s an uphill walk from there, so the best bet is to take one of the busses (Parc Montjuic, 50, 55, 61) which have stops near the entrance. The tourist bus also stops directly in front of the village, and you can use that ticket to get a discount on the entrance. The cost of entry is €8.50 for adults and €5.50 for children (ages 4 to 12). Children under the age of 4 are free, and a family ticket (two adults plus two children) can be purchased for €20. Students and pensioners pay €6.50. For more information visit the official website at www.poble-espanyol.com