The Poble Espanyol is unlike any other museum in the world. Located in the heart of Barcelona, this village is not just a museum, it is a microcosm of art, history, and good food. What began as an architectural museum, quickly morphed into one of the largest open-air museums in the world, with zones featuring both the traditional food of Barcelona, as well as the most new and innovative chefs in the area—not to mention the contemporary art museum and collection of boutiques.
It was first constructed in 1929, for the World Fair and was intended to model a traditional Spanish town and to be demolished once the World Fair was over. Instead of demolishing it, however, the people of Barcelona felt that it could be put to use, and the buildings, styled after the varying architectural traditions from all across Spain, were converted into museums, restaurants, shops, and galleries. Even today, it acts primarily as an architectural museum, with full-scale models of over 117 buildings. Poble Espanyol provides a unique opportunity for visitors to tour Spain without having to leave Barcelona.
Just as the buildings represent the diversity of architecture from around Spain, the restaurants that have taken over many of the buildings represent the all different kinds of foods from around the Iberian Peninsula. From more traditional fare, to the strange and new creations of the region’s most adventurous chefs, you are sure to find something that pleases the taste buds. Besides the restaurants themselves, the village has a number of food-related activities, starting with a tour of the twenty-five finest foods in the world, to the secret food of Japan, to wine tastings. While the focus of most of the restaurants is on regional Spanish food, these activities will take you all over the world. Poble Espanyol even has its own gardens, were the most traditional agriculture of Spain is reproduced and used by the restaurants in the village.
Many of the buildings have been converted into workshops for craftsmen who practice traditional Spanish disciplines, including weaving, carving, pottery, and more. Not only can you watch the craftsmen at work, you can buy their wares and have something truly Spanish to take home with you. Poble Espanyol is well-known for having some of the most talented craftsmen in the world, many of whom come from long lines of craftsmen and who have learned their trade in the traditional manner.
In sharp contrast to the traditionalism of the buildings, food, and shops, Poble Espanyol contains a thriving contemporary art community. Centered on the Daurel Foundation Museum, the village boasts an excellent sculpture garden and several gallery spaces were contemporary artists can display their work.
Nowhere else on earth can you experience such an expert melding of old and new and disparate cultures. You can stroll along the buildings, observing the similarities and differences in the architecture, sample foods from all over the country, and watch craftsmen at their trade, afterwards stopping by the art exhibits to see who is making a name for themselves. Poble Espanyol truly is a unique and exciting experience, a must-see for any visitor to Barcelona.