The Museu d’Història de Catalunya
Barcelona doesn’t do weather by halves. When it rains, it pours. When the sun shines, it beats down relentlessly. So when it comes to finding a quiet spot to escape the elements or if you’re simply interested in discovering more about Barcelona and its rich history, then the Catalan History Museum is the perfect afternoon rendezvous.
The museum is well worth a visit if you are seeking alternative things to do in Barcelona. While paella, sangria and sunshine are some of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, the range of museums and galleries on offer are also fantastic. The Museu d’Història de Catalunya (Museum of Catalan History) is one of them and for a mere 4€, you cannot go wrong. It’s also an excellent place for children and families to spend the day away from the madding crowds.
Conveniently located opposite Barceloneta Metro, at the old port, the museum stands proudly within a magnificent example of late 19th-century architecture. The building itself, the Palau de Mar, was formerly the general stores. Josep Benedito and Augustí Mateos refurbished it in 1992, carefully merging tradition with the contemporary and creating a charming complement between the old and the new.
The museum boasts four floors and includes a spacious rooftop terrace and café which are home to some of the finest views in Barcelona. On the ground floor of the building there’s also a wealth of modern restaurants to choose from, serving delicious Mediterranean fare.
What to expect inside
The museum is divided into eight prominent periods of Catalan history, documenting its earliest roots from the Paleolithic era to the settlement of the Romans and all the way up to the present day. Its aim is to share the heritage of Catalonia, and it works relentlessly to further public and local study of the city through these permanent exhibitions. This means that there’s a constant turnover of new exhibitions that explore certain periods in greater depth.
Wander at your leisure and witness all kinds of wonderful displays from the times of the Roman Empire to the Industrial Revolution. The exhibits are designed to be as interactive as possible, encouraging you to touch, play and discover fragments of the past. This could be in the shape of old flints, a farming irrigation system that’s just begging you to pull the rope to get it working, or a pile of old armour that you can actually try on.
Discover how Catalonia passed through war and invasion, how it prospered in the Golden Age and floundered thereafter. Learn about the region’s continual fight for autonomy right up until the repression of General Franco and the devastating effect his regime had, not just upon Catalonia, but on Spain as a whole before democracy was finally restored.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm and can be visited on Sundays and public holidays from 10am until 2:30pm. (On normal Mondays, though, it’s closed.)
And here’s a little secret… the museum is open to the public free of charge on the first Sunday of every month. The only question that remains to be asked is, what are you waiting for?