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The Virreina Palace

The Virreina Palace, Palau de la Virreina in Catalan, is a splendid baroque building situated in the heart of Barcelona, but is not particularly well known by tourists. 

It is a peaceful place where you can visit interesting contemporary art exhibitions, especially those which are dedicated to photography.  However, not a lot of people know that entry to the palace is completely free to all!  

The Virreina Palace
The Palacio de la Virreina

History of the Virreina Palace

Built between 1772 and 1777, the Virreina Palace was a property belonging to the Peruvian Viceroy, Felipe Manuel d’Amat. The main facade has a symmetrical structure with vertical axes which are highlighted by balconies and are reinforced by six pilasters with ionic capitals. The balconies display wrought iron verandas in a perfect baroque style.  Once inside, you will be able to view the wonderful courtyard with a double stairway from which you can appreciate the large windows of the main rooms. In 1941, the palace was declared a National Monument and in 1944, it ceased to be a private residence and became the property of the local council which converted it into an important cultural center in which to house exhibitions until it eventually became the seat of the department of culture.  The Virreina Centre de la Imatge has been organizing temporary exhibitions since 1980 on subjects such as current affairs and especially since 2007, the organization's program has focused on images, photography and the audiovisual.  

Exhibitions at the Palace

The building is structured around two interior areas of differing dimensions which provide a lengthy and imposing space in which to hold an exhibition.  Within the city's panorama of offerings, the photographic exhibitions that are held at the Virreina Palace are particularly appreciated for their quality and often cover personal exhibitions by Catalan photographers, as well as international artists.  Also of great interest are the themed temporary exhibitions on subjects that are currently in the news. This is without forgetting the permanent collection: such as the Gegants de Barcelona Ciutat (traditional papier-mache giants which process through the city during certain festivals such as La Mercé) and the Àliga de Barcelona (this is an eagle, a symbol of popular culture in Catalan religious iconography which represents St. John, the evangelist). Entry is free for everyone and the opening times are from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 20:30 and on Sundays, from 11:00 to 14:30.


The Courtyard of the Virreina Palace
The Courtyard of the Palacio de la Virreina

Visiting the Virreina Palace

Although this attraction is located along the famous La Rambla, whose notoriety inevitably results in higher prices for food in the bars that overlook it, you will be surprised to discover that entry to the Virreina Palace is free for everyone.  The opening times are from 11:00 in the morning until 8 pm at night from Tuesday to Sunday, holidays included. The only days on which it is closed are on the 1st of January and the 1st of May, Christmas day and the 26th December. But, how do you get to visit the Virreina Palace?  Undoubtedly the best option is to see what's on and choose the workshop or exhibition that best suits your tastes.  For example, at the time of writing this article, the Palace was holding an interesting practical training program in the field of visual arts, an exhibition that reflected on the theme of sustainable tourism and a conference on interior photography.  One of the great things about a visit here is that once you are inside, you won't have to keep checking the time: in fact, there are no timed visits (of a fixed duration) and entry is completely free.  Would you be interested in an experienced and professional person to guide you in your choices and accompany you on your tour whilst you visit the free exhibition spaces at the Virreina Palace? Just ask our private unofficial guide! 

How to get to the Virreina Palace

The Virreina Palace is located at No. 99 La Rambla, in the heart of the Ciutat Vella. The easiest way to get there is undoubtedly on foot if you are already in the center of Barcelona.  If not, you need to get off at the Liceu Metro station (Green Line L3).  For those who are new to the city and want to make the most of their time here, it is useful to know that there are plenty of other attractions nearby that are worth a visit such as the Boquería, the Library of Catalonia, the Liceu Theatre and the Palau Güell.

Interesting information about the Palace

The name "Virreina" (the Vicereine) refers to the young widow, María Francisca de Fivaller i de Bru, who was the Vicereine married to the Peruvian Viceroy, Felipe Manuel d’Amat who owned the palace.

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