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When you get off at the Barceloneta metro stop, you will be really impressed by the presence of an imposing and elegant building which is event more beautiful when it is illuminated at night. This is the Palau de Mar which houses in its interior, the History Museum of Catalonia, one of the most beautiful and most interesting museums in Barcelona.
The Palau de Mar was built in 1890 as a general warehouse for the port to facilitate the storage of goods that arrived in Barcelona by sea. The palace was transformed and renovated on the occasion of the Olympic games which were held in Barcelona in 1992 and which included the construction of apartments for the elderly with accesses to the panoramic terrace which we will refer to later on. In addition to the History Museum of Catalonia, the Palau de Mar is also home to the Center of Contemporary History which is dedicated to the study and dissemination of the history of the 20th century which is generally very different from that which prevailed during the period of Franco's dictatorship.
The History Museum of Catalonia, or the Museo d'Història de Catalunya, as it is known locally, was founded in 1996 in order to broaden people's knowledge of Catalan history and culture, both on a national and international level. The building has a broad structure, with each area covering a different era of history, starting with Prehistory which is on the ground floor. One of the most interesting sections is that which explains about the Spanish Civil War through very informative educational exhibits which are supported by a large collection of images and equipment that enable visitors to visualize reconstructions of what daily life was like at that time.
The History Museum of Catalonia is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 19:00; on Wednesdays from 10:00 to 20:00 and on Sundays and public holidays, from 10:00 until 14:30. Entry tickets for the permanent exhibition cost €4.50 with a discount for families, people under the age of 25, disabled visitors and pensioners. On Catalan public holidays such as St. Eulalia in February or St. Jordi in May, entry to the Museum is free!
In order to get the best out of your visit to the History Museum of Catalonia, (MHCAT), we would suggest that you follow the itinerary that we would propose. Above all, you can save time by buying your tickets online, but you can also purchase your tickets from the box office which is open from 10:00 every morning. You can then start your visit and it is important to follow the planned chronological order because this is effectively a journey through history: on the second floor, the route starts with Prehistory, from the prehistoric to the paleolithic through to the 18th century. The historical periods that are covered in this broad spectrum of times past are structured across four different thematic fields: the original roots, birth of the nation, the sea and the periphery of the empire. The third floor, on the other hand, is dedicated to the contemporary era (18th, 19th and 20th centuries) and is divided into a further four sectors: steam and the nation, the electrical years, defeat and recovery and a contemporary portrait of Catalonia. The ground floor and the first floor are generally where any temporary exhibitions are housed.
In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Museum also organizes educational and fun activities which are highly recommended for all history lovers or for those who are looking to spend an afternoon doing something a little bit different. After a long stroll through history, (the museum is really large), we would suggest that you lose yourself for a while to explore the book shop, stop off in the bar-restaurant and the Josep Benet library which is one of the Museum's real gems. If it is getting close to lunch time of dinner time, why not treat yourself to a delicious meal in the fabulous Sagardi Restaurant? This is situated on the building's fourth floor and its terrace provides a unique view of Barcelona's Port Vell and across Barceloneta from an unusual and privileged view point. The restaurant's menu serves traditional Mediterranean cuisine and boasts a certificate from the “Mediterranean Diet Foundation” as well as enjoying a special agreement for direct sales with the "Fraternity of Fishermen of Barcelona" which guarantees the supply of fresh fish on a daily basis. When you arrive at the restaurant, have a look around you and you will immediately spot the signs that pay homage to the printed Catalan fabrics that served as currency for the purchase of foreign goods which arrived in Barcelona from overseas at the end of the 19th century. And finally, if you suddenly find yourself in Barcelona on the first Sunday of the month, we recommend that you visit the History Museum of Catalonia because on this day, the majority of the city's museums offer free entry!