Placa del Rei
The Placa del Rei, the King’s Square, is situated in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and contains a number of buildings dating from the 5th century. These include the Palace, with its Great Hall, a chapel, and the city museum. Under the buildings are an extensive array of Roman ruins with streets, buildings, and workshops which can be walked around.
Located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, the King's Square, is known by its Catalan name of Plaça del Rei. The square is surrounded by Gothic and Renaissance buildings, most of which are part of the Royal Palace, which was the residence and seat of government of the Counts of Barcelona and the Kings of Aragon.
The palace has its origin in Visigothic times, which dates from the middle of the 5th century to the beginning of the 8th century. The remains of this palace can be found under the Tinell Hall. In 985, the palace, along with the rest of the city, was sacked by the Caliphate of Córdoba.
During the second half of the 11th century the building was demolished and a new one built. Romanesque in style, the building was rectangular in shape and stretched from the cathedral. Its exterior staircase, still exists. This building existed for about 200 years without undergoing any major alterations.
The Treaty of Corbeil in 1258 gave the County of Barcelona to the Crown of Aragon, following this the palace became used for political events resulting in a number of architectural reforms.
In 1302 James II commissioned the construction of the royal chapel of Santa Ágata which at that time was named Santa María. The chapel was built attached to the Roman wall and had a door directly into the palace. This had a single nave and a barrel vault. A few years later an octagonal tower was added.
In 1317, Alfonso IV acquired the "Palau de Santa Eulàlia", the old episcopal palace located in the space of the current Plaza de San Ivo. This made it possible to expand the palatine complex and add new royal rooms to the constrained Romanesque palace.
Between 1359-1370, Peter IV of Aragon had the Great Hall, which is now known as the Tinell Hall built. He retained, however, the Romanesque facades. In the 1360s the ceiling was painted and in 1370 it was paved and a commemorative plaque was placed on the door. It is a classic example of Catalan Gothic architecture. Having a capacity of 400 people, the hall is currently used by the City of Barcelona for events.
In 1403 King Martin I the Human, redesigned the Placa del Rei enlarging it so that tournaments could be held there and he built the stairs to access the palace.
It is believed that the Great Hall may have been the place where in 1493, Christopher Columbus was met by Isabella and Ferdinand following his return from the Americas, although others suggest that this may have been in the Monastery of San Jeronimo dea Murtra in Badalona.
The hall was transformed in the 16th century into a Royal Court and the seat of the Inquisition.
In 1718 it became a church when it was converted by the nuns of Santa Clara Convent. In 1936 it was returned to a hall when the nuns vacated it.
The stairway of the Royal Palace leads to the entrance to the Tinell Hall on the left and the door of the Chapel of Santa Ágata on the right.
He undertook new reforms on the upper floors by building small rooms called "Palauet de Bellvís" (palace of the Belvedere). The inner courtyard at the entrance to the palace was transformed into a garden, which would be known as "el verger" (the orchard).
On December 7, 1492, an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of Ferdinand on the steps of the entrance of the Royal Palace.
During the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, the palace was ceded to various administrative bodies, the Inquisition took possession of the buildings around the courtyard of the "verger" (current Marés Museum) and the Royal Audience, which was the judicial body created by the Crown of Castile, was installed near the Hall of Tinell.
The last addition to the Royal Palace was, in 1555, when the rectangular tower five stories high, was constructed. Each story has a gallery of semi-circular arches with seven windows. Originally, this tower was for defensive purposes, as a viewpoint.
The Tinell Hall, together with the Chapel of St. Agatha are part of the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA).
The Tinell Hall with its solid columns and large diaphragm arches has a rectangular floor plan of 34 meters long by 17 meters wide and 12 meters high, covered with a flat roof with wooden beams that rest on solid columns and six large diaphragm arches in stone with more than 16 meters of span between them.
The palatine chapel of Santa Ágata dates from 1302 and is the work of King James II of Aragon and his wife Blanca of Naples. Inside is the altarpiece of the Constable Pedro de Portugal.
The chapel was confiscated in 1835 and was to be put to various uses. In 1856 a restoration project was begun and in 1879 the Provincial Museum of Antiquities was created in it. In the 1990s a new restoration was carried out with works on the roof, ceiling, lighting, and also on the bell tower.
The architecture is of Catalan Gothic occurred in Catalonia between the 13TH and 14TH centuries; and dates from 1302. It consists of a single rectangular nave with a polygonal apse, a small transept with the chapel of the Queens, which displays the shields of Mary of Navarre and Eleanor of Sicily, wives of King Peter the Ceremonious. (1336-87) At the foot of the nave is a small chapel that served as a baptistery. The nave has a double slope with a polychrome wooden coffered ceiling. The apse is covered with ribbed vaults and behind it is the sacristy excavated within the Roman wall. Located between the buttresses are the stained glass windows that illuminate the interior space.
On the part of the sacristy is the octagonal bell tower, which terminates in eight triangular pediments resembling a royal crown, this was built in the first quarter of the 14TH century.
The final building which was part of the Royal Mayoral Palace of Barcelona is the Palace of Lloctinent or the Viceroy’s Palace. This is located next to the Royal Palace, and was built in the Renaissance style in the mid-16th century to be the residence of the Viceroy, the representative of the king in Catalonia, although it never fulfilled this function. In 1943 it became a museum.
The palace is set around a Renaissance courtyard with large arches and a Tuscan gallery on the first floor.
The building has a beautiful wooden coffered ceiling over the staircase constructed in the middle of the 16th century.
Off the staircase is a beautiful monumental bronze door that connects the Viceroy’s Palace to the Great Hall of the Royal Palace.
Beneath the Plaza del Rei and its surroundings is an area of 4,000 sq metres containing archaeological remains dating from between the 1st and 6th centuries A.D. These include ruins showing life in Roman times with street scenes and an extensive artisan area.
These contain a number of workshops and factories and the episcopal ensemble which was later to become a district where the bishop’s residence was located as well as other Christian religious buildings.
These remains were excavated between 1930 and 1960 and can be visited below the current buildings via the museum.