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Galeries Maldà, the oldest shopping arcade in Barcelona

Did you know that the very first shopping arcade in Barcelona was opened in a medieval palace in the middle of the Gothic quarter and that it still exists? Although the once so overwhelming Galeries Maldà has now fallen into oblivion, they are still worth a visit for many reasons! Even if it’s just for its historical significance, the cinema located there, or the amazing Harry Potter store that has recently been established!

The Baron Maldà

The Galeries Maldà were established in 1943 in the old Palau Maldà, a 17th-century palace that belonged to the Cortada family. The name of Maldà is derived from one of its most famous residents, Rafael d’Amat i de Cortada, better known as Baró de Maldà i Maldanell. He inherited the title and the house from his mother, Maria Teresa de Cortada. As a wealthy man, he devoted his time to traveling, attending parties, and writing. It was in the Palau Maldà where he worked on his famous “Calaix de Sastre” for fifty years. A diary in which he vividly describes life at the end of the 18th century, full of anecdotes, parties, and adventures he experienced. Today, this diary is considered one of the best sources of information on the daily life of Barcelonians at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

After the civil war, the family decided to sell parts of the palace as apartments and create a shopping arcade on the site of the former gardens, as was then so fashionable in other cities. The Galeries Maldà opened in 1943 and was thus the first shopping arcade in Barcelona, with entrances via Portaferrissa, Plaça del Pi, and Carrer del Pi.

Galeries Maldà
Galeries Maldà in Barcelona

The shopping arcade on the ground floor of the old Maldà palace still exists, although its fame and glory are long gone. Yet it remains an interesting place to see, especially when you know more about its history!

Maldà Cinema

In 1945, a small cinema, the Cinemes Maldà, opened in the Palau del Maldà. Since then, both old and modern independent films in their original version have been shown in their hall. Unique to this cinema is that with the same entrance ticket you can watch multiple films in a row. Special events and film nights are also regularly held, and new fathers can once a month go to the movies with their babies during a special child-friendly film session.

Interesting to know is that the Maldà cinema is located on the site of the former chapel of the baron and that it is the oldest (still operating) cinema in the city with only one screen.

Souvenir Shops

The once so magnificent shopping arcade now counts a handful of shops, most of them targeting tourists. Among all the souvenirs, you can still find clothing and shoe stores, a jeweler, and a toy store.

Galeries Maldà includes many souvenir shops and a cinema!
Galeries Maldà includes many souvenir shops and a cinema!

Harry Potter Store

But the real attraction of the Galeries Maldà is the Harry Potter store, the very first in Spain. In the so-called Carreró de Muggles (Muggle Street), fans of J.K. Rowling’s stories can indulge themselves with all products related to the popular Harry Potter saga. Here you’ll find everything related to Harry Potter: from clothing and magic wands to the same food and sweets that the book characters eat. Needless to say, this is the place to be for Harry Potter fans!

How cool is that? A real Harry Potter store!
How cool is that? A real Harry Potter store!

The arrival of this store in 2017 has breathed new life into Galeries Maldà, and we hope that other fun stores will open here and that Galeries Maldà with its small cinema will continue to exist!

Update 7/03/2019: Following the success of the Harry Potter store, more imaginative stores opened at Galeries Maldà, one specialized in The Game of Thrones and the other in the manga Dragon Ball. The latest addition to Galeries Maldà is the Super Friki Market. A supermarket that sells all kinds of unusual items we know from TV: from the candies and beers in Harry Potter’s books to Valyrian fire liquor from Game of Thrones or Willy Wonka’s chocolate with a golden ticket inside. There is also a large assortment of Japanese food items, most of which are totally unknown to most of us.

Practical Information

  • What: Visit the oldest shopping arcade in Barcelona
  • Where: Carrer de Portaferrissa, 22
  • Metro: Liceu (L3) and Jaume I (L4)
  • Price: Free

Tip: Combine your visit to the Galeries Maldà with Plaça del Pi (where you can find some gems such as the Esglèsia del Pi) and Carrer Petritxol (the sweetest street in Barcelona because of all its delicious granjas). Both are emblematic places in the heart of the Gothic quarter.

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Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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