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Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona

The epicenter and one of the busiest traffic points in the city is Plaça de Catalunya (or Plaza Cataluña in Spanish). Established in 1902, in what was then an empty area outside the city walls, this square is now a bustling traffic hub with beautiful artworks, fountains, and greenery. Regularly, events and concerts are organized here. Don’t miss the view of the square from El Corte Inglés and grab a cup of coffee at the famous Café Zurich, the meeting place for Barcelonans.

What to See and Do at Plaça de Catalunya

At Plaça Catalunya, four of the eleven metro lines intersect, there’s a small shopping center, the department store El Corte Inglés, numerous hotels, and the undisputed meeting point Café Zurich: this makes it one of the busiest spots in Barcelona.

The square is adorned with fountains, trees, and sculptures and is constantly visited by tourists and passers-by.

Tip: For a complete experience, you should visit the square both during the day, when it is overrun by pigeons, and in the evening, when it is beautifully illuminated. Also, don’t forget to admire the view over Plaça Catalunya from the café of El Corte Inglés.

The pigeons of Plaça Catalunya

Plaça Catalunya is famous for the large number of pigeons that gather there, many of which are fed by tourists who take the opportunity to take photos.

The remarkable thing is that the pigeons have not always been here, but only since 1929, when they were brought here to beautify the square. As a result, these birds began to multiply, and they have done so in such a way that Barcelona is now one of the cities with the most pigeons on its streets.

Among the pigeons at Plaça de Catalunya
Among the pigeons at Plaça de Catalunya

Art at Plaça Catalunya

During your visit to Plaça Catalunya, in addition to the large fountains and the large central square, pay special attention to the statues that adorn the square’s fountains. These were made for the 1929 World Exhibition. Of the original 16 statues, 8 remain to be admired.

From left to right, we see the following statues:

  • Navegació (‘navigation’) by Eusebi Arnau
  • Pastor del flabiol (‘’shepherd of the flute’) by Pau Gargallo
  • Joventut (‘youth’) by Josep Clarà
  • Dona pescadora (‘fisherwoman’) by Enric Casanovas
  • Dona amb nen i flabiol (‘woman with child and flute’) by Josep Viladomat
  • Forjador (‘blacksmith’) by Josep Llimona
  • Noia (‘girl’) by Josep Dunyach
  • Maternitat (‘motherhood’) by Vicenç Navarro.
Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona
Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona

Most still have the signature of their creator, but if you look closely, you’ll find two replicas among them, namely Pastor del flabiol and Joventut. The statue of Pastor del flabiol by Gargallo from 1927 was so damaged over time that it was sent back to the Pau Gargallo Museum in Zaragoza and replaced by this copy. The real Joventut, by Clarà, has been in the Clarà Library on Carrer Doctor Carulla since 2000. This is also the building where the sculptor had his workshop in his last 10 years of life. The Joventut we see on Plaça Catalunya is a copy from 1993.

A more recent addition to this group of sculptures on Plaça Catalunya is the monument to Francesc Macià, the former president of Catalonia. The sculpture was created in 1991 by Josep Subirachs, the architect who is also responsible for the Passion façade of the Sagrada Família.

Café Zurich

After an hour strolling the busy Ramblas, do as the locals do and settle down on the terrace of Café Zurich where you can enjoy people watching! This café, located on the corner of Carrer Pelai and Plaça Catalunya, is an important meeting point for many people, especially among the younger Barcelonans, who meet between the café and the metro entrance. Residents of Barcelona often talk about “quedar en el Zurich” (‘meeting at Zurich’).

The café has existed since 1920 and is a popular face of Plaça Catalunya.

Hard Rock Café

For Hard Rock Café enthusiasts, it’s useful to know that the Hard Rock Café Barcelona is located near Plaça de Catalunya. Here you can enjoy various American dishes and a variety of interesting rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. To avoid the queues, it’s best to order your ticket online in advance.

El Corte Inglés

This Spanish department store, similar to Bijenkorf, can be found in several places in the city, but their branch at Plaça Catalunya is the most emblematic. Every Barcelonean has been here at least once!

The department store has several floors including a gourmet supermarket, a luxury perfumery, a jewelry department, and of course a fashion department with the finest brands.

On the top floor, you’ll find a café where you can take a break while enjoying breathtaking views of the square and the city. A great lookout point that not many people know about!

👉 Read more about El Corte Inglés at Plaça de Catalunya.

El Corte Inglés Plaça de Catalunya Barcelona
El Corte Inglés Plaça de Catalunya Barcelona

El Triangle

El Triangle is a small-scale shopping center at Plaça Catalunya where you can find large chains such as Sephora and FNAC. There is also room for smaller shops and cafes. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Plaça Catalunya, this is the perfect address.

Shopping Around Plaça Catalunya

Besides the El Triangle shopping center and the department store El Corte Inglés, you can also enjoy an excellent shopping experience around Plaça Catalunya. Here you’ll find, among others, a large flagship store of H&M, Zara, Foot Locker, and Desigual.

The surrounding streets around Plaça Catalunya are also popular shopping areas. For example, locals in Barcelona like to shop at Portal de l’Àngel and Carrer Pelai. Here you’ll find all the well-known fashion chains, from Zara, Mango, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, and Bershka to H&M, Topshop, and Foot Locker.

👉 Read more about shopping in Barcelona here.

Zara Store Plaça Catalunya Barcelona
Zara Store Plaça Catalunya Barcelona

Apple Store

At Plaça Catalunya, you will also find the Apple megastore in Barcelona. Here, in addition to all Apple products, you also have free Wi-Fi. Ideal if you want to send a quick update to your loved ones via Whatsapp.

History of Plaça Catalunya

In the times when Barcelona still had city walls, the area of Plaça Catalunya lay outside these walls and was therefore one of the most important entrances to the city. Here, many roads leading to other villages in the area were located, and open-air markets were held where farmers from the surroundings sold their goods.

As Barcelona expanded towards Tibidabo mountain and the city walls were demolished in the second half of the 19th century, Plaça Catalunya gradually developed into a central square, although this was not included in the urban plans of Ildefons Cerdà. According to Cerdà, Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, where Avinguda Diagonal, Avinguda de la Meridiana, and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes intersect, was to become the new epicenter of the city.

Although plans for a new Plaça Catalunya were made during the 1888 World Fair, the current Plaça Catalunya was not built until 1902. In the meantime, this area housed fairground stalls, theaters, and pubs. The square was officially opened on November 2, 1927, by King Alfonso XIII.

How to Get to Plaça de Catalunya

Due to its central location, Plaça Catalunya is well connected to the rest of the city by the bus and metro network. At Plaça Catalunya, you will find a metro station (L1 and L3) as well as a train station for regional trains (R1, R3, R4, RG1, R12) and the starting point of the FGC trains (L6, L7, S1, S55, S5, S2).

This square is also the boarding point for all hop-on-hop-off buses and the start and end point of the airport shuttle buses, the Aerobús.

Besides the metro and regional trains, there are also many taxis and buses available.

Useful information

Address: Plaça de Catalunya
08002 Barcelona

Public transport:

Metro: Catalunya (L1, L3, L6, L7)

Bus: 24, 55, 67, D50, H16, N1, N2,  N3, N4, N5, N6, N7, N8, N9, N11, N15, N28, V15

Train: Catalunya (R1, R3, R4, S1, S2, S6)