Aside from monuments, avenues, and parks, Barcelona holds in its streets some of the biggest and most interesting plazas of all Spain. Indeed, the plazas found in Ciudad Condal have stopped being a mere intersection of streets to become a meeting point from which to discover the city’s history. Even if we can find dozens of plazas distributed throughout the city, there are three in particular that standout over all the rest due to their importance and location: Plaza España, Plaza Cataluña and Plaza Sant Jaume.
Right at the base of Montjuic Hill, and with more than 34,000 m² (366,000 sq ft) of area, you will find Plaza de España, the second biggest plaza in Spain and one of the most significant ones in Barcelona. Built in 1929 to host the World’s fair (“Exposición Internacional”), it is now an important transit center in the city, and a meeting point for innumerable Barcelonans. The plaza’s center point is occupied by an imposing classic-styled fountain, designed by Josep Maria Jujol, ornamented with various groups of sculptures. Though the fountain draws all the attention, the symbols that actually give character to this plaza are both Venetian Towers, marking the beginning of María Cristina Avenue and opening access to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic and the National Art Museum of Cataluña (Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña). In addition to its architectonic beauty, the plaza has important buildings like Fira Barcelona, which hosts several of the most important festivals and expos in the city, and the Las Arenas Commercial Center, an old Mudéjar-style bullring offering beautiful night views of the plaza. Furthermore, Plaza España counts with a wide selection of accommodations, with hotels like Catalonia Barcelona, B Hotel, and Ofelias Hotel being standouts.
In the border between the city’s Oldtown and the Eixample, you will find Plaza Cataluña, starting point for important city arteries like Paseo de Gracia, the Ramblas, or Portal de L’Angel Avenue. This highly frequented plaza covering more than 30,000 m² (323,000 sq ft), is considered the third biggest plaza in Spain, right behind Plaza España, and one of the most important meeting points in the city. Surrounded by stores, big grocery markets, and terraces, Plaza Cataluña is always lively and full of pedestrians out for a walk or shopping. This plaza counts with a big mosaic at its center and numerous sculptures, such as “La Diosa” by Josep Clarà, “El Pastor” by Pablo Gargallo, and the Francesc Macià Monument, representing the history of Cataluña. In addition, the big central open space is occasionally used for live concerts, celebrations, expos, and even the Catalonian Book Week (Semana del Libro Catalán). Surrounding the plaza you will also find some of the best hotels in the city, like Catalonia Plaza, Hotel Pulitzer, Hotel Regina, or Olivia Plaza Hotel.
Plaza Sant Jaume
Finally, you can find Plaza Sant Jaume in the Gothic neighborhood, the historical and administrative center of the city since antiquity. This plaza hosts the two most important institutions in the city: the City Council of Barcelona (Ayuntamiento de Barcelona) and the Generalitat de Cataluña (Cataluña’s seat of Government and Parliament). In addition, the plaza usually holds concerts, expos, and celebrations. It is common to find it full of tourists and locals thanks to its centric location and the bohemian winding alleyways surrounding it. Finding accommodations near Plaza Sant Jaume can be an ideal choice if you wish to be close to all the best restaurants, bars, and downtown shops. Standout hotels near this plaza include Hotel Neri, Arai S Monument, Gran Hotel Barcino and Hotel Gótico.