1929. Barcelona International Exhibition. In this context, it was decided to build Poble Espanyol on the mountain of Montjuïc, as a synthesis of Spanish architecture, handicrafts and cultural wealth during the Exhibition. Almost a century later, Poble Espanyol is a living reflection of the soul of a country and a traffic-free, open-air precinct ideal for enjoying with family, partner or friends.
1923 - 1928 The origins
In 1927, the builders of the precinct - the architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera and the artists Xavier Nogués and Miquel Utrillo - took a long and exciting trip in a brand-new Hispano-Suiza. They visited no less and no more than 1,600 towns and villages taking hundreds of photographs and making notes and drawings in order to plan an authentic town with its streets, squares, church and other sites, and with a harmonious combination of typical buildings of the various regions of Spain.
1929 - 1930 The International Exhibition
During the International Exhibition, between May 1929 and January 1930, Poble Espanyol hosted a long list of cultural and recreational events: parties with dancing, competitions, bullfights, dance from different regions of Spain, etc. The precinct, part of the group of pavilions dedicated to art, was so successful that when the Exhibition closed its doors, the City Council decided not to demolish it, as had been planned initially.
1936 - 1950 The War in Poble Espanyol
But with the Civil War (1936-1939), the location’s festive, innocent and cheerful nature disappeared completely and it ended up being converted - and this is probably its least-known facet - into an internment camp for prisoners. After the War, Poble Espanyol was under the threat of ruin while Franco supporters used the site to disseminate violent anti-Catalan messages.
1955 - 1970 Failed attempt at refurbishment
From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, Barcelona City Council wanted to revitalise Poble Espanyol and, in general, the whole mountain of Montjuïc. A series of refurbishment works were undertaken at Poble Espanyol and some events and festivals were organised, but this was not enough and the precinct still did not function, dragging with it the image of decay it had begun to build up years previously.
1986 - 1995 The beginning of the change
It was not until 1986 that the direction of Barcelona's Poble Espanyol began to experience an important change: on the request of the City Council, a new Poble Espanyol project was launched to recover the architecture of the original buildings and create an area of leisure, one of gastronomy and one of services, as well as an outstanding range of night-time entertainment. The ultimate aim of all these changes was to serve the great tourist demand of the time.
And the changes very quickly translated into numbers: in 1987, 600,000 people visited Poble Espanyol and just two years later, that figure had risen to almost a million. But despite the good short-term results, Poble Espanyol was still running up great losses...
1996 - Actualitat Poble Espanyol’s rebirth
Poble Espanyol had gone into a spiral of financial crisis difficult to resolve and the City Council knew that the situation could not be withstood for much longer. But in 1996 a group of entrepreneurs were able to appreciate the precinct’s potential and decided to take on its management. Thanks to this, Poble Espanyol began to rise again.
During this new stage, architecture, handicrafts and contemporary art were given added value as basic mainstays of Poble Espanyol (in 2001 the Fran Daurel Museum, an important private collection that brings together works of universal artists, was installed).
Today, tourists are still interested in Poble Espanyol, but the compound is now also a great focus of leisure, with stable scheduling that continues throughout the year and integrated with a wide range of cultural activities aimed at both the Barcelona and tourist audiences.
In addition, from 2016 on the location will adapt even more to the demands of the visitor and of the moment and it is committed to new venues provided with the latest technologies that will enable the visitor to get a deeper insight, with all the feelings of the soul of an entire region.