Arc de Triomf

Cultural heritage
  • Espais urbans
  • Modernisme
  • Turisme responsable

Arc de Triomf

Built for the Universal Exposition in 1888, the Arc de Triomf stood at the head of the avenue that led to the main entrance of the fair, in Parc de la Ciutadella, which had just been opened. The redbrick monument, built in the Neo-Mudéjar style, reflected the eclectic, decorative taste so typical of Catalan Art Nouveau in vogue at that time.

Universal Barcelona

In the final third of the 19th century, universal expositions, or world trade fairs, were events that had an enormous social impact because they introduced the host city to the whole world, along with the cultural, economic, scientific and industrial potential of each country. So the Triumphal Arch was not only the entrance to the Universal Exposition of 1888, it also symbolically marked Barcelona's entry into the modern era.

From an urban development perspective, the Arc de Triomf stands on the edge of Ciutat Vella, the old city that spreads out to the south, and modern Barcelona outside the old walls to the north, the Eixample neighbourhood.

Modernista spirit

At the height of the Modernista or Art Nouveau movement in a large part of Europe, it was common to see constructions reflecting a historicist trend, that is, one inspired by previous eras. Neo-Gothic, Neo-Mudéjar (at least in Spain) and Neo-Romantic were some of the predominant styles.

In line with this trend, the architect Josep Vilaseca drew up plans for a monument 30 metres high, of classical proportions, but very attractive and highly symbolic. The artists who sculpted the decorative friezes portrayed a city-related theme on each side: Barcelona welcomes the nations (on the Passeig de Sant Joan face, by Josep Reynés), Sharing the rewards among the participants of the Exposition (on the Passeig de Lluís Companys face, by Josep Llimona) and allegories of Industry, Agriculture and Trade on one side, and Science and Art on the other. Les Fames (the winged figures on the buttresses) were sculpted by Manuel Fuxà and Pere Carbonell.

Finally, you can see the Barcelona coat of arms on the curve of the arch, flanked by those of the other 48 Spanish provinces, 24 on each face of the monument.


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