Throughout his life the sculptor Frederic Marès devoted his energies to collecting Hispanic works from Antiquity to the end of the 19th century. Today this sculptural collection is the heart of the Marès Museum, along with his own artistic production and a valuable collection of everyday objects ranging from pipes and fans to medieval keys.
An exceptional building
Very close to the cathedral, the Museu Marès is housed in part of the Palau Reial Major, which had been the residence of the counts of Barcelona and the kings of the Crown of Aragon and Catalonia in the Middle Ages, a Gothic building of enormous historical value and great beauty.
The Grand Royal Palace embraces a delightful inner courtyard surrounded by archways and full of orange trees, the verger, or orchard. It is open to the public and during the months of good weather it is a peaceful meeting point, undisturbed by the noise and bustle outside. In the middle of the courtyard is a fountain where, during Corpus Christi, an egg dances in the L'ou com balla celebration.
The Marès universe
It is definitely worth going in and taking time to discover the secrets of the Museu Frederic Marès, because it is packed with items of every kind. Visitors can admire magnificent wooden Romanesque polychrome sculptures, but there are fans, old pharmacist's jars, pipes, toys and lots more too. Such was the universe of Frederic Marès, the sculptor who devoted a large part of his life bringing together Hispanic sculptures and objects in a collection of great value.
The most notable works of art include a portrait of the Roman emperor Augustus, from imperial Tàrraco (Tarragona), and an extensive series of polychrome religious figures dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries.
Among the everyday objects, arranged in ten themed rooms, the collection of women's items (clothing, accessories, jewellery, etc.) stands out, as does the photography room and the collection of wrought iron, ranging from medieval keys to strong boxes. Frederic Marès never lost his passion for collecting, so the museum continued to expand and be enriched by new items. The lack of space meant work had to be carried out to enlarge it in the 1960s and again at the end of the 20th century. While this work was taking place, a part of the Roman wall was discovered, including one of the towers.