El Palau de la Generalitat is the residence of the President and the Government of Catalonia. Inside this building, the most important decisions affecting the lives of the Catalans are taken. It is also home to the most important political events in the country: high-level meetings, institutional visits, audiences, receptions…
Historically, the General Council of Catalonia -popularly known as Generalitat- has its origins in the ancient Catalan Parliament, a parliamentary representative assembly that shared power with the monarch, being one of the first bodies of this kind in Europe. The first president, Berenguer Cruïlles, was appointed in 1359. The Generalitat was the governing body of Catalonia from the 14th to the 17th centuries. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), which was fought between European powers including a divided Spain, Catalonia and other territories of the Crown of Aragon sided with England, Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal and Prussia in support of Charles III against France and Spain (Castile and other regions of Spain) who supported Philip V. Upon finally losing the war on Sept 11th 1714, Catalonia lost its sovereignty in the 1716 Nueva Planta Decrees issued by Spanish king Philip V where he suppressed the institutions, privileges, and the ancient charters of almost all the areas that were formerly part of the Crown of Aragon (Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands). The decrees ruled that all the territories in the Crown of Aragon, which functioned as a kind of confederation of states, were to be ruled by the laws of Castile (“the most praiseworthy in all the Universe” according to the 1707 decree) embedding these nations in a new, and nearly uniformly administered, centralized Spain. After 1975, the return of democracy to Spain facilitated a certain degree of devolution and the Generalitat was reinstated as the governing body of Catalonia, subordinated to the Spanish Parliament in Madrid.
In 1400, the General Council acquired this building at the heart of Barcelona to install its headquarters. Previously the building had been owned successively by a poet, a surgeon, a treasurer and a forex trader and their respective heirs. Virtually nothing remains of the original building on which a new building in Gothic style was raised, under the direction of architect Mark Safont, one of the most recognized at that time in Catalonia. The main facade (1597-1619) is the main example of civil architecture from the Renaissance in Catalonia.
The Palau de la Generalitat is open on limited occasions only.
Plan a visit. Note this is NOT a tourist attraction.
Video: © Generalitat de Catalunya