You’ll feel like royalty as you ascend the steps of the palatial Palau Nacional, home to Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) or the National Museum of Catalan. While the Renaissance-inspired exteriors of the Museum, built in 1929, are a masterpiece in themselves, it is the cherished works within its walls that will leave visitors awestruck. With pieces by artists such as El Greco, Gaudí, Dalí and Picasso, this Catalan jewel is sure to surpass your greatest expectations.
Towering over Montjuïc Hill, the MNAC houses over 260,000 works of art and is easily one of Barcelona’s most important museums. Rich with culture, this treasury is known for having the world’s largest collection of Romanesque frescoes, most of which have been preserved from rural churches in the Pyrenees and other Old Catalan locations.
One of the most impressive of these is the panel painting Altar Frontal from La Seu d'Urgell, or of The Apostles. This 12th century relic is remarkable due to its bright colours and characteristic representation of Romanesque art. The MNAC also boasts a finely curated collection of Baroque and Renaissance art. The oil-on-canvas painting Saint Peter and Saint Paul, by Spanish artist El Greco, was completed between 1590 and 1600 and is indicative of the times. According the museum’s guide, the piece is “enriched by modern use of colour, the fruit of the lessons the artist had learned in Venice.”
Recently, the museum opened a monographic room in honour of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The exhibit was made possible thanks to loaned works from the state and Picasso’s stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin. The collection of nine paintings epitomises some of Picasso’s best periods and, understandably, serves as a major attraction for modern-art enthusiasts.
Fans of the 20th century masters will also love to see architect Antoni Gaudí’s Upright Chair and his captivating stained glass piece, Rosace with the Eternal Eye. The thought-provoking Portrait of my Father by fellow great Salvador Dalí is yet another fantastic reason to visit the astounding MNAC.