Since 2005, the astonishing silhouette of the Agbar Tower has stood out in the urban landscape of Barcelona. Designed by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel in collaboration with the Spaniard Fermín Vásquez, this singularly shaped tower has become one of the icons of the Catalan capital.
Agbar Tower or Glòries Tower?
Designed to be the headquarters of the water company of Barcelona (Aguas de Barcelona), this architectural masterpiece is known as the Agbar Tower. The first letters: Ag for Aguas and Bar for Barcelona eventually formed its name: Torre Agbar.
Since the Barcelona water company no longer owns it, it was renamed the Glòries Tower because of its location near the square of the same name, in the 22@, Barcelona’s technological district. But few people call it that. For many Barcelonans, it remains the Agbar Tower.
The tower was to become a luxury hotel of the Hyatt chain, but the estimated cost of converting its offices into hotel rooms was too high and the project was abandoned.
The history of the Agbar Tower or Glòries Tower
Where does its amazing design come from?
Jean Nouvel, a fervent admirer of Antoni Gaudí‘s genius, wanted the shape of the Agbar Tower to echo that of the towers of the Sagrada Familia. Like Gaudí, the French architect was also inspired by the rounded curves of Montserrat, a famous mountain range located about 60 kilometres from Barcelona.
Jean Nouvel identifies his architectural work as “a fluid mass that gushes from the ground like a geyser under a permanent and calculated pressure.” This idea is reinforced by the colours of the Agbar Tower: for the floors close to the ground, a range of red ochre which, towards the top of the tower, turns blue to blend in with the sky.
However, the design of the Agbar Tower has given rise to many controversies and is not always unanimously accepted. Its shape is often compared to that of a suppository, a shell, or an erected phallus.
For some, the Agbar Tower is like a huge gherkin because it looks surprisingly like another skyscraper nicknamed “The Gherkin” by Londoners: the “30 St Mary Axe” completed in 2004 and located in the business district of London.
Regardless of the positive or negative opinions, the Agbar Tower has become an unavoidable symbol of Barcelona that visitors from all over the world are eager to discover and see up close.
Agbar Tower: construction and description
It took 6 years to build this tower with its innovative and extremely complex structure. The work lasted from 1999 to 2005.
The last six floors of the tower narrow to form a 30-meter-high dome made of 250,000 kilos of steel and glass.
Its cylindrical shape, designed without a main façade, allows all the surrounding parts of the city to be seen in an identical way from its 4949 randomly distributed windows. The windows facing the Sagrada Familia have no transoms to allow Gaudí’s masterpiece to be admired from the Agbar Tower.
Its concrete structure is covered with coloured aluminium plates and glass slats of various inclinations that allow the tower to change colour depending on the season or time of day.
Visit to the Glòries Tower
Good news! Since June 2022, it has been possible to explore the interior of the Glòries Tower.
We took the tour as soon as it opened and really enjoyed the experience. We highly recommend this original and informative visit, which is divided into three parts.
Located in the basement of the tower, the Hyper-Viewpoint is a remarkable space made up of several rooms that allow you to take the pulse of Barcelona and its surroundings in an innovative and original way.
The aesthetic and artistic installations in this museum are crafted from real-time data collected about Barcelona. The Catalan capital is thus portrayed as a living organism, whose pulse beats to the rhythm of interactions between visible and invisible human and non-human inhabitants.
The 360º Viewpoint
You’ll reach the viewpoint on the 30th floor of the tower in just a few seconds via a very modern lift. From this high vantage point, and through the building’s characteristic glass slats, you can enjoy a 360º view of the whole of Barcelona.
Cloud Cities: A Stunning Climbable Sculpture
Our favourite part is optional. It involves climbing an impressive sculpture by artist Tomás Saraceno.
If you wish, you can do as we did and climb through this unique structure made of taut cables. Take your time to savour the experience and take breaks in some of its 113 metallic cloud spaces.
You will need to deposit all your personal belongings in lockers and wear a blue suit provided by the tower staff. Only your mobile phone can be slipped into a strap that you will attach around your neck to prevent it from falling.
This third part of the visit is a really fun experience. It does require good physical condition. Go prepared with comfortable clothes and closed sports shoes. Yes, it’s quite athletic but totally doable. We wholeheartedly recommend it; it’s very enjoyable.
Access is not allowed for individuals under 16, pregnant women, the elderly, those with limited mobility, those suffering from vertigo, those who are intoxicated, or anyone else who might put their health at risk. You will be asked to respect the decision of the tower staff.
Illumination of the Agbar Tower at night
At night, the Agbar Tower shines with a thousand lights!
The skilful orchestration of the 4,500 LED devices on its façade allows the replication, at a very low cost, of 16 million colours that can change hue, thus creating stunning lighting effects.
The tower is illuminated every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- from 1 October to 31 March: from 8pm to 11pm
- from 1 April to 30 September: from 9pm to 12pm
The Agbar Tower climbed several times
Frenchman Alain Robert, aka “Spider-Man” set out to conquer the Agbar Tower three times. His last ascent was in November 2016.
At the end of 2019, Leo Urban and Nico Mathieux, two young French YouTubers, set out, in turn, to tackle the Agbar Tower with their bare hands and without protection. They filmed their entire ascent, which lasted no more than 30 minutes.
In August 2020, Leo Urban repeated the experience on his own, but barefoot this time! To celebrate his victory, he did a handstand at the top of the dome. It was a daring move!
What to visit around the Agbar Tower?
The 22@ district
If the Agbar Tower attracts you, the contemporary design of its neighbourhood will undoubtedly also interest you!
The 22@ district, where the Glòries Tower is located, is an area where impressive modern buildings stand next to old factories that have been renovated into amazing creative spaces.
The Design Museum
Right next to the Agbar Tower is the Design Museum. Why not take a moment to visit it?
How to get to the Agbar Tower?
Address, metro station, and bus lines
The Agbar Tower is located on Avenida Diagonal at number 211 near the metro station Glòries (red line nº1)
You can also get there by taking the tourist bus and getting off at the stop Glòries Torre Agbar.
Enjoy your exploration!