Unusual places to visit in Barcelona: the many-sided Liceu
Looking for somewhere unusual to visit in Barcelona? A guided tour, but off the tourist track? Try a visit to the Liceu, the city's oldest theatre!
Las Ramblas 51-59
Visits at 9.30am and 10.30am Monday-Friday
50-minute visit: €16
to discover Barcelona's culture
Set on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu is a prestigious opera house and performance venue.
Seating 2292, the Liceu currently boasts the highest capacity of any opera house in Europe. It hosts performances on almost every night of the year, including visits from some of the world’s most famous names.
The Liceu has its own permanent chorus, costumiers, make-up artists, stagehands, engineers and directors, with a staff of 300 working all year round to produce truly perfect performances.
A potted history of the Liceu
Since its opening in 1847, the Liceu has suffered two major fires, one in 1864 and the second, more recently, in 1994. Only a few areas remained untouched by the flames. The rest of the current Liceu is an almost exact replica of the original, and has lost nothing of its former glory.
Unusual guided visits in Barcelona: the many sides of the Liceu
During our visit, we discovered many interesting things about the Liceu, its history, its workings, and the way in which performances and operas are organised, set up and run. A very educational and truly fascinating experience, made even better by a passionate and enthusiastic guide!
The Liceu is, obviously, a fabulous performance venue, but that’s just one of its many roles. It also includes a range of spectacular rooms, such as the mirror saloon, designed for opera-goers to stretch their legs and, perhaps, enjoy refreshments during the interval. The mouldings and paintings on the wall pay homage to the dramatic arts.
We also discovered the cercle, an English-style private club. It was established at the same time as the Liceu and reserved for the Catalan elite.
- The guided visit offers a unique opportunity to discover the various rooms of the Liceu, which house some superb and well-preserved modernist masterpieces. A real treat for fans of Art Nouveau!
- Our favourite part of the visit was discovering the Liceu cercle, especially the room containing works by the Catalan painter Ramon Casas, designed as a visual hymn to music. The dim lighting of the room in question only serves to make them more atmospheric.
Useful information about the guided visit
- The guided visit covers the opera house, the mirror saloon and the private club (the Liceu cercle)
- Languages: English or Spanish
- Price: 16 euros
- Time: 9.30am or 10.30am, Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Aim to get there early.
- Duration: 50 min
The hidden side of the Liceu
If you’ve always wanted to see what goes on behind the scenes in somewhere like the Liceu, it’s also possible to visit the rehearsal hall, the under-stage area, the wardrobe and the place where the actors’ wigs are kept! Further information about this option is available on their website.
Go forth and explore!
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About the author
Olivia has always loved Barcelona: its modernity, the fantastic climate, the sun, the beaches, the tiny winding streets of the Gothic quarter, the joyful and festive atmosphere… Like all the best love stories, this one ends “happily ever after”, and Olivia has now set up home in the Catalan capital.