Worth a visit? The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (Spain)

You have a limited amount of time in Barcelona and you like museums. However, you don’t want to spend hours going out of your way to see art that you might not enjoy.

In this post I describe my experience at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and what I found it offers. This will help you understand if it will match your expectations so you can decide if visiting the MNAC is the best use of your time.

I find as with every museum visit, my attention span is about 1.5-2 hours. After that I need a rather long break or to just leave. That means my visit to this museum was about that long: 1 to 2 hours. Getting to the venue was very straight forward. You walk along fountains and interesting bits of architecture including the Modernist Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. I had always seen the venue from a distance and thought it looked like some kind of palace. Later I found out that it was actually a palace at some point. So far, so good and worth the visit.

I believe I arrived around 4 pm and there wasn’t a very long line at all. Since everyone’s allowed in on Sunday afternoon*, no one is checking tickets so that makes for a very speedy process. The first thing you see is that there are four main areas: Medieval Romanesque, Medieval Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque; and Modern. I managed to go to all four in that short period of time.

Maybe it’s because it’s what I’m most familiar with or maybe it’s because it’s hard for me to appreciate religious depictions, but the two first areas were not my favourite. It was definitely my first contact with Romanesque art. They were primitive wall paintings depicting Gods or religious themes. I guess that’s what was worth depicting at the time.

I sped up to Renaissance and Baroque and Modern art. I enjoyed this a bit more but again, personally, I’ve seen more interesting collections elsewhere from these periods. Worth a visit for the art? Not in my opinion. Obviously, log into the MNAC website and decide for yourself.

However! The interiors and the palace are very beautiful – architecturally speaking. My favourite part of the visit was the view of Barcelona as you exit. You can actually see almost every landmark: Sagrada Familia, egg-shape building, beach, etc.

All in all, I think it’s worth the walk to see the view but perhaps not the visit to the inside if you’re short on time and not particularly interested in religious depictions/themes.

Did you visit? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below.

*Most museums in Barcelona are free on the first Sunday of each month and every Sunday after 3 pm.


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