The Palau Robert Gardens take us back to a Barcelona that was expanding at the end of the 19th century, when the Eixample was born, and show us what the gardens of the mansions owned by Barcelona's bourgeoisie were like.
These gardens are surprising for the number and size of the plants that pack their three large parterres. They stand out for the intense, very vivid green that changes into a thousand hues and filters the sunlight. The sunny area extends right up to the Palau Robert. Two winding gravel paths spread out, forming small resting squares.
The Palau Robert and its gardens were originally the family residence of Robert Robert i Surís, a son of Torroella de Montgrí. A highly influential financier in Barcelona, he became the Marquis de Robert, the Count of Serra i Sant Iscle and the Count of Torroella de Montgrí with grandee status among Spain’s nobility. In 1936, the Marquis of Robert commissioned a project for a new building on the land occupied by his mansion. It was supposed to house a hotel, festival hall, theatre, cabaret and pelota court. But the venture did not prosper and, later that year, Josep Tarradellas, the First Minister of Catalonia, turned the Palau Robert into the headquarters of the Generalitat’s Department of Culture. Once the Spanish Civil War had ended, the Roberts family reclaimed the property, intending once again to build a hotel and entertainment hall, in 1944. The Generalitat acquired the building, garden and outbuildings in 1981, following Spain’s return to democracy. It is now houses the Catalan Information Centre, which provides tourist and cultural information.
The C/ Còrsega entrance boasts aspidistras (Aspidistra elatior), umbrella sedges (Cyperus involucratis), ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), a loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) and one of the large and hundred-year-old Canary Island palms (Phoenix canariensis). A horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and two enormous laurel-leaved snail trees (Cocculus laurifolius) jut out opposite, on the right, in a parterre covered in common ivy (Hedera helix).
The inner parterres are surrounded by cheesewood hedges (Pittosporum tobira). There are also privets (Ligustrum lucidum), butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus and Ruscus hypoglossum) and aspidistras (Aspidistra elatior). The parterres have numerous sago palms (Cycas revoluta) and African lilies (Agapanthus africanus), also known as the flower of love.
The Palau Robert Gardens boast pagoda trees (Sophora japonica), cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens), smooth American cypresses (Cupressus arizonica), plane trees (Platanus hispanica), Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum), magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), large-leaved limes (Tilia platyphyllos), Seville orange trees (Citrus aurantium) and Platycladus orientalis (Thuja orientalis).
As regards palms, besides the usual Canary Island date palms, common date palms, fan palms and dwarf palms, there are others that stand out for their rarity, such as the Senegal date palm (Phoenix reclinata) and the blue fan palm (Brahea armata).
Art and Architecture
The Neoclassical building was designed by the French architect Henry Grandpierre and built with stone from Montgrí mountain (Baix Empordà).
In the gardens there is a sculpture called La lluna (the Moon), sculpted by Kiku Mistu in 2001.It is part of that artist’s educational project entitled El llenguatge de les flors (The Language of Flowers), involving the installation of lectern-sculptures in parks and gardens. The sculpture is a stainless-steel and iron moon with a red lectern, painted by students at the Joan Amades School for the Blind. Inside, reflected on the shiny surface of the moon, is a poem by J. V. Foix És quan dormo que hi veig clar. The sculpture includes the text in braille.
- Pg Gràcia, 107