The Ajuntament, otherwise known as the Casa de la Ciutat, has been the seat of power for centuries. The Consell de Cent (the city’s ruling council) first sat here in the 14th century, but the building has lamentably undergone many changes since the days of Barcelona’s Gothic-era splendour.
Only the original, now disused, entrance on Carrer de la Ciutat retains its Gothic ornament. The main 19th-century neoclassical facade on the square is a charmless riposte to the Palau de la Generalitat. Inside, the Saló de Cent is the hall in which the town council once held its plenary sessions. The broad vaulting is pure Catalan Gothic and the artesonado (Mudéjar wooden ceiling with interlaced beams leaving a pattern of spaces for decoration) demonstrates fine work. In fact, much of what you see is comparatively recent. The building was badly damaged in a bombardment in 1842 and has been repaired and tampered with repeatedly. The wooden neo-Gothic seating was added at the beginning of the 20th century, as was the grand alabaster retablo (retable, or altarpiece) at the back. To the right you enter the small Saló de la Reina Regente, built in 1860, where the Ajuntament now sits. To the left of the Saló de Cent is the Saló de les Croniques – the murals here recount Catalan exploits in Greece and the Near East in Catalonia’s empire-building days.