If you can’t catch a night at the opera, you can still take in the awe-inspiring architectural riches of one of Europe’s greatest opera houses. Opened in 1847, the Liceu launched Catalan stars such as Josep (José) Carreras and Montserrat Caballé, and seats up to 2300 people in its grand auditorium. Standard 45-minute tours of classic spaces (the foyer, Saló dels Miralls and auditorium) run in Catalan, Spanish and English; check updated schedules online.
Fire virtually destroyed the Liceu in 1994, but technicians carefully reconstructed the 19th-century auditorium, with the latest in theatre technology and ceiling murals by Catalan artist Perejaume, by 1999.
The 45-minute tour leads through the grand foyer, with its thick pillars and sumptuous chandeliers, and up the marble staircase to the Saló dels Miralls (Hall of Mirrors). These both survived the fire. The latter was traditionally where theatre-goers mingled during intermission. With mirrors, ceiling frescoes, fluted columns and high-and-mighty phrases in praise of the arts, it exudes a typically neobaroque richness worthy of its 19th-century patrons. You are then taken up to the 4th-floor stalls to admire the restored theatre itself.
More in-depth tours include visits to the Cercle del Liceu (€16, one hour), a Modernista art collection with works by Ramon Casas, or through the inner workings of the stage and backstage work areas (€24, 80 minutes).