Museum of Frederic Mares in Barcelona. Sculpture collection - gothic, middle ages


Museu Frederic Marès

Top choice in La Rambla & Barri Gòtic

The wealthy Catalan sculptor, traveller and obsessive collector Frederic Marès i Deulovol (1893–1991) amassed one of the wildest collections of historical curios. Today, his astonishing displays of religious art and antiques (which he donated to the city of Barcelona) await inside this vast medieval complex, once part of the royal palace of the counts of Barcelona. A rather worn coat of arms on the wall indicates that it was also, for a while, the seat of the Spanish Inquisition in Barcelona.

Frederic Marès' passion was medieval Spanish sculpture, huge quantities of which are displayed in the basement and on the ground and 1st floors – including some lovely polychrome wooden sculptures of the Crucifixion and the Virgin (such as the12th-century Mare de Déu amb el Nen from Burgos). Among the most eye-catching pieces is a reconstructed Romanesque doorway with four arches, taken from a 13th-century country church in the Aragonese province of Huesca (in the basement).

The top two floors hold a mind-boggling array of knick-knacks: medieval weaponry, delicate jewellery and ladies' fans, fine ceramics and clocks, intricate 'floral' displays made from seashells, 19th-century daguerreotypes and photographs, and much more. Marès’ wood-beamed former study and library is now crammed with sculptures (including some of his own). The shady courtyard houses the pleasant Cafè de l’Estiu (April to September).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby La Rambla & Barri Gòtic attractions

2. La Catedral

0.03 MILES

Barcelona’s central place of worship presents a magnificent image. The richly decorated main facade, dotted with gargoyles and the kinds of stone…

3. Palau del Lloctinent

0.04 MILES

Flanking the Plaça del Rei, this 1550s palace was built as the residence of the Spanish lloctinent (viceroy) of Catalonia and later converted into a…

4. Capella Reial de Santa Àgata

0.04 MILES

Accessed within the Museu d'Història de Barcelona, this is the chapel of the old Gothic Palau Reial Major (Grand Royal Palace). Outside, a spindly bell…

5. Plaça del Rei

0.04 MILES

The courtyard of the Gothic former Palau Reial Major, this picturesque, almost entirely walled-in square is where the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs)…

6. Roman Walls

0.05 MILES

From Plaça del Rei it's worth a detour to see the two best surviving stretches of Barcelona's Roman walls, which once boasted 78 towers (as much a matter…

7. Plaça de Ramon Berenguer el Gran

0.05 MILES

Watched over by some of the most substantial remains of Barcelona's Roman walls, this square is dominated by a statue of count-king Ramon de Berenguer…

8. Casa de l’Ardiaca

0.06 MILES

The 16th-century Casa de l’Ardiaca has housed the city’s archives since the 1920s. Stroll around the supremely serene courtyard, cooled by a fountain and…