Updated Aug 13 2023
The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, also known as the Barcelona Pavilion, was commissioned to represent Germany for the 1929 International Exposition, which took place on Montjuïc Mountain. It’s therefore more informally referred to as the German Pavilion.
Visits to the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion
For all architecture fans and students, and of course for architects themselves, the Barcelona Pavilion is a must-see attraction, as even though it’s a replica, it’s still hugely impressive.
Barcelona Pavilion visit tickets
For those for whom architecture isn’t an interest, perhaps the building won’t attract your attention so much at first, and we therefore recommend that you go on a guided tour, which will help you to gain a better understanding of Mies van der Rohe’s philosophy, what he wanted his work to represent, and why, almost 100 years later, it’s still a true reference point for current architecture.
Guided tours in English: Saturdays at 10:00.
Guided tours in Spanish: Saturdays at 11:00.
Guided tours in Catalan: Saturdays at 12:00.
The Barcelona Chair
One of the most noteworthy elements of the pavilion’s interior is the ‘Barcelona chair’, a chair made out of leather and with a metal frame, which was designed especially for the occasion. It still exists today, and the ‘Barcelona Chair’ is now one of the most common designs of chair sold in shops throughout the world.
Sculpture of George Kolbe Barcelona
This sculpture is a perfect replica of that which was made by the sculptor George Kolbe under the name of “Amanacer” or “Sunrise”, for the original pavilion. Its strategic position, over one of the edges of the small pond, allows the visitor to see its reflection, not only in the water but also in the large glass window that separates the open space with the closed space, and in the wall that is made of green marble from the Alps.
Information and history of the construction of the German Pavilion in Barcelona
Designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, the pavilion represented the first time that Germany took part in an international event such as the International Exposition after the First World War, and therefore every little detail was of utmost importance to the architect.
One of the most significant of these details was the choice of its location, as the pavilion was originally supposed to be in another location, very close to the Palau Nacional (the current site of the National Museum of Catalunya, the MNAC) and next to the other countries’ pavilions. However, Mies van der Rohe insisted that it were built in another area.
The reason was simply that in building the pavilion right next to the road that leads from the Exposition’s leisure area of Poble Espanyol to the most institutional and cultural area, it meant that nearly all the people who visited the Exposition would pass the pavilion and get to see it.
The German pavilion was dismantled after the end of the International Exposition, and the current building that you can visit today is a replica that was built in 1986 thanks to an initiative introduced by Barcelona’s city council and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation.
The current pavilion is a full-scale reconstruction, situated in exactly the same place as the original pavilion, and the same materials were used for its construction, even including extracting stone from the same quarries.
Unfortunately, from the original work only a piece of iron remains, which is only on show for the public to see on certain special occasions.
The philosophy behind the construction of the Mies Van der Rohe pavilion
A large part of the importance of the Barcelona pavilion lies in the ability Mies van der Rohe had to turn into reality the idea that many architects had about what should be modern architecture (simple, yet functional), and the building therefore became an authentic symbol of pragmatic modern architecture.
In order to achieve this, although it may seem strange, Mies van der Rohe took the classical style as inspiration, using a type of marble that was commonly used in Roman temples, and choosing a floor that resembled that of classical temples. As a modern contrast to these materials he used glass and steel, thus achieving a global harmony of both styles.
Given the interest that it generates, the pavilion houses temporary exhibitions from time to time, and these are nearly always either directly or indirectly connected with architecture. Certain elements of the pavilion’s interior décor are therefore often altered for these exhibitions.
In spite of all this, what really made Mies van der Rohe achieve the revolutionary architectural impact that he was looking for was an innovative distribution of space (not hierarchical, but giving the same importance to each one of the areas), with a clear presence of straight lines, and stretching the limits with the open and closed spaces. His use of decoration was functional yet minimalist, avoiding any kind of decorative element that wasn’t strictly necessary.
Where is the Barcelona Pavilion? Map and how to get there
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7, Barcelona.
Monday to Sunday: from 10:00 to 20:00.
General admission: €5.
Groups: €4 for each member of the group.
Free of charge: children under the age of 16.
How to get there?
Metro: Espanya (lines 1 and 3).
Buses: lines 13 (this is the nearest), 23, 37, 50, 65, 79, 91, 109, 165, H12, H16 and the tourist bus.
On foot: if you’re in the area immediately surrounding Montjuïc you’ll be able to walk to the pavilion.