If you are a culture seeker looking for something to do for the day in Barcelona without spending any money, then look no further than the CaixaForum – it’s free, fun, and fascinating. As one of the city’s lesser known architectural jewels, this laCaixa social and cultural centre at the bottom of Montjuic has turned itself into a classic art exhibition dedicated to the community of Barcelona. Enjoy 4 art expositions, an auditorium for special shows, and much more.
A legacy building recovered for the city
I can’t introduce CaixaForum without talking about the building. As I got off the bus, I was amazed as I took in the sight of this hidden away gem. With the sun beaming off the white floors, the original bricks of the building really stood out. It looked like a castle, a fortress, rather than an old factory, and I spend about 10 minutes just walking around the outside, taking photos of the different details of the building.
The building was certainly not recently build and created by laCaixa. Built in the early 20th century by Josep Puig I Cadafalch, one of the main pioneers of Catalan Moderniste architecture, the building drew its inspiration from a romantic vision of a medieval castle. It was built with traditional brick structure, offered modern surroundings and became a benchmark for good working conditions at that time, as it was being used as a factory.
The building was first used as an electricity factory known as the Casaramona, and marked the beginning of a belief in the city that it was starting the process of development. This was emphasized when the building won the Artistic Buildings award in 1913. The building stopped acting as a factory in 1919, and stood still until 1940 when it was used as a police station until 1992. It became the property of laCaixa in 1963, and was made a Historic Monument of National Interest in 1976.
In 2002, laCaixa decided that this building should be used to give something back to the community, and to generally get people to appreciate its beauty. It was reopened as the CaixaForum, and would be developed into an artistic loving dream, located in one of the most emblematic places in the city: at the bottom of Montjuic.
Prior booking required: Call (+34) 93 476 86 30 – Price: 15 Euros / group
The idea behind the Caixa Forum?
The CaixaForum was created as part of laCaixa’s Obra Social programme, dedicated to its desire to raise awareness and improve social problems. laCaixa states that it focuses on:
- Poverty and social exclusion
- Work integration for the unemployed
- Prevention of disease and a better health service
- Improve the lifestyle of older people
- Promote more cultural integration
- Improve education services and facilities
- Protect the environment
In a day and age where many companies merely state they support aims such as these, but don’t really do much to act on them, the CaixaForum provides a refreshing change. Each expo is related to these aims, and the creators really know how to make learning about these issues fun, practical and interesting.
The Caixa Forum programme
There are two permanent exhibitions at CaixaForum. The first celebrates ‘modernism’ and allows visitors to understand better the history of this architectural jewel, and uncover some hidden secrets.
The second expo is the Mediateca – a media art room that lets you learn about more modern arts, such as videos, cinema, photographs and music. It is here where you can take part, take some time out, and enjoy media projections and information about the current temporary exhibitions.
The exciting journey through this museum finishes with a walk up the stairs to its open terraces, where you can enjoy the view of the whole building, including the former Casaramona factory. On the other side, you can enjoy views of Montjuic and the fantastic MNAC building.
I enjoyed spending some quality time here, as nobody else was up there, it made for a pretty good chill out time and take in the views of Montjuic, as well as the amazing architecture that you feel a part of when on the terrace. You can see the Palau Nacional, one of the Poble Espanyol towers, and also the Calatrava Communications tower.
There is also a great selection of temporary exhibitions at the CaixaForum, and these are changed regularly. Full list of temporary exhibitions
CaixaForum Barcelona, Av. Marques de Comillas, 6-8, 08038 Barcelona
CaixaForum official website
+34 93 476 86 00
+34 93 476 86 35
Free of charge
Monday to Sunday: 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m
Saturdays: 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m
How to get there:
Catalan Railway (FGC): Espanya, lines S3, S33, S4, R5 and R6
Buses: 13 and 50 with stop outside Caixa Forum. 9, 27, 50, 65, 79, 91, 109, 165, D20, H12, V7, L72, L80, L81, L86, L87, L95 with stop at Pl. Espanya.
View Caixa Forum in a larger map
For general public: First Sunday of every month – free of charge
Please note, all the following tours must be pre booked in advance by calling +34 93 476 86 30 – groups coming with their own guide also required to make an appointment.
Historical and technical tour of the building: 15 Euros / Group
Prearranged tours for groups: 15 Euros / Group *Group must be between 10-30 people
Prearranged tours for school groups: 18 Euros / Group *Group must be between 10-30 people
Guided tours for groups of visually impaired, hard of hearing and deaf: advanced registration is necessary.