Romanesque

Romanesque art in Barcelona

The splendid museum of MNAC at the Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona

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Barcelona, Spain
Kasper Christiansen
Text & photos: Kasper Christiansen
25th of March, 2020 (revised version)

The MNAC museum, built in 1929 was transformed into a museum in 1934. From then on the museum has had a unique and exceptional - but little known - collection of medieval art. Behind the thick walls of the palace built in Renaissance style, the National Palace (Palacio Nacional), hides what can be described as the best collection of 'primitive mural paintings in Europe. In other words, this fantastic museum in Barcelona for the mural, what Venice and Ravenna is for the mosaic art.

Romanesque art saint mary
Saint Mary, Joseph and the birth of Christ. Romanesque period, from the museum of MNAC in Barcelona.

The art collection at the MNAC Museum in Barcelona

This incredible collection of frescoes comes from small Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees. During the first decades of the 20th century a huge interest in this medieval art grew up, and by an Italian technique called strappo the museum managed to get the images off the walls of the churches (they were getting ruined by moisture in the small churches) and move them to Barcelona.

Originally, the images are probably not painted by local artists, but by artists who traveled throughout the Mediterranean area. The paintings contain motifs and techniques that were developed in Byzantium, but came to Catalonia thanks to travelling artists, maybe from Sicily.

Pantocrator, Romanesque art, Barcelona - Spain
Serafines at the MNAC museum

The Pantocrator figure from Sant Climent de Taüll


One of the museum's most famous works are Pantokrator-figure from the Sant Climent de Taüll Church. This a Christian figure, which sits majestically in a rainbow (mandorla), which is one of the favorite symbols in romanesque art. At his feet we see the world globe and the letters on each side of the figure is alpha (Α) and Omega (Ω).
Pantocrator, Romanesque art, Barcelona - Spain
The famous Christ Pantokrator from Sant Client de Taüll from aprox 1123 AC.

Guided tour in Barcelona

This incredible collection of frescoes comes from small Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees. During the first decades of the 20th century a huge interest in this medieval art grew up, and by an Italian technique the directors of the museum managed to remove the images (that were getting destroyed by moisture in the small churches) and to bring them to Barcelona.

Details of our guided visit to the MNAC Museum

Duration and Prices
Duration: 2-3 hours.

Other Tours
Are you interested in seeing the best of romanesque architecture in Catalonia? Read more about our romanesque architecture tour.

Details and prices for the Romanesque Art Tour in Barcelona
Prices from
45 €
per person for a private tour to Romanesque Art in Barcelona. The prices go from 350 € for a group of 8 people.

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