18 April, 2023

Today we want to take you to Montjuïc, on a private tour of the Barcelona Pavilion (also known as the German Pavilion) by architects Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Lilly Reich.

It was originally built as the German Weimar Republic Pavilion and is located within the premises of the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition area.

NOTE: To enhance your experience, scroll to the end and turn on our musical suggestion before you start reading this blog post.

A milestone of modern architecture

The pavilion designed by Mies and Reich is universally considered today as one of the milestones of 20th-century modern architecture.

It notably differs in style and purpose from the conception of many other buildings of the Exhibition area.

PHOTO: The Barcelona Pavilion. An exhibition space, or an exhibit?

An exhibition space, or an exhibit?

The one-floor pavilion was not planned to really function as an exhibition space, but was itself intended to be the exhibit.

It was meant to symbolize the concepts of simplicity, clarity, and modernity with which the Weimar Republic wished to be associated.


The two architects chose to decorate this quite minimalistic pavilion only with furniture designed specifically for it (the Barcelona chair) and by “Dawn”, a bronze statue by George Kolbe.

PHOTO: “Dawn”, by G. Kolbe

A continuous open-plan space

It was conceived as a continuous open-plan space, with steel pillars carrying a seemingly hovering flat roof and with spectacular plates of Tinos green marble, onyx, and glass of different hues to divide the spaces. 

Mies Van der Rohe and Lily Reich were able to forge a seamless interaction between the inside and outside of the building.

PHOTO: Mies Van der Rohe, portrayed by artist AXE Colours

Who was Mies Van der Rohe?

Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe (1886 – 1969) was a German-born architect and designer who contributed to the shaping of modern architecture in the 20th century, together with other giants like Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier.

Not only an architect but also an educator, he became the last director of the groundbreaking Staatliches Bauhaus Art School (1919 -1933), before it was closed down by Adolf Hitler.

Because of Nazi Germany’s distaste for modern architecture, in 1937 Mies Van der Rohe chose to emigrate to the United States of America to pursue a new life and career.

The 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition

After the successful 1888 Barcelona World Fair, the idea of hosting another such event was bound to be welcomed by Barcelonans.

A postponed exhibition

However, owing to a number of historical and political developments, it had to be postponed again and again until 1929.

The Exhibition focused on three themes: the industries, the arts, and sports

It was inaugurated just when Europe and the World at large were about to descend into very dark years.

PHOTO: The Barcelona Pavilion. Hillside perspective.

The 1929 Barcelona exhibition’s limited success

The event had only limited success, partly because of the October 1929 New York stock market crash, which inevitably reduced the number of visitors.

On the other hand, it had positive repercussions for the city of Barcelona, with notable improvements to its architecture, city planning, and the public transportation systems.

PHOTO: The Barcelona Pavilion. Onyx wall close up

1929 Exhibition buildings’ great stylistic diversity

One of the special traits of the Exhibition area was the great stylistic diversity in the buildings conceived by both local and international architects.

Palaces and pavilions there ranged from the monumental Spanish Plateresque and Baroque-inspired buildings to far more contemporary ones, especially so in the international section.

There, the German Pavilion stood out as a sheer example of modernity.  

The pavilion rebuilt

The pavilion, originally erected between late 1928 and May 1929, was intended from the beginning to be a temporary building and was torn down in 1930.

More than fifty years had to pass before his creation until was finally rebuilt in the 1980s.

PHOTO: A green marble wall, Barcelona chairs, and the oxyx wall

The architectural team of Cristian Cirici, Fernando Ramos, and Ignasi de Solá Morales embarked on its reconstruction at the behest of the then mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall.

The project was challenging, not least because the original building had been conceived as merely provisional and now had to be reconfigured as a permanent one.

A place for enjoyment and peaceful contemplation

Whenever we can, we do love going to the pavilion, sitting on a Barcelona chair and observing the surrounding space.

Just as Mies Van der Rohe had originally intended, the venue is an oasis of tranquility. It is a very soothing experience to walk in its garden and to stand by the pavilion’s pebble-filled pond.

Regardless of the time you want to spend there, it’s definitely worth stopping over at the Pavilion.

PHOTO: The Barcelona Pavilion from its garden

Your experience with us can range from a simple outside visit during one of our Montjuïc walking private tours to an a-la-carte Unison Routes architecture private tour.

Relax there and pay homage to the Mies and Reich’s vision of the future, as it was originally conceived in the early 20th century.

A musical suggestion

J.S. Bach’s cello suite No. 1 in G major (BWV 1007) performed by the universal Catalan musician Pau Casals is our musical suggestion for you to listen to while you read this blog post on the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe. Read, listen, enjoy and be inspired!