1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition

1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition

The 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition (in Catalan: Exposició Universal de Barcelona and Exposición Universal de Barcelona in Spanish) was Spain's first International World's Fair. It ran from 8 April to 9 December 1888.

This was  the first of the two held in Barcelona (the second one being in 1929). it was a convergence of human achievement, a testament to the relentless pursuit of progress that characterized the era.

Eugenio Serrano de Casanova (journalist, writer and entrepreneur) tried to launch an exposition in 1886, and when that failed, the Mayor of Barcelona, Francesc Rius i Taulet, took over the planning of the project. The fair was hosted on the reconstructed 115-acre 47 ha site of what is now Barcelona's main public park, the Parc de la Ciutadella, with Vilaseca's Arc de Triomf forming the entrance. There's a popular story that Barcelona was offered the Eiffel tower as the entrance, but this has not been documented.

Twenty-seven countries participated, including China, Japan and the United States and more than 2 million people from Spain, Europe, and the world visited the exhibition, which made the equivalent of 1,737,000 United States dollars. The 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition was opened by Alfonso XIII of Spain and Maria Christina of Austria. 

The main legacy of the 1888 World Fair is the Parc de la Ciutadella: the World Fair served as the opportunity for Barcelona to rid itself of the hated military citadel and transform it into a central park for the city's denizens.

The entire Ciutadella Park in its present layout is a product of the 1888 World Fair, with its monumental fountain and small ponds, its Castell dels tres dracs (Castle of the Three Dragons) built by Domènech i Montaner to house the World Fair's café / restaurant, which later became the Zoology Museum, the Hivernacle (Glasshouse or Greenhouse), the classicist Geology Museum and the Umbracle (a remarkable shaded structure for plants).

Another product of the World Fair is the Modernista or Neo-Mudéjar Arc de Triomf (triumphal arch), the Fair's former gateway, presiding over Passeig de Lluís Companys. The Columbus Monument (Monument a Colom), a 60 m (197 ft) tall monument to Christopher Columbus, was also built for the exposition on the site where Columbus returned to Europe after his first voyage to the Americas. It was erected at the lower end of Les Rambles and remains there today.

The impact of the Barcelona 1888 Universal Exhibition extended far beyond its ephemeral displays. It catalyzed a radical transformation of the city itself, inspiring new architectural styles and urban designs that endure to this day. The iconic Eixample district, with its grid-like layout and modernist facades, stands as a testament to this legacy—a living reminder of Barcelona's commitment to progress.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 February 2024 11:52