Savassona Palace, Barcelona, Spain

The Savassona Palace is a work of Barcelona declared a Cultural Asset of National Interest. It is the headquarters of the Ateneu Barcelonès.

Ateneo Barcelonès
The Ateneu Barcelonès is an association founded in Barcelona in 1860 (with the initial name of Ateneu Català ) located in the Savassona Palace. Its current president is historian Jordi Casassas, who replaced the lawyer and historian Francesc Cabana in March 2014.

Significant personalities of the country have occupied the presidency at various times, including: Àngel Guimerà, Valentí Almirall, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Bartomeu Robert, Joan Maragall, Pompeu Fabra, Lluís Nicolau d’Olwer, Eduard Fontserè and Riba, Amadeu Hurtado i Miró, Heribert Barrera, etc. Opening speeches, always delivered by the presidency, are a great source for learning about the evolution of the history of Catalan culture.

It was initially founded in 1860 under the name of Ateneu Català (also known as Ateneo Catalán ), an entity first presided by Joan Agell i Torrents and with Manuel Milà i Fontanals as its librarian. Later the 13 of April of 1872 it merged with Casino Mercantil Barcelonès (founded in 1869 and known as Centro Mercantil Barcelonés ), a cultural and recreational entity, and founded the current Barcelona Athenaeum. The first president of the new entity was Manuel Duran i Bas, which concentrated an important core of conservative characters. The first sections of the organization were: Moral Sciences, Economics, Physics, Agriculture, Industry, Literature and Fine Arts. This initial period until 1895 (coincidentally with that of the Restoration ) was the highest incidence in Catalan public life.

From the very beginning it has enjoyed great fame as a center for promoting culture: it has promoted important conferences, organized own training courses; paid various prizes such as those for the Floral Games (and other competitions); for a time he published his Bulletin; it hosted artistic or literary supporters clubs… Over the years, the Athenaeum has accumulated an important and rich library (5,900 titles in 1877, 13,500 in 1887, 19,000 in 1892, 50,000 in 1921, 175,000 in 1969, and in 2007 it already had about 300,000) to become the first private library in the country, with important collections of magazines and daily newspapers. For many years she was the most alive and useful in the city of Barcelona.

The inaugural ” Catalan language ” of the new president Angel Guimerà the 30th of November of 1895 marked the definitive Catalanisation Athens. From then on the entity became one of the centers of political Catalanism which would culminate in the founding of the Regionalist League in 1901. In 1903 the Catalan University Studies, which were the cradle of the Catalan university and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans.

In 1906 the Ateneo inaugurated the Savassona Palace on Carrer de la Canuda, as its new premises, which is still today the headquarters of the entity more than a hundred years later.

During the first three decades of the twentieth century, the activity of the Ateneu Barcelonès was heavily mediated by the debates of the various supporters clubs, especially the one around Quim Borralleras, from which the initiative came out. of the Crexells Prize for literature. In the Spanish Civil War the library was controlled by the Directorate of the Popular Library Service and became public.

During the Franco dictatorship and until 1977 the Ateneu Barcelonès was subordinated to the Ministry of Information and Tourism of the regime, and lost part of the cultural significance it had had until then.

Already in 1939 it resumed its activities but from then on the governing authority imposed the appointment of the Athenian governing boards, and thus succeeded the following presidents: Luys Santamarina, Pere Gual and Villalbí and Ignatius Augustine. The regime also suppressed the Crexells Prize. It was President Andreu Brugués i Llobera, from Catalan Falangism, who initiated the democratization of the Ateneo: new statutes were approved and the election of presidents was agreed by voting of members and not by had been done since 1860. The headquarters were enlarged and restructured between 1970-1971, and in 1981 it was declared a historical and artistic monument.

In democracy, the Ateneo initiated a new phase of dynamism by instituting its cultural awards: in 1982, it recovered the Crexells Prize that the dictatorship had suppressed, and in 1989 it created the Joaquim Xirau essay prize. In 1998 he set up a School of Writing and Humanities.

In 1983 he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi and in January 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Cultural Merit of the Barcelona City Council.

She is currently collaborating on the Europeana project of digitalization of European cultural heritage. At the entity’s corporate headquarters, more than eight hundred cultural activities take place each year, including conferences, poetry recitals, concerts, book presentations, etc., which are generally open to the whole city.

The headquarters
The Ateneu Barcelonès is set in a neoclassical building from the late 18th century. This is a characteristic stately home with access to calle Canuda. From the original period it conserves the entrance patio with covered stairs and paintings by Francesc Pla, said the Vigatà, on the roof of the current library. At the back of the building is a romantic tasting garden, located on the mezzanine level.

In 1904 the Ateneu Barcelonès acquired the Parellada house, the old Savassona palace, to set up its headquarters there. The architect Font i Gumà is in charge of the rehabilitation and orders a young Jujol, still a student, to participate in the reforms. There are drawings that show Jujol’s involvement in the work of stained glass for bookshops, doors, stairs, access points and distribution of spaces. It is possible to emphasize the modernist paintings of some ceilings of that time.

In 1968, the architects Joan Bassegoda and Nonell and Adolf Florensa made the new facade of the Vila de Madrid square, aided by Joaquim Datzira in the decoration.

The Ateneu has a series of rooms that are used to carry out the cultural programming programmed and the demands of external entities. From the Bohigas room where the events for which a large audience are planned, to others of smaller size, such as the Pompeu Fabra room, used for social gatherings and smaller events. The Ateneo also has a set of unique spaces. They are corners with a special architectural charm that are meeting points and relationships between members and visitors.

Ground floor
The Ateneu is accessed from a carriage entrance, currently intended for exhibition projects and small-format events. It was originally part of an open patio, currently covered by a skylight. On the right side there is a noble staircase, which formerly allowed the ancient inhabitants of the palace to access the first floor, not to be confused with the mezzanine. When the Ateneo acquired the building, Josep Maria Jujol opened an access from the noble staircase to the mezzanine, the most used door currently, through which you can access the romantic garden and the dining area. Following the 2008 restoration, you can climb to the first floor, to access the library directly.

In the basement of the building are the majority of services that gave the entity the fame of its intense social activity. There are the conversation rooms, the boardroom, the bar and the gardens.

From the entrance you can also access the elevator, one of the first installed in Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century, which still retains its original appearance.

Carriage Entrance
The main access to the Ateneo is from the carriage entrance, formed by the large portal and skylight that gives way to the building. It can host activities in a more informal format and, above all, on the right foot: small presentations, small musical assemblies, a varnishing spot, etc.

Chat rooms
These are the rooms that have made the entity famous, where conversations and social gatherings have taken place for decades. Noteworthy are the columns and stained glass, designed by Josep Maria Jujol. They retain their traditional appearance, except for the renovated Joaquim Borralleras room.

Jacint Verdaguer Room
Room located on the ground floor, rectangular and open, with a capacity of 70 seats. Ideal for conferences, debates or seminars. A small auditorium-shaped room, located on the ground floor of the Athenaeum. There are usually conferences and presentations, as well as all kinds of small-format cultural events. It had previously been used as a sports area for the association, where members could access a gym, fencing room and archery room.

This is a garden that was already in the building when it was purchased by the association. It is made up of several geometric flower beds and a pond with a small fountain, where the egg – dance tradition is recreated annually. There are often small jazz concerts and movie sessions.

Main floor

Board Room
Room located on the main floor, with a central table. Ideal for business lunches or dinners, meetings and press conferences.

Modernist space characterized by the architectural and decorative intervention of Josep Maria Jujol. Due to its uniqueness, it is ideal as a setting for films, documentaries and interviews with leading figures in the cultural sector.

Founded at the same time as the entity, it is, due to its bibliographic wealth, one of the most important in Catalonia, in the front row of privately owned, and a center of reference for researchers and scholars, especially for its representative collections of the 19th century. and first third of the 20th century. Created in 1861, has continued to grow and now reaches nearly 300,000 volumes and 1,800 journals and noucentistes eighteenth century, Catalonia, Spain and Europe.

The restoration work (from 2006 to 2008, financed by the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Barcelona Provincial Council, the Barcelona City Council and the Government of Spain, under the direction of the architects Manuel Brullet and Mateu Barba ), the library is Today, a center for study and research, adapted to new technologies, as well as having important heritage collections: some 65,000 monographs dating to 1901, 800 manuscripts from the fourteenth century, incunabula, etc.

The Ateneu’s historical and heritage bibliographic and hemerographic collections cover the cultural, political, social and political reality of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth century, such as foreign reception in Catalonia. That is why they become an essential source for the study of Catalan reality until the second half of the 20th century. Today’s collections are focused on the Humanities and take up the impetus given to the library in its origins, thus covering a broad spectrum of cultural, artistic and intellectual current affairs.

Second floor

Auditorium Oriol Bohigas Room
Auditorium style room for all kinds of activities: conferences, round tables, concerts, unique artistic proposals, dramatized theater readings, symposia, screenings, etc.

Pompeu Fabra Room
Room located on the second floor, rectangular and open. Ideal for social gatherings and social gatherings – lunch for 25/30 people or press conferences.

Upper floors

Classroom Area
A fifteen classrooms, with a capacity of between six and twenty-four people. The spaces allow you to work in a seminar format, with a central table. Each and every one of the classrooms can also be used as a study, meeting or meeting space for partners and external users.

Josep Maria de Sagarra Room
Room located on the fourth floor, rectangular and open. Ideal for conferences and book presentations.

The Ateneu Barcelonès is an association that has been accompanying Catalan society and culture for more than one hundred and fifty years, with the intention of being one of the main centers of intellectual debate.

Its main objectives are to promote citizen cultural self-education, to promote open, transversal and constructive dialogue with civil society, to be a center for the dissemination of national debates and a nucleus of creation for promoting intellectual activity. collective.

Its headquarters, the Savassona Palace, are full of activity thanks to an intense and varied cultural agenda open to all citizens. Various activities are carried out daily, such as conferences, debates, round tables, concerts, recitals, workshops, film screenings or courses. A solid cultural offer that is enjoyed by more than 300,000 people every year.

The Ateneu also houses the largest private civil library in Catalonia, which has one of the most valuable bibliographic collections in the country. It consists of 250,000 documents, 1,800 journal titles, 20 incunabula, 50 manuscript titles, and about 3,000 old book works. And 40% of its funding cannot be found in other libraries.

It also has the School of Writing, the most important in Spain in its genre. A training center that promotes the teaching of the arts and the craft of the word.

The Ateneu is, above all, a privileged space for active participation in citizen life, a plural, free and democratic speaker of civil society, at the service of culture and the country.

In the Canuda street of Barcelona you have the best space to talk, debate, inform, train, study, express your opinions, explain your projects and enjoy the Ateneo’s garden which is an oasis in the center of the city.


The Ateneo has a very active music section. Many renowned musicians, from Felipe Pedrell to the present, have been members of the entity. There are also numerous concerts and performances at its headquarters. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that some of the great works of Catalan music have been premiered at the venue for the first time. They are usually works for soloists or small groups, which can easily be performed in a small auditorium, such as the Ateneo.

Personalities invited
Rafael Bengoa, advisor to Barack Obama. May 25, 2016
Bernat Dedéu, philosopher and writer. 2016, June 21.