Making a Grand Entrance in Barcelona

This richly detailed structure is the Arc de Triomf, which along with the plaza, were the gate and grand entrance for the exposition held in Barcelona in 1888. It’s built in the Moorish Revival style and was completed one year before the Eiffel Tower in Paris, featured in the 1889 World’s Fair.


Expositions were popular throughout Europe in the 19th Century, and were a way for countries to advertise their cultures and industries.

No expense was spared for constructing the Barcelona Exposition, and the workmanship and artistry were excellent. Unfortunately, many of the buildings were destroyed long ago. After looking at this plaza and arc, you can see what a loss this is.

Do you have an exposition building in your country that you enjoy?

Happy Trails,



We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

23 thoughts

  1. The Parthenon in Nashville was built for the Centennial Exposition in 1897. Pageants and theatrical productions have been hosted by this now art museum. We think it’s pretty cool. But . . . you’ve probably been there AND been to the original in Athens.

    1. Hey Anita. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen the Parthenon in Athens twice, and have never visited the one in Nashville. My excuse is twofold. First, there’s the old saw about “in your own backyard”, and second, usually when I’m in the area I’m on my way to KY for a family visit. However, it will definitely be on my list next time through. I really want to see the statue of Athena. She’s the reason the Parthenon was built, and the statue is absent from the Parthenon in Athens. Thanks for the info. ~James

    1. Thanks Andrew, for the reminder of the Plaza in Seville. I visited there but wasn’t aware that it was an expo building. It’s certainly beautiful and a very grand place. ~James

  2. You got me thinking so I had to check! NZ had an international exhibition in 1906 in Christchurch with a number of structures purpose built. However, whether any survived through general urban development over the last century, or the earthquakes, I’m not sure. I’d be interested to find out though.

    1. Thanks for the comment Hayley, and for dropping by the blog. I did a bit of online research and found some cool photos of the expo buildings in Christchurch. I don’t know if any are left, but from my perspective, it would be better knowing that the buildings were destroyed by earthquakes than short-sighted property developers. ~James

  3. There is a grand tradition of Catalan brickwork, of which the Arc is a good example. If you’re stateside, you can see for yourself at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in NYC.

    Lovely photos. Lluís Companys was one of my favorite places in BCN.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. I’m a sucker for this type of brickwork, and am amazed that architects can pull it off. I searched out some photos of the Oyster Bar, and it looks cool as well. BTW, love your blog title. ~James

    1. Thanks Kaye. There’s something about these intricate brick designs that appeals to me. In America, I’m always impressed with the Richardsonian Romanesque city halls and court houses scattered around the country. They aren’t delicate structures, but they’re impressive. I suppose they wanted to send the “we’re on solid footing” message. I visited your blog and really enjoyed the urban garden videos. I loved the casual, “hands in the dirt” approach. And here’s the goofy part, I loved the wonderful sound effects. BTW, very impressive career. All the best. ~James

  4. My favorite expo is definitely the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. An elegant city was constructed on wetlands north of town (see and for four months the second-largest port on the US West Coast was swimming in notoriety. Usually grand exposition edifices remain after the expo is over (like Barcelona & Paris), but the contract in Portland required that every building be torn down in 1906. (It was the #2 port on the West Coast, remember, and the exposition was sited on the Willamette River. There were more profitable things to do with the land.) Today the lake is filled in, the land is an industrial/maritime complex, and nothing — absolutely nothing — remains of the expo.

    1. Interesting story about the expo in Portland. I didn’t know much about expos until I read “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. This nonfiction book is about the construction of the 1893 expo in Chicago and the serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes who was operating there at the time. It’s a fascinating read if you haven’t read it. It sounds like there was some serious flimflam going on in Portland (BTW, I love the website.) However, it seems that there’s a tradition of near total destruction of these facilities after the expo is finished. Charleston, SC had one in 1902, and the only thing remaining is a city park (thankfully) and ONE gazebo. So I’m not sure where this idea of disposable buildings originated, but it seems very strange. After seeing some of these buildings in Europe, it’s very sad indeed. ~James

    1. Barcelona is a wonderful place, and you’ll have a great time. The Arc isn’t on the tourist track, and is easily missed, but it and the Parc de las Ciutadella across the street, are worth a visit. Have a nice trip. ~James

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