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Skyscrapers of Barcelona

barcelona skyscrapers

Many people associate Barcelona with the cozy, octagonal blocks designed by the famous architect Ildefons Cerdá two centuries ago, Antonio Gaudi’s masterpieces, and the impressive seaside area. As with any city, the look of the metropolis has changed over the years in conjunction with the crucial events in the life of this Mediterranean capital. For example, the Olympic Games of 1992 and the World Culture Forum of 2004 are reflected, not only in the history of Barcelona, but also in the way the city looks. As the coastal area experienced significant changes, the Olympic village was constructed from scratch nearby. Shortly afterwards, yacht docks, shops, offices, and hotels began to emerge all over the new district.

In the 2000s, almost all of the skyscrapers in Barcelona included on the list of the highest buildings in the country were erected. As a rule, these edifices are luxury hotels and premium-class office premises. Despite the fact that these buildings harmonically merged into the urban landscape only fifteen years ago, some already have acquired the status of “city symbol,” next to such famous destinations as Sagrada Familia, Casa Milá, or Güell Park.

Hotel Arts

Hotel “Arts”

Hotel Arts shares the first position on the list of the highest skyscrapers of Barcelona with Torre Mapfre. The Hotel Arts tower was constructed in a hi-tech style and features geometric, metallic constructions on a façade that rises 154 meters in the air.

  • This building holds the 10th position on the list of the highest buildings in all of Spain.
  • The construction of the highest building in Barcelona began in 1992 on the eve of the Olympic Games and concluded two years later. Bruce Graham from the architectural bureau of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was the chief architect assigned to the project. In 2001, the building was purchased by the Bank of Germany at a price of 288 million euros. From that moment on, the hotel management has been in the hands of the famous Ritz-Carlton network.
  • Hotel Arts is a unique skyscraper in Barcelona that boasts 44 floors and features 483 luxury suites. In addition to the 44 floors that comprise this building, there are two zero floors. The guests also are welcome to take advantage of 6 posh restaurants, a spa and salon, a swimming-pool, jacuzzi, and striking views over Barceloneta beach. It should be mentioned that the hotel lies very close to the Zoo of Barcelona, Ciutadella Park, and the Parliament of Catalonia.
  • The tower of Hotel Arts is also well-known due to its immediate proximity to the famous, giant sculpture of a fish (known locally as “Pez de oro,” or in the Catalan, “peix”). The golden, swimming fish has become an apt symbol for this sunny city. This monument also emerged at the foot of the highest skyscraper of Barcelona on the eve of the 1992 Olympics. This amazing metallic sculpture was designed by the Canadian-born Frank Gehry, who acquired global fame after he designed and built the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Disney Concert Hall in California, as well as the “Dancing House” in Prague. The huge fish is constructed of light-reflecting materials, so that numerous sun flares on its surface create an illuminating effect, as though it really were made of gold.

Tower Mapfre


The two highest skyscrapers of Barcelona—Hotel Arts and Tower Mapfre—are called twin towers. They lie very close to each other and are equally high. The erection of Tower Mapfre began one year earlier than the hotel building. The construction works were finished in record time: as early as the opening of the Olympic Games, the tower was ready for use. The two towers follow very similar designs, but the Mapfre construction contains more glass surfaces. 40 floors of the skyscraper accommodate offices, while the first floor of this outstanding building is allocated for commercial premises, and, accordingly, a vast mall is located here.

Tower Mapfre acquired its name from one of the largest insurance companies of Spain, Mapfre, which occupies much of the office space hosted in the skyscraper. Iñigo Ortiz and Enrique de Leon are the architects of the tower.

There is a helicopter deck on top of this Barcelona skyscraper. Initially, the architects planned to equip the facilities fully and create a direct connection with the heliport at the Barcelona airport. Yet, the idea ultimately was rejected because the noise that helicopters would generate could bother the residents of the adjacent buildings.

Tower Agbar

agbar barcelona

Although Tower Agbar is not the highest man-made construction in Spain, it is surely the most eye-catching and unusual skyscraper in Barcelona. One can see this whimsical tower from any point in Barcelona. Moreover, at night the building shines with millions of colors. The local residents call Agbar Tower the symbol of a new Barcelona.

In 2005, the King of Spain participated in the solemn inauguration of this amazing tower. Positioned in 3rd place in the ranking of the highest skyscrapers of Barcelona, the tower occupies a space of 50,000 square meters, 30 of which are allocated for offices, 10 for parking lots, and the rest for general services.

The most innovative and most original skyscraper of Barcelona was created by Jean Nouvel, the French architect, and financed by the Agbar Group, after which it was named. “Agbar” is the shortened form of “Aguas de Barcelona,” the city’s main water supplier. As the chief architect, Nouvel, claims, when developing the shape and construction of this building, he was inspired by water as a universal element and by Gaudi’s masterpieces.

The major peculiarity of this skyscraper is the technology used for its façade production. The whole building is covered with tiny metallic panels that are equipped with over 4000 illuminating devices with LED technologies. These technical features enable the façade to replicate more than 16,000 color shades and to create the pixel effect for which the building is known. Every metallic LED plate is covered with glass plates that can move depending on the parameters of the built-in temperature sensors. Hence, at night, the skyscraper glitters with millions of lights, creating different patterns on the walls of the building.

Diagonal Zero Zero Tower Business Center

Diagonal Zero Zero Tower

Zero Zero Tower is a perfect example of the urban office style in Barcelona. The construction on this new skyscraper lasted about three years. In 2011, this spectacular building was solemnly inaugurated on one of the city’s main streets, Diagonal. Zero Zero tower was designed by the EMBA company and currently is the headquarters of the Spanish giant, Telefónica Group.

The building has a diamond-shaped pattern and is adorned with a motif of repeatedly overlapping aluminum profiles installed on its façade. This technology creates the effect of a constantly growing building, so that the tower seems to be much higher than its 110 meters. The overall building process was long and exhausting. Over 450 workers were involved simultaneously in the construction works on various parts of the edifice. Undoubtedly, Zero Zero Tower stands out among the architecture in the area and contributes its unique features to the already diverse local landscape.

The specialists of “INEEDSpain” are always ready to give you a hand when it comes to discovering the best opportunities for your vacations in Barcelona. We will be happy to arrange sightseeing tours to the landmarks and important places of your interest.


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