On Friday afternoon, May 19th, GBSB Global students visited the Catalan Parliament in Parc de la Ciutadella. Before meeting with a parliamentary representative, students gathered together to discuss their own political situations and the organization of their country’s governmental bodies. Coming from diverse backgrounds, this insightful conversation was an intriguing prelude to the fascinating tour that would follow.
The Catalan parliament dates back to the 11th century with the assemblies of pau i treva (peace and truce) and the Court Comtal (Court of Count) of Barcelona. The Courts of 1359 established a permanent representation of deputies, called Deputation of the General, or Generalitat. The parliamentary representative gave an overview of Catalan history and how the parliament building came to be positioned within Parc de la Ciutadella.
From the 15th century until the end of the 19th century there was an arsenal on the site and was only converted into a military garrison at the end of the 19th century. Later the building was transformed in a spectacular palace. The architecture of this parliament building still looks very similar in design to the initial structure constructed by the architect and military engineer Próspero de Verboom. The interiors are defined as a mix of modernist and classical architectural design.
In 1900, the Barcelona City Council decided to use the structure as the Municipal Art Museum, and the building was extended with two separate wings on both ends to hold art collections.
After a fruitless declaration of the Catalan Republic in 14 April 1931, an autonomous Parliament of Catalonia was established under the first Statute of Autonomy approved by the new Spanish Republic; the new governmental body was elected on 20 November 1932. This autonomy was short lived, and it was halted under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco for 36 years. It wasn’t until 7 November 1971 that 300 Catalan citizens assembled in a church that the present Catalan government was born. There is a canvas from Antoni Tàpies on the wall of the chandelier room documenting the event, a piece donated by the famous Catalan artist, who was in attendance at the church on that very special day in 1971.
In the establishment of the new government, the parliamentary guide explained to GBSB Global students, it was a wish of the people and their representatives to recuperate their freedom and autonomy. Today, Spain is comprised of 17 autonomous communities and Catalonia’s position within Spain is complicated.
GBSB Global students were enthralled by the 18th century building’s magnificent splendor. It truly felt like a walk back in time to the period when the building functioned as a grand palace.
With 135 MP’s in the Catalan government, this building plays a very important role in the political function of the region and Catalonia’s future plans.
Students who attended were overwhelmed by the experience. Not only a look back at the history of the region, but the visit also served as a reminder about the different fractions of governmental bodies around the globe and the influences they have on the state of local, regional, and world affairs. The industrial visit was meant to ask students to explore the role government plays in business and how their future careers could be impacted by different governmental influences.
GBSB Global regularly organizes workshops with companies and industrial visits, such as this one to the Catalan Parliament, to provide students with a feeling of how business is done and to showcase the variety of opportunities they have available to them after graduation.
Written by Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Global Content Manager