Catalonia, the region around Barcelona, was home to one of the most fascinating, excentric and controversial Spanish artists – Salvador Dali. During my recent trip to that area, I wanted to learn more about the famous Surrealist painter, so I did some research about him and visited some of the Salvador Dali locations around Barcelona.
Salvador Dali locations around Barcelona
Barcelona was home to some world-famous artists, and two that are best known are Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. They both lived at some point in Barcelona, and their paintings could be seen in the city museums.
However, Salvador Dali was born in Catalonia in a village called Figueres. He spent his childhood there and later in his life created some of his masterpieces in that region, too. Many locations linked to Salvador Dali’s life and work could still be found close to Barcelona. So, if you are interested in the life and work of that artist, taking a day trip from Barcelona to visit those places could be a great thing to do.
⤷ Read more: My travel diary – Three days in Barcelona
Who was Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. He is also one of the most famous Surrealist painters. Although he was one of the movement’s leaders, he often conflicted with its other members. So, in the end, he was expelled from the group.
The difference between the Surrealists and me is that I am a Surrealist. Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali was born in the small town of Figueres, located close to the Spanish border with France. His artistic talent was discovered very early. After finishing high school, he enrolled at the Art Academy in Madrid. He didn’t stay there for long because he started a protest against his professors, whom he considered mediocre artists. That resulted in him being expelled from the Academy.
Shortly after that, Dali travelled to Paris, where he met one of his role models Pablo Picasso and visited the Louvre Museum. He also met some contemporary artists, especially members of the DADA movement and the Surrealist group. This is also where he met his future muse and wife, Gala. She was ten years older than him and married to the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard. However, the couple soon fell in love and stayed together their whole life.
The themes of Dali’s artworks were dreams, science (especially nuclear energy), classical art, religion and people close to him. Although he is mainly known for his paintings today, he was also a filmmaker, graphic designer, sculptor and writer. During the 1940s, while living in the US, he worked with Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney on some of their films. He also made a logo for Chupa Chups.
Dali was pretty successful very early in his career. When only 32 years old, he was already featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Dali was a celebrity in the true sense of that word during his lifetime. And he was a friend of some famous people of his time, like Federico Garcia Lorca, Coco Chanel etc.
Although a great artist, his private life is a bit controversial. After his return to Spain from the US in 1948, he supported the Francoist regime. Even before that, during the 1930s, he didn’t want to publicly denounce Fascism. That was the ultimate reason for him being expelled from the Surrealism movement. Other artists thought he was mainly motivated by money in his work. So, Andre Breton, a co-founder and one of the leaders of Surrealism, gave him the nickname ‘Avida Dollars’, which was made as an anagram of his name, meaning ‘avid for dollars’.
Although he got depressed after his wife Gala died in 1982, he was creating almost until his death seven years later.
Where to see Dali’s paintings in Barcelona
Dali had his first exhibition in Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona in 1925. But, not many of his artworks are left in that city today. You can see a few of his paintings at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.
However, there are a few locations linked to Salvador Dali in Barcelona you can still visit today. He would stay in El Palace Hotel on his trips to the city. It still has a special room called the Salvador Dali Art suite where art lovers can stay.
He was also a regular at the restaurant called Via Veneto. You can see some of his photos in the restaurant on their website (here is the link).
Locations linked to Salvador Dali around Barcelona
But, the most interesting locations linked to Salvador Dali are outside Barcelona. The three places related to him are often referred to as the Dalinian Triangle. Here are some Salvador Dali locations around Barcelona you shouldn’t miss.
Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres
Opened in 1974, Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres is home to the most extensive collection of artworks made by the famous Surrealist artist. He started working on his museum in the 1960s, and it was the main focus of his work for the next fourteen years before it opened its doors to the public.
The museum is so unique because it was designed by the artist himself. The building has some of Dali’s recognisable symbols, such as eggs or bread rolls, on its exterior. The main exhibits at the museums are from Dali’s private collection. Some of the most exciting artworks you can see there are the Rainy Taxi, the Mae West Room and some of the well-known Gala portraits.
The museum is also where Salvador Dali is buried. Although there are some controversies around the locations of his grave. Dali and Gala planned to be buried together in their house in Pubol. That’s where Gala was buried and where her grave is today. But, shortly before his death, Dali apparently told the Figueres’ major he wanted to be buried in his museum instead. And that’s why his grave is there today.
⤷ TIP: Get your Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres skip-the-line online ticket on this link.
Salvador Dali’s House in Portlligat
Salvador Dali’s house in Portlligat is where the artist lived for over forty years. He first bought a small fisherman’s cottage in the 1930s. Later on, he purchased the nearby homes, enlargening his property.
Today, Salvador Dali’s House in Portlligat is a museum where you can see his former home, studio, library, etc.
⤷ TIP: The museum could be visited only upon prior booking. Get your online tickets on the link here.
The Gala Dali Castle in Pubol
The Gala Dali Castle in Pubol is one of my favourite Salvador Dali locations around Barcelona. Located in the middle of the serene Spanish countryside, it looks like an inspirational place every artist needs.
In 1969, Dali bought his wife Gala a medieval castle. It wasn’t in great shape, so he repaired it and decorated it with his artwork and furniture. It was a tranquil romantic place where his wife Gala could relax and do her own things. Dali and Gala had an agreement, he could only visit the castle after her written invitation.
Today, the castle is a lovely museum where you can see some of Dali’s art. But also feel an atmosphere of the Dali couple’s everyday life.
⤷ TIP: Get the Gala Dali Castle online ticket on this link.
Visiting Salvador Dali locations on tour from Barcelona
I visited Salvador Dali locations on an organised small-group tour from Barcelona. If you don’t have so much time for travelling or would prefer someone else to take care of your trip, book a tour to visit all these places.
This is the link to the tour I booked, and I strongly recommend it. It was a small group tour, so only seven of us were in the van. And we even had some time for swimming at a beach on Costa Brava.
⤷ Read more: Best exhibitions in European museums in 2023
The region around Barcelona is home to numerous fascinating museums and sites linked to the life and work of that famous Surrealist artist. Although his life is controversial, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of all time. To learn more about him, visit some of the Salvador Dali locations around Barcelona during your trip to that fantastic city.
Have you been to any of these locations? Which one was your favourite?