Flamenco is one of the most iconic expressions of Spanish culture, and is recognised as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. Originating in the folklore of Southern Spain, in the Moorish region of Andalusia, flamenco emerged from the culture of the Gitanos (Roma Gypsies) who migrated to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries. Catalonia has its own relationship to flamenco, and there are some special tablaos here, with live shows for tourists and locals to check out. These are the best places to see flamenco in Barcelona.
On the well known La Rambla boulevard, the Tablao Flamenco Cordobes is one of the most popular and well-regarded tablaos in Barcelona. Opened in the 1970s, this venue pioneered the flamenco art form in Barcelona long before the city became the popular tourist destination it is today. Proud of its authentic setting, with a cavernous hall where artists perform without microphones, the sound of the flamenco is pure and unadulterated. Some of the most famous flamenco artists of all time have performed here, and there are regular performances by artists from all around the country.
You’ll find this popular venue in the heart of one of Barcelona’s most curious landmarks – the Poble Espanyol – a large-scale model village dedicated to Spanish culture, built for the 1929 International Exhibition. The Tablao de Carmen offers an authentic flamenco experience, as guests gather around large tables for a feast of tapas while flamenco performers take to the stage. Named after the revered gipsy flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya, the venue is set over two levels, and boasts a charming outside patio offering spectacular live music, dancing and a great atmosphere for drinks and dinner.
The oldest tablao in Barcelona, opened in 1963 on the iconic Plaça Reial in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, Los Tarantos is owned by the Mas i Mas group (who also own the Moog nightclub and Jamboree jazz club). Having undergone major refurbs in the 80s and 90s, the venue has a modern club atmosphere, and forms an integral part of the cultural and nightlife scene around the square. It may not have the authentic décor and old-school feel of other tablaos in the city, but the emphasis here is on music and dance as live performance, so come here if you’re looking for a big night out.
The Palau de la Música isn’t exclusively a flamenco venue, but it’s one of the most prestigious performance halls in Barcelona and it regularly hosts some of the best-regarded flamenco artists. Each season boasts a programme of flamenco shows from across the country, as well as the popular Gran Gala Flamenco which showcases all the palos (styles) of flamenco. Considered by some to be the most beautiful music venue in the world, the Palau de la Música offers an altogether unique flamenco experience.
In the Eixample district of Barcelona, the Palacio del Flamenco is a popular music venue in a restored 1920s theatre. With a central elevated stage surrounded by three levels of seating, it’s equipped with screens and speakers for those further away. With a capacity of 380 people, this is the largest flamenco venue in Barcelona and it’s commonly open every day of the year. While it may not have the intimate feel of some of the smaller venues, it offers a lively atmosphere and a fun, friendly service.
Not your typical music venue, Robadors 23 is tucked away in one of the backstreets of the Raval, and you’d be forgiven for walking past it. Named after its location (Thief Street in Catalan – a hint at its former clientele), this small music bar hosts regular flamenco performances at weekends. What it lacks in grandeur it makes up for in personality: the intimate venue, eager crowds and relaxed atmosphere are all reminiscent of the kinds of places flamenco would originally have been performed in. This is a place for mostly young, music-loving locals and travellers looking for that off-the-beaten-track experience.