Chosen as the site of the first photograph taken in Spain, the porticoed building, the Porxos d’en Xifré, is also known as the place where the Ruíz-Picasso family set up home when they came to live in Barcelona. A wellspring of history nestling among the neoclassical porticos of an elegant building next to the old harbour, the Port Vell.
Josep Xifré was a wealthy Catalan who had made his fortune in South America. When he returned to Barcelona in 1840, he decided to invest some of his money in the construction of an imposing residential block. The result was the Porxos d’en Xifré, so named by the locals due to the long arcades encircling the ground floor of the building. The Isabeline-style block has a neoclassical feel and is decorated with romantic elements. The façade features fluted Ionic columns and a pediment containing a clock surrounded by reliefs that are allegories of time. On the corners, the artist Marià Campeny made sculptures depicting Trade, Industry, the Navy, Mercury, Neptune and America.
Pablo Picasso and his family lived in one of the flats in the block when they arrived in Barcelona in 1895. The young Picasso often went up to the rooftop where he painted some of his first city landscapes showing the roofs, the sea, the light and the Barcelona of the late 19th century. Many of them are on show at the Museu Picasso which is located nearby.