Palau Sant Jordi was designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki for the 1992 Olympic Games, part of the so-called Olympic Ring built on the Montjuïc hilltop, together with the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Esplanade and Sant Jordi Club. Its most distinctive feature is its cupola, which was built at ground level and lifted to its present position over 10 days on 12 hydraulic jacks.
The Palau was officially opened on 21 September 1990. It is regarded as an architectural jewel and is widely admired for its spectacular design and its technology.
It was open to the public for viewing for three days after its opening, and over 270,000 people came through its doors to see the new Palau Sant Jordi up close. From September 1990 until summer 1992, when the Olympic Games opened, the Palau was the scene of many events, receiving over 1,335,000 visitors who came to see how the multi-purpose venue could host events ranging from concerts by the top artists of the day to the McDonald's Open, be transformed into a motocross track or even have an artificial sea installed for the Indoor Windsurfing Championship.
1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona
Palau Sant Jordi was the main covered arena during the Olympic Games, hosting the men's and women's gymnastics competitions, the men's and women's handball finals, the men's volleyball quarter- and semi-finals and finals and the women's volleyball semi-finals and finals. It was also the main arena for the Barcelona ‘92 Paralympics, hosting the table tennis and volleyball competitions.
After the Olympic Games
The challenge facing Palau Sant Jordi after the Olympic Games was to become a major events venue in its own right, which it has more than succeeded in doing. Palau Sant Jordi has an international reputation as the host to world-class sports competitions and a tour venue of choice for top Spanish and international performers. It also hosts spectacular family shows and corporate events.
The venue can hold up to 16,159 spectators for sporting events, all seated, and up to 17,960 for concerts.
In recent years, Palau Sant Jordi has hosted a wide range of international competitions including the 1995 World Indoor Championships in Athletics, the final stages of the 1997 European Basketball Championships, the Final Four stages of the European Basketball League (1998 and 2000), two Davis Cup finals (2000 and 2009), two World Swimming Championships (2003 and 2013) and a number of NBA friendlies, in addition to the 2014 Basketball World Cup.
Top international performers who have appeared at Palau Sant Jordi include Bruce Springsteen, U2, Queen, Iron Maiden, Coldplay, Shakira, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Elton John, together with first-class Spanish singers and bands such as Joan Manuel Serrat, Estopa, David Bisbal, Alejandro Sanz and El Canto del Loco.
All these events, and the millions of spectators that have passed through Palau Sant Jordi's doors since 1990, have made it the Barcelona venue ‘where anything is possible’.