Whether you’re interested in art, food, fashion or perfume, Barcelona has plenty to offer. The capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain, it stretches along the Mediterranean Sea and looks towards The Pyrenees. It’s a major cultural hub in Europe, and you can spend an entire vacation simply exploring all of Barcelona’s treasures. While numerous guidebooks will help you build an activity packed itinerary without much effort, I want to highlight a little gem that’s all too easy to miss–the Barcelona Perfume Museum, or Museu del Perfum in Catalan.
The museum was born in the 1960s, when Perfumería Regia, founded in 1928 by Don Josep Giralt, made its home on Passeig de Gràcia, one of the most glittering avenues in Barcelona. This is where you can find the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí like Casa Batlló and Casa Milà “La Pedrera” and the delicate mosaics of Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Museu del Perfum is more modest by contrast, but its central location and unusual collection of more than five thousand perfume related artifacts makes it a worthwhile stop for a perfume lover.
Walk through Perfumería Regia until you see a sign for the museum and a ticket desk (5€ per person.) The ancient and modern perfume bottles share space with powder boxes, miniatures, porcelain containers and advertising material. The first part of the museum is devoted to Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman containers for fragrance and cosmetics, and this collection is worth the visit by itself.
In the second part of the museum, you’ll find creations by 19th century European perfumers such as L.T. Piver, Roger & Gallet, Jean-Marie Farina, and Guerlain.
Lanvin, Chanel and Dior are showcased as well, in addition to regional perfume houses from Germany, Spain, the Middle East and Russia. It’s thrilling to see long vanished perfumes like Ivoire de Chanel or Lanvin My Sin.
The downside is that there is very little printed information available, and the small, densely packed space can leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. Add to this the inability to smell the perfumes in the glass cases, and the whole endeavor might seem frustrating.
Why do I recommend Museu del Perfum despite all of these shortcomings? The whimsy and diversity of perfume bottles used throughout history. With the costs of packaging increasing every year, many contemporary brands opt for simple, low-budget designs, and seeing the flamboyant presentations like Marquay’s or Dior’s gives you a whole new sense of a perfume bottle.
Moreover, Perfumería Regia is a great perfume shopping destination, with helpful service and a good collection of fragrance lines. Brands like Atelier Cologne, Tom Ford, Amouage, Kilian, and Byredo are on offer, in addition to makeup and skincare. After marveling at Barcelona’s architecture and absorbing the vibrant energy of the city, Museu del Perfum makes for a pleasant break.
Museu del Perfum
Passeig de Gràcia, 39, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
+34 932 16 01 21
Extra: Denyse of Grain de Musc writes about her visit to Museo del Perfume
Photography by Bois de Jasmin