Exploring the Dali Museum in Figueres is like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice style and enter an enchanted land. Part childlike, part satiric and sadistic, in the museum you actually enter the complex mind of one of the greatest showmen of the 20th century, Salvador Dali. Pieces of his imagination, thought process, cruel humour, brooding sense of apocalypse, and vanity lie naked in front of your eyes. Not that it seems to bother the artist much. In fact, his intention was to create shock value and wonder through surrealism and you see a world so different, that it leaves a tantalizing sense of strangeness. This is also the great artist’s final resting place and you have an uncanny feeling of those famous smirking eyes following you everywhere, just to laugh out loud at your mediocrity.
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A building decorated with bread, giant eggs, and Oscar statues
There’s a very famous poem which goes like, “Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;” The Dali Museum in Figueres tempts you exactly in this silky seductive way and you find yourself drawn entranced into a fantasyland. Imagine this, under a bright blue Spanish sky, you see a fire engine red castle-like building which is topped by giant eggs and Oscar award style statues. The facade of this castle is studded with plaster coated croissants and you wonder at the ‘Don Quixotic’ figure to whom this marvelous building belongs. From outside, the museum resembles everything child and innocent adult dreams are made of and you get drawn into the world of the genius Salvador Dali.
This fantasy world was designed by Dali himself
Opened in 1974, the museum was designed by Dalí himself who wanted to recreate the experience of entering one of his dreamlike works in the space. There is no doubt that he achieved his vision wonderfully and the Dalí Theatre and Museum is one of his great works in itself. Incidentally, it also houses the world’s largest single collection of the artist’s works. The exhibits of the museum range from enormous larger than life installations – like Taxi Plujós (Rainy Taxi – a car full of plants and snails that rains inside), an early Cadillac surmounted by statues to the tiny, mysterious room with a mirrored flamingo. Every niche of this building is filled with strange attractions such as the room with furniture designed to look like Mae West’s face when viewed at the right angle. Then there are Dalí’s most famous paintings along with doorways which are painted like giant, misshapen mouths.
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Enter a head-spinning world of surrealism
The Dalí Museum in Figueres has approximately 5 stories in the circular building, all filled with his incredible artwork. The main light-filled hall Sala de Peixateries (Fishmongers’ Hall) displays a collection of Dalí oils, including the famous Autoretrat Tou amb Tall de Bacon Fregit (Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon) and Retrat de Picasso (Portrait of Picasso). The first floor holds the notorious Mae West Room and Dalí’s heavenly recreation of the Sistine Chapel in the Palau del Vent (Palace of the Wind Room). His wife and lifelong muse, Gala is everywhere. Dalí seems to have managed to capture her spirit in the building just like his own and from the Gala Nua Mirant el Mar Mediterrani (Gala Nude Looking at the Mediterranean Sea) on the 2nd level, which also appears to be a portrait of Abraham Lincoln from afar to the classic Leda Atòmica (Atomic Leda), there is not a single space where she does not appear.
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The Dali Museum in Figueres is simply another world
Strangely enough, in this head-spinningly surreal world of Dalí’s imagination, the only thing which remains realistic and stark is the great artist’s tomb. The crypt with his tomb is located beneath the former stage of the theatre and it is a simple room made of stone with an engraving of his name and a light shining on it. Once again you come face to face with Dalí’s sardonic leg pulling sense of humour and shake your head at his audacious capability of drawing attention. Salvador Dalí, you naughty, naughty man!
Guide to visit the Dalí Museum in Figueres
The Dalí Museum in Figueres is located approximately 140km from Barcelona and makes a great day trip. Salvador Dalí was a famous surrealist painter and he was born in Figueres in 1904. The museum, which was designed by the artist himself was built on the ruins of a former theatre and houses an amazing mix of the weird and wonderful creations of Dalí. It is the second most visited museum in Spain, after the Prado and is a very engaging place.
- How to Reach – The train is the easiest and it takes around 2 hours from Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia station to reach Figueres. In Dalí’s hometown, most roads lead to the museum and it is 15 minutes carefully marked walk from the train station. There are multi-lingual signposts all the way. The latest high-speed AVE train from Barcelona to Figueres takes 1 hour and by car, it takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Parking is available behind the museum and there is also free parking available near Parc Bosc. From here it is about a 10-minute walk to the museum. Follow the mentioned routes to reach Figueres by bus from Barcelona. Line Barcelona – Figueres, Line Perpignan – Figueres, bus Vilafant – Figueres or line Barcelona and Maresme Coast – Figueres.
- Opening Times and Entrance Fees – The entrance tickets cost around 12 Euros per person and children under 9 can go for free. The Dalí Museum in Figueres is open from 9:30 am – 6 pm with longer opening hours during the summer months. It is closed on Mondays. There are special night openings during the month of August from 10 pm at night to 1 am in the morning. The museum ticket includes entry to the nearby Dalí Joies exhibit, featuring jewels designed by Dalí. For more information check the museum’s official website.
- Duration – It is quite an intriguing place full of bizarre exhibits which will make you gape in amazement. Keep at least two hours to enjoy this fantasy world to the fullest.
Practical tips for visiting the Dalí Museum in Figueres
- It makes sense to combine a trip to the Dalí museum with the picturesque city of Girona which is located halfway between Figueres and Barcelona.
- The queues at the Dalí Museum can be very long during high season so, take an early train from Barcelona to avoid extensive waiting times. Alternatively, to skip the queues you can book your tickets in advance here.
- You exit the Dalí Museum through the basement souvenir store, where you can also purchase gifts.
- A separate entrance leads into Dalí Joies, a collection of 37 Dalí-designed jewels. He drew the designs on paper between 1941 and 1970, and the pieces were made by jewelers in New York. This was my favourite and each piece, ranging from the disconcerting Ull del Temps (Eye of Time) to the Elefant de l’Espai (Space Elephant) and the Cor Reial (Royal Heart), is uniquely magnificent. This exhibition has the same ticket and opening times, so make sure you retain your entrance ticket.
- Art lovers and Dalí fans visiting Spain should check out this interesting Dalí Triangle
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