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Plaça Catalunya once stood outside the city walls, and was a yard outside the city located just in front of one of the main gates, from roads started to the surrounding populations. This made it the ideal place to for an open market and became an important point in the life of the city.
When the walls were demolished the new city urban plan (L’Eixample) designed by Ildefonso Cerdà. Cerdà did not include any special place where the Plaça Catalunya is now located, since, according to the project, the Barcelona Gothic neighborhood and the other old towns of the surroundings (Sants, Sarriá, Gràcia, Sant Andreu or Sant Martí) of the plan were relegated to the Barcelona suburbs, while the new city center would be a central location with easy access, such as the Plaza de les Glories Catalanes that the architect Cerdà designed with the aim of becoming the new epicenter, crossing of the main roads of the new city: Diagonal, Gran Via and Meridiana.
The project by Ildefonso Cerdà was imposed by By Spain's centar government in Madrid over another project by Rovira i Trias that was the project preferred by the City Council and the bourgeoisie of the city. This other project did provide a large square at this point.
The inertia of the use that had been given to this area, combined with the fact that what needed to become the central square of Cerda’s project, Plaça de les Glories Catalanes, was only an empty field far away from any building, meant that the site of Plaça Catalunya, which theoretically should have built on, was occupied by cafes, theaters and fairground huts. In 1862 the City Council requested the space to be urbanized as square, but official permission was not was not granted till 1889 In 1892 the landsof the actual square were expropriated.
The first stage of development (two main ways X shaped, and a circular square at the intersection) started in 1902. The second stage was carried out to mark the International Exhibition of 1929: A new design by architect Puig i Cadafalch (better known for his modernist building 'Casa de les Punxes') was replaced with another by Puig Francesc Nebot, and once the works were started for another project by Joaquim Llansó
The underground works made with the construction of the square were considered of high-urban value that included an underground shopping centre called Avinguda de la Llum (Light Avenue) until its closure in 1990 due to extensive reforms and that now forms part of the basement of the Triangle building and is a make-up/perfume shop.
Plaça Catalunya is also considered nowadays the hub of the city where most of the city bus lines start and end, special night bus lines and many of the intercity lines, and also has metro stations (lines L1 and L3) a suburban train station (lines R1, R3, R4 and R7) and the station of the Railways of the Generalitat of Catalonia (lines L6 and L7, and S1, S2, S5 and S55 of the call Metro del Vallès).
In the basement of the Plaza there is also a Citizen Advice Bureau of the Police Force (Mossos d'Esquadra) and the main tourist office in the city with 700 m2 dedicated to tourist and cultural information in different languages; offering services such as last-minute reservation and sales of tourism products, distribution and sale of tourist guides, Information of hotels and guesthouses in the city, Sale of gifts inspired by Barcelona and also information and sales of tourism products such as: Barcelona Tourist Bus, Barcelona Card, Barcelona Walks, Catalonia Tourist Bus, city transportation Cards and others.
Some of the city's most important streets and avenues meet at Plaça Catalunya such as Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya, Portal de l'Àngel, Ronda de Sant Pere, Carrer de Vergara or Carrer de Pelai and specially th popular Ramblas that start at Plaça Catalunya to end up in the Port Vell.
Plaça Catalunya is also especially known for its fountains, for a large number of statues from different well known sculptors such as Josep Clarà, Pablo Gargallo, Josep Llimona, Llucià Oslé, and others, for the flocks of pigeons that gather in the centre, and also for the benches under the trees around the centrally paved circle of the square that are ideal for people-watching.