Dalí and surrealism go in hand in hand, right? So it’s no surprise that the Teatre-Museu Dalí is a feast for the eyes, both inside and out.
Set in the small, authentic town of Figueres (about two hours or so from Barcelona), it dominates the rustic laneways, appearing almost out of nowhere and adding a whimsical touch to everything it looks down on.
It can be found on what seems to be a humble, traditional street filled with patisseries and restaurants that spill out onto the pavement.
But as soon as you lay eyes on the red brick façade with its weird and wonderful bobbles, you’ll slip from the real world into the crazy mind of Dalí himself.
The Teatre-Museu Dalí was built between 1961 and 1974 by the artist himself. He turned his hand to the former municipal theater in Figueres which was blasted to the ground in a fire at the end of the civil war.
Using the tricks and surreal illusions he’s famed for, he turned it into a whimsical artistic playgrou.
The contrast between the sleepy town itself and the magnificent museum is quite spectacular, particularly when one minute you’re getting lost down narrow streets echoing with Spanish voices and aromas of fresh paella, and the next you’re getting lost in a muddle of masterpieces that both challenge and excite the mind.
Though you won’t find Dalí’s most famous pieces here (we’re talking the melting clock and the leggy elephants), there is a huge cross-section of his work that covers several movements and an array of techniques.
Because, little do most people know, Dalí wasn’t just the master of brightly colored surrealist pieces that are a cross between dreams and nightmares.
Dalí was a master of many things, from watercolor prints and decorative sculptures to fine jewelry and thick oil paintings.
When you venture inside, you’re venturing into the very recesses of Dalí’s imagination that made him such a phenomenon in the art world.
The Taxi Plujos (Rainy Taxi) takes pride of place in the centre of it all, featuring a vintage Cadillac surrounded by statues.
Elsewhere, the gallery curves around a central atrium, taking visitors down a rabbit hole of arty delights around every twist and turn.
The Sala de Peixateries (Fish Shop Room) showcases a number of Dalí’s lesser-known oil paintings, whilst below what used to be the stage of the theater lies Dalí’s tomb (“at the spiritual center of Europe,” as described by Dalí himself).
Dig further into the museum and you’ll stumble upon lengthy galleries filled with modest watercolour prints, grand staircases lined with quirky sculptures, and high-ceilinged rooms decked out with huge murals.
When you finally emerge back into the streets of Figueres it almost feels like you stepped off the planet for an hour or two. If you still want more, there’s Dalí’s jewelry collection housed on the same street, and a handful of curious souvenir shops selling everything from large prints, stick-elephant ornaments, and knickknacks plastered with Dalí’s style.
Though Figueres is a short journey from Barcelona, it’s well worth the visit. Not only for the impressive collection of Dalí’s work, but to see a town that has been heavily influenced by the surreal charm of art and design.
When you’re not wandering among playful paintings and gold-encrusted jewels, you can sip coffee in a quaint square or people watch in the many green spaces.