The Generalitat of Catalonia is located in Sant Jaume Square, in Ciutat Vella district, in the historical centre of the city of Barcelona.
The Diputació of the General, or Generalitat, was constituted in 1289, and its function was to collect the taxes established between the land and the king during the General Courts. This institution did not have a specific seat.
The change in the way war was waged during the 14th century made it necessary to build a new tax system. After the courts of 1358-59, it was agreed to appoint 12 deputies to form the Diputació del General, or Generalitat, in the Principality of Catalonia. This commission, which became permanent, was presided over by the ecclesiastical deputy, who was considered to be the President of the Generalitat. On 3 December 1400, the Diputació del General, or Generalitat, bought the current building of the Generalitat in order to establish its headquarters.
A Gothic gallery, the body of Saint Honorat, the chapel of Saint George and the façade on Bisbe Street, with images of Pere Joan, are still preserved as original Gothic elements of the building they bought.
The façade on Bisbe Street is made of stone ashlars, with a door that leads to the small patio adjacent to the Gothic patio. This facade is crowned by a crest of pinnacles, with gargoyles and a baluster with a rich tracery. Above the door, there is a large medallion with the representation of St. George slaying the dragon.
At the end of the 16th century the building was extended towards the current Sant Jaume Square. These works were directed by Pere Blai, and the façade follows the inspiration of the Italian Renaissance. The new building was finished between 1616 and 1619. As a result, the main door is flanked by four smooth Doric columns, of Roman origin, dating from the 2nd century AD.
Although the Diputació del General, or Generalitat of Catalonia, began as a fiscal body, it gradually acquired new powers. Among the new powers was that of guaranteeing the execution of the decisions agreed upon in the Catalan Courts, and ensuring that the Catalan Constitutions, and other laws, were respected by the king.
The growing role of the Generalitat of Catalonia, with political, judicial and military jurisdiction, led to several wars against the kings during the 16th and 17th centuries.
During the Spanish Succession War, Archduke Charles of Austria (Charles III) convened the Cortes in the Sant Jordi Hall in 1705. In those courts, Charles III restored many of the privileges, uses and customs of the Catalan institutions. Furthermore, the Counterfaction Room of this building was where the Military Arm and the Governing Board met to conduct the Spanish Succession War.
After the Spanish Succession War, and the abolition of the Generalitat of Catalonia by Felipe V, this building was occupied by the Royal Court, which was present until 1908. From 1909, it became the Provincial Council of Barcelona.
Between 1931 and 1939, during the second Spanish Republic, this building hosted the autonomous government of Catalonia.
Under the Franco regime, the government was abolished and in 1977 it was reinstated, occupying this building once again as its headquarters. Between 1977 and 1987, this building was the seat of the Government of Catalonia and the Provincial Council of Barcelona.