History of the Barbican Centre


There are thousands of buildings, landmarks and venues scattered throughout the streets of London that showcase the rich cultural and artistic history of the city. One spot close to the top of that list is the wonderful Barbican Centre.

During your stay at The Montcalm London City, be sure to take a trip over to Silk Street and discover a world of entertainment and creativity at the Barbican Centre. Our hotels near London City put you right around the corner from this popular venue which means you’ll never be too far from the action.

Here is a quick Barbican Centre history, to get you better acquainted…

The early years

The Barbican Centre took more than ten years to construct and first opened its doors to the public in 1982 before beginning its 35-year journey into the cultural heart of London. The building itself was the utopian brainchild of architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The three visionary designers had high hopes for the future of the city and came up with the unique and revolutionary design as part of what they saw to be a turning point for the city’s architectural future after the destructive events of World War 2.

The name

The decision to name the centre Barbican came about after the local area was brought to rubble after a series of bombings during the war. Before that time, the local area, known as Barbican, was a vibrant place of trade and was home to a large number of shops, traders and market stalls.

What the bombs didn’t destroy was eventually lost to fire damage which left very little standing after the war ended. It was the aim of the designers and organisers that the Barbican Centre would revitalise the area and serve as a cultural phoenix rising from the ashes of the war.

The modern day

The development of the Barbican Centre was brought about by a collaborative effort between the surrounding community, visionary designers and local government. During the opening ceremony, The Queen was responsible for cutting the ribbon and expressed her excitement for the revolutionary new venue.

Years later, in 2001, the Barbican Centre was declared as a Grade II listed building and was recognised as an integral part of London’s architecture and history.

Since then the centre has served as a creative and cultural cornerstone of the city and has provided a platform for artists and performers from all over the world.

Over the years, the building has received a few face-lifts and aesthetic improvements which have kept it fit for purpose in an increasingly modernised world. The centre consists of nine different sections including the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, Barbican Film, Barbican Library and two exhibition halls.

The complex and spacious design of the Barbican Centre is an amazing example of how the people of London can come together after a crisis to create something truly unique and inspirational. More than just a venue, the Barbican Centre is a piece of history.

FAQs Regarding Barbican Centre History

  • When did the Barbican Centre open?

After 10 years of construction, Barbican Centre first opened its door to the public in the year 1982.

  • Why is it called the Barbican?

The word barbican origins from the Low Latin word Barbecana which referred to a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defence of a city or castle or any tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for defence purposes. Read more..

  • Which Tube line is Barbican on?

It's between Farringdon and Moorgate stations.

  • How many people does the Barbican hold?

The Barbican Theatre has a capacity of 1158 seats.

  • Who was the architect of the Barbican?

Chamberlin, Powell and Bon architected the Barbican.

  • When was Barbican Centre built?

The Barbican Centre was built between 1965 and 1976.