Country: Spain Language: Spanish Currency: Euro (€)
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia; one of Spain’s biggest cities; and a popular tourist destination! The booming city is full of Gaudi architecture, bright colors, rich history, and an endless amount of paella!
CTW Must See
La Sagrada Familia
One of the most famous churches in the world, La Sagrada Familia, certainly lives up to its reputation! It was designed by the famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi, and is still under construction. Construction began in 1882, under the head architect, Francisco. When he resigned, Gaudi stepped in and designed his masterpiece. When Gaudi passed away in 1926, not even a quarter of the building was completed. The finished product will have 18 towers; the central tower the tallest of them all. The interior is as stunning as the exterior; the tall white 'tree' pillars dance with color as the sun shines through the stained-glass windows that encase the building. The ornate rooftop, the large organ, and the central Jesus Christ sculpture tie in perfectly with the engravings and sculptures that line the exterior of this immaculately designed building. Construction is estimated to finish in 2026, so until then, visiting La Sagrada Familia will come with construction, as it has for all of its visitors before you.
Park Guell, located atop Carmel Hill, is another popular Antoni Gaudi creation. The park was built between 1900 and 1914, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Park Guell was originally meant to be a housing development project, run by Count Eusebi Guell. After completing two houses, neither of them sold, at which point Guell suggested Guadi and his family move into one of the houses. This house, now the Gaudi House Museum, was the residence of Antoni Gaudi until his passing. Guell and Gaudi then worked together designing the park as we know it today. The park's main entrance is the most distinguished portion. Framed by two pavilions, the dragon staircase soars up to an incredible undulating mosaic bench, resembling a sea serpent.
Plaça de Catalunya
This large square stands in the center of Barcelona’s most important streets. The square connects the old city with its more modern parts, and features decadent sculptures and fountains. Surrounding Plaça de Catalunya, you’ll find a range of shopping malls, access to public transport, popular eateries, and a flock of pigeons who gather in the square’s center.
La Rambla is a 1.2 kilometer pedestrian street lined with bright green trees and tall buildings. From Plaça de Catalunya, you can walk down La Rambla, browsing among the market stalls that sell local foods and crafts. You will find there is no shortage of eateries along the pedestrian street, all tempting you with traditional and delicious paella, tapas, and jugs of sangria. La Rambla is also home to a number of iconic landmarks, including the Gran Theatre del Liceu, Barcelona’s Opera House.
St. Josep La Boqueria
This popular market near La Rambla is incredibly colorful and lively. The market fills up with stalls selling fresh fruits and veggies, cured meats, and other local products. They say the market dates back to the 1200s, making it one of Barcelona’s first. Visit the market any time of the day for a delicious bite to eat or a refreshing fruit juice.
Placa Reial, or the Royal Plaza, is a Barri Gothic square next to La Rambla. The beautiful square features a central fountain, a bunch of beautiful palm trees, several cafes and restaurants. During the day, take a break from the bustle of La Rambla and enjoy this quiet and charming square; grab a snack or a glass of sangria and soak up the beauty of Place Reial. At night, watch the square come to life, as the night clubs and bars attracts many, making this one of Barcelona’s most popular nightlife locations.
Palau Guell is a mansion located just off of La Rambla. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi for Eusebi Guell. The home was built in the late 1880s and is one of Gaudi’s earliest works. The palace’s basement served as stables for the horses; the upper levels served as working and private rooms of Guell’s family; and the attic served as a kitchen and service rooms, like the washing room. Be sure to visit the rooftop of Palau Guell. It is decorated with 20 gorgeous tiled chimneys! Palau Guell has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is well worth the visit!
The Columbus Monument stands 60 meters tall at the end of La Rambla. The monument honors Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the Americas. It features a bronze sculpture of Christopher Columbus at the top, several sculptures, an octagonal plinth, and four staircases guarded by two lions at each staircase. The monument was built in 1888, and Columbus has stood gazing across the Barcelona waterfront ever since.
Port Vell, or Barcelona’s waterfront, is a popular attraction for tourists and locals. In the summer, you’ll find the marina full of boats and loads of people enjoying the attractions. From Columbus Monument, you will see Barcelona’s old Customs building - a beautiful building from the 19th century. From there, you can walk down Rambla del Mar to Centro Commercial Maremagnum, where you’ll find a large shopping mall, a plethora of restaurants, the Barcelona Aquarium, and access to the cable car!
The dynamic Gothic Quarter is certainly not to be missed! One step into the narrow laneways of the Gothic Quarter will make you feel as if you’ve left Barcelona altogether. The historic architecture and mystery makes for a peaceful change of pace from the rest of the Gaudi-inspired architecture, and bustle of the city. In the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find several must see attractions including the City Hall, Placa Sant Felip Neri, a Baroque church tucked away in a corner; the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona; Museu Picasso; and The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. In the Gothic Quarter, you will find no shortage of cozy restaurants and boutique shops, so be sure to leave enough time to explore them all!
The Barcelona Cathedral is an impeccable cathedral in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. The cathedral was consecrated in 1339 and stands 53 meters tall. The Gothic cathedral took nearly 150 years to complete! The interior is just as beautiful as its exterior, but be sure to wear clothing that covers your shoulders, as there is a dress code to enter.
Parc de la Ciutadella
This beautiful historic garden is a 70-acre property; home to a number of museums, the Parliament building of Catalonia, the city zoo, a beautiful lake, and a beautiful fountain. Parc de la Ciutadella was once the military citadel, but when that was destroyed, architect Josep Fontseré created this beautiful park. The gorgeous fountain, The Cascada, was designed by Fontseré, under the guidance of Antoni Gaudi. The Cascada was originally designed for the Universal Exhibition in 1888. The park provides a great escape from the busy city.
Arc de Triomf
The triumphal arch was built to be the entrance for the Universal Exhibition that Barcelona hosted in 1888. The beautiful red bricked arch leads visitors into Parc de la Ciutadella, and the walkway is framed with tall, gorgeous palm trees.
Casa Amatller is another striking Gaudi creation. This was the first of three refurbished housing designs by Joesp Puig i Cadafalch, and contributes to the Block of Discord - Barcelona’s unique and modern buildings. There is a small fee to visit Casa Amatller’s interior, which features beautiful stained-glass windows and doors.
The second of the three buildings that make up to the Block of Discord is Casa Batlo, located beside Casa Amatller. This Gaudi masterpiece features a colorful tiled facade, unique oval windows, and arched roof resembling that of a dragon's skin. A tour inside Casa Batlo will provide you with views from the roof, a look through the oval and stained-glass windows, and a closer look at some unique Gaudi designs.
The third and final building that makes up the Block of Discord is La Pedrera, two blocks from the other two units. This Guadi creation was built between 1906 and 1910, and features a curvy stone facade. The building was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
Placa Espanya is an impressive and important square. It was built for the 1929 International Exhibition held near Montjuic. The square’s main features are the two Venetian towers, resembling St. Mark’s in Venice. These towers stand between a long road leading directly to Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
The National Art Museum of Catalonia is a picturesque museum located on top of Montjuic hill. From Place Espanya, you have access to Font Magica, or the Magic Fountain. The fountain displays a light and water show in the evenings. The National Art Museum of Catalonia was established in 1934 and holds an art collection of nearly 300,000 ranging from the Romanesque to Modernist eras. From the museum’s foyer, you will gain a remarkable view of Placa Espanya, and beyond to Tibidabo.
Castell de Montjuic
Montjuic Castle stands tall above Barcelona, and rewards visitors with incredible views of the city. At the top of the hill, you will find the historic military fortress dating back to 1640. To get to Montjuic, you can take the cable car from the Barcelona waterfront, the gondola lift that connects to the funicular, or the local bus. An afternoon spent at Montjuic will not be regretted, as the historic atmosphere is palpable, and the views of Barcelona are unlike any you will see elsewhere.
Tibidabo is a bit outside the city center, but worth a visit if you have some extra time! The church atop the hill can be seen from almost anywhere in Barcelona, rewarding you with some spectacular views of Barcelona. At the top of you’ll find the Sagrada Corazon Church, the Tibidabo Amusement Park, and the telecommunications tower. The church took nearly 60 years to complete, finishing in 1961, and was designed to resemble Sacre Coeur in Paris.
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