I must admit that for as tall as I am, today I felt incredibly small. This temple gives you an overwhelming sensation, one of insignificance in front of such a great masterpiece. This afternoon, we decided to enter after putting the visit off for 3 years since we noticed a few days ago that the constructions has progressed incredibly fast.
Entering this place is like crossing the frontier between real life and dreams. The combination of natural light from the windows and the artificial light of the lamps is impossible to describe. The shapes imitating nature, mother nature, the splendor of the land, incredible hidden symbolism. To be honest, impressive, unique, divine, timeless, are not enough to describe the reality of La Sagrada Familia. The best gift we can give is to keep silent, the building leaves us completely flabbergasted. You'll have a stiff next the next day, for all the time you spent looking up. This place ennobles us as human beings, a fine example the wonderful things we can build, and without God's help ;).
And suddenly, Haendel's Mesias invades the place. Really, it sent me shivers down my spine! No, I'm not going to talk about my all-time favorite Gaudí, nor about his work, I won't even give historical or architectural facts. My best advice: come, visit the Sagrada Familia and let the light, the magnificence, the warmth, the solemnity of the place invade you.
Warning: the entrance fee is 12€, not 8€ as I had seen in the information (but it's worth it).
Güell Park is a great garden with grand architectural elements located in Barcelona. It was designed by Antonio Gaudí, an important Catalan architect and one of the greatest exponents of modernism. Along the whole park, Gaudí's style is displayed. Everywhere you find incredible color mosaics or columns of incredible shapes, all perfectly in line with the gardens around.
Walking in the park is really incredible, and it is a great place to have the perfect panoramic view of Barcelona. The only drawback is that to get there I recommend taking a taxi, because the walk there is quite harsh due to the steep hills.
The current Mercado de la Boquería has lived through many phases. We will hereby try to give a faithful description of the facts. The initial origin of this market is not very clear. What we know for sure is that it started as an itinerant market, located in the Rambla de Barcelona, ideal place of the commercialization of goods. It was not the first time it was used as such for there had been some stands of meat and other goods since the beginning of the 12th century.
La Rambla gained more importance as a walk; the Market was not convenient and many times they tried to take it off. Remembering that villages and cities in Catalunya have been founded around the markets, we found that it was originally an open air one in front of one of the gates of the old wall (Pla de la Boqueria), where the peddlers and peasants of other villages and farms would settle in order to sell their products.
Currently it is of great importance in the culture of Barcelona. It is a meeting point with the goods from other countries like fish, meat, fruit or vegetables... for its cuisine which gives a great mix of gastronomical cultures. One easily gets to eat a lot inside the market during the stops and in the bars. You can't miss it.
Visiting Las Ramblas seems very common and unoriginal but, for many travelers, it is and always will be a wonderful walk. Even after many times, we keep being as fascinated as the first time we saw it.
Personally I got to know Barcelona and the Ramblas in 1976. At the time, Spain was Spain and Catalunya was less Catalunya than nowadays. To be honest, as foreigners visiting Barcelona, it is a little bit hard to understand you visit a place with a double personality. Today Barcelona is the heart of Europe, the favorite place for young people who come to live a cosmopolitan experience in an old and noble city.
This time I arrived in Barcelona by boat and I was amazed at the new building of the harbor, with hundreds of thousands visitors a year. I must say every time I visit the city it is more beautiful and has a better atmosphere for tourists. Yes, it's true it lost a little bit of this typical spirit you could only feel in Las Ramblas. Everything was unique, you could only see certain things there: the traditional people, the flowers, the painters and artists showing their work, the stands with fruits or other goods form the region, and, of course, the tourists throughly enjoying Spain.
Now it is more of an international, open-minded, diverse, original, alternative and funny atmosphere. You can bump into the famous human statues (mimes) representing the creative magic of the young, or groups of support or protests against cause X; art, culture, shops, food; today being a foreigner is the common factor share by most of the passers-by 24 hours a day.
Casa Batllo is one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona and the graceful curves and decorative wrought iron balconies of its facade have become something of an icon for the city of Barcelona. The palatial home was built by modernist and Catalan native son Antoni Gaudi whose able hands led to the creation of many of the city's other iconic landmarks like the Park Guell or the Sagrada Familia.
Casa Batllo was built to echo the forms and colors of the Catalan seashore, a motif easily seen in the spirals of the seashell-esque chandelier in the main salon and the turquoise tiles in the interior patio. Across its four floors and rooftop terrace, visitors are taken through wave-like curved staircases, elegant sitting rooms, and whitewashed arched galleries that recall the Mediterranean fishing villages which dot the coast of Catalonia.
However, is it worth it? Taking into account that the entrance fee is around 20€ (much more than the infinitely more spectacular Sagrada Familia) and the only discounts are for documented students and Catalan residents, I'd say this is one sight which travelers should probably skip. Half the charm of Casa Batllo is its exterior and unless you're an architecture connoisseur or Gaudi fanatic, the visit simply isn't worth the price. If you do decide to visit, make sure to take one of the free audio-guides as they really help add historical and artistic context to the home. If you're looking for a souvenir, you can also take a selfie on the home's trademark central balcony but, at 12€ or so for a printed copy, it's a souvenir I decided to skip.
Barceloneta beach is always packed, all year long. With tourists getting a tan with temperatures locals consider freezings, swimming, playing volley ball, tennis. There are some fishermen, musicians, groups of friends having lunch on a terrace, people passing by, jogging, etc.
This neighborhood of Barceloneta is an old one in the city of Barcelona, where the sailors who worked in Port Vell used to live, as well as the people who had been expelled from their houses in order to build the Ciutadella park next to the Gothic Quarter. The narrow streets look like an Italian neighborhood, with clothes hanging out the windows, people on the sidewalk watching TV because it is too hot in their house, or because they prefer being there to talk to the neighbors. It looks like it sustains life, independently from the big city 500 meters away.
There is a subway station to get there, and various bus lines, to Hospital del Mar or Barceloneta. It is one of the first neighborhoods out of the old part of town and has its own market, various shops and a dynamic life. The beach stands serve beer and sandwiches. There is also a Spar and small supermarkets. It is the ideal beach to arrive at midday and have a picnic after having visited the rest of the city and get to know people to go partying with at night.
"1899 Neix el club que porto al cor, blaugrana són els colors del Fútbol Club Barcelona."
The FCB stadium is one of the biggest in the world. It's the biggest in Europe. Hans Gamper, a Swiss sports fan, founded this sporting club that became something "més que un club" (more than a club). It became the meeting point for supporters and defenders of democracy (during the Civil War and Franco's dictatorship).
It is the "blaugranas' (Barcelona's" third stadium, inaugurated on September 24th 1957. If you want to know what I am talking about, have a walk on the second floor of the museum. You will find out about the nickname "culé" (meaning "of the FCB"), be dazzled by the three titles won this year or see the model of the project for the remodeling of the exterior by Norman Foster.
I worked six months in the museum and in the stadium as a guide and, even though I'm not fanatic about football, I couldn't help being amazed at the colors of the building every morning. Six months of anecdotes I will one day tell my grandchildren. A must-see for the supporters, even though the best is to go to a match and experience the passion first hand.
One of the most emblematic and representative neighborhoods of Barcelona is the Barrio Gótico, the Gothic Quarter. This area is very well located and quite accessible from any part of the city.
It encompases what one could call the old part of Barcelona, there you have many monuments of great heritage and historical value, from medieval buildings and squares, to real relics of the Roman period.
One of the most interesting features is that walking only a few minutes one can see buildings and squares of different time periods. The most outstanding building is the Cathedral of Barcelona, one of the lovely Gothic constructions on a central square.
Also, walking in the winding and paved paths you can feel the medieval atmosphere. This sensation can be felt walking to the different squares like Felipe Neri, Plaza Nova or Plaza del Ángel. Apart from the historical richness of this neighborhood, it has recently witnessed an influx of business and consumption and there are now many fashion shops, restaurants, galleries and bars; all this under a Gothic veil after which the neighborhood is called and fundamental to feel and live Barcelona.
The Casa Mila or "La Pedrera" as this great piece of Gaudi's work is also known, is one of the most visited museums after La Sagrada Familia. As you all know, at least those who are regular visitors to Minube, this apartment house was built by Antonio Gaudi for the Mila family between 1905 and 1907. Its wrought iron balconies seem like climbing plants, as Gaudi's works mimics natural forms, due to this they're known for using biomorphism. Now it's mostly offices but the building itself is a museum, you can visit the floor that belonged to Gaudí, the terrace and a museum. Here are a few pictures to look at and enjoy. It opens at 10 am and closing depends on the season.
The spectacular character of the fountain is better observed at night, without a doubt, but at full daylight, with a clear sky, completely blue, we can enjoy the fountain from another perspective, and I think it is at least as beautiful as at night, but you should judge for yourself.
On indicated days or during important events in the Montjuïc area, the fountain wears full dress, like the rest of fountains and waterfalls decorating this steep avenue, starting from the upper waterfall, right under the MNAC and finishing with the small fountains along Reina Maria Cristina avenue. A beautiful picture.
It is not the most beautiful square in the city but, with this size, it unites the old and the modern sections of the city. Plaza de Catalunya is a symbol of the city, one of the most famous and the place where half of the city meets up.
It is a very easy place to get to, many subway and suburban train arrive there, as well as bus and nitbus (night bus) lines. To go to the airport the Aerobús starts from Plaza Catalunya and there is also a Tibibus going to the Tibidabo attraction park.
On Plaza Catalunya there are official monuments, bank headquarters, shops (a huge Corte Inglés, FNAC), etc. In the center of the square people get together and the ice scream parlors are packed. People buy seeds to give to the birds. It is a pity all the fountains are now turned off in order to save water. Football celebrations also take place on Plaza Catalunya, like the nomination for the 1992 Olympic Games and the Diada, the day of Catalunya on September 11th.
In the lovely Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, one of the most touristic and beautiful places of the city, there is Santa María del Mar church. A building of Catalan Gothic style. It is important to keep this fact in mind, since it will define the characteristics of the works of this style.
But, however it is classified, this church of Barcelona "has something". Something that leaves you flabbergasted, impressed that in the heart of the city there can be such a beautiful historical wonder. Solid and robust, the building displays magnificence, from whichever angle you look at it. The appearance from the outside is of rectilinear lines and has a rose window people take pictures of.
And this is only the outside. The interior without a stone cross and with three naves is impressive. The truth is that it has many outstanding architectural aspects, but even if one doesn't have a broad knowledge of art, the church will be for sure an astonishing discovery. For sure.
Called Agbar because it belongs to the Aiguas of Barcelona, this tower revolutionized the city's skyline when it was built a few years ago.
I had the opportunity to go inside, but the interior visit is usually only for shareholders and friends of employees. It is located in Plaza de les Glories Catalanes, Glories subway station, but you have to move away a little in order to better see the towering structure. It was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, and as they explained to us, represents the entire flow of water, since it shoots up like a geyser, red and boiling, until it arrives to the glaciers and freezes, going through the liquid state and blue color.
The tower has a very intelligent construction, to use the maximum space but also minimize energy consumption. For example, if you call the lift, you are asked to which floor you want to go and the lift coming will not be the closest one but the one taking people to the same floor or the one with less stops. The heating system has detectors to know where there are people and heating or air conditioning works only in those areas.
It is built on water and, since it is so close to the sea, the water poured out when the started to dig. The top of the building is empty and is hired for companies parties. It has an incredible view of the city. At night, it is illuminated with different colors and on special days like new year's eve it is beautiful to see how it changes colors like fireworks.
Near the beautiful neighborhood of El Borne and the Ciudadela park, there is a lovely monument giving the area a historical touch: the Arc de Triomf of Barcelona (Triumphal Arch).
A structure built in the framework of the Universal Exposition of 1888, work of the architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas. An entire ornamental bastion you can see from far away, although it is better to come closer to take a few good pictures.
It has reminiscences of the brick architecture of Arab origin. Apart from symbolizing the respect of the city towards the participating nations during the exhibition, this arch proudly displays the coat of arms of the city and refers to the forty-nine Spanish provinces.
The place is easy to reach by subway, bike, or by foot. It's a long walk starting from the exit of Ciudadela Park. Therefore, I recommend taking a walk in the park and then going to the arch or the opposite side, letting you tick to sights off your list. Another way to get there is through the Paseo de San Joan or Liuís Comanys.
Montjuïc is, together with the Tibidabo, one of the mountains of the city of Barcelona where you can find an old fort (18th century) at 170 meters above sea level. Until recently it housed a military museum, closing soon after 47 years. Part of the pieces will be transferred to Sant Ferrán Castle in Figueres. The building will be adapted as the headquarters of the International Center for Peace.
To get there you have different options: walking, subway, funicular, bus, car, bike... But I recommend walking. This mountain has different pathways to climb to the castle and go through a very little known part of Barcelona.
The first obligatory stop is the Miramar esplanade, where there is a viewpoint on the harbor. A building that used to house the first offices of TVE (Spanish national television) dominates the area. One can walk in some very beautiful gardens. You also have sculptures like Josep Clarà's La Fertilitat and Pau Gargallo's La Pomona. You'll follow the route in the direction of the viewpoint of the Alcalde where you have a different panoramic view of the harbor of Barcelona. The ground of this viewpoint is a "collage" of ceramics and pieces of bottle glass. A few meters away you will find Montjuïc castle. The main attraction is the beautiful views it has of the city and the harbor. To enjoy them I recommend entering the castle and go up until the terraces.
Old gothic-style temple, official building of the Archbishopric of the city of Barcelona in Catalunya. It is named Santa Eulalia after the patron saint of this lovely Catalan city.
It is located in the center of the city and is highly visited by the tourists, most of all for its beauty (even though the exterior was being restored during my visit).
The temple is 90 meters high and 40 meters wide. It also has a cloister. The cloister has a lovely garden and there are four galleries on the sides.
The cathedral has three naves, the central one being the biggest. It has various chapels, 29 in total, with lovely images dedicated to different saints. Although this Cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th century, the current facade dates back to 1888 as part of the works for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona.
Most of the interior chapels are beautiful, but the chapel dedicated to Santa Lucía has an old tomb where the remains of Francesc de Santa Coloma rest. The high altar is as beautiful for its window and artistic cross, designed by Federico Marés and the choir area is impressive with the holy stories sculpted in the walls dating back from the 14th century.
The geese in the garden of the cloister surprise me, as well as the fountains full of flowers beautifying the lovely garden, most of all because the day I visited the temple they celebrated a private event and everything was decorated. It was a very pleasant experience to visit this Cathedral and get to know its history.
In one of Barcelona’s emblematic plazas lies one of Gaudi’s first works, which goes highly unnoticed: the streetlights or streetlamps! After completing these, Gaudí found more work, like the renovation of the Consell de Cent (Council of One Hundred) chamber that few are familiar with, among others.
Yes, you are a curious traveler like me, so try to locate these beautiful streetlamps of almost martian-like design in the middle of the Plaza Real. The plaza presents a unique spot, full of life with countless restaurants, bars, terraces and even a beautiful fountain in the center. However, in my opinion, the most impressive sites are the incredible streetlamps which they later replicated in another of Barcelona’s interesting plaza, the Plaza del Palau. The two plazas are not very far from each other and can make for an interesting walk to see these modern designs.
The steetlamps are so beautiful and original that they’ll grab your attention at any hour of the day, but it's at night when their splendor really comes out, once they're lit up in front of a dark background ;-)
Note: the Plaza Real is a heavily photographed and attracts great allure. I've seen many advertisements shot there recently. It's a place where you’ll find a great atmosphere for chatting with tourists and locals alike, all under the attentive watch of the precious streetlamps.
In a city full of Modernist concrete, steel, crystal and cement shapes, finding a green lung is a privilege, like an oasis in the desert. Ciudadela Park in Barcelona is an example of this, where you can breathe fresh air while reading a good book or have a conversation with the rhythm of African or Arab music in the background.
Around 1715, King Felipe V ordered a citadel to be built to assure his domination against the resistance cells of Barcelona. After a great part of it was demolished, the mayor of the time decided to rebuild it for the Universal Exposition of 1888. You could already feel the city was turning to what it is now: a cosmopolitan and multicultural center.
Ciudadela Park is one of the places where this international aspect can be felt the most. The birds' songs mix with the tens of languages the visitors speak. Lakes, palm trees, and plenty of grass to sit on in the shade during the summer. Two or three nights a week there is a jazz concert, perfect to finish a day at the park with the rhythm of Barcelona.