Barcelona. Sights and interesting places
The Aquarium of Barcelona is one of the most important centers in the world for the study and preservation of the underwater fauna of the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of 14 separate ecosystems: rocky and sandy coasts, algae thickets, underwater caves and grottoes, coral reefs, etc.
Spain’s most famous street the Rambla runs from Plaza Catalunya to the Old Port. There’s always a lively atmosphere of fun, festivities and delightful mystery. The center of the boulevard is pedestrian.
Once the heart of Barcelona and the hub of its medieval attractions, the Gothic Quarter is between the Rambla and Via Laietana. Despite the fact that many of the buildings here date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, the Gothic Quarter is filled with cozy restaurants and expensive stores.
One of the most famous mansions bearing Gaudí’s signature on its plan, Casa Batlló is located on Passeig de Gràcia, in the heart of Eixample. Looking at Casa Batlló from the street, the building seems to be living, breathing and intently following the movements of its guests.
An apartment building and an architectural monument… Rarely do these concepts come together, but there are exceptions. The case of Casa Mila, or Casa Mila in Spanish parlance, is just such an exception. It is not for nothing that this Barcelona landmark in 1984 became the first structure of the 20th century to be included in the UNESCO List.
Gaudi House Museum
We recommend that you continue your acquaintance with the life and work of Antoni Gaudi in the Parc Guell, where the House Museum of the great Catalan architect is located. It exhibits the master’s personal belongings, a rich collection of furniture and other artistic masterpieces created by Gaudí.
Walking through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, look for the Carrer del Bisbe, which starts from the Plaza Sant Jaume. It’s pedestrian, so nothing will distract you from contemplating the cathedral slowly opening in front of you.
“The Jewish Mountain is a literal translation of the name of this 170-meter hill located to the southwest of the Old Port. There was once a Jewish cemetery and possibly a settlement.
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona
Connoisseurs of art should not miss one of the most popular museums in Barcelona. The Picasso Museum was opened in 1963 in the old mansion Berenguer d’Aguilar (XV century) upon the initiative of Jaume Sabartes, secretary of Pablo Picasso.
In 1900 Eusebi Güell bought 62 hectares of land on the outskirts of Barcelona to create a garden city, which was very popular at the end of the 19th century. Gaudi was to create the infrastructure.
The vast Plaza de Catalunya is the place where the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla converge. It is, if I may say so, the Red Square of Barcelona, the only difference being that there are no government buildings or military commanderies around.
The colorful and bustling Boquería market is one of the most colorful places in Barcelona and a true paradise for gourmets. In terms of variety and quantity of goods on display, it is not without reason that it is considered one of the best markets in Europe.
Sagrada Familia is a unique architectural phenomenon, a bridge that connects generations and eras, giving you a unique opportunity to experience history and to be part of its creation. For two centuries the structure has been building, growing and changing.
The Camp Nou stadium was designed by the architect Francesc Mithans. It opened in 1957 and since then has been owned by FC Barcelona, the stadium’s first official name being Estadi del FC Barcelona.
Old Port of Barcelona
Once a shameful patch on the bright dress of Barcelona, the Old Port was given a second birth in the 1990s: the unattractive look of the promenade was covered with new wooden sidewalks, shopping centers, lots of cafes and restaurants, the Aquarium and an IMAX cinema were opened.
Haec omnia tibi dabo (“I will give it all to you”) were the words with which the devil tempted Christ when he showed Barcelona and its surroundings from the high hill of Tibidabo. The view from here is really breathtaking: from a height of 512 m the Catalan capital appears in all its glory.
Illa Fantasia Water Park
Illa Fantasia has water slides for everyone. The Kamikazes slides drop from 18 meters high and reach speeds of up to 60 km/h; the Zigs-Zags slides make you dizzy, the Multipista is an easy race for three, and those who like to jump on the waves will find them in a special pool.
To visit La Barceloneta means to plunge into the leisurely rhythm of the old Catalan quarter, wander its narrow streets, taste fine fish dishes in one of the many seafood restaurants, feel the light breeze and velvet sand on the best beach in Barcelona.
One of the most singular landmarks of Barcelona is the Agbar Tower that at night looks like a giant cucumber illuminated in blue, red and purple. Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the shape is meant to resemble the stone monoliths of Mount Monserrat and Barcelona’s famous geyser fountains.
Located at the foot of Mount Tibidabo, the Torre Bellesguard is one of Gaudí’s small but precious creations. Unusual for the master straight lines of the facade, however, with characteristic architectural oddities inside.
Perhaps Barcelona is one of the most lively European cities in which everything is arranged for the people. Beautiful but not pompous, bustling with life, but in the Spanish way unhurried, a city of businessmen and street musicians, narrow streets and wide avenues, a huge and comfortable city with a rich cultural and nightlife. In Barcelona is not possible to come for a couple of days, this city should be experienced, and then you’re unlikely to fall out of love with it.
Where to walk in Barcelona
Everywhere. Barcelona is beautiful from almost any angle and at any time of day: there are many ancient and modern neighborhoods, parks, embankments and cozy streets. But start with Plaça Catalunya. Here converge Passeig de Gràcia and La Rambla. It’s a kind of “Red Square” with the only exception that there aren’t any government buildings here, but there’s a fountain where Barcelonans traditionally meet in the evenings to go partying. Buses to the airport and neighboring cities also leave here and it’s a great place for shopping: those who prefer shopping malls should go to El Corte Ingles, and those who get tired can walk down Carrer de Pelai with stores and cafes where you can have a coffee or wine between shopping.
The Ramblas is the local “Arbat”: a pedestrian street with vendors selling flowers, souvenirs and ice cream and at night there is a bacchanalia in the best sense of the word: street musicians, mimes, theater performances and dancing. And pickpockets are on the prowl, too, with the city’s virtuoso pickpockets. During the day on the Ramblas, the Boquería market is a must for great jamón, fresh seafood and vegetables. Due to its location, it is partly turned into an attraction for tourists: there are many cafes, bars, even its own culinary school, but has not lost its authenticity. Catalan housewives still come here on weekends for fresh asparagus and mussels, and to chat with their neighbors and vendors.
The Ramblas is the local “Arbat,” a pedestrian street with vendors selling flowers, souvenirs, and ice cream. At night it becomes a bacchanal in the best sense of the word.
The Gothic Quarter begins on the other side of the Ramblas. Once the center of the city, it has all the medieval beauty of Barcelona: narrow streets, old buildings, museums, and the famous Barcelona Cathedral. When darkness falls, especially on weekends, the neighborhood turns into a big nightclub. If you walk from the Gotic Quarter to the Raval District, you can find the oldest bar in town on Sant Pau Street, where Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali liked to drop in for a glass of absinthe. The bartenders still pour absinthe and love to tell stories about the place.
You can’t just come to Barcelona and not look at the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. The most famous creation of the master, which unfortunately he did not have time to finish in his lifetime, is also one of the symbols of the city – the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Barcelonans joke that the meaning of this construction is that it will never be finished. So far, everything adds up – the cathedral has been under construction for more than a hundred years, and there is no end in sight. In the Passeig de Gràcia you can see the equally famous Casa Batlló and Casa Milá. If you go to the Lesseps or Valcarca metro stations, you can visit Park Güell with its gingerbread houses and mosaic lizards.
Museums of Barcelona
Barcelona has always been an advanced city in terms of art, so there is a lot to see in the museums here. First and foremost are the paintings. The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is one of the most visited in the city and in Spain in general. There are more than 3500 works of the founder of cubism: from children’s drawings to the famous interpretations of Velazquez. Also worth seeing is the Spanish Village – an exact copy of the country in miniature, recreated by Spanish architects, the National Museum of Catalan Art, the Museum of Olympic Games and Sports, the Museum of Modern Art of Barcelona and others.
At the Camp Nou Stadium, owned by FC Barcelona, the tribunes say: “More than a club”. And it’s true, soccer in Barcelona, as well as in the whole of Spain, is not a game, but a religion, and Lionel Messi is a national hero, who every self-respecting man over the age of four aspires to be like. It will be great if you are lucky enough to get to one of the matches, these impressions cannot be conveyed by words. But if not, you can limit yourself to the soccer club museum, where all the awards, boots and other personal belongings of players, photos, and there is a huge multimedia screen with the recording of all the best moments of matches since the founding of the club. And you can also go into the players’ locker room, where each has his own locker and one jacuzzi for everyone.
Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan autonomy, the second most populous city in Spain and quite a large seaport. A piece of the Iberian Peninsula with a rich history, where at different times had the Roman invaders, Germanic tribes and even warlike Berbers, for several decades now is in the top 20 most fashionable tourist destinations.
Save on your trip to Barcelona!
It’s no exaggeration to say that everything in Barcelona surprises: from Gaudi’s flamboyant creations to the city’s market, the best purveyor of the most unexpected delicacies in the entire Mediterranean. Dozens of museums, historic districts and all sorts of monuments of medieval architecture are generously “diluted” here with nightclubs and trendy boutiques. This is also the epitome of tolerance in modern Barcelona: perhaps this is why Catholic festivals and outrageous gay pride parades are as easy to come by in its fertile ground.
Start with the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic). Its churches, palaces, and museums embody the glory of Catalonia, which reached its heyday under the powerful Counts of Barcelona. In the 1990s, the port area was transformed from a labyrinth of bleak, neglected streets into a sparkling gateway to a new culture and gastronomy of the Mediterranean. The main artery of the area was La Rambla, the long avenue from the Plaza de Cataluña to the statue of Christopher Columbus in the harbor.
In the western part of the old city is the late 19th century Eixample district. Here is most of Barcelona’s Art Nouveau, including the famous Sagrada Familia, the unfinished masterpiece of architect Antonio Gaudí. Since 1884 Gaudí put all his creative energies into building the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral of the Holy Family. The architect even lived on the construction site and spent the last 16 years of his life in this way. The cathedral has four spires, each rising to a height of more than 100 meters, each decorated with colored ceramic tiles, and the stone portals look as if they were made of melting wax or represent a bizarre formation of stalactites. The Nativity facade is the most finished part of Gaudi’s cathedral, the doorways symbolizing Faith, Hope and Charity. Beyond the cathedral is his fantastical Park Guell.
Gothic Quarter Casa Mila
Among Gaudi’s other creations is Casa Mila, which locals call La Pedrera (“The Quarry”). It is a dwelling house with a wavy facade, the outlines of which were inspired by Gaudi’s view of the rocky massif of Monserrat, the sacred mountain of Catalonia. The volumes seem to flow seamlessly into one another, and the chimneys and roof vents are a veritable sculpture garden.
More than 40 of Barcelona’s most interesting museums are concentrated on the beautiful Montjuïc Mountain, which can be reached by cable car from the main port. Public transport, especially the metro, is very convenient, the restaurants are of the highest quality and the surrounding hills and sea lend clarity to the city layout.
Geography and Climate
Barcelona is located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, claiming one of the best spots on the Mediterranean coast. The Catalonian capital is protected to the south by the Collserola mountain range, while the Besos River marks its northern border. The most prominent mountain point in the Barcelona area is Tibidabo (512m), while the Mant Taber hill (12m) is the highest point in the metropolitan area.
Barcelona has a typical Mediterranean climate with warm and dry winters and humid and hot summers. Even in the coldest months (January, February) the thermometer column in the streets never drops below +10 ° C. The peak of the heat is in July and August, when the average temperature in the city is +25 ° C, and even +30 ° C.
Best time to go
The vast majority of tourists seek to get to Barcelona in the summer season to combine the traditional run through the iconic sites of the metropolis with a relaxing beach holiday and trips to the festivals, of which the Catalan capital is so rich. The anti-bonuses that automatically come with the high season are the huge crowds of travelers besieging all the iconic sights and beaches of the metropolis combined with the intense heat. In May, June and the second half of September in Barcelona is already much quieter, more spacious and even a little cheaper, so it makes sense to plan a trip for these months (if you don’t want to sacrifice the beach relaxation). Christmas and the Parade of the Three Kings are celebrated in winter with great pomp and excitement.
As true patriots, Barcelonians tend to slightly embellish the history of their native city. For example, they seriously believe that the Catalonian capital was founded by Hercules himself. On the other hand, to reproach the locals for excessive exaggeration is very difficult, because the first written references to the settlement in this part of the Iberian Peninsula only appeared by 236 BC.
Barcelona in 1563 The four Corinthian columns of the Roman Temple of Augustus in Barcelona, they are more than 2000 years old.
Barcelona was originally called Barcino after the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, who settled in the area. In 133 BC, the Romans visited the city, leaving behind a distinctive layout of the streets of the city (Gothic Quarter) and the remains of military fortifications.
In the Middle Ages Catalonia became a tidbit for the warring tribes. As a result, Barcelona was first occupied by the Visigoths, later ceding it to the Arabs. However, in 801 Louis the Pious managed to recapture the city and found in it the capital of the Spanish mark, but full independence was not achieved.
Barcelona was severely tested by its participation in the War of the Spanish Succession, as a result of which it was besieged for a long time. After it was seized by storm and partly destroyed (by that time the city managed to be a part of the Catalan-Aragonese confederation and the Catalan Republic).
Panorama of Barcelona in 1929
By the XIX century the capital of Catalonia had significantly grown beyond the fortress wall, but in the literal sense, the city began to flourish and develop only in the early twentieth century.
A picturesque sunset against the background of the W
Districts of the city
Administratively, Barcelona is divided into 10 districts, with only three of them being the most prominent from a tourist point of view.
Rooftops of the Old City
The Old City is the historical heart of the Catalan capital and contains the oldest and therefore the most valuable architectural monuments. The Gothic Quarter, which stretches from Plaza Catalunya to Via Laetana, is a colorful legacy of the dark Middle Ages. For the record, 99% of all sightseeing excursions begin in Plaça Catalunya, which acts as a bridge between the old part of Barcelona and the new.
The area of the Eixample, which begins just behind Plaza de Catalunya, is relatively young: the area next to the historic center only began to be built up in the XIX century, when the city walls could no longer accommodate the exponentially growing population. A distinctive feature of the Eixample is the regular geometric layout, according to which the blocks themselves have taken the form of squares divided by wide straight streets. Walk around the neighborhood mostly to get impressions of the unusual creations of Antoni Gaudi, among which is the legendary “House of Bones.
Eixample from above The streets of Eixample
Sants Monjuïc is scattered around the foothills and slopes of the Eixample mountain. Visitors are drawn here by the Magic Fountain, the National Museum of Art, and the Olympic Stadium. Lewis Kompanis Olympic Stadium and beautiful parkland.
Lewis Kompanis Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. Lewis Kompanis Olympic Stadium in Barcelona
Another colorful neighborhood that, although it shies away from prying eyes, can nevertheless truly fall in love with itself is Gracia. The place is positioned as a bohemian and hipster abode, and it is inhabited mostly by native Catalans who zealously preserve the unique spirit of their neighborhood. So if you like intricate mazes and cozy eateries where Catalan is not the ubiquitous tourist English, this is a neighborhood worth exploring.
Gracia in Barcelona
Sightseeing and interesting places in the Catalan capital
The main mistake most tourists make when visiting Barcelona for the first time is trying to cover all the iconic spots of the metropolis in a weekend. The reality is that even the most cursory exploration of the city’s sights can take at least a week, and better yet, two weeks.
Plaza de Catalunya Plaza de España in Barcelona View of the Ramblas from Plaza de Catalunya
The historical square at the crossing of La Rambla and Passeig de Gràcia, which was enlarged during the World Exhibition of 1888, is traditionally the starting point of the trip. It is purely a tourist place and as a result it is somewhat “sleek”. Nevertheless, the vast majority of meetings and appointments are made at the Plaza de Catalunya. From here, sightseeing buses leave for their exciting tours and excursions.
Rambla Illusionist Boulevard
From Barcelona’s main square, in the direction of the Olympic Port, departs the legendary La Rambla Boulevard, a sort of Catalan relative of Moscow’s Arbat. Wide, lively and mostly pedestrian street is one of the most popular tourist routes and at the same time outstanding provocateur, skillfully encouraging trusting traveler to mostly unnecessary, but such tempting expenditures. Souvenir and candy vendors, florists, street performers and live sculptures – these are the typical regulars on the sidewalks of the Rambla, every morning coming out on the city streets with one single goal: to find their customers and to entice them to buy.
If the marketing ploys of the Rambla don’t convince you, don’t be lazy to get to the main shopping area of the city – Boquería market. This giant food market dates back to the Middle Ages and is renowned for its enormous variety of gastronomy (only Boquería for quality jamon, truffles, snails, and foie gras).
Boquería Market in Barcelona Barcelona Cathedral
Between La Rambla and Rue Laietana is the Gothic Quarter. The name speaks for itself: narrow cobbled streets that sometimes have to be squeezed in sideways, grim cathedrals with spires piercing the sky and basilicas half a thousand years old are a classic sight to behold in this part of town. The list of must-see sites in the quarter includes above all the Cathedral of Barcelona (Gothic in its purest form), the Bridge of Sighs, Santa Maria del Pi Basilica (renovated in 1936 with the same openwork-gothic style), the remains of the Roman wall and the History Museum of Barcelona. You can also stop by the Villa de Arte Art Gallery or admire ancient Roman sculptures in the “Sentimental Museum” of Frederic Mares. Lastly, wash down your impressions with a cup of strong coffee at a table in the art cafe 4 cats, a Catalan clone of the Parisian bar-variety The Black Cat.
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter
The museums in Barcelona are a special topic, worthy of a separate article. Capuchin Museum, the Egyptian Museum, the open-air exhibition “Spanish Village”, the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art Barbier-Mueller and a dozen other most unusual places with truly amazing exhibits can’t wait for its visitors. Little travelers will be delighted by the CosmoCaixa miniature “laboratories” and the drool-worthy chocolate museum. A great opportunity to feel like a hapless rabbit in a bottomless magician’s hat is Barcelona’s Museum of Illusions. The beautiful half of humanity will certainly find something to occupy them at the Museum of Textiles and History of Costume, whose outstanding collections feature rare editions of fashion magazines from the century before last, as well as clothes from different time periods.
Plaza Portal de la Pau and the Columbus monument Singing fountains on the Montjuïc hill
Barça loyal fans in the Catalan capital also have somewhere to go: the museum of the legendary soccer club is located right in the Camp Nou stadium and keeps on its shelves all the awards ever received by the Barcelona players. Fans of Picasso’s works tend to flock to Via Moncada. Museum of the father of Spanish Cubism is located in five historic buildings and boasts three and a half thousand paintings and sketches, belonging to the brush of the master. Get the real aesthetic pleasure can be in the National Museum of Catalan Art, under the roof of which are collected as paintings by acknowledged masters of painting, and creations of young, yet unknown artists.
Akbar Tower Camp Nou Stadium
Among the buildings that have become recognizable symbols of Barcelona we can mention the Agbar Tower or as the Catalans call it “The Cucumber”. The giant futuristic streamlined structure appeared in the city in 2005 as a kind of architectural ode to Mount Monserrat and the city fountains.
If you are an avid theater and opera fan, try to get a ticket to one of the Barcelona theaters. For example, the Liceo on the Rambla de la Capuchin, whose stage still remembers the proud steps of Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras. You can enjoy immortal classics in a free interpretation in Liura, and it is best to combine a pleasant dinner with watching unpretentious performances in the city’s oldest theater – Principale.