Visit Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia
Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and economic hub, although it is cosmopolitan and resolutely European, it is above all a Catalan city with a rich cultural and heritage past.
Nestled on the Mediterranean coast between the hills of the Serra de Collserola in the west and Montjuic in the south, the city is crossed by the rivers Llobregat and Besós.
The mild Mediterranean climate and festive atmosphere make Barcelona one of the most attractive cities in Europe.
This economic attraction is reinforced by its port activity and its essential role in several sectors such as finance, publishing, art and culture.
A tourist attraction with a unique heritage including several UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Park and Güell Palace, the Hospital of Sant Pau and immanquishable architectural works such as the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.
It is the most famous and emblematic avenue of Barcelona. Linking the Plaça de Catalunya, the historical heart of the city, with the Mirador Christopher Columbus and the old port, it runs alongside the El Baral and Gothic districts. It is 1.2 km long and 35 m wide and consists of a wide central promenade bordered by 2 traffic lanes.
It is characterized by its numerous kiosks, florists, bird and animal merchants, living statues and mimes, bars and restaurants. Lively, day and night, it is the busiest avenue in the city.
The Gothic Quarter is the old Barcelona, the historic old town with its cobbled and winding streets and picturesque architecture. Large ambiance in traditional cafes and restaurants.
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD EL RAVAL
Neighbour of Barrio Gotico, nestled in the heart of the old town, it is the dark, dilapidated and exciting part of the city. It’s not the healthiest and safest part of the city, but it’s essential for its character and will delight seasoned travellers.
The beach Sant Sebastiá is located in this district, very popular and family oriented because of its proximity to the city centre, but without its hustle and bustle.
A district with modernist architecture and squared streets, it has big signs, many bars and restaurants. The Sagrada Familía and Casa Mila de Gaudi are located within its perimeter.
A picturesque area, it offers magnificent views of the city from the top of the hill. There is the famous and mysterious Magic Fountain, the tourist village museum Poble Espanyol and the National Museum of Catalan Art.
BARRIO EL BORN
It is the district of culture and historical monuments. Close to the city centre and the beach, with many bars and restaurants, the nightlife is intense.
An independent village until the end of the 19th century, the barrio still has a very traditional community character. Despite its trendy and bohemian nature it has an interesting mix of generations.
In addition to its many tourist districts, the city has the largest peri-urban park in the world. The Serra Collserola Natural Park, which overlooks the city, is one of the most popular places for Barcelonaers who enjoy jogging, cycling and family outings.
Cathedrals and Basilicas of Barcelona
An avant-garde and modernist city, Barcelona, Catalan city, is characterized by a rich cultural, religious and heritage past, some of whose architectural works, such as the Sagrada Falilía, are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
BASILICA SAGRADA FAMILIA
The most famous example of Catalan modernism, this unfinished work by Gaudi, the most visited in Spain with three million visitors, is the emblematic monument of Barcelona.
Conceived from 1882 onwards as a mystical poem, the Basilica’ Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família’ in Catalan (temple of the Holy Family), located in the Eixample district, has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As it is an atonement temple, the works can only be financed through alms. The number of visitors and the enthusiasm aroused by this splendid building means that its construction should be completed in 2030.
It is a man named Josep Maria Bocabella, mandated by the association of the devotees of St. Joseph, who buys the land for the sum of 172,000 pesetas, about 1000 €, with the idea of building a church and a school.
The project was entrusted to Francisco de Paula del Villar and the foundation stone was laid at St. Joseph’s Day 1882. Del Villar, who is working on a project with neo-Gothic architecture, will give up because of disagreements with Bocabella, who preferred a replica of the sanctuary of Loreto, which was supposed to be the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth.
Gaudi, at the age of 31, will be entrusted with this prodigious project. Work that he continued until his death in 1926.
Equipped with 8 towers from 98 to 112 m high, with its shell-shaped façade of the Nativity inspired by the Old and New Testaments, the completion of the construction of the Sagarda Familía entrusted to the sculptor Subirachs, more than a mystical work, remains a real challenge for the Catalan people.
Offering a magnificent view of the city, the summit of these towers can be reached by elevators from inside the basilica, which preserves Gaudi’s tomb in its crypt.
In the basement, a museum is dedicated to the architect and the construction of this shrine, one can admire many models to better understand the difficulties of this great task.
Access: Carrer (rue) de Mallorca, 401. M° Sagrada Familia.
Opening hours: April – September: every day from 9 am to 8 pm, until 6 pm the rest of the year. Admission: 15 €, 19,50 € with audio guide.
Monument whose visit is highly coveted, it is preferable to buy the ticket(s) in advance.
CATHEDRAL OF SANTA CREU I SANTA EULALIA
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalie, amicably called” La Seu” by the Barcelonaers, is the Cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Barcelona.
Consecrated to Saint Eulalie, patron saint of Barcelona, the works of its construction began in 1238. Gothic in style, it was erected on the former Romanesque cathedral, which was built on a Visigothic church, on a site formerly occupied by a Paleo-Christian basilica whose remains are still visible in the basement of the Barcelona History Museum. Its facade was not built until the 19th century.
Among the treasures of the cathedral, the Christ of Lepanto, crucifix that adorned the bow of Don Juan’s ship from Austria during this famous battle in 1571, is preserved in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
Next, behind the Choir of the Cathedral, there is the crypt of Saint Eulalie, which houses the sarcophagus of the patron saint of the city, as well as the tombs of its founders, Berenger le Vieux and Almondis.
To the right of the nave, the cloister offers a space of calm and reflection among orange trees and palm trees.
Place de la Leu, a vast promenade dating from 1421 forms the forecourt of the Cathedral. It is here that every year, on the occasion of the Santa Lucia Festival, beautiful Christmas decorations are sold.
Access: Pla de la Seu in the Barri Gòtic. Mº Jaume 1st.
Opening hours: free visit Monday to Saturday from 8 a. m. to 12:45 p. m. and then from 5:45 p. m. to 7:30 p. m. Admission at 7 € from Monday to Saturday between 1 pm and 5.30 pm and on Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm.
BASILICA OF SANTA DEL MAR
Located in the Ribera district, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar was built from 1329 to 1383 in a Catalan Gothic style by the architect Berenguer de Montagut.
It was the sailors, merchants and inhabitants of the district who financed its construction, which lasted only 55 years, a record for the time, on a very old Christian place of worship, as evidenced by the excavations carried out in the early sixties under the basilica.
In fact, for the inhabitants of Ribera, the’ Seu’, the official cathedral of the city, represented the monarchy, the high clergy and the authority linked to wealth, while Santa Maria del Mar, conceived with the fruit of their labours, symbolized the faith and humility of the fishermen who built it. A humility transcribed even in the stripping of its decoration.
While her acoustic qualities earned her numerous concerts, she lost her baroque altar and most of her ornaments and works of art in the fire she suffered during the Spanish Civil War of 1936.
Access: Plaza Santa Maria. M° Jaume 1st.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm and then from 5 pm to 8:30 pm. Sundays and holidays from 10 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 8 pm. Free admission. Accessible to people with reduced mobility.
BARCELONA HISTORY MUSEUM
The Barcelona History Museum, better known by the acronym MUHBA, exhibits and broadcasts Barcelona’s historical heritage from its origins to the present day.
The main seat of the Barcelona City Hall is located at Plaça del Rei, Place du Roi, in the centre of the old town in the Gothic Quarter, Barri Gotic in Catalan.
Atypical it has 13 heritage sites spread throughout the city, if they have the same thread, their entrance fees and timetables can be different.
Most of them are archaeological sites conserving vestiges of Barcino, the ancient Roman Barcelona, others refer to medieval times with the ancient Judería, the Jewish quarter, the Palau Reial Major, the Royal Palace, the excavations of the Convent of St. Catherine, Gaudi or the Spanish Civil War.
It is housed in the Casa Clarian-Padellàs, a 15th century Catalan aristocratic mansion which has the particularity of having been moved in 1931 from the Mercaders Square to be rebuilt stone by stone Plaça del Rei.
It was during its reconstruction that some vestiges of the ancient Barcino, the Roman name of Barcelona, were discovered. Pushed further, the excavations uncovered an entire area of the Roman city. It is in the basement of the museum that these ancient remains can be admired.
Other curiosities of this museum: the Tinell salon where Christopher Columbus was welcomed in 1493 on his return from the Americas by the Catholic Kings, vast banquet hall of 30m in length whose ceiling is supported by arches located at 17m height or the Sainte-Agathe chapel with its polychrome ceiling and altarpiece dating from 1465.
Access: Plaça del Rei. M°Jaume I. Tram: Via Laietana-Argenteria.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 7 pm until 8 pm on Sundays. Admission: 7 € valid for all MUHBA sites. Free from 3 pm every Sunday, all day on the first Sunday of the month.
MUSEUM OF CATALAN HISTORY
Better known by the acronym MUHBA, the History Museum exhibits and broadcasts Barcelona’s historical heritage from its origins to the present day.
Atypical this one has 13 antennas distributed throughout the city, if they have the same thread, their prices of entry and schedules can be different.
The one located at Plaça de Pau Vila, near the Port Vel marina built for the Olympic Games, is in the Palau del Mar, a five-storey industrial building.
These places, once occupied by port warehouses, have seen the opening of many cafés and restaurants on the terraces bordering the museum.
The Catalan History Museum of Catalonia offers a discovery of the Catalan region from prehistoric times to the present day through objects, documents and historical reconstructions. An interactive journey, a permanent exhibition and thematic exhibitions complete this walk in the past.
Access: 3 Plaça de Pau Vila. M° Barceloneta.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, until 2:30 pm on Sundays and public holidays. Admission: 4,50 €. 6,50 € with temporary exhibitions.
MUSEU DE CULTURES DEL MON
Inaugurated in 2005, the Museum of World Cultures is dedicated to bringing its public closer to the cultural and artistic diversity of the peoples of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania through a permanent exhibition of more than 500 pieces from all continents.
These include African masks, aripa statues from Oceania, cuchimilcos, funerary Peruvian figurines and Asian shadow puppets. Thematic temporary exhibitions complement these cultural and artistic exchanges.
Access: Carrer Montcada, 12. M° Jaume I. Tram: Carrer Princesa 47.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays and holidays from 10 am to 8 pm. Closed Mondays not holidays.
BARCELONA MARITIME MUSEUM
The’ Museu Marítim’ is located in the former royal shipyards of the Drassanes built in the 13th century. This building, which would be the largest Gothic building in the world, traces the long history of a Barcelona traditionally and culturally oriented towards the sea.
Since its inception in 1929, the museum has raised an extraordinary amount of money from private donations or from organizations and acquisitions made by the museum.
This important fund allows visitors to admire collections of navigation instruments, nautical charts, marine charts and ship models.
Access: Avenida de les Drassanes. M° Drassanes. Tram: Moll de Barcelona.
Opening hours: every day from 10 am to 8 pm. Admission: 7 €. Free Sunday from 3 p. m. onwards.
Gulet visit in summer: Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 8.30 pm, from 2 pm on Saturdays. Winter: every day from 10 am to 5:30 pm, from 2 pm on Saturdays.
EL POBLE ESPANYOL
The soul of Spain
Located in one of Barcelona’s emblematic districts, the district of Montjuïc, very close to the famous Magic Fountain, the ‘Poble Espanyol’, created just like the fountain on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1929, allows visitors to discover, during a long walk, all the richness of Spanish diversity.
The’ Spanish village’ is like an open-air museum, arts and architecture, crafts and traditions all the themes dealing with a multiculturalism that Barcelona the European knows well are dealt with.
117 buildings, ranging from the Andalusian quarter to Catalan Romanesque architecture, were reproduced on a real scale based on an idea by the architect Puig i Cadafalch.
The village is also made up of workshops in which the craftsmen officiate live, many pieces of contemporary art by artists such as Picasso, Guinovart, Miró and Dali.
Numerous cultural events are scheduled and bars, restaurants and trendy clubs are open every day of the year despite high prices.
Access: Avenida Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, 13. Montjuïc. M° Espanya.
Open daily from 9 am to 8 pm Monday, midnight Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday. From 9:00 am to 3:00 am on Friday and until 4:00 am on Saturday. Admission: 12 €, children from 4 to 12 years old: 7 €.
VISITS, MONUMENTS AND MUSEUMS
LEISURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
EXCURSIONS ON LAND
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