Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital is one of the most colourful and vibrating cities in Spain. Its unique location near the Mediterranean Sea and Gaudi’s impressive architecture are a magnet for people all over the world and contribute to the cosmopolitan charm of the city. The hotels in Barcelona add to this charm through its central locations, excellent service and luxury facilities.
A lot of tourists head to Barcelona to spend their beach holiday, but miss out on its famous tourist attractions and rich culture. The idea of this post is to throw some light on some of the rich culture of this Spanish city that is situated in the north-east part of the Iberian peninsula. First, there are the classic Joan Miro and Picasso Museums. Then the architecture of Barcelona’s most famous artist Gaudi who helped to develop a unique form of Art Nouveau. And, who can miss out on the long La Rambla Promenade.
Here is a list of places that one should visit to get closer to the city’s true culture.
Ciutat Vella (The Old Town)
The Ciutat Vella is the historical centre of Barcelona. In former times, Barcelona was only a small Roman village called Barcino, surrounded by a massive defensive wall. During the 14th and 15th century it grew rapidly and today the small winding streets, gothic buildings and medieval places still remember of Barcelona’s golden era. The best way to discover the Ciutat Vella in Barcelona is by foot – drift along the small streets and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
The Museu Picasso is Barcelona's most visited museum. It's housed in three strikingly beautiful stone mansions on the Carrer de Montcada, which was, in medieval times, an approach to the port. The museum shows numerous works that trace the artist's early years, and is especially strong on his Blue Period with canvases like The Defenceless, ceramics and his early works from the 1890s. The haunting Portrait of Senyora Canals (1905), from his Pink Period is also on display.
Raval is the original medieval name for the district left of Las Ramblas of Barcelona. Shabby apartment houses and dodgy bars can be found right next to modern museums and trendy shops in the small winding streets in this district of Barcelona– Raval is a traditional workers area that is constantly changing. Once known as poor and dangerous area, it is now growing in popularity for its central location and its shops. El Raval is the home of many immigrants and the multicultural atmosphere contributes to the charm of this district of Barcelona. Some streets in El Ravel make up the red-light district of Barcelona.
The Barri Gotic contains a concentration of medieval Gothic buildings only a few blocks northeast of La Rambla, and is the nucleus of old Barcelona. It's a maze of interconnecting dark streets linking with squares, and there are plenty of cafes and bars, as well as the cheapest accommodation in town. Most of the buildings date from the 14th and 15th century, when Barcelona was at the height of its commercial prosperity and before it had been absorbed into Castile.
Las Ramblas is probably the most famous boulevard in Barcelona. The street is two kilometres long and right at the heart of the city. It divides the Ciutat Vella starting from the buzzing Plaça Catalunya right to the harbour of Barcelona. The wide pedestrian area in the middle of Las Ramblas is the ideal place to meet people, watch the busy traders or street performers. The numerous birds and flower stalls underline the colourful atmosphere of Las Ramblas.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is truly awe-inspiring - even if you don't have much time, don't miss it. The life's work of Barcelona's favourite son, Antoni Gaudí, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. They are encrusted with a tangle of sculptures that seem to breathe life into the stone.
The hill Montjüic (Jewish mountain) is one of the most significant landmarks of Barcelona. The huge park lies 213 metres above the harbour and is today one of the major tourist attractions in Barcelona. Montjüic hosted the World Exhibition in 1929 and the Olympic Games in 1992, remains of these big events in Barcelona can still be visited. The impressive view of Barcelona and the sporting and cultural devices on Montjüic are worth more than one visit.
Another Gaudí masterpiece, La Pedrera was built between 1905 and 1910 as a combined apartment and office block. Formerly called the Casa Milà, it's better known now as La Pedrera (the quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade that ripples around a street corner - it creates a wave effect that's further emphasized by elaborate wrought-iron balconies. Visitors can tour the building and go up to the roof, where giant multicoloured chimney pots jut up like medieval knights. On summer weekend nights, the roof is eerily lit and open for spectacular views of Barcelona. One floor below the roof is a modest museum dedicated to Gaudí's work.