The beautiful vibrant city of Barcelona, with its mild climate, is Spain’s second city, the capital of Catalonia. Barcelona has much to offer the visitor with its fascinating contrasting architecture from the medieval gothic quarter to the decorative art of Gaudi in the ‘modern’ Eixample area.
The 6000 year old Catalan Gothic cathedral of Santa Eulalia was built on the site of a Roman Temple; the exterior is modern, but the interior, with columns and stain glass windows, stems from the Middle Ages. The Paseo De Gracia, with its impressive Gaudi’s Houses, leads you to the ‘Sagrada Familia’ (Sacred Family). Still a building site, this cathedral was begun in 1882 in Neo Gothic Style. Gaudi took responsibility of it in 1883 and changed the style considerably. It is not expected to be completed until well into the Millennium. Another of Gaudi’s masterpieces, the Park Guell, created for Barcelona’s aristocracy is full of more of his stylish architecture and ornaments – allocate at least half a day to visit here.
You can also visit the Barceloneta Quarter and shop in the Ramblas (famous pedestrian street), exploring the bustling market stalls.
Various styles of Spanish architecture can be seen at the Pueblo Espanol (Spanish Village) noted for its cultural arts and crafts.
The city was transformed for the 1992 Olympics – 4.5 km of superb new beaches, including chic cafes, the Port Vell Area with its Imax Cinema Screen and huge Aquarium Magnemarum. Down at the water’s edge, the lift to the top of the Christopher Columbus Monument offers a marvelous view of the city. The Port Cable Car travels across the Port Vell (old harbour) from Montjuic Mountain (hill in the centre of Barcelona where the Stadium, Spanish Village and other attractions are situated). You are rewarded with a beautiful aerial view of Barcelona.
The new Stadium of Montjuic was created for the 1992 Olympic Games (the original 1930s facade being retained): designed to accommodate any kind of International Athletics competition and other events. This arguably helped Barcelona become one of the most successful locations for the games.
What to do and See
Visit the many different areas listed above – consider using the Metro and walking instead of buying Tourist Bus Tickets (hop on and hop off) as these buses can get very busy at times and become impossible to re-board – try a ride on the cable car – for those staying a number of days take the train to the seaside town of Sitges for the day or take a day trip on the rack railway to Montserrat Monastery.
Barcelona is now hugely popular not only with overseas visitors but the local Spanish people so include weekdays for your visit when it is quieter, if at all possible.
Many cruise lines now use Barcelona as a departure point for Mediterranean Fly Cruise itineraries which makes the city ideal for a pre or post cruise stopover.
WARNING – The city unfortunately while being safe is well known for its pickpockets who work in organised groups using ingenious scams to divert tourists’ attention away from the crime that is taking place – leave all you credit cards and documents in a safe at your hotel and use a limited amount of cash while taking other sensible precautions.
Contact Simon at Designer Travel Tailor-made Holidays & Cruises
Photo: Sagrada Familia (RG) 17