Barcelona Top Ten
Barcelona is as hard working as it is hedonistic, with fairy-tale architecture and a cosmopolitan vibe. Make sure you check out these sites during your stay.
By TTM on 06 June 2013 in Travel Articles
If ever there was a city that could put a smile on a city-jetter's face, Barcelona has to be it. Anyone who has seen its magnificent beach, open parklands, amazing sculptures on street corners, and spectacular Gaudi architecture would be hard pushed to imagine the city as it once was before the 1992 olympics - a wasteland with high rises and derelict blocks. You don't need to spend your time at museums in Barcelona, because the city itself, beautfully designed, very colourful and even eccentric, is the main attraction.
And then there's the shopping - Barcelona has its share of malls and chains, but it also offers a lovely mix of small speciality stores - especially in the Old City. Groovy boutiques - whether fashion or jewellry - keep on sprouting up, no doubt fuelled by the constant stream of talent from the city's fashion schools. The markets are a must as they offer a colourful flavour of local life.
If you are moving around the city a lot and are keen on visiting loads of museums, consider purchasing a Barcelona Card, which allows you free use of public transport, free entry to selected museums, and discounts for over 75 museums, cultural institutions, leisure activities, shops, pubs and restaurants.
Here are the top ten areas we suggest you visit:
1) LA RAMBLA in the BARRI GOTIC district
Bang in the centre of Barcelona is is the Barri Gòtic (Gothic quarter), Europe's largest medieval area. It dates back to Roman times and the remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen. The labyrinthine streets often open out onto squares and they are packed with tiny eateries and interesting bars. The area is home to Barcelona's most famous street, La Rambla.
Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca once said that La Rambla was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end". Everyone should start their break along the tile covered La Rambla. This former riverbed cuts through the Old City, offering a tree-lined boulevard made up of a series of shorter streets (La Rambla de Canaletes, La Rambla dels Estudis, La Rambla de Sant Josep, La Rambla dels Caputxins, and La Rambla de Santa Monica) which is why you will hear it referred to as Las Ramblas.
Walking along La Rambla is a great way to get an orientation of the city and along the way pop into small shops, enjoy the cafe culture, enjoy the street performers and the various stalls selling small animals and flowers.
2) SAGRADA FAMILIA
This monumental church El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family) is Gaudi's most exemplary work and the most famous. It is as symbolic of Barcelona as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Gaudi started work on it in 1883 after replacing another architect, and dedicated his life to it to the point of actually taking up residence on-site. He was obsessed with this project - planning three exquisitly ornate facades devoted to the Nativitiy, Passion and Glory. Each was to be crowned by four towers. When asked why he fussed so much about the tower tops Gaudi replied "the angels will see them". Sadley he never lived to finish it. On June 7 1926 Gaudi was crossing the Fran Via and was run over by a car. He died three days later at the age of 74. The church is still being constructed and the finished part is open to visitors. Visitors can climb the towers which offer amazing panoramic views over Barcelona.
Address: Calle Mallorca, Tel: 00 34 932 07 30 31
3) PARK GUELL
Park Guell was supposed to be a suburban city but it failed. The Barcelona City Council bought the property in 1922 and converted it to a municipal park. It was Gaudi who had the responsibility of designing the park and he chose to develop it as a network of twisty roads following the contours of the rocky hill on which it was to be developed. The entire park gives off an ambience of Disneyesque proprtions with its mosaics, bird nests in the terrace walls, roadways that resemble pine trees and colonnades. At the entrance Gaudi's municipal mosaic dragaon fountain sets the scene for the fantastically shaped roofs and pinnacles that lie ahead. The main entrance is surrounded by a very long beach shaped into a sea serpent with intimate enclaves every so often. As a bonus you get great views over Barcelona from the top.
Address: Carrer D'Olot in Eixample
4) BARCELONA FC MUSEUM
Footie fans must come to Barcelona FC Museum. It is wall to wall photographs, memorabilia, statues and trophies. Buy a dual ticket and you get to do the Camp Nou Tour and see the museum, Barça stadium, the changing rooms and VIP lounge as well as other behind-the-scenes areas.
Address: Avinguda Joan XXIII s/n 08028, Tel:+34 93 496 36 00
5) THE SEA FRONT
Barcelona's seaside comprises several beaches and an attractive palm-lined seafront promenade, all born about thanks to the 1992 Olympics and the cash it brought in. At Moll d'Espanya at Port Vell (old port) there is an Imax, the biggest Aquarium in Europe and the Maremagnum that houses a shopping centre, restaurants, terraces and night life. Further along is the former fisherman's district of Barceloneta, where quaint narrow streets harbour some lovely seafood restaurants.
Address: Moll d'Espanya, Port Vell Tel: +34 93 221 7474
6) THE PICASSO MUSEUM
A young Picasso spent 5 years in Barcelona from 1901 to 1906 and if you want to understand him you must include a visit to the Picasso Museum. The building was once two 16th century palaces that have been turned into one structure. The walls display works of art that show off the genius of Picasso in his formative years. There are more than 3,500 works on display permanently and include childhood portraits, paintings and artworks from his Blue and Rose periods.
Address: Montcado Street, 15-23 Tel: 00 34 932 563 000
7) LA PEDRERA - CASA MILA
La Pedrera (a Catalan word meaning 'quarry) is a masterpiece of architecture by the master architect Antonio Gaudi, and looks fabulous with its wavy brick work that look like cliff walls. Made from limestone, the building undulates with curves and concaves with dark iron balconies contrasting beautifully on the pale stone. The roof is spectacular and its chimneys have been dubbed the "witch scarers" and the roof as goey cake.
The building was once the home of Pere Milà and his wife, Casa Milà but today it is used as a cultural centre for temporary exhibitions.
Address: Corner of Passeig de Gràcia 92/ Carrer de Provença 261-265 L'Eixample District Tel: 00 34 93 484 55 30
8) POBLE ESPANYOL DE MONTJUIC - Spanish Village
Spanish Village is an open air museum, located on the Montjuic mountain, showing off all the architectural styles of Spain in one place. It is in effect a quaint town with craft stores and regional restaurants.
Address: Avda Marques de Camillas Tel: 00 34 93 325 78 66
9) THE MAGIC FOUNTAIN OF MONTJUIC
This beautiful fountain was designed by Carles Buigas and created by 3000 workers for the Great Univeral Exhibition on 19 May 1929. It offers a spectacular disply of colour, light and water motion and acrobatics set to music.
Address: Pl. Carles Buígas, 1 (at the end of Avda. Maria-Cristina, next to Plaça Espanya)
10) LE RIBERA
This area, part of the old city of Barcelona, is regarded as Barcelona's most fashionable district. Passeig del Born, nicknamed El Born, is full of trendy bars, shops and restaurants.
Read also: Guide to Barcelona, Spain
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