The historic royal shipyard surrounds this excellently built ocean and shipping museum. The Gothic civil... architecture alone with its halls, bricks and arch justifies a visit. The ensemble was integrated into the medieval city walls in the 14th century. The museum is all about the ocean and its issues. Nautical devices, galleons, marine charts, models of boats and real boats. The history of the Barcelona haven is also on topic. The showpiece is the replica of “Juan de Austrai” from the 16th century. The museum cafe is also worth a visit.more
The first planned expansion of the old town took place from 1753 onwards in the triangle between Port... Vell, Estació de França railway station and the Olympic Port. "Little Barcelona" with its streets at right-angles to each other and the standard two-storey apartment blocks has a truly unique atmosphere. Many fishermen and sailors live here and it has remained a nice district for ordinary people - all within view of the chic beaches and the "in" restaurants and bars in the new port.
The popular bathing strip on the sea front stretches along Passeig Marítim; the Platja de Barceloneta is very busy nearly all year round. At the weekends in particular many locals consider a long visit to one of the numerous fish restaurants in La Barceloneta a must - those wishing to get a highly sought-after table outside at lunch-time in the warm weather should decide on one of the restaurants as early as possible. Finally, after touring La Barceloneta you can take the cable car (Transbordador Aéri) over the port.more
City: Sitges in/near Barcelona Category: Sightseeing
Just 40 km (24.85 miles)south of Barcelona and a good 45 min by train is one of the most rewarding excursion... destinations on the Costa Daurada - Sitges. This seaside resort with 13,000 inhabitants attracts visitors not just because of the kilometres of sandy beaches, but also for the wonderful houses and traditional holiday hotels in Catalan Art Nouveau style.
The old town with the Baroque parish church of Sant Bartolomeu i Santa Tecla sits on a rock ledge. Museu Cau Ferrat (Tue-Sat 9.30 am-2 pm, 3.30-6.30 pm (summer 4-7 pm, Sun 10 am-3 pm, closed Mon), the former home and art studio of the modernist painter and writer Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931), is home to works by the master himself as well as pictures by El Greco and Picasso. The international gay scene, which has chosen Sitges as the place to meet in the summer, takes care of the crazy events during the high season and the nightlife in the many bars and discos is correspondingly lively. But there is always something going on during the day; the cafés along the palm-lined promenade are perfect for lazing around and people-watching.more
One of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks is the Templo de la Sagrada Família (“Church of the Holy... Family”), to which Antoni Gaudí dedicated the last 16 years of his life, without ever completing it. In 1883, the 31-year-old architect took over the monumental building project, which was financed by private donors and was designed to hold up to 15,000 people once it was complete. According to Gaudí’s plans, there was to be a five-aisle basilica with a three-aisle transept, topped by a total of seventeen 105 m (350 ft) tapering steeples. To date, only four of these towers, the ones above the east and west portals, have been completed.
The building was designed as a “church for the poor” and, as with his other works, the architect was inspired by nature with its soft, rounded and flowing forms, and therefore decided to dispense with flying buttresses and supporting pillars. From the top of the Barnabas tower, which you reach by lift or by climbing a seemingly endless spiral staircase, there is a spectacular view over the rooftops of the city.more
Las Ramblas is one of the most famous streets in Spain, where young and old, locals and tourists alike... meet to chat or simply to sit and watch the world go by. The street stretches out over nearly three-quarters of a mile, and is lined with flower stalls, street theatre, bars, musicians, monuments, magicians, painters, kiosks, restaurants and much, much more. Not far from the Plaça de Catalunya, a busy square with neoclassical facades, is the Palau Moià, a citizens' palace dating back to the 18th century, with murals by the Catalan painter Francesc Pla in the main hall. La Boqueria (“the chasm”) is well worth a visit – this is the most famous market in Barcelona for fruit, vegetables, seafood and fish.
The 18th century Palau de la Virreina, which was built by a Peruvian viceroy for his wife, is now used for special exhibitions. The Gran Teatre del Liceu, built in the middle of the 19th century, is now one of the top opera and ballet houses in the world. Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe are just two of the 300 famous and infamous personalities on display at the Museu de Cera, an excellent waxworks museum.more
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is housed in what was originally the Spanish Pavilion for... the 1929 World Fair. Since 1934, the museum has been home to one of the most precious collections of medieval European art: paintings, board games, painted wooden ceilings, sculptures, altarpieces and chests.
Among the highlights are the original Romanesque murals from churches and monasteries in remote Pyrenean valleys, which justify the MNAC's fame around the world, including "David and Goliath" and "Christ as Lord of the World" from Taüll. The Gothic section is stunning, with an extensive collection of quality panel paintings. The ground floor is housing the private collection of the Catalan politician Francesc Cambó, and features works by Lucas Cranach, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Goya and Titian. Since 2004, the Museu d'Art Modern, with its collection of late 19th and early 20th century Catalan art, has been housed in the Palau Nacional.more
The 213 m (700 ft) high Montjuïc to the south of the city centre is one of two mountains in Barcelona,... the other being Tibidabo. Avant-garde architects created the sports facilities for the 1992 Olympic Games on the plateau of the mountain by converting and adding to what was already there. Notable additions included the swimming stadium, the Olympic stadium and the Palau Sant Jordi. The Poble Español (”Spanish Village”) had already been built for the World Fair in 1929. This leisure park with restaurants and craft shops also contains scaled-down copies of the country’s main tourist attractions, including the town wall of Ávila, palaces in the Basque Country and houses in Aragon.
The futuristic Pavelló Mies van der Rohe was probably too far ahead of its time, and was torn down right after the Fair, only to be rebuilt in 1986 as a masterpiece of modern architecture. It is a work in the German Bauhaus style, characterised by its transparency, simple lines and cool feel. In the Fundació Joan Miró museum and study centre, sculptures, textiles, paintings and drawings by the Barcelona-born artist are exhibited in airy rooms.more
Narrow, winding streets, atmospheric squares and a high concentration of magnificent buildings all lend... the Gothic Quarter, the oldest part of the city, its character and charm. The town hall and the seat of the Catalan government, the latter an excellent example of Gothic and Renaissance style with its beautiful inner courtyards, face each other across the Plaça de Sant Jaume, which was once a Roman forum. Despite its colourful windows, the interior of the Gothic cathedral (La Seu) feels almost bathed in darkness. The Neo-Gothic façade was only completed in the 19th century, and the octagonal central tower was not finished until 1913.
The crypt under the high altar house a marble sarcophagus containing the remains of Santa Eulàlia, the city’s patron saint. Geese are traditionally kept in the cloisters to ward off thieves. The Palau Reial Major, from which a broad flight of steps leads down to the Plaça del Rei, was once the home of the Counts of Barcelona and later the Kings of Aragón. It was in the Saló del Tinell, a magnificently vaulted throne room 36 m (almost 120 ft) long by 17 m (60 ft) wide, that the Inquisition judged whether people should live or die, and that in 1493 Christopher Columbus told the Catholic kings about the New World.more
City: Montserrat in/near Barcelona Category: Sightseeing
Around 60 km (37 miles) north-west of Barcelona the jagged limestone cliffs of the Sierra de Montserrat... (national park) tower above the Abbey of Santa Maria, a national shrine for Catalonians. In the Middle Ages, this place become an important site of pilgrimage after the legendary discovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary and even today over 750,000 believers flock to see "La Moreneta" (the "Black Madonna"), a 30 cm-high (11.81 inch) statue of the Madonna with Christ wrapped in golden clothes. In 1808 the Napoleonic troops burnt down nearly the entire site, with the exception of the Romanesque church door and the Gothic cloister. However, it was rebuilt 50 years later.
The important Benedictine Abbey was a centre of the Renaixença - the rediscovery of Catalan culture - in the 19th century. In addition to the church, a printing plant, a goldsmith's workshop and the library are worth seeing. You should try the home-made cheese, honey and "Aromes del Montserrat" cordial which the Monks sell.more
The MACBA (the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art), a creation by US top architect Richard Meier, stands... out in the highly built-up old town district of El Raval. Behind its impressive façade of white cement and glass, the museum mainly exhibits modern Catalan and Spanish art from the 1950s onwards. The many changing exhibitions on art, photography and design are always worth a look at in the latest programme.
The interior of the building with its clear lines and a magnificent vertical line spanning all levels is more exciting than the external appearance viewed by the neighbours as slightly boxy. The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) (Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture) is located almost right next to the MACBA on Carrer Montalegre. The cultural centre ideally complements the MACBA with exhibitions about city life, urban planning and modern society and is no less interesting from an architectural point of view: the CCCB, which opened in 1995, is located in a medieval Casa de Caritat, the former hospice for the poor and homeless.more
With its magnificent towers, the Gothic church in the old seaman's district of La Riberas resembles a... fortress from the outside. It was created in around 50 years starting from 1329 by just one builder, Berenguer de Montagut - a rarity for the time, which is why it has a purity and unity of style unlike many other Gothic churches. The huge rose window over the main entrance with its glass paintings creates an almost magical luminosity inside the church in the Mediterranean mid-day sun, as do the side stained glass windows from the 15th century.
In 1936, anarchist iconoclasts plundered and set fire to the side chapels during the Spanish Civil War, which meant that all the Baroque features that had been added disappeared and were never replaced. The atmosphere of the room with the Gothic pillars of the three-aisled basilica reaching for the heavens is still just as impressive. The residents of La Ribera adore their church and they particularly like using it for baptisms and weddings.more
What is today an exemplary masterpiece by the architect Antoni Gaudí was highly controversial shortly... after its completion in 1910. Many locals thought the Art Nouveau apartment block was a mistake due to its size and unusual flowing lines and gave it the derogatory name "La Pedrera", or "the quarry". The undulating roof with the chimneys mutated into mythical creatures, the concrete/steel construction without load-bearing walls, an elliptical inner courtyard and round windows - all this contravened the prevailing taste at the time.
Today genuine hordes of visitors stroll through the light-flooded apartments, which are now a museum, in amazement, admiring the visionary genius in the loft (Espai Gaudí) and enjoying the fabulous view from the roof terrace over the entire city. Gaudi's pioneering role in terms of living quality is obvious: the natural ventilation makes air-conditioning systems superfluous, each apartment can be changed individually via movable walls and the master even thought about underground car parks.more
Nowadays an idyllic park, this used to be a symbol of military repression to the Barcelonans. Grass grew... over what used to be a citadel (ciutadella). After it had been torn down, the gardening architect Josep Fontserè I Mestre turned this place into a green playground which was host to Barcelona's first world fair in 1888. The road network in Parc de la Ciutadella stretches past palm trees and the central pond to the “great cascade” (Gran Cascada) a work from Josef Fontserè I Mestre. The triumphal arch and quadriga throne above the cascade fountain.The “three-dragon castle” from the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner is an interesting example of the Catalan Jugendstil Modernisme.more
The Poble Espanyol is Barcelona's “Spanish Village” and the most artificial village in the country.... Its draft was a stroke of genius for the world fair in 1929. The typical houses, plazas and architecture of Spain were put into a space of 20,000 square meters. This survived time and to this day offers some surprises. You can quickly travel from the palaces of Galicia to the winding Andalusian quarters and the church of Mudéjar in Aragon. Its main plaza is the Plaza Mayor. Bars, restaurants and arts and crafts stores breathe life into the place, but only until the place closes. The Poble Espanyol is a village that lives from its visitors, but nobody really lives in this place.more
In the mid 19th century it became extremely clear what had been more or less obvious for the past decades:... the city was too small, its inhabitants lived in overcrowded conditions and the situation was exacerbated by the wave of immigrants who were seeking their fortune in the city. In 1855, the Catalan architect Ildefonso Cerdà submitted his design for expanding the city. Straight roads, geometric patterns and colourful and interestingly shaped buildings in "Modernisme" style - the Catalan equivalent of Art Nouveau - characterise today's noble Eixample business district (known as the "Quadrat d'Or" or the "Golden Quarter") between Carrer Aribau, Passeig de Sant Joan, Rondes and Avinguda Diagonal.
One of the most distinctive buildings in the Golden Quarter is Antonio Gaudi's Casa Milà (1906-1910). The wave-like façade of this apartment building which has practically no corners or edges hides behind it details which show that the famous architect was strides ahead of his time: he built an underground car park, placed great importance on natural ventilation and omitted load-bearing walls so that each apartment could be changed individually using moveable walls.more
Joan Miro (1893-1983) is commonly associated with Palma de Mallorca where he lived and worked from 1940... until his death. However this exceptional artist spent his first 27 years in Barcelona. Here he studied at the Academy of Arts and put together his first exhibitions. At the start of the 1970s, together with his architect friend Josep Lluís Sert, he set up a foundation in his home-town which was to exhibit his own works as well as those of other contemporary artists. The Fundació Joan Miró (Joan Miro Foundation) was opened in 1975.
Josep Lluís Sert created a timeless masterpiece in this building. The white building on Montjuic hill provides extensive exhibition areas and with its cleverly designed windows and skylights is flooded by daylight - while special glass ensures there are no disruptive shadows to affect your enjoyment of the art. The exhibition features numerous works from all Miró's creative periods - pictures, sculptures, ceramics and a tapestry created especially for the museum. Large sculptures by the artist can be admired on the roof terrace. There is also a collection of works by famous contemporaries: Henry Moore, Max Ernst and Fernand Léger. A curiosity is the Mercury Fountain which Alexander Calder constructed for the World Exposition in Paris in 1937.more
The long queues often indicate the way to the most-visited museum in Barcelona: the Picasso Museum primarily... focuses on the early works of this exceptional artist and thus enables his later creative periods to be understood and followed. The museum, housed in a beautiful town palace from the 15th century, owes its existence to various bequests: Picasso himself and a close friend of the artist left the city a large number of works which have been on display here since 1963.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) began to draw enthusiastically as a child. The earliest drawings in the museum are from the first ten year's of the artist's life and already show his exceptional talent. Picasso lived in Barcelona from 1865-1897, where he studied at the Academy of Arts. Many paintings and sketches from this time can also been seen. Works from Picasso's Blue Period (1901-1904) are particularly abundant. The museum also has a small number of works from the artist's later creative periods; the 58 variations on Velasquez' "Las Meninas", which Picasso created in 1957 and bequeathed to the city of Barcelona in 1968 are especially worth noting.more
The harmonious, enclosed area around the Rambles started life in 1848 on the grounds of a Capuchin monastery... which had been torn down. The four to five-storey classical buildings with the wide arcades, the sleek date palms, the central Fountain of the Three Graces (Font de les Tres Gràcies) and the wrought iron lamps created by Antoni Gaudí in 1878 all add up to create an inimitable Mediterranean atmosphere.
The cafes and restaurants under the arcades are busy day and night with street musicians and artists providing entertainment almost around the clock. There is a stamp and coin fair on the square every Sunday morning. There are some institutions in Barcelona’s nightlife grouped around the square. The Glaciar pub, the Karma disco and the Pipa Club jazz cellar. However, you do need to be a bit careful about the notorious handbag snatchers loitering on the Plaça. It is good that there is a virtually constant police presence.more
You have to be a little freaky to have a look around this museum. The museum of the coaches of the dead.... The extensive collection contains different pompous models from the 19th and 20th century. Sometimes the last ride was motorized, sometimes you were pulled by horses. The many details are very interesting as well as the ornamental scrollwork on the vehicles that have served their time. The museum is in the basement of the “Serveis Funeraris de Barcelona”, which is a prosperous and lively funeral home never lacking business.more
The FC Barcelona highly decorated soccer club is in a league of its own, not only because of winning... the Champions League. The club has more than 130,000 members and has fan clubs all over the world and its own TV channel. The Camp Nou stadium is a pilgrimage site to its fans and the own museum is one of the highly frequented museums in Spain. Soccer fans can find some real icons right here. The shoes of the one time world class player Ronaldo or personal belongings of Diego Maradona or Bernd Schuster. The cabinets burst from all the trophies. A gigantic fan shop is affiliated to the museum.more
In 1900, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi commissioned his friend Antoni Gaudí to design and build the garden... city of Parc Güell - which was to become Gaudí's most colourful architectural creation. The park is very extensive, so it is easy to escape the hordes of people around the famous buildings. Colourful shards of tile and ceramic have been used to produce countless imaginative mosaics on the roofs of the pavilions, adding an eccentric charm to the whole park.
The real attraction is the Plaça de la Naturalesa - a huge terrace with a spectacular view down to the harbour. The sides of the square are lined with the famous snake bench. In the "Hundred Column Hall" below, many street musicians make the most of the excellent acoustics of the open hall. If you wander on through the complex, you come across idyllic little arcades and, at the foot of the hill, the Gaudí Museum. This is where the artist lived for nearly 20 years, and in the church-like building, you can still admire today the extravagance and playfulness of the architect in many little details.more
For the 1992 Olympic Games , the whole waterfront area and the promenade all the way up to the fishing... district, La Barceloneta, were completely redesigned. The boats known as “Golondrines” set off on their tours around the harbour from the Moll de les Drassanes near the Monument a Colom, from the top of which you can see the whole coastline. The Rambla de Mar footbridge takes you to the Maremàgnum on the Moll d’Espanya jetty – a shopping and leisure centre incorporating fashionable bars, tempting gaming rooms, wonderful shops and an IMAX cinema to take you to faraway worlds.
It is also home to the Aquarium, with an 80 m (260 ft) Plexiglas tunnel where you can come face to face with moray eels and tiger sharks. The Aquarium also has 35 huge tanks and around 450 different species of animals, making it the largest artificial underwater world in Europe. Accompanied by classical music, the visitor can learn more about marine life in an entertaining way.more
The city’s most elegant street, which is home to some excellent buildings in the modernist style, is... Passeig de Gràcia, right in the heart of the Quadrat d’Or (“Golden Square”). Artistically decorated street-lights, intricate mosaics on the pavements and expensive shops are all indicative of the exclusivity of the people of Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century, and of their need for recognition. Some excellent examples of the Catalan variation on Art Nouveau can be seen in the collection of houses known as the Mançana de la Discòrdia (“Discord Block”) between Carrer Consell de Cent and Carrer Aragó: a typical mixture of Neo-Gothic, Italian, Flemish and traditional Catalan elements can be seen at Casa Amatller (no. 41), Puig i Cadafalch.
Domènech i Montaner designed Casa Lleó Morera (no. 35), with its simple external lines and windows adorned with columns. The bone-like shapes and scaly roof of Casa Batlló (no. 43), designed by Antoni Gaudí, serve as a reminder of the dragon slain by St George, the patron saint of Catalonia. The last apartment block ever designed by Gaudí, Casa Milà (no. 92), is known by the locals as La Pedrera, or ”the quarry”, because of its sculptured façade.more
The 532 m-high (1745.41 ft) "Muntanya Màgica" ("Magic Mountain"), as Tibidabo is also referred to, is... a popular destination for locals at the weekends in particular. The Tramvia Blau (the Blue Tram), a nostalgic tram from the end of the 19th century, takes you from the tram station past lovely Art Nouveau villas half way up the mountain and the funicular continues the journey to the summit. Numerous picnic areas and the Parc d'Atraccions amusement park in particular attract the attention of visitors. You can easily spend a whole day in this amusement park with its rollercoaster, carousels, snack bars, miniature railway and much more.
The Neo-Romanesque El Sagrat Cor de Jesús church with its giant figure of Christ, which was finished in 1952, marks the highest point in Tibidabo. You can get a unique view of Barcelona from the top of the spire, as from the nearby 257 m-high (about 843 ft) Torre de Collserola radio tower: the sea of houses in Barcelona with the Mediterranean in the east and the Montjuïc hill in the south.more