Things to Do in Catalonia - page 3
Located in the Raval district and just steps from Las Ramblas, Güell Palace (or more commonly, Palau Güell) is one of Antoni Gaudí’s first major works. Commissioned by his main patron, Eusebi Güell, for his private residence, it’s acclaimed for its innovative use of space, light, and materials and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This 19th-century structure, built by Josep Puig i Cadafalch for renowned chocolatier Antoni Amatller, is a stunning modernist building featuring both Flemish and Catalan styles. The building is now a museum featuring period furniture and decorations as well as old photographs and other artifacts.
Built as a neighborhood indoor market in 1876, this iron and glass structure was repurposed as the El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre (El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria) to showcase archeological remains of Ciutat del Born that were buried after the siege of 1714. The center also hosts art exhibits and cultural events commemorating local and national history.
Framed by its wave-shaped walkway leading from the city out onto the water, Maremagnum is recognizable from many sections of the Barcelona beaches. The shopping center is home to many big name brands, as well as local restaurants and a cinema. Two floors of shops range from home goods and electronics to clothing and jewelry. You’ll also find Spanish brands such as Desigual, and other European retailers.
Many of the cafes and restaurants are open-air, making them especially nice on a sunny day. People come to leisurely watch boats pull in and out of the nearby port and absorb a bit of the Barcelona waterfront. The structure itself, like many of the buildings in Barcelona, is unique and well-designed. Its curved, mirrored walls reflect the light off of the nearby water and make an interesting contrast to the natural wooden pier. Walking down the central boulevard, Las Ramblas, toward the ocean will lead you straight there.
The small coastal town of Figueres, just north of Barcelona, is known for one thing: Salvador Dalí. Though the artist's fame brought him to more glamorous parts of Spain, Dalí eventually returned to his hometown of Figueres to build his greatest masterpiece, the Dalí Theatre-Museum (Teatro-Museo Dalí). Located in the town's former Municipal Theatre, the site is a work of art in itself. Since this quirky museum was designed by Dalí to showcase his paintings, it offers insight into his imagination with a maze of his works displayed according to his own strange tastes. The museum also houses his crypt and grave.
While the masses head to Barceloneta Beach, those in search of quieter shores take their towels to Nova Icària Beach (Platja de la Nova Icària). Located between Bogatell and Barceloneta Beaches, this quarter-mile-long (400-meter-long) stretch of sand is backed by a wide promenade and the Port Olimpic neighborhood with its abundant restaurants.
Every evening, Tablao Flamenco Cordobes combines high-energy flamenco shows with Spanish and Catalan specialties in the adjacent restaurant. Tablao Flamenco Cordobes is one of the few venues of its kind on La Rambla and is known for attracting some of the country’s top flamenco performers.
The works of Joan Miró, one of Barcelona's most famous 20th-century artists, are displayed in this museum in Parc de Montjuïc. The gallery itself is a piece of modern art, its design incorporating terraces and interior courtyards to direct the flow of visitors and give the space an open air feel. It shouldn’t be missed.
Opened to the public for the first time in 2017, Casa Vicens is Antoni Gaudí’s original modernist masterpiece and the first house he ever designed. Built in Barcelona in the 1880s for Manel Vicens i Montaner, this UNESCO World Heritage Site sets the tone for the rest of Gaudi’s architecture, created during Europe’s late 19th century and early 20th century Art Nouveau period.
Plaça de Sant Jaume’s Catalan Regional Government Building (Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya) is much more than just a building with a pretty neoclassical façade: this is the seat of the Catalan government, from where 100 presidents have governed. Constructed between the 15th and 17th centuries, the building is a symbol of Catalan perseverance, having stood the test of time through many historic challenges.
It’s not just special because of its history, either. Apart from the attractive dome-topped exterior, its interior is perhaps even more impressive. It features a Gothic chapel, elaborate ceremonial halls, loads of paintings and sculptures, and a sunlight-filled Courtyard of Orange Trees, or Pati dels Tarongers — among other Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance elements.
More Things to Do in Catalonia
Locals and travelers alike flock to Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market (Mercat de Santa Caterina) for its 100+ stalls filled with fresh produce and delicious gourmet foods from around Spain. Admire the beautiful architecture of this renovated space—it was the first covered market in the city—with its undulating tiled roof and high wooden ceilings.
A soaring, shimmering glass and concrete edifice in the Raval, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) was completed in 1995, spearheading the once-tatty district’s revival. Its matte white interior flooded with natural light creates a backdrop for the 5,000-piece collection, displayed in ever-changing temporary exhibitions.
Located in the Barri Gòtic, Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi (Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi) is one of the oldest churches in Barcelona. Built in the 14th century in a Catalan Gothic style, it was gutted by fire in 1936 and restored in the 1960s. Known for its massive rose window and named for a pine tree that stood nearby, it also hosts a number of musical concerts.
The 2,000-year-old Roman Temple of Augustus sits just a stone’s throw from the medieval Barcelona Cathedral in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Once more than 120 feet long and consisting of 30 sandstone columns, the temple now exists only as four columns that tower nearly 30 feet high and are housed in a single room.
Barcelona’s rich seafaring traditions are on display at the city’s Maritime Museum (Museu Marítim). Located in the Barcelona Royal Shipyard at Port Vell, the cavernous, Gothic-style building holds centuries-old war and merchant ships, modern sports boats, and a collection of maps, weapons, and navigational tools.
Barcelona’s La Monumental Bullring (Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona) was built with a flamboyant neo-Mudéjar and Byzantine façade, and embellished with Iberian blue-and-white tiles. The bullring was the largest in Barcelona and could seat 20,000, plus another 5,000 standing. After bullfighting was banned in 2012, the ring was repurposed as a museum and concert venue.
Become part of the artwork at the Museum of Illusions in Barcelona, one of the first such attractions in Europe. More than 70 large-scale 3D paintings on walls and floors create eye-popping scenes that allow you to literally put yourself into the picture, using optical illusions to create a backdrop for photographs of your own.
As much an architectural treasure as it is a train station, Barcelona’s França Railway Station is well worth a visit, if only to marvel at its design. The structure, originally built in 1854, has been renovated twice: once for the 1929 International Exposition, which was hosted by Barcelona, once in 1988, ahead of the 1992 Olympic Games.
Add listening to the ethereal choir songs of one of Europe’s oldest boys choirs to your list of reasons to explore the craggy Montserrat mountainside not far from Barcelona. The boys choir, which dates back to the 13th or 14th century, is not only historic but also world famous, having recorded albums and toured to countries around the globe.
The boys, who range from ages 9-14, go to school here at the monastery, and sing in the basilica, where the public can come to watch. The roughly 50 singers are carefully selected based on a handful of criteria, one of course being their musical ability. Lucky for Montserrat visitors, the choir usually performs twice daily, making a visit to the mountainside getaway just that much more magical.
Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol) (Attraction - Barcelona, Spain)
One of the most famous points of interest on Montjuïc is Poble Espanyol, a Spanish Village built for the 1929 International Exhibition to show off models of the architecture specific to each region of Spain. Filling these buildings are various craft shops leftover from the International Exhibition, many of which still churn out keepsakes.
Between France and Spain lie the Pyrenees mountains, a 305-mile (491-kilometer) range stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, separating the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. These snow-dusted mountains have long been a playground for outdoor adventure, but the hilltop castles and alpine villages beckon as well.
From Roman times to the present day, the city of Barcelona has centuries of history and many stories to tell. The Museum of the History of Barcelona (Museu d'Història de Barcelona, or MUHBA), situated in Plaça del Rei atop the Roman ruins of Barcino, preserves and communicates the history and heritage of the Catalonian capital.
The Barcelona Aquarium (L’Aquarium de Barcelona), one of Europe’s largest, sits right on the harbor in the heart of the old city. The exhibits within provide a habitat for some 11,000 sea creatures representing 450 different species, and house one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of sea life from the Mediterranean.
One of the most popular districts in Barcelona’s Old City, La Ribera is a charming maze of streets encompassing the historic area of El Born and the picturesque Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s one of the city’s hottest destinations, teeming with intimate cafés, cocktail bars, and traditional Catalonian restaurants.
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