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Barcelona City Guide
- Places of Interest
- Getting to
- Getting around the city
On the northeastern coast of the peninsular and situated luxuriously on the Mediterranean, Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, one of the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain. As the second most populous city in Spain with almost two million inhabitants, Barcelona oozes style and modernism always at the cutting-edge of modern art, fashion, architecture and gastronomy and its energy is abundantly clear with many bars, restaurants, cafés and clubs. If there were ever a city to be defined as cosmopolitan, Barcelona is it.
The documented history of the city dates back to the founding of a Roman colony on in the second century B.C. Modern Barcelona experienced spectacular growth and economic revival at the onset of industrialization during the second half of the 19th century. The 1888 World's Fair became a symbol of the capacity for hard work and the international outlook projected by the city. Culture and the arts flourished in Barcelona and in all of Catalonia. The splendor achieved by Catalonian modernism is one of the most noticeable displays.
The home of Gaudi’s works of art will pretty much guarantee anyone an amazing journey as it has everything and once you have travelled to Barcelona it’s hard to turn back!
Places of Interest
Said to be Spain’s most famous boulevard the splendor and excitement of las Ramblas is seen from start and to the end. Beginning in the Barri Gòtic at Plaça Catalunya and stretching 1.2km to the harbor, this tree-lined boulevard is the perfect way to introduce oneself to the city. Even though it’s packed with tourists, it’s an exciting, lively neighborhood perfect for ambling around, shopping, and eating. You can take a pleasant stroll, enjoy some great people-watching and admire the beautiful medieval architecture all around you. You are guaranteed to find yourself here time and time again, and will most likely be your first stop in Barcelona and it is a must-see.
The works of Antonio Guadí
La Sagrada Familia
This cathedral is the biggest and most recognized of the nine Gaudí buildings in Barcelona and has some impressive features, the most famous of which is the nativity scene depicted on its façade.
La Pedrera, or Casa Milà
Is a house typical of Gaudí’s extravagant style, often compared to waves of lava and sand dunes. Today there are free exhibitions on the first floor and guided tours throughout. Highly recommended!
The Palau Güell
Is a town mansion designed by Gaudí and is centered around a large ballroom used for entertaining high society. It features ornate walls, hidden windows and the wrought iron gates that form the entrance have oddly been compared to seaweed.
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is the single largest exhibition dedicated to Picasso in the world and today occupies five palaces and has 3,500 of his works on display in its permanent collection.
The Barcelona contemporary museum of art is more than just a museum it is more like a cultural hub with not only its permanent collection which changes constantly but there are films showings, exhibitions, seminars and concerts.
Fundació de Joan Miró
The Fundació de Joan Miró is in the Montjüic district of Barcelona and houses 11,000 pieces of work by the surrealist artist, Joan Miró including paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, graphics and drawings produced from 1914 onwards.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
Located in a grand building at the foot of Montjuïc, the museum is at the heart of Barcelona’s cultural scene and the top museum to visit in Barcelona! An art-lover’s paradise, it houses collections from the Romanesque period to art from the mid-twentieth century.
Park de la Ciudadella
Situated in the Barri Gòtic and home to a number of the city’s museums, this park is peppered with beautiful buildings, many designed by Gaudí and it makes the perfect location for a relaxing afternoon reading a good book or doing your homework.
Originally a private estate, Count Eusebi Güell commissioned Gaudí to create a paradise. And so he did: the park is a remarkable fusion art of and nature, so much so that at times it is difficult to immediately distinguish what is natural and what has been constructed. Sights not to be missed are the steps at the entrance guarded by a mosaic dragon and the forest of 84 stone columns. Gaudí’s house, where he lived towards the end of his life from 1906 to 1926 is also located in the park and has been converted into an interesting museum that is definitely worth a visit.
Laberinto de Horta
Arguably the most fun of Barcelona’s green open spaces, this park gets its name form the huge maze that has been grown in its grounds! See how quickly you can escape from it, or compete with friends. Also keep an eye out for some of the statues of mythical creatures that adorn the walkways!
Getting to Barcelona
Flying into Barcelona is the easiest way of getting there and many major airlines fly there. However besides Barcelona (Prat) airport, airlines also fly to Reus and Girona, both between one or two hour drive from Barcelona.
Barcelona can also be reached by coach using the Eurolines service if in Europe and will most likely be the lowest cost option.
Getting around the city
The center of Barcelona is surprisingly compact so for trips between school, the shops and eating out you don’t actually need to use public transport. However Barcelona is served by a clean, efficient, air-conditioned metro system (1.30€ per trip) and an efficient urban bus system where a single journey costs approximately 0.80€. Barcelona’s black and yellow taxis run 24 hours a day and taxi ranks are located all over the city centre. Easy to spot thanks to their green light on their roof, taxis are regulated in Spain and are a reasonably cheap way to get from A to B (€5 for a 15 minute journey).
Barcelona is a city so the cost of living must be borne in mind. Prices for accommodation especially in the more central areas are going to be higher in Barcelona than in other places in Spain. However on the food front, having a large variety of eateries dining in Barcelona can be cheap and even cheaper if people if people share dishes. Expect restaurants to be more costly especially chain restaurants. There are many markets in Barcelona that sell fruit, vegetables, meat and fish the most famous one being la Boquería located in front of the Liceu metro station. Food in Spain can be bought for a good price and it tends to be cheaper than in other European countries. Also, with its University look out for the many bars frequented by students as they will be much cheaper but bear in mind that city nightlife tends to be more expensive than anywhere else.
Be sure to do your research before going and whilst in Barcelona and enjoy everything the city has to offer!