One of my favorite cities is Barcelona. Last month we (husband, daughter G and I) spent our 10 days holiday there before I went to Indonesia. There are many reasons to visit this city. Mine are: the location, culture, architecture, food and drink.
In Barcelona you can easily enjoying te sea breeze on the beach or the haven (Barcelonetta beach and Port Vell) or look down the city from the hills (Montjuïc and mount Tibidabo).
Barcelona has a vibrant downtown. The quarters surroundings Plaça de Catalunya are packed of lovely boutiques, beautiful museums, inviting plazas with cozy cafés serving cervezas and foods.
Montjuïc hill was believed to be the origin of the city. This area was settled by Laietani (Thracian and Iberian people) in the 2rd and 3rd BC. After that Romans, Jews and French came to the city. On that same location there lay Castell de Montjuïc. It was a fort and prison. Built ca. 1640-es it survived the Catalan rebellion, French – Spanish 30 years war in 1618-1648, Spanish independence war against the French in 1808 untill Franco’s regime in 1975.
Tracks of the Romans
Barri Gòtic takes you to the past when Romans were rulers in the city. The Catedral de Santa Eulàlia (see pic beneath) is located right in the heart of Roman ruins.
Barcelona the Catalan capital
All information in Barcelona is written in Catalan and Spanish. This is what the locals are proud of. They have fought for the autonomy of the Catalunya province. It is even said that FC Barcelona’s hymne is the unofficial Catalan anthem. Catalan language is taught at schools in the region. Locals speak Catalan to tourists too. During this stay we slept in a loft at Les Corts neighbourhood (8 minutes walk to Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s stadium). We loved to live like a local. Everywhere we came, when asking for something in Spanish, the answer was in Catalan which confused us sometimes.
Watch the Catalans perform their traditional dance, the Sardana at Plaça de la Catedral on Saturday from 6 pm and on Sunday from 12 am. They dance in a circle, pulling the arms up and down. You can join them too if you want.
Artlovers and history nerds (like me) have the luxury to choose from a huge amount of museums with various collections.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (shorted as MNAC) is located in the impressive Palau Nacional . Its Roman collection is considered one of the most complete in the world. Furthermore there are Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Modern Art. Entry is free first Sunday of the month.
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) is situated in El Ravall neighbourhood, only 6 minutes stroll from the La Boqueria Market. As its name says, this museum shows Modern and Contemporary Art from Spanish and world’s artists made from 1950. Free entry for children up to 14 years, Spanish unemployed and teachers.
Barcelona is home of Modernista movement. The city’s architect Antoni Gaudí built many landmarks. One of them is La Pedrera (see first pic above) or Casa Milà.
Beside Gaudí there were also another architects who left their prints in the city such as Josep Puig i Cadalfach and Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The latter is less known than Gaudí so that people often mistake his masterpiece, Palau de la Música Catalana as Gaudí’s work.
I will write an apart post about Barcelona’s parks but want to share the pics here first.
Visiting Barcelona is not complete if you don’t come to the markets. First choice of travellers is of course Mercat de la Boqueria (official name Sant Josep) located in the middle of La Rambla boulevard.
In La Boqueria the goods are fresh and attractively stalled to its visitors. You can find almost everything here from exotic fruits to the catch of the day from the sea. My tip: if you are hungry or thirsty, walk further into the market as most stalls at the front sell their goods a bit pricey than those located in the market.
If you don’t like the crowded La Boqueria, visit Mercat de Santa Caterina. It is located only 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral. The locals buy their groceries here. The building is small and clean. We had the most delicious Catalan finger foods here, sold by two old ladies on the right of the main entrance. You can eat them on the spot, they will warm them up for you in the microwave.
Barcelona’s most famous boulevard is La Rambla. It stretches from Placa Catalunya to El Passeig de Colom (the marina yacht). At its sides there are stalls selling magazines and souvenirs (postcards, t shirts, magnets), living statues. Beware of the pickpockets and people playing games there.
Barcelona is a friendly city for everyone’s budget. Most must sees are within walking distance. If you get tired, you can sit for a while on a bench. Public transport is cheap. I used T10 card for 10 metro and bus rides. This T10 card can be used by several people. When it is not very hot, rent a bike and make some tour around.
I have been here 5 times and would like to come back again.