10 Things Not To Miss While Visiting Barcelona, Spain
I love Barcelona. It is definitely one of my favourite cities to visit. So here is my top 10 ...
Parc Guell - The park contains amazing stone structures, stunning tiling and fascinating buildings, all created by Antoni Gaudi. At the top of park is a terraced area with a wonderful view of the park and out over Barcelona. You should schedule at least a half a day to visit the park due its location and size, but it is well worth it.
Sagrada Familia - This is the amazing, unfinished church designed by Gaudi. From the outside, it is quite a sight to see, but if you do go to church, you must climb up to the top. The view from the parapets over Barcelona is breathtaking. Be warned, it is quite a hike up some very steep stairs. Also, you take the same route down so leave yourself plenty of time. We went late in the day and it was pretty dark when we were climbing down ... a bit hairy at times.
La Rambla - This busy street stretches for 1.2 km through the centre of downtown Barcelona. Lined with plane trees on either side, the pedestrian mall is full of a variety of street vendors and performers. Bars and cafes can also be found along either side, so you can sit and watch the world go by as you indulge in a churro con chocolate (see number 10).
Casa Batlló - This building was restored and remodelled by Gaudi and his often partner, Josep Maria Jujol. Locally, it is known as the House of Bones, as it has a skeletal look to the balconies and exterior walls. Most of the building has been covered in colourful broken ceramic tiles, with the curved roof looking like a dragon.
Casa Mila - Also known as La Pedrera, this apartment building was designed and built by Gaudi. Casa Mila apartment building is another of the artist's strange creations that shouldn't be missed. Its rippled facade curves around the street corner, while the cave-like balconies seem to flow into one another.La Pedrera is still divided into private apartments, but visitors can visit the strange rooftop "chimney park".
Barri Gotic - This is the centre of old Barcelona. Walking from La Rambla down to the Mediterranean is like winding your way through a labyrinth. There are many small streets opening into into squares, with buildings dating back to Medieval times. This is also where the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia can be found. This cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, who supposedly suffered martyrdom when she was 13. Within the secluded cloister of this cathedral, 13 white geese are kept in her memory.
Museu Picasso - The Picasso Museum in Barcelona has one of the most extensive collections of works by Pablo Picasso. It is located in five adjoining palaces in the Barri Gotic. It is definitely one of the most popular and visited museums. When I was there, entrance was free on the first Monday of the month so the queue to get in was unreal!
Parc de la Ciutadella - This is the most central park in Barcelona, within which is the Barcelona Zoo, a lake, a magnificent fountain and several museums. The Catalan Parliament building is found at the very centre of the park. The Cascada fountain is found at the northern corner of the park. This arch and waterfall were constructed for the 1888 Universal Exhibition.
Cafè de l'Òpera - Probably the best bar/cafe in Barcelona. The building is one of the listed ones in Barcelona. It has maintained a lot of its original beauty, including a unique collection of mirrors from the 18th century that has been conserved to the present day and many parts of the decoration discovered under existing paintings. The current owners acquired the premises in 1929 and it has been open since, every day.
Churros con chocolate - Hot chocolate is to die for in Barcelona. This thick, rich, dark drink is often served with churros for dipping as the hot chocolate reaches almost a pudding consistency in some places. The churro, in its traditional form, is made when a freshly mixed batter is fried to a golden brown, dusted with sugar, and served fresh and crispy. If you have never tried a fresh and crispy churro that has been dipped in thick hot cocoa, then you certainly have not experienced the best that Barcelona, or Spain, has to offer.