The beautiful, buzzing city of Barcelona
The beautiful, buzzing city of Barcelona is the highlight of many a trip to Spain, ranking high on many people's lists of European cultural cities. The classical good looks of its architectural core, combined with its artistic reputation, make Barcelona one of the avant guard centres of Europe. So if you are on the lookout for beauty and aesthetic prowess, all in a balmy Mediterranean climate, Barcelona could be the place for you. All aesthetes should consider a visit to this self-confident city.
The best way to begin to explore Barcelona is to start, as many people do, with the Ramblas, a famous street bisecting the old town which is often recommended to tourists coming to Barcelona for the first time. This is the quintessential Barcelona street, telling you much about this city and its character. From here, it is easy to wander into the Gothic Quarter, a collection of rambling mediaeval buildings that form the heart of the old town. Be sure to leave the best part of a day to explore this area – there is much to see and do here and taking your time is best in order to fully soak up the historic and cultured feel to the place.
Be sure to take the time to see the Cathedral La Seu, the archaeology on display at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat and the quirky collections of the Museu Frederic Marès. Still, most of your time in the Gothic Quarter will undoubtedly be spent people watching from a café table situated in one of the lovely squares, or getting pleasantly lost in the maze of old alleyways. Wander from the old town down to the old port and watch boats bobbing in the marina.
For art lovers, Barcelona is heaven. A wide collection of museums and galleries house art dating from mediaeval times right through to the present day. Be sure to stop in at the Fundació Joan Miró, Museu Picasso, the serious and earnest Museum of Contemporary Art and the fascinating museum of Catalan Art. All of the above are well worth a visit. But if you are looking for art present rather than art history, then be sure also to check out the wealth of smaller independent galleries throughout the city. You should seek out Joan Prats, Trama, ADN, Galeria 3 Punts and Marlborough if you are serious about seeing the best contemporary art around.
Barcelona has much to offer tourists, but if you would really like to get to know this beautiful city then it would be an excellent idea to wander out from the tourist centre with its excellent shops, cafés, restaurants and attractions and to see 'local' Barcelona. Check out the street market, Mercat Santa Caterina in Sant Pere, and stroll through some of the quieter residential suburbs of the city to get a sense of what it would really be like to live in this beautiful city.
When the city's life and hustle becomes too much, visit the green space of Parc de la Ciutadella or head for one of the city beaches, clean and well-maintained with lovely views out over the Mediterranean sea.
803 km2 (310 sq mi)
15,991/km2 (41,420/sq mi)
Spanish and Catalan
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