Jul 19, 2008

Barcelona Tourist Attractions

Casa Mila
The Casa Milà, situated on a corner site at the crossing of the Passeig de Gràcia with the Carrer de Provença, is the last and most famous secular building of Antoni Gaudí. In the design of this multi-story dwelling block he departed completely from established principles of construction, so that the result resembles a piece of sculpture rather than a functional building. The observer will search in vain for absolute straight lines; instead the facade of carved natural stone displays rounded windows, metal balcony railings twining around in plant-like shapes and a curved roof-line on which the many chimneys confer a formal rather than a functional character.

On Monte Tabor, which at 12m/40ft is the highest point in the Barri Gòtic, stands the cathedral (Santa Creu or Santa Eulàlia). It was begun in 1298 on the site of an old Romanesque building, of which a few stone reliefs are still preserved at the northeast doorway. By 1448 it was completed except for the main facade and the dome, which were added in 1898 and 1913. The layout of the cathedral is rather unusual: the apse and altar area lie to the southeast whilst the main facade faces northwest.

Columbus Monument
At the Plaça del Portal de la Pau stands the Monument a Cristòfor Colom, 60m/197ft high and weighing 205 tons, which was erected for the World Exhibition in 1888. The iron column is completely covered with allegorical figures. Around the base is a series of reliefs depicting important stages in Columbus's life and voyages of discovery. On the top of the column is an 8m/26ft high statue of Columbus, which points out to sea (and therefore not directly towards the New World). A lift takes visitors up to a look-out area from where there are excellent views of port and the city. On the windows transparent pictures and captions serve to facilitate the visitor's orientation. At the foot of the monument, in the Portal de la Pau, horse-drawn carriages offer tours of the area.

Fundacio Joan Miro
The Fundació Joan Miró nestles in park-like scenery on the north side of Montjuïc. It was here that the architects Josep Lluís Sert and Jaume Freixa erected a purpose-built home for the foundation established in 1971 by Joan Miró. The building, which was officially opened in 1988, is constructed in white concrete and comprises rigidly cubic elements, which on the inside are lit up by semi-circular skylights. There are two inner courtyards.

On the left of the entrance level, behind the ticket office, are the rooms reserved for short-term exhibitions of contemporary art, whilst the permanent exhibition occupies the right-hand part of the ground floor and the whole of the upper story. The museum's exhibits comprise about 5,000 items.

In the upper part of the building is a library; a cafeteria and also a kiosk selling books and prints are located on the ground floor.

Gran Teatre Del Liceu
The Gran Teatre del Liceu (officially Liceo Filarmónico Dramático Barcelonés de Su Majestad la Reina Isabel) is the largest opera house in Spain and next to La Scala Milan the second largest traditional theater in Europe. Built in 1844 and inaugurated in 1848 it conceals behind its somewhat plain facade a magnificent auditorium and 19th century wall and ceiling paintings in New Pompeian style. Many boxes are privately owned which limits the number of tickets available to the public.

Many great singers, including Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras began their careers at this opera house. Rebuilt in 1862 after a fire destroyed the original, the Liceu presents at least one Spanish opera a year. The season runs from November until March and visiting companies from France, Germany, Italy and Russia perform here.

Harbor Cable Car
(Local Name: Telefèric) Spanning the harbor basin diagonally is the harbor cable car (in Catalan "Transbordador Aerí"). The harbor terminus is the Torre de Sant Sebastian on the new mole, a 96m/315ft steel lattice mast (the Plaça del Mar with sports and cultural facilities is planned); the intermediate station is the 158m/519ft Torre de Jaume I on the Moll de Barcelona. The funicular ends on the northeast side of Montjuïc, near the Jardins Mossen Costa i Llobera (cactus garden). During the journey passengers can enjoy a splendid view of the port area and the wide Passeig de Colom.

Maritime Museum
(Local Name: Museu Marítim) Near the port, west of the Columbus Monument are the striking vaulted buildings with many bays, the form of which clearly betrays their original function. Situated in the docks (Catalan: "Drassanes"), they were once a naval arsenal for the royal fleet. Here has been established the Museu Marítim which at present is undergoing reorganization. Therefore the description may not be entirely accurate. Some of the rooms are reserved for special exhibitions.

The museum, which is constantly being extended, portrays all aspects of the sea and seafaring by means of ships, models of ships, nautical equipment, tools and weapons, diagrams and drawings. Signs guide the visitor on a circular tour.

On the southern side of the city and sloping steeply down to the sea rises Montjuïc (213m/700ft). Crowned by a fortress built on its summit, it is the most extensive and most frequented recreational area within the city boundaries and repays an extended visit not just for its scenic beauty with its rich vegetation and large parks, but also because of its museums and amusement park.

Museu d'Historia de la Ciutat
On the Plaça del Rei stands the Casa Clariana Padellás (originally built nearby in the 15th C. and rebuilt on its present site in 1931), a typical medieval urban palace. Important remains of the old Roman town were discovered when excavating for the foundations on its new site, which led the authorities to decide to make the building an Historical Museum.

Palace of Music
(Local Name: Palau de la Música Catalana) On the northwestern edge of the old town, set back a little from the northern side of the Via Laietana, stands the Palau de la Música Catalana; opened in 1908, it is one of the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner's most unconventional modernistic designs. Although some extensions have since been added the building still retains its original appearance. The interior, with some 1700 seats, is open to the public only when concerts are held.

This large concert hall displays the full glory of the Catalan Art Nouveau style, with the flowing stucco work and beamed ceilings deserving special mention. It possesses its own chamber orchestra, and performances range from classical to contemporary and experimental music, jazz and pop.

National Palace
(Local Name: Palau Nacional) Some distance from the Plaça d'Espanya, above the Exhibition Grounds, at the top of a wide flight of steps, stands the giant domed and architecturally somewhat overornate Palau Nacional, which has been the home of the Museum of Catalan Art since 1934. The palace, originally built for the World Exhibition of 1929, has been revamped by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti.

Spanish Village
(Local Name: Poble Espanyol) In the western part of the extensive parkland on Montjuïc is the Poble Espanyol, laid out for the 1929 World Exhibition, it displays the building styles which are typical of the various provinces of Spain. Many well-known artists were involved in choosing, modeling and planning the lay-out.

The Poble Espanyol numbers among the most popular places to visit in Barcelona. As in most Spanish country towns, the houses are grouped around the main square, the "plaça maior", near the massive entrance gate. Near the entrance are information kiosks, the branch of a bank, book and souvenir shops. Open-air events are also held here from time to time.

The Rambles (here better known under their Catalan name of "Ramblas"), the principal thoroughfare in the city center, stretches northwestward from the Columbus Memorial near the Port. The 1,180m/1,290yds long section to the Plaça de Catalunya is lined with plane trees; with its wide pedestrian zone flanked by a narrow road on each side it is a favorite place for a stroll, and is one of Barcelona's main attractions. To the right (northeast) lies the Barri Gòtic, to the left (southwest) the Barri Xino. As well as its flower and bird market the Ramblas boasts a considerable number of book and newspaper stands, restaurants and cafes with tables in the open. The pavement artists, street musicians and other impromptu performers all add to its distinctive atmosphere; but be warned against getting involved in any games of chance! It is also unfortunately true to say that pickpockets and tricksters find rich pickings here.

Picasso Museum
On Carrer Montcada, one of the most picturesque of the narrow streets in the old town, stands the Palau Berenguer de Aguilar, an imposing Late Gothic palace which now houses the Picasso Museum. The collections, arranged in chronological order, include paintings and drawings as well as prints (lithographs, etchings) from all of Pablo Picasso's artistic periods. The exhibition rooms begin on the first floor; labelling is in two languages (Catalan and Spanish).

On the ground floor are a cafeteria and a large horizontal window which provides a view of a Roman provisions store, with some large two-handled pots.

Park Guel
In the Vallcarca district of Barcelona, between Eixample and Tibidabo, on the side of a hill lies Parc Güell, laid out between 1900-14. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, who also had his house here. The rather difficult climb can be avoided by taking the escalator on the right of the Avinguda de l'Hospital (to the northwest of the Lesseps metro).

Along the southeastern wall (Carrer Olot) some brightly-colored majolica medallions spell out the name of the park. Close by the entrance, with its beautiful iron gate, is a porter's house built in a fluid style, decorated with a tower and largely covered in colored majolica. This is at the bottom of a twin set of symmetrical steps leading up to a hall with columns. It is divided by a fountain, with the main emphasis on a brightly-colored salamander-like animal in majolica.

Sacred Family
(Local Name: Barcelona - Sagrada Família) The Sagrada Família church (its official name being "Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família", the Holy Family Church of the Atonement), is the most famous sight in Barcelona and also one of Europe's most unconventional churches. Dominating its surroundings, it stands in the northern part of the city.

When Antoni Gaudí was put in charge of constructing the church in 1883 plans had already been drawn up and some work done on building the crypt of what was to be a purely Neo-Gothic church. Gaudí decided to change the plans completely but - as in the case of most of his other works - had no firm ideas in mind, preferring to alter and add to the plans as work progressed. Of course, this meant that there was no question of getting it built quickly, although Gaudí had originally forecast between ten and fifteen years; there were also financial limitations, as the cost was to be met solely from alms and public subscription. As a result the "Church of the Poor", the main work by the most important Catalan architect of modern times, remains just a shell, and nobody knows whether and when it will ever be completed.


To the northwest of the city center rises Tibidabo, 532m/1,746ft high and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Barcelona district. It derives its name from the legend which says that it was here that Christ was tempted by the devil with the words "I will give you ...", the Latin for which is "tibi dabo ...".

From the Plaça de Catalunya visitors can travel by the underground railroad (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat) as far as the Avinguda del Tibidabo terminus. From here there is a nostalgic trip by tram, known as the "Tramvia Blau" because of its blue-painted coaches (note: these may be temporarily replaced by public buses), up the hill as far as the funicular cableway station for the final lap to the top. The lower station of the cableway is 223.5m/733ft above sea level, with a restaurant and a model of the Tibidabo. A road, 8km/5mi long, also winds its way from the city up the hill.

More Information:

Barcelona Tourism

Barcelona Top Popular Hotels

Barcelona Pictures

Barcelona Map

1 comment:

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