Barcelona Tourist Guide - Tourist Attractions
Seeing The Sights
It would take a small book to list all the attractions in Barcelona, so we have limited ourselves to a tantalising selection of some of the best.
The number one tourist attraction in the city is Sagrada Familia, a giant temple designed by the great Antonio Gaudi, with over 2 million people a year visiting it. Construction began in 1882, and, depending of funding or resources, it will take between 30 and 80 more years to complete. The facade facing south west, the Passion facade, has been completed, requiring only some more decorative details to be added. The building is awe-inspiring, visible from almost every corner of the city, and is well worth a visit as there is no other building anywhere in the world that resembles it in the slightest.
La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
Another of Gaudi's most beautiful creations is La Pedrera, or Casa Mila, located on Passeig de Gracia. The building features his characteristic wavy brick work, and organic looking supports and ledges with elaborate wrought-iron balconies, as well as his colourful use of tiles. Take a tour of the building before going up onto the roof which features massive multicoloured chimneys, and offers some wonderful views of the city. During the summer, clever use of lighting gives the building an almost ethereal appearance. Also in the building you'll find a small museum dedicated to the great architect.
Our final recommendation on the Gaudi theme is Parc Güell, where he experimented with landscaping. The result is nothing short of spectacular, a public park laid out on a hill with some panoramic views of the city. Here you'll find the Casa-Museu Gaudi, the many-spired house where he spent most of his last 20 years, and also the Sala Hipóstila, a forest of 84 stone columns which were meant originally as a market. On the steps up there is also Gaudi's famous tiled dragon, which features on about half of all tourist postcards. If you come by metro be prepared for a long walk up a lot of steps, otherwise get a bus or taxi. The park is perfect for picnics on warm sunny afternoons.
Poble Espanyol de Montjuic
Another essential stop on any trip to Barcelona must be the Poble Espanyol de Montjuic, a small village containing different quarters that contain authentic and convincing copies of buildings that represent all the varying architectural styles from different parts of Spain. Enjoy a stroll through it's small streets, home to a multitude of craft shops and workshops where traditionally made Spanish crafts are on display, or enjoy food and drink in any of it's terraced restaurants and cafes. The village is also the venue for the world famous flamenco shows held at Tablao de Carmen.
The hill of Montjuic, which overlooks the city from the south west, is home to many fine art galleries, attractions, parks and the 1992 Olympic Stadium. At the base is Plaça d'Espanya, on the north side of which you'll find Plaça de Braus Monumental, a former bullring which hosted the Beatles in 1966. In the opposite direction you can see a series of terraces of leading up to the Palau Nacional, and on these terraces are many fountains, including La Font Màgica. From May to September these fountains are alive with lights and music from Thursday to Sunday in the evenings, and are visual treat not to be missed. The Palau Nacional houses the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, a fine museum containing a comprehensive collection of Romanesque art. And nearby you can see the modern masterpieces housed in the Fundació Joan Miró, a gallery dedicated to the greatest Catalan artist of the 20th century, containing the largest single collection of his work in the world, dating back as far as 1914. The collection includes his paintings and a good selection of sculptures, tapestries and early sketches.
L' Aquarium de Barcelona
This is another very popular attraction, and not just for kids and young adults. There are a host of interesting exhibits, including a transparent tube under the sea that allows you to walk beneath sharks and a host of other exotic sea creatures, and an exhibit that where you can stroll through the interior of a sperm whale. L'Aquarium is located in Port Vell.
Sticking with nature, a visit to the Zoo is well worth the price of admission. Featuring a variety of animals, plus a restaurant and picnic areas, ponies, mini train and electric cars, you'll find it in Ciutadella park - just follow the signs.
Arranged in chronological order to give an insight into how his genius developed, there are numerous works on display, with his Blue Period being particularly well represented on the first floor. The second floor is home to the work he created between 1900 and 1904 in Barcelona and Paris, works much influenced by the Impressionists. From his Rose Period you can see the Portrait of Señora Canals. Later work, from his time Cannes in 1957, includes the technically complex series Las Meninas, which consists mostly of studies on Diego Velázquez's eponymous masterpiece. The museum is housed is housed in some beautiful stone mansions on Carrer de Montcada.
This is the highest hill in the range that surrounds the city, standing at 542m, or 1778ft. The amusement park, Parc d'Atraccions, has some hair-raising rides and a house of horrors, and is very popular with the locals. The views from up here are nothing short of spectacular. However, if you really want to get a good view then ascend to the top of the Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower where there is a visitor's observation deck. The ascent of 115m is made in a glass lift, and just as nerve-jangling as any of the rides in the park. If your prefer a more relaxed state, then visit the Temple del Sagrat Cor, which lies above Tibadabo's funicular station.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
Although there has been a hospital on this site for over 600 years, for the buildings we see today work began on this modernest masterpiece in 1901 by Lluís Doménech i Montaner; and with the assistence of sculptors Eusubi Arnau and Pau Gargallo, painters such as Francesc Laberta, and metalworkers like Josep Perpinyà, it was completed in 1930. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, along with La Palau de la Música Catalana, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it remains today a fully functional hospital, indeed one Barcelona's most important hospitals, there have been discussions to convert this building to a museum sometime in the future. The hospital is made up of a large number of pavillions, separated by gardens and interconnected by tunnels – which were used as shelters during the civil war. Within the grounds there is also an impressive church, and throughout you'll see the incredible detail and ornamentation in the stone, mosaics, marble, ceramic and brickwork. From here you can walk down Av. De Gaudi for 10 minutes and find yourself outside Sagrada Familia.
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