“Catalan” Barcelona is, above all, a city to be appreciated through the sense of sight. In almost any part of the city, at any time of day or night, one need only look around to find a remarkable vista: a building that takes the breath away with its incredible architecture; a monument that astonishes; the delicate filigree of a wrought iron balcony jutting out over a narrow cobblestone street; an old man sitting on a bench in a tiny plaza against a backdrop of a church, exactly as people have sat in that place since the Middle Ages.
Barcelona’s location, alone, makes it a joy to visit. It is built between the Mediterranean and a range of high hills called the Collserola. Travel two hours north and you reach the Pyrenees, with some of the best skiing this side of the Alps. Three hours south and you are in Valencia, the land of sunshine and oranges.
Barcelona was founded by the Carthaginians in 218 B.C. and was originally named “Barcino”, after Hamilcar Barca, father of the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal.
Barcelona enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate and each season has its attractions. Spring and fall are mild and lovely; and as summer approaches, so does beach weather. Winter, while mild by northern standards, can be cool and wet. Nevertheless, winter is always punctuated with stretches of warm weather.
The essence of Barcelona, as natives explain, is that it is intensely Catalan and simultaneously open to the whole world. This is a city which embraces its most important holiday – Feste de la Mercè (Festival of Our lady of Mercy) – with the same verve that it cheers on Barça, the Fútbol Club of Barcelona, or celebrates Carnaval. The middle of September marks the beginning of the week-long Feste de la Mercè. There are free concerts each night at various points in town; as well as parades, folk dancing, wine and food fairs, and competitions of “castellers”(human pyramids consisting of boys standing on the shoulders of men with even younger boys standing on their shoulders).
There are so many things to see and do in Barcelona, and a person’s favourites are naturally, heavily weighted toward their tastes. However, the following are usually high on everyone’s list and will provide a starting point to begin thinking about the history, the diversity, and the excitement that is Barcelona.
This is the heart of the city. A stroll down any part of its length will give you an idea of the charm of the city. Sooner or later, and with some regularity, all of Barcelona’s residents find themselves on the Rambla.
La Sagrada Familia
Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished phantasm of a cathedral is among those one-of-a-kind buildings on the globe.
La Mansana de la Discòrdia (“The Block Discord”)
This block of three modernist buildings on the Passeig de Gràcia designed by Gaudí, Domenech i Mutaner, and Puig i Cadalfach is, perhaps, the most remarkable street in a city full of amazing architecture.
Roman Barcelona and the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat
Follow in the footsteps of the Romans, walking the streets they did. There are 16 points along the length of this two-hour walk.
Museu d’Art Contemporani
This great white whale of a museum, built by American architect Richard Meiers, opened in 1995 and has an interior architecture to match its extraordinary exterior.
The Miró Foundation is on this high hill, as are the Olympic Stadium and a series of marvellous vistas of the city below spreading out to the sea. One of Catalunya’s best two artists of the century (Salvador Dali is the other), Miró donated his collection of his own work and that of other artists to the foundation.
This is Barcelona-by-the-sea with beaches, cafes, and a pier with excellent restaurants where you can dine while looking out across the water.
Observe early Picasso, including some excellent works from the artist’s pre-cubist days, which he left to the museum’s foundation.
Palau de la Música Catalana
If it is not the only modernist concert hall in the world, it is surely the most amazing.
Take your choice – the breathtaking sheer stone summits of Montserrat or the surrealism of the Salvador Dalí museum in Figueres.
The city is readily divided into three main shopping areas: the Ciutat Vella or Old Town; the smart avenues of the Eixample, particularly the Passeig de Gràcia; and the Avinguda Diagnol and northwards to the Sant Gervasi district. Barcelona prides itself on being at the cutting edge of style. Design is an obsession here and it is evident in the quality of both the products and the shops.
CUISINE & NIGHTLIFE
One thing is for certain: you are guaranteed to find a huge variety of food in Barcelona. Catalan cuisine is adventurous, with a ready use of herbs and spices and a mingling of sweet with savoury flavours.
On the weekends, Barcelona’s nightlife begins at about 2:00 in the morning. However, those who prefer to be tucked in bed by that time need not feel left out. A city as large and sophisticated as Barcelona offers a wide and varied choice of entertainments including plays, music, ballet, and modern dance; which begin and sometimes end long before the serious night revellers get going.
The summer Olympics of 1992 was period of renaissance for Barcelona. Once Barcelona’s selection as an Olympic city was officially announced in 1986, a veritable fever of demolition and construction seized the city. Projects that had been discussed, postponed, discussed, and postponed again, many times over, suddenly took shape. Blueprints were hauled out of filing cabinets where they had been gathering dust for years, funds were found, and the face of the city began to be drastically altered.
If ever there was a city that embodies the Tripzter tagline, it is this one! Call your Tripzter Travel consultant today. Life’s a trip. Take one. Live one… in cultured, cosmopolitan, bustling Barcelona where food, fashion, and football are just the beginning!
Here’s to the vagabond in each of us!