Spain, always the first place we think when we need a little bit of sun and great food. It's always a top option when considering where we want to go next. Barcelona, is a wonderful city that provides visitors with a myriad of options for things to do. You can visit some of the most iconic places in the world, eat great food, see historical architectural sites, and end your day with a relaxing stroll on the beach, all in one day.
Barcelona is a big city, in contrast to many other cities in Europe. Because of its layout and distributed locations, you will most likely depend on public transportation or taxi. Although, I am very comfortable driving in most places, I am glad we decided not to rent a car for our visit. We walked for mostly, but moved on taxi to further locations.
Barcelona has a rich history, with first populations dating to the Neolithic era. However, it was established as a Roman colony around the 1st Century BC. The Roman influence can be seen and admired throughout the Old Town and city in general. By the 13th century, Barcelona had establish itself as one of the most important cities in the western Mediterranean.
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most iconic monuments in Europe. A church in perpetual construction, like many others her size, designed by the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is scheduled for completion in 2026, 144 years (a gross); however, parts of the building are beginning to need remodeling, therefore, construction will continue...
Antoni Gaudi left his staple in Barcelona, designing great works of art that can be enjoyed throughout the city. We made the effort to visit as many of the Works of Gaudi as possible. The Works of Gaudi are seven structures that collectively form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
From the list we visited Casa Batllo, a house designed with no angular structures. The entirety of the construction is undular, with asymmetric arches that give the impression of waves in motion or an animal on a mid stride. The house is really beautiful, but it is not in everyone's taste.
Casa Mila is an apartment complex a few blocks down from Casa Batllo on the same street Passeig de Gracia. This house easier to appreciate since it is in the corner of two very spacious streets. The apartment complex was designed with no angular edges like Casa Batllo, sharing with it the same feeling of a rock shaped by millions of crashing waves.
Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor is a basilica located atop the Tibidabo. The church is used as the culminating point for many cyclists that venture climbing the roads to the top of Tibidabo, a feat not for the faint hearted. The church is a beautiful building of neo-gothic construction with panoramic views of Barcelona, probably the best view in the surrounding area.
The Gothic Quarter is the center of the Old Town, a remnant of medieval times that host remains of the Roman wall and other landmarks. From this area the Barcelona Cathedral is a wonderful landmark that seats the archbishop of Barcelona. The Cathedral was completed in the mid-1400s and was dedicated to Saint Eulalia a local martyr.
The Gothic Quarter houses many gems hidden in the labyrinth of its streets. Little passages that provide structural landmarks like Pont del Bisbe, whose architecture provides an unbelievable scene during sunset.
Within its boundaries, you can find La Boqueria, a local market where we had planned to get an ersatz lunch. However, to our surprise, La Boqueria provided us with sites that were so colorful and delicious that we did not expect it. A historical market dating as far back as the 13th century, La Boqueria has mutated to become a place where you can find any food related items. From a market to find your groceries to a place where you can eat the exotic, like seafood chef that provides you the experience of a lifetime.
Our definite favorite place during this trip was Park Guell. Nothing you will read about this park will make it justice. From that premise, I can say that I had to remember that I was in a park and not in an architectural playground. The park was designed by Gaudi, and it has all of his peculiarities and personality.
The park is immense, and it provides its visitors with a large area in which to pretend they are in another world. A world full of wonder, of architectural dimension, and amusement. We walked about 3 miles and still believe we did not caught every single nuance of the place. Frankly when reading about the park, I left it as an "if we have time" kind of thing, but I am glad I did not miss it. The park is amazing!
Barcelona is inspiring, plan ahead of time. I could recommend that you time it in a season where the cruise ships are not in season. We've been told that Barcelona gets around 5,000 visitors per cruise ships, and 3-5 cruise ships in a day. Therefore, you must compete for everything with cruise tourists during the season.
Barcelona goes on my list as a place to visit in every opportunity we have.
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