Things to Do in Barcelona - page 2
La Boqueria Market (Mercat de la Boqueria) is Barcelona’s busiest market and arguably one of Europe’s most popular, serving as a vibrant hub of Catalan culture. The market dates back to the 13th century, but today’s version is held in the Mercat de Sant Josep market hall, a Modernist iron and glass canopy built in 1914 along La Rambla. Piles of fresh fruits and vegetables, pails of glistening olives, and huge slabs of cheese and foie gras line the stalls, alongside an array of local seafood and varying cuts of meat—including the odd pig head.
Plaça d'Espanya is one of the busiest hubs of activity in Barcelona. Its Magic Fountain (Font Màgica) is the site of an evening light-and-sound show, while its National Palace (Palau Nacional) houses Catalonia’s national art museum. Reminiscent of those in Venice, the two towers on the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina are city landmarks.
Housed in the neo-baroque National Palace (Palau Nacional), the National Art Museum of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) occupies a spectacular location, atop a hill in Montjüic. Inside is one of Catalonia’s largest museum collections: 260,000 works of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque art.
One of three buildings on the Illa de la Discordia (Block of Discord) on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Lleó i Morera stands beside Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller. Along with a distinctive ornamental façade, Casa Lleó i Morera has exquisite stained-glass windows and sculptures by Eusebi Arnau.
Please note: Casa Lleó i Morera is currently closed to the public, but you can still take a virtual video tour of the building.
The historic heart of Barcelona is the Ciutat Vella, or Old Town, home to most of the city’s tourist attractions and encompassing the districts of El Raval, Barri Gòtic, La Ribera, and Barceloneta. With its iconic architecture, world-class museums, and historic sights, the Ciutat Vella is where most visitors spend the majority of their time.
This 19th-century structure, built by Josep Puig i Cadafalch for renowned chocolatier Antoni Amatller, is a stunning modernist building featuring both Flemish and Catalan styles. The building is now a museum featuring period furniture and decorations as well as old photographs and other artifacts.
One of Barcelona’s most dazzling attractions, the Magic Fountain (Font Màgica) was built in 1929 for the city’s World Exhibition. Travelers can still watch the fountain’s spectacular illumination displays, which feature music and a kaleidoscope of shimmering lights, all set against the majestic backdrop of Montjuic Palace.
Barcelona's L’Eixample neighborhood was built in the 19th century as part of a scheme to enlarge the city of Barcelona by connecting it with smaller surrounding towns, such as Gracià (now a neighborhood itself). Some of the city’s most popular tourist draws are here, including Gaudí masterpieces La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia.
Located in the Raval district and just steps from Las Ramblas, Güell Palace (or more commonly, Palau Güell) is one of Antoni Gaudí’s first major works. Commissioned by his main patron, Eusebi Güell, for his private residence, it’s acclaimed for its innovative use of space, light, and materials and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Home to more than 4,000 works by the incomparable Pablo Picasso, the Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso) is Barcelona's most-visited art collection. Housed within five adjoining Gothic mansions in the Old City, the collection traces Picasso’s career, from his early childhood sketches to works from his Cubism and Blue Periods.
More Things to Do in Barcelona
The 1992 Olympics were transformative for the city of Barcelona. With the arrival of the games, areas were restored and construction for new structures was initiated. As such, the city was updated and rejuvenated in many ways. One such structure, which remains a draw for visitors today, is the Olympic Stadium — which is now home to the city’s second futbol team, Espanyol. It was originally constructed in 1929 for the International Exposition, and was updated in preparation for the games. It can seat more than 65,000 people.
A visit now offers a glimpse into sports history, as well as some great views of the city. It was the venue for both the opening and closing ceremonies of that year’s Olympics. Walking through the competitor’s tunnel, you can really get a feel for how athletes must have felt as they experienced the vastness of the grounds.
Tucked away in a hidden corner of the Gothic Quarter, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. The small, quiet space has a charming fountain in the middle and is surrounded by buildings, including the baroque Church of Sant Felip Neri, for which the square was named.
Framed by its wave-shaped walkway leading from the city out onto the water, Maremagnum is recognizable from many sections of the Barcelona beaches. The shopping center is home to many big name brands, as well as local restaurants and a cinema. Two floors of shops range from home goods and electronics to clothing and jewelry. You’ll also find Spanish brands such as Desigual, and other European retailers.
Many of the cafes and restaurants are open-air, making them especially nice on a sunny day. People come to leisurely watch boats pull in and out of the nearby port and absorb a bit of the Barcelona waterfront. The structure itself, like many of the buildings in Barcelona, is unique and well-designed. Its curved, mirrored walls reflect the light off of the nearby water and make an interesting contrast to the natural wooden pier. Walking down the central boulevard, Las Ramblas, toward the ocean will lead you straight there.
Built as a neighborhood indoor market in 1876, this iron and glass structure was repurposed as the El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre (El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria) to showcase archeological remains of Ciutat del Born that were buried after the siege of 1714. The center also hosts art exhibits and cultural events commemorating local and national history.
The small coastal town of Figueres, just north of Barcelona, is known for one thing: Salvador Dalí. Though the artist's fame brought him to more glamorous parts of Spain, Dalí eventually returned to his hometown of Figueres to build his greatest masterpiece, the Dalí Theatre-Museum (Teatro-Museo Dalí). Located in the town's former Municipal Theatre, the site is a work of art in itself. Since this quirky museum was designed by Dalí to showcase his paintings, it offers insight into his imagination with a maze of his works displayed according to his own strange tastes. The museum also houses his crypt and grave.
A 10th-century castle set amid a scenic 1,000-acre (405-hectare) estate, Oller del Mas ranks among the most unique spots for wine tasting in Catalonia. The winery offers not only a varied selection of regional wines to sample, with the winemakers on hand to explain the significance of each glass, but also swimming, golf, and 4WD tours.
While the masses head to Barceloneta Beach, those in search of quieter shores take their towels to Nova Icària Beach (Platja de la Nova Icària). Located between Bogatell and Barceloneta Beaches, this quarter-mile-long (400-meter-long) stretch of sand is backed by a wide promenade and the Port Olimpic neighborhood with its abundant restaurants.
Every evening, Tablao Flamenco Cordobes combines high-energy flamenco shows with Spanish and Catalan specialties in the adjacent restaurant. Tablao Flamenco Cordobes is one of the few venues of its kind on La Rambla and is known for attracting some of the country’s top flamenco performers.
A huge former hospital complex and an icon of art nouveau design, Sant Pau Recinte Modernista (Hospital de Sant Pau) is a must-visit for architecture buffs. Located in Eixample, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is recognizable for its red bricks, colored tiles, stained glass, and whimsical design.
The works of Joan Miró, one of Barcelona's most famous 20th-century artists, are displayed in this museum in Parc de Montjuïc. The gallery itself is a piece of modern art, its design incorporating terraces and interior courtyards to direct the flow of visitors and give the space an open air feel. It shouldn’t be missed.
Barcelona’s La Monumental Bullring (Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona) was built with a flamboyant neo-Mudéjar and Byzantine façade, and embellished with Iberian blue-and-white tiles. The bullring was the largest in Barcelona and could seat 20,000, plus another 5,000 standing. After bullfighting was banned in 2012, the ring was repurposed as a museum and concert venue.
Located in the Barri Gòtic, Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi (Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi) is one of the oldest churches in Barcelona. Built in the 14th century in a Catalan Gothic style, it was gutted by fire in 1936 and restored in the 1960s. Known for its massive rose window and named for a pine tree that stood nearby, it also hosts a number of musical concerts.
Locals and travelers alike flock to Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market (Mercat de Santa Caterina) for its 100+ stalls filled with fresh produce and delicious gourmet foods from around Spain. Admire the beautiful architecture of this renovated space—it was the first covered market in the city—with its undulating tiled roof and high wooden ceilings.
Located along the northern coast of Barcelona, the sprawling Forum Park (Parc del Fòrum) is a massive waterfront event-and-leisure complex. Built in 2004 for the Universal Forum of Cultures, it features a museum, marina, solar farm, sheltered swimming area, and outdoor and indoor venues for concerts, festivals, trade shows, and conventions.
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