Things to Do in Barcelona - page 3
Become part of the artwork at the Museum of Illusions in Barcelona, one of the first such attractions in Europe. More than 70 large-scale 3D paintings on walls and floors create eye-popping scenes that allow you to literally put yourself into the picture, using optical illusions to create a backdrop for photographs of your own.
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.
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.
Barcelona’s rich seafaring traditions are on display at the city’s Maritime Museum (Museu Marítim). Located in the Barcelona Royal Shipyard at Port Vell, the cavernous, Gothic-style building holds centuries-old war and merchant ships, modern sports boats, and a collection of maps, weapons, and navigational tools.
One of the most popular districts in Barcelona’s Old City, La Ribera is a charming maze of streets encompassing the historic area of El Born and the picturesque Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s one of the city’s hottest destinations, teeming with intimate cafés, cocktail bars, and traditional Catalonian restaurants.
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.
Between France and Spain lie the Pyrenees mountains, a 305-mile (491-kilometer) range stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, separating the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. These snow-dusted mountains have long been a playground for outdoor adventure, but the hilltop castles and alpine villages beckon as well.
Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol) (Attraction - Barcelona, Spain)
One of the most famous points of interest on Montjuïc is Poble Espanyol, a Spanish Village built for the 1929 International Exhibition to show off models of the architecture specific to each region of Spain. Filling these buildings are various craft shops leftover from the International Exhibition, many of which still churn out keepsakes.
The Sant Joan Funicular Railway runs from the Montserrat Monastery up to the very peak of the mountain. Built in 1918 for monks wishing to pray at the Hermitage of Sant Joan, it trundles up the 65-percent gradient to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level for stupendous views across the wild, arid landscapes of Catalonia.
The Barcelona Aquarium (L’Aquarium de Barcelona), one of Europe’s largest, sits right on the harbor in the heart of the old city. The exhibits within provide a habitat for some 11,000 sea creatures representing 450 different species, and house one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of sea life from the Mediterranean.
More Things to Do in Barcelona
If you haven’t heard of Barcelona’s Plaça de Sant Jaume, then its City Hall — called the Casa de la Ciutat, in Catalan — should give you reason to pay this square a visit. The headquarters for local government, the building features a grand façade, which dates back to 1847, and an open-once-weekly interior that you’ll be keen to fit into your travel schedule.
That’s because behind its commanding but relatively simple exterior, there are some pretty exquisite treasures discover, such as the building’s medieval-style 14th-century Saló de Cent, and its mural-covered Hall of Chronicles. The plaza itself is pretty noteworthy too, as this was once the site of the Roman forum, and is also home to the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya (the seat of Catalan government), whose dome-topped building sits just opposite City Hall.
Situated just west of Las Ramblas, the once-tatty barrio of El Raval has undergone a transformation in the last couple of decades. This gentrifying neighborhood is now one of the hippest in Barcelona, teeming with boutiques, art galleries, bars, art museums, and restaurants, all with a multicultural influence.
From Roman times to the present day, the city of Barcelona has centuries of history and many stories to tell. The Museum of the History of Barcelona (Museu d'Història de Barcelona, or MUHBA), situated in Plaça del Rei atop the Roman ruins of Barcino, preserves and communicates the history and heritage of the Catalonian capital.
Interactive exhibits at the History Museum of Catalonia (Museu d'Història de Catalunya) focus on the region’s development from prehistory through to the present day, explaining how the Romans, Moors, and others each left their mark on Catalonia. The exhibits focused on the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rule are particularly well-done.
Whether you like your animals fluffy or ferocious, there's something that fits the bill at Barcelona Zoo. Sitting on 35 acres (14 hectares) inside Parc de la Ciutadella, there are 7,000 animals and 400 different species that call the zoo home, with everything from dolphins to rhinoceros living in quarters that mimic natural habitats.
There are many reasons to head up to Montjuïc hill’s Olympic Ring, and Saint Jordi Palace (Palau Sant Jordi) is certainly one of them. Designed for the 1992 Olympics, the indoor stadium played host to events including gymnastics, handball, volleyball, as well as various competitions during the Paralympics.
On the outside the structure looks like a square spaceship of sorts, and on the inside it’s nothing but beautiful light that pours through the building’s famous window-checkered ceiling. Today the stadium — which can hold over 16,000 people — still hosts top sports competitions, as well as events, and high-profile concerts for artists ranging from U2 to Bruce Springsteen and Rihanna. Go there to see a show yourself, or simply to admire Palau Sant Jordi’s exterior as you explore the Olympic Ring and its other sights, including the Olympic Stadium and Esplanade.
As much an architectural treasure as it is a train station, Barcelona’s França Railway Station is well worth a visit, if only to marvel at its design. The structure, originally built in 1854, has been renovated twice: once for the 1929 International Exposition, which was hosted by Barcelona, once in 1988, ahead of the 1992 Olympic Games.
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.
One of Europe’s oldest theme parks, the enchanting Tibidabo Amusement Park (Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo) has been a Barcelona staple for more than a century. Poised overlooking the city on the verdant Mt. Tibidabo, which stands some 1,680 feet (512 meters) tall, the park is celebrated for its family-friendly attractions and killer views.
Add listening to the ethereal choir songs of one of Europe’s oldest boys choirs to your list of reasons to explore the craggy Montserrat mountainside not far from Barcelona. The boys choir, which dates back to the 13th or 14th century, is not only historic but also world famous, having recorded albums and toured to countries around the globe.
The boys, who range from ages 9-14, go to school here at the monastery, and sing in the basilica, where the public can come to watch. The roughly 50 singers are carefully selected based on a handful of criteria, one of course being their musical ability. Lucky for Montserrat visitors, the choir usually performs twice daily, making a visit to the mountainside getaway just that much more magical.
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.
The sister museum to Madrid’s popular CaixaForum cultural center, CaixaForum Barcelona showcases a permanent collection of more than 800 thematically displayed works. This museum houses one of the biggest modern art collections in Spain, including pieces by Salvador Dalí, William Turner, William Hogarth, Joseph Beuys, and Sol Lewitt.
Scan the Barcelona skyline and Glòries Tower (Torre Glòries) will no doubt be second in line to catch your attention — second, that is, after those iconic spires of La Sagrada Familia. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the tower's shape is said to have various inspirations, including the rocky peaks of nearby Montserrat Mountain, the quirky shapes of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, and the bubbling form of a geyser (appropriate since the building’s owners also include Barcelona’s water company as part of their portfolio).
While interesting to spy from afar, the tower is even more intriguing up close, and especially so at night. That’s when the green-energy-driven building puts on its best show by lighting up with some 4,500 LED lights that produce a rainbow of luminescent colors. Located in the industrial-meets-bohemian Poblenou neighborhood, Glòries Tower is unfortunately not open to the public. But those exterior views are free, and the surrounding area ripe for discovery, making it an important addition to any Barcelona itinerary.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and engage in some retail therapy at the high-end outlet mall La Roca Village. Located only 40 minutes from downtown Barcelona and featuring over 130 brand-name shops offering deep discounts, La Roca Village is a fashion lover and bargain hunter’s paradise.
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