Things to Do in Barcelona - page 5
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) will give you good reason to head into the gritty streets of the El Raval neighborhood, just west of the tourist-filled Las Ramblas. Partially located in a 19th-century almshouse, the urban culture center is a hub for discovery, debate and reflection.
The multidisciplinary institution is noted for its impressive offering of everything from debates, concerts, readings, festivals and exhibitions. Indeed, it’s those conversation-worthy rotating exhibitions that will draw the everyday visitor, so be sure to check the center’s schedule in advance to see what might be of interest to you. And, since the CCCB sits in the El Raval neighborhood, you have all the more reason to wander this often-unexplored part of Barcelona.
Cava is one of Catalonia’s greatest exports, so take the time to sample some at Freixenet Winery in Altes Penedes. This almost century-old vineyard—which makes for an easy day trip from Barcelona—is perhaps the country’s best-known cava producer. Here you can learn about the history and production of cava, and ride an underground train through the cellars to the tasting room.
Designed to resemble a fortified medieval castle, Torre Bellesguard is an underrated gem from modernist Antoni Gaudí. Striking features include oddly angled gabled windows, narrow walkways, crenellated walls, and a tower topped with a mosaic representing the Catalan flag. The interior is awash with Gothic and art nouveau detailing.
The quirky onetime abode of eccentric traveler Frederic Marès is now a museum devoted to his lifetime collection of artifacts—a fascinating space crammed with an eclectic array of curiosities. Opened by Marès in 1948, the Frederic Mares Museum (Museu Frederic Marès) was bequeathed to the city upon his death in 1991 and has become one of Barcelona’s most distinctive attractions.
Found along the ancient road to Barcino (the former name of Barcelona) the Via Sepulcral Romana is one of the most intriguing remnants of the city’s Roman past. Located on the site of the present-day Plaça de la Vila Madrid, the unique site served as a burial ground, where more than 80 graves have been uncovered, dating from the 1st to the 3rd century AD, during which period burials were forbidden within the city walls.
Today, visitors can visit part of the excavated ruins and view artifacts found at the site at the on-site museum, which also offers insight into the Roman road network and burial rituals.
Rising high from the top of the tallest mountain in Barcelona, the unique design of the Collserola Tower (Torre de Collserola) has made its mark on the city’s skyline. Built for the 1992 Summer Olympics, the tower stands at 288 meters high (946 feet), and is used as a radio and TV transmitter that broadcasts throughout Catalonia. Outside of its functional use, it has an observation deck with some of the best views of the surrounding city, mountains, and sea. From its windows you have 360 degree views from the highest vantage point in all of Barcelona.
The tower appears futuristic, almost like a needle pointing toward the sky. It takes two and half minutes to reach the observation deck, but you’ll be rewarded with views that can reach as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day. The experience is almost like seeing Barcelona from the sky. (Helicopter tours are really the only way to get a better view.)
Originally constructed in 1326, Barcelona’s Monestir de Pedralbes, a church and monastery-turned-museum, is one of the city’s most striking examples of Catalan Gothic architecture and the Pedralbes quarter’s oldest building. The cloister has been carefully reconstructed, while the small but impressive chapel is home to both spectacular 14th-century Ferrer Bassa murals and the ornamental grave of Queen Elisenda, who lived in the monastery for a time.
Experience winter on the beach and cool off at Icebarcelona, the world’s first beachfront ice bar. Located in the Port Olímpic neighborhood on the Barcelona waterfront, visitors can enjoy cocktails and dancing in this unique bar where everything is made of ice—including the walls, bar, seats, and decor, and the temperature is kept at a chilly -20ºF (-5ºC).
A trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without sampling some of Catalonia’s renowned wines, and Bodegas Torres—Spain’s largest winery—is the perfect place to start. A sprawling vineyard that reaches across the Penedès region, the winery is owned by the Torres family, whose winemaking legacy dates back more than 140 years.
Don’t be fooled — the beach isn’t the only reason to make it to Sitges; in fact, it might not even be the top one. A visit to the city’s Cau Ferrat Museum (Museu del Cau Ferrat) will quickly prove this is to be the case given its eclectic collection of art, odds and ends that will keep your eyes dazzled for days.
Relatively small in size, the museum’s venue was originally founded in 1893 (later opened to the public in 1933) by Santiago Rusiñol as a fisherman home-turned-home workshop. What awaits visitors now is a veritable temple of Modernisme times, which includes a seemingly never-ending collection of items ranging from ceramics to medieval doorknobs and keys, colorful tile work, artwork by Rusiñol’s contemporaries (such as Picasso), and what is said to be the world’s largest collection of wrought iron — among a lot more. Between the items on display, the historic home, and the unbeatable views of the sea, you’ll be glad you found your way to this impressive treasure in Sitges.
More Things to Do in Barcelona
The municipality of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia is the center of production for cava, Spain’s version of Champagne. The area is home to some 100 wineries specializing in the production and export of the sparkling wine, and travelers can visit vineyards, tour production facilities, and taste some of Spain’s best cavas at their source.
Tucked away among the countless alleyways and courtyards of Barcelona’s atmospheric BarrioGotico(Gothic Quarter) east of Las Ramblas, triangular George Orwell Square (Plaça de George Orwell) is named after the English author whose novel Homage to Catalonia was published in 1938 after he had spent six months fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. He lived in the square briefly and a small plaque marks his house. Formerly a grungy backwater of the Barrio, the square has been radically refurbished and cleaned up alongside much of Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old City), and now has a lively, Bohemian atmosphere; it is surrounded by tall, narrow townhouses decorated with wrought-iron balconies and by
cafés, bars and (many vegetarian) restaurants, whose tables spread out on to the square in sunny weather. Standing tall in the center of the square is a bizarre, swirling metal installation by Surrealist Catalan sculptor Leandre Cristòfol.
Located on lively Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s Teatre Poliorama first opened in 1899 as a cinema, then became a theater. Housed in the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, the theater has been renovated to its former glory and continues to be a center of Catalan arts and culture, hosting regular stage productions and theatrical performances.
Located on the slopes of Montjuïc Mountain, the Botanical Garden of Barcelona spans 35 acres (14 hectares). Dedicated to protecting and promoting Mediterranean plants, the garden is home to more than 1,300 species from Australia, California, Chile, South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin.
This delicious museum tells the story of chocolate across Europe, including its history, trade, manufacturing, and uses all the way back to its origins in South America. The collection includes various devices used to manufacture the sweet treat, as well as chocolate models of some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
Cardona Castle (Castell de Cardona) sits proudly on a hilltop opposite the mines of Salt Mountain. The stone fortress was built in Gothic and Romanesque style in AD 886, and is perhaps the most iconic medieval structure in Catalonia. Inside this symbol of Catalonian identity stands the stone St. Vicenç Church, which dates back to the 11th century.
Discover the history of one of the world’s most well-known rum brands at Casa Bacardí Sitges, a museum in the birthplace of Casa Bacardí’s founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. Learn about the rum production process, immerse yourself in a cocktail making class, or enjoy a drink in the Bacardí Lounge Bar.
The highest mountain in the Collserola range surrounding Barcelona, Mt. Tibidabo offers one of the city’s most magnificent view points. There are several places to take in the 360-degree vistas, including the neo-Gothic Sagrat Cor Cathedral, Torre de Collserola TV tower, and the popular Parque de Atracciones amusement park.
Built in 1905, the Old Estrella Damm Factory (Antigua Fabrica Estrella Damm) was a working brewery until 1992. Today, it is used as a space to host cultural and musical events, including shows, concerts, and festivals, and functions as S. A. Damm’s corporate headquarters, complete with a permanent exhibit on the history of Barcelona’s iconic beer brand, Estrella Damm.
The Barcelona Museum of Modernism (Museu del Modernisme) is the only museum in the city dedicated to displaying Catalan modernist art. It was converted from a textile factory in 2010, and exhibits some of the finest pieces of art nouveau furniture constructed in Catalunya. Most of the collection comes from two antique dealers, who have added their private collection to be shared with the public. There are over 350 works of art across several mediums, with premier modernista artists like Ramón Casas, Joan Busquets, and of course, Antoni Gaudi. A range of everything from paintings and sculptures to decorative arts and furniture can be found. The museum has become a bit of a cultural center for the city, unique to showcasing this very specific type of art created right in Catalunya.
The museum is housed in a modernista building designed by architect Enric Sagnier, with original floors kept intact. Don’t miss Gaudi’s couch designed in the shape of lips, or the exquisite stained glass on the first floor.
The highlight of the family-friendly Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (Museu Blau), devoted primarily to natural history, is the Planet Life exhibition, which chronicles the history of life on Earth. More than 4,500 items are on display, including animal fossils, dinosaur skeletons, rocks, and minerals, along with the skeleton of a whale that beached on Catalan shores in 1862.
In a city filled with gardens, Barcelona's Labyrinth Park of Horta (Parc del Laberint d'Horta) ranks among the oldest and least known. Once a private estate, the park contains an 18th-century neoclassical garden, 19th-century romantic garden, and a popular hedge maze. Visitors can still see the original mansion, built in neo-Gothic and neo-Arabic styles.
A fun-packed family day out can be had at Illa Fantasia Water Park, half an hour north ofBarcelona city center in the seaside town of Vilassar de Dalt. With more than 20 rides andseveral large swimming and wave pools, the park is one of Europe’s largest; for toddlers thereare gentle lazy river rides and baby pools to splash around in, while adrenaline-junky youngsterswill love the hair-raising speed rides and races through tubes and spirals. As well as all thewatery attractions, the park also offers mini-golf, a kiddies’ playground and a pirate ship toexplore. There are also several eating options – from picnic tables and barbecue pits to stalls selling fast food or the formal EL Chef restaurant. Family-friendly facilities also include lockers,free car parking and plenty of shade for hot summer days.
Explore works of contemporary Catalan art at the Fran Daurel Foundation (Fundació Fran Daurel). Located within the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) in Montjuïc, the museum is home to a permanent collection of more than 300 works, an outdoor sculpture garden with more than 40 sculptures, and frequent temporary exhibitions.
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