Things to Do in Barcelona - page 6
Cardona Castle sits proudly on a hilltop opposite the mines of Salt Mountain. The stone fortress was built in Gothic and Romanesque style in 886 AD, and is perhaps the most important medieval structure in Catalonia. It was fortified and then partially destroyed in the 17th century before being fully restored in the 19th century.
Historically the castle belonged to dukes of Cardona, which were members of the Crown of Aragon, ruling just below the Royal Family. They oversaw several regions of Spain and kept many important diplomatic ties. Since being attacked in the 18th century, the fortress has become a strong symbol of Catalonian identity. Inside stands the stone Sant Vicenç Church, which dates back to the 11th century. The impressive Minyona Tower stands tall at 15 meters high above the rest of the complex. Views of the Cardener River and the town of Cardona below can be seen from the top.
Between France and Spain lie the Pyrenees Mountains. This 305 mile (491km) mountain range stretching from the Bay of Biscay at Cap Higuer to the Mediterranean Sea at Cap de Creus forms a natural border between the two countries.
The Pyrenees are well-loved for their lakes, hot springs, alpine-skiing, mountaineering, hiking, cross-country running and cycling. Challenging stages of the Tour de France pass through the Pyrenees. The mountains can be explored on a great day trip from Pamplona in the north or Barcelona in the south of Spain, or from Lourdes or Perpignan in France, or take a few days out to hike the Pyrenees and really explore.
Aptly named Salt Mountain is one of the largest and most important salt mines in the world. Visitors can tour a 280-foot-deep salt mine, in addition to learning about the history and production at the site’s museum. This area, also known as Mina Nieves de Cardona, is rich in natural resources and minerals and has been used to gather salt for centuries.
Inside the salt mine are jagged stalactites and stalagmites, along with deposits of potassium, magnesium, and sodium. The evaporation of salt water nearly 30 million years ago, as the Mediterranean Sea began to close, is what is responsible for the formations and deposits that exist today. Salt Mountain itself is a collection of beautiful formations, with curving colors tracing the minerals on the walls and ceilings. Streaks of both grey and reddish-brown salts add to the mountain caves’ natural beauty.
Escape the Sitges sun and explore an artistic delight by visiting Museu Maricel. The museum is housed in a former seaside home that was built in the early 1900s for a wealthy American. What remains is a tribute to artistic development in Sitges and Catalonia that spans medieval art to the first half of the 20th century.
What you’ll find here is everything from paintings to sculptures and furniture, which cover artistic periods such as Romanticism, Renaissance and Baroque, Realism, Modernisme and the Luminist School. The artwork isn’t the only thing that will capture your eye, either, as it is housed in a spectacular building emblematic of Noucentisme, and which offers incredible views of the sea. Come here for the art, for the architecture, and simply to wander one of Sitges’ most rich, welcoming and intriguing connections to the past.
Set amidst the lush forests and rolling vineyards of the Catalonian countryside, the St Benet Monastery (Món Sant Ben) is undeniably picturesque and the former Benedictine monastery is among the region’s most impressively preserved medieval sites, dating back to the 900s. Today, the monastery complex is much more than a historic site – it’s a thriving cultural heritage center combining gastronomy, art and leisure, and home to the Alicia Foundation food center, the Món Hotel and a Michelin starred restaurant.
As well as admiring the painstakingly restored 10th-century monastery, with its blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Modernist architecture, visitors can explore the Sant Benet gardens, take part in cooking workshops and wine tasting sessions, and shop for local artisan produce and organic goods grown in the monastery gardens.
A fun-packed family day out can be had at Illa Fantasia Water Park, half an hour north of Barcelona city center in the seaside town of Vilassar de Dalt. With more than 20 rides and several large swimming and wave pools, the park is one of Europe’s largest; for toddlers there are gentle lazy river rides and baby pools to splash around in, while adrenaline-junky youngsters will love the hair-raising speed rides and races through tubes and spirals. As well as all the watery attractions, the park also offers mini-golf, a kiddies’ playground and a pirate ship to explore. 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.
Things to do near Barcelona
- Things to do in Catalonia
- Things to do in Tarragona
- Things to do in Girona
- Things to do in Mallorca
- Things to do in Toulouse
- Things to do in Zaragoza
- Things to do in Ibiza
- Things to do in Montpellier
- Things to do in Valencia
- Things to do in Arles
- Things to do in Nîmes
- Things to do in Marseille
- Things to do in Avignon
- Things to do in Balearic Islands
- Things to do in Midi-Pyrénées