Catalunya Square (Placa de Catalunya). The square is a busy place. It is surrounded by shops and restaurants. This is where you pick up hop on hop off tour bus and other coaches which take you to different tourist sites.
Sagrada Familia (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family). This is a large Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although it is still a work in progress since 1882, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In November, 2010 it was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.
Casa Batllo – the building was restored by Gaudi. It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur.
We arrived in Barcelona, Spain, for a six-day holiday. We knew there is lot to see and enjoy in this beautiful city of 1.6 million people. So we wanted to take our own time. For us, Barcelona was also a time to get over the jet lag before embarking on a Mediterranean cruise.
Barcelona is the 16th-most-visited city in the world and the fourth most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome. It has mild and warm climate and numerous historical monuments. Eight monuments have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Our hotel was along the famous La Ramblas. It is a very popular street in central Barcelona. It is lined by trees with a pedestrian mall and it stretches for 1.2 kilometers. It is a good relaxing walk with all kinds of street entertainers, vendors and outdoor restaurants to provide you with almost everything you need.
We walked La Ramblas every day. There is ceaseless flow of pedestrians. Our hotel was at one end of La Ramblas and we walked almost a kilometer to get to Catalunya Square (Placa de Catalunya). The square is a busy place. It is surrounded by shops and restaurants. This is where you pick up hop on hop off tour bus and other coaches which take you to different tourist sites.
We took a tour of Barcelona highlights. It includes, among many other sites and monuments, Sagrada Familia (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family). This is a large Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although it is still a work in progress since 1882, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In November, 2010 it was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.
It is a mind boggling and amazing structure. It is very difficult to describe it. One has to see it to understand the significance of the design and architecture. We also visited Park Guell. It is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district. It is another of Gaudí’s masterpiece built in the years 1900 to 1914.
We went to Montjuic Hill to get a breathtaking view of Barcelona. It gave us an opportunity to visit The Palau Nacional which houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and site of 1992 Summer Olympics.
One day we took The Gaudi Tour. You cannot go to Barcelona and not hear Gaudi’s name in every other sentence from the tour guide. You cannot walk around the city without seeing Gaudi’s work or his influence in almost every street. Besides Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell there are couple of other famous buildings designed by Gaudi – Casa Batllo and Casa Mila (La Pedrera).
Last two buildings were close to our hotel. So we spent a day visiting both places. The architecture is out of the ordinary. Looks like Gaudi was a man who was allowed to experiment with his ideas.
On our return from the cruise we picked a hotel in The Gothic Quarter for two nights before flying back. The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It is a couple of minutes walk from La Ramblas. Many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. There are many eating and walking areas.
A short article like this does not do justice to the history, culture and architecture of Barcelona. The food, wine and sangria will make you put on some weight. But we found walking everyday is a good way to stay fit and trim. If you plan to go then have enough time to visit many other wonderful places not mentioned here including the beaches.
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