I am so excited to be sharing more of Spain with you. The country holds a special place in my heart, as it’s where I first spent an extended time abroad, during my junior year of college. Located in the northeastern region of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona has many attractions-I have visited 11 times last time I counted! Guadí’s Sagrada Familia is the city’s main symbol, and Gaudí’s architecture is present in the rest of the city.
Explore the city center.
Visitors can explore Barcelona on foot. The city’s main set of boulevards, Las Ramblas, stretches between the Catalonia square, a popular meeting spot, and the Columbus statues located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Each boulevard has flower stalls, newspaper kiosks and many street performers. There are several themed hotels in this area of the city, and there are many hostels located in ancient historical buildings in the El Born and Raval districts.
Just off Las Ramblas, in one of the many side streets, visitors will find the world-famous Boquería market. This market is the first stop for visitors wanting to taste local foods. There are many colourful stalls in the market selling iced juices and recently picked fruits, mushrooms and vegetables. There is a tapas bar, El Quim, on one side of the market, where visitors enjoy local appetizers. There are several other traditional bars where visitors can join locals for a typical breakfast consisting of toasted bread drizzled in olive oil and covered with fresh tomato paste, which is usually accompanied by a freshly squeezed orange juice and a coffee. I had one of these pan con tomate every day on my way to school when I lived in Spain!
The city’s main symbol is the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished cathedral that is known for its many facades, each covered with carved statues. In the Eixample neighborhood, there are two more Gaudí buildings: the sandstone, mosaic-covered facade of Casa Batlló and the wavy limestone facade of Casa Milá, a building built without any straight lines.
In the Gothic Quarter, visitors may walk around narrow cobblestone streets lined with trees and decorated with Gothic arches. The Seu cathedral, located next to an ancient cloister, is the area’s most famous landmark. Visitors will be able to enjoy a beer in one of the many terraces that can be found on most squares. The Plaza de Reial square is a small square that has views towards a church. The area is filled with boutique shops and lounge bars.
Visit the beach.
After exploring the city’s monuments, visitors can spend an afternoon on the beach, walking along the promenade. The Barceloneta beach is the main urban beach. The promenade is filled with bars and sea food restaurants. There are several larger beaches known for their water sports several kilometers outside the city.
Walk around a park.
There are many parks in this coastal city. Parc Güell is one of the most famous parks in the country, known for its colourful design and its views towards the city and the sea. The park is located on a hill. Designed by Gaudí, the park’s fountains and statues are decorated with trencadis, colourful mosaic pieces. Visitors will be able to tour the museum dedicated to the architect, which is located in the house where Gaudí used to live.
Closer to the city center visitors will find the Ciutadella park. There are two museums on the park grounds, the Martorell Museum and the Laboratory of Nature, which is part of the city’s National History Museum. Part of the park has been transformed into a zoo. In the center of the park there is a fountain which was designed by Gaudí. This fountain has the shape of a waterfall and is decorated with many statues.
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