Barcelona is Spain’s top tourist destination and for good reason, its art and architecture rivals that of any other great European city, and its soccer club FC Barcelona is one of the best in the world. Catalan cuisine is arguably the finest in Spain, while the Catalan language and culture enhances this region’s unique identity within the country. Barcelona’s lovely Mediterranean beaches attract 3 million sun worshippers annually, and an equal number will visit the city’s Sagrada Familia Basilica. A thriving and evolving cultural centre, there is something for everyone in Barcelona.
To orient yourself to the marvels of Barcelona, La Rambla is a great place to start. A beautiful tree-shaded pedestrian boulevard, it is flanked by two narrow roads. Starting at the waterfront beside the Monument to Christopher Columbus (Mirador a Colom), stroll along the pedestrian boulevard to its end at Placa de Catalunya, which, at leisurely pace, is easily accomplished in 30 minutes. En route, you will pass restaurants, shops, street performers, a food market, and historic buildings in this vibrant part of the city’s Old Town.
Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica is one of Spain’s most popular tourist sites. Describing Gaudi’s design of Sagrada Familia as original is an understatement. This architectural wonder is clearly his greatest work, so it is fitting that he is buried in the basilica’s crypt. Begun in 1882, the church is still under construction, with funding raised through donations and ticket sales. At the current rate, construction should be completed by 2026.
Museu d’ Historia de la Ciutat
Nothing is more incredible than walking through the largest subterranean Roman ruins found anywhere, especially the section belonging to Barcelona’s municipal museum, the Museu d’ Historia de la Ciutat. Descending below street level, you will travel back almost 2,000 years, passing workshops where cloth was dyed, and clothing laundered. Further, you come across a factory used to salt fish and produce fish sauces, while another facility illustrates wine production.
Museu Maritim de Barcelona
Newly restored in 2014, Barcelona’s impressive maritime museum is housed in the Gothic dry docks of Drassanes Reials (royal shipyards), and is the best example of a medieval shipyard to be found anywhere. Roof-covered, up to 30 galleys could be built here at any one time. It now houses a full-scale replica of a 16th Century war ship, two boats, many historic shipbuilder’s models, as well as antique navigation equipment and charts.
Platja Ca La Nuri Restaurant
Located on the beach in La Barceloneta—Barcelona’s former fishing village, Platja Ca La Nuri, specializes in Catalonian cuisine. I met with a local acquaintance, Miguel, who recommended the restaurant for its seafood and wide array of rice dishes. The food and Catalonian red wines were amazing, and as noon drifted into afternoon I never tired of looking out over the Mediterranean Sea and watching the locals stroll by.
All photos by Joseph Frey – All Rights Reserved