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Barcelona is a fascinating city and there are many things to see. Here is a list of some of Barcelona's most popular sights. Highlighted titles are links to official websites.
The real name of the church is the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Família. The first architect for the church was Francesc de Paula del Villar and he started the construction in 1882. Gaudí was given the job in 1883 and he continued to work on the project until his tragic death in 1926. Different architects have worked on it since then. There is a foundation that runs the project. The church is expiatory, meaning that it is being constructed to atone for wrongdoing or guilt, so the financing of the church is completely private. The admission charge paid by two and a half million visitors each year is what pays for the building construction. It is thought that it will be completed in the first third of this century.
Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852 in Reus, a city in Tarragona. His father was a coppersmith. He studied at the Barcelona Province School of Architecture and received his diploma in 1878. He was given the job of continuing the project of the La Sagrada Família, but at the same time he accepted work to design other houses and buildings, which later became famous. As an architect Gaudí became very successful. Tragically on June 7, 1926, he was injured by a tram on the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. He was taken to the Hospital de la Santa Creu, but died three days later. During his funeral, the city acknowledged that he was their most illustrious architect.
The church was designed to have a total length of 110 m, and a height of 45 m, with twelve towers between 100 and 115 m high. The ground plan is a Gothic basilical plan in the shape of a Latin cross, with five naves connecting with a transept that connects to three naves, apse, and ambulatory. Three facades which will represent the Nativity, the Passion and Death, and the Glory of Christ. The twelve towers will symbolize the twelve apostles. Four monumental bell towers will represent the four Evangelists. Two colossal domes will represent Christ and the Virgin Mary. The temple crypt began by Villar was finished by Gaudi in 1885.
The sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs has been working on the sculptures of the church in his own style for the last 20 years. The church building now represents Barcelona to the whole world and millions visit it to study its architecture. Sagrada Familia video here.
2. Park Guell
Count Eusebi Güell was a prominent industrialist in Barcelona and he decided to build a garden city with 60 houses on a hill called Montaña Pelada (Bare Mountain). The venture was not successful and only two houses were built (not by Gaudí), and Güell convinced Gaudí to buy one of them (designed by Ramon Berenguer). This house is now the Casa-Museu Gaudí, which contains furniture designed by Gaudí and other personal effects of the architect. The park was designed by Gaudí and built between 1900 and 1914. The city has owned the park since 1923.
At the entrance to the park there is a main staircase that has a dragon fountain that is made of broken bits of glazed ceramic tile. This leads to the Salon of the Hundred Columns, which was supposed to be a market place. The columns really number only 84 and are Doric in form. The ceiling of the Salon has tiled mosaics with designs on the ceiling. On top of the salon is a public square with a very large undulating bench in the form of a sea serpent that has backrests adorned with the broken bits of glazed tile. The bench was made by the architect Josep Maria Jujol. At the top of the park is the Closed Chapel, which has a large cross on top of it. This place has very good views of the city. The park was declared a Patrimony of Mankind by the UNESCO in 1984. Park Guell video here.
Gaudí built La Pedrera for the prominent Milà Family (Pere Milà was an industrialist and his wife was Roser Segimon) between 1906 and 1912. This caused a sensation at that time because everything in the building was curved and undulated. People made fun of it because they did not understand it or its abstract sculpture. The outside walls were made of stone and reminded people of a quarry, so it was called La Pedrera (meaning stone quarry). The facade is undulating and has large windows and balconies with elaborate wrought iron railings. There is an inner patio that acts like an air shaft for the building. The top floor has the Gaudí Space and has an explanation of Gaudí’s work and a very good scale model of the building. Gaudí apparently studied nature intensely and found that nature had no straight lines. Gaudí learned to build with curves that had strength. The roof terrace has chimney stacks that are called scare-witches, and these have very unusual shapes, and really are abstract sculptures. On the 4th floor is the Flat of La Pedrera, which is a replica of an apartment of Gaudí’s time, and this apartment occupies a space of 600 square meters and has household utensils, furniture, and decorative objects. This apartment shows how well-to-do people lived during that time and is very interesting. La Pedrera was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. The building represents the zenith of Modernism. La Pedrera video here.
4. Casa Batllo
Casa Batlló is another Gaudí masterpiece. The building was built in 1877 and Gaudí remodeled the facade between 1905 and 1907. Gaudí covered the surface of the interior courtyard with ceramic tile that goes from dark blue at the top to lighter blue and ends with white at the bottom. The facade has broken ceramic tile in a design that starts with orange and goes into greenish blue. The first floor apartment that is open to the public has large glass windows with stained glass windows on the upper part that has designs of circles in different colors, with the color blue predominating. There is sculpted stone work on the facade that is full of curves, with nary a straight line at all. One can go up a curved and narrow staircase to the roof, where one can see the chimneys with abstract shapes. The roof has an arch that is supposed to look like the back of a dragon. Casa Batllo award-winning video here.
5. Casa Fuster
Casa Fuster is located on the Passeig de Gràcia, near the intersection with the Diagonal. In 1908 Marià Fuster i Fuster, a wealthy man from Mallorcan high society, hired Lluís Domènech i Montaner to build his house, in honor of his wife from Barcelona Consol Fabra i Puig. The house became the city's most expensive house because of the quality of the materials used.
In the 1940s and 1950s the house contained the Café Vienés and this became the favorite place of Catalan high society to meet each other. In 1962 the electric company bought the building and was going to demolish it to build a skyscraper, but all of the city rejected this and the electric company had to back down and restore the house.
In 1999 it sold the building to the Hoteles Center and the building became the five star Hotel Casa Fuster. The hotel's Café Vienés Jazz Club has music every Thursday night and Woody Allen has played there quite often.
6. Barcelona Cathedral (La Seu)
The Barcelona Cathedral uses the Catalan Gothic architecture of the 14th century. The name of the church is the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia. The church was started in 1298 and finished in 1448, while the main front was done in 1898 and the dome tower in 1913. The site first had a Roman temple, then a mosque, and then a Christian church before the Cathedral was finally built, under the reign of King Jaume II. The church has flying buttresses and gargoyles. The interior has slender pillars.
The interior is 83m long, 37m wide, and 25m high. There are two bell towers that are covered with Gothic pinnacles. Inside the church there are high Gothic arches. There are many side chapels, but the most interesting is the Capella del Santíssim Sagrament (the Chapel of the Most Saintly Sacrament). It contains the alabaster tomb of St. Olegarius, the archbishop of Tarragona who died in 1136. There is also the Christ of Lepanto, which Don Juan de Austria carried on the prow of his flagship during his victorious battle with the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. There are choir stalls in the middle of the church that are quite elaborate. The Altarpiece of the Foundation of the Mercedarian Order in the Mare de Déu de la Mercè Chapel, done by Joan Roig in 1688, has sculptures that are extremely beautiful.
From the Capilla Mayor (main chapel) has steps down to the crypt. It has an alabaster sarcophagus of Santa Eulàlia, who died in the 3rd century. Santa Eulàlia is the patron saint of the Cathedral and co-patroness of the city. She was the virgin daughter of an upper-class Barcelona family, and later was burned at the stake for her beliefs under the Romans.
There is a large cloister which has an inner courtyard that has many palms, orange trees and magnolias. In one corner is the Capella de Santa Llúcia. The cloister has 13 white geese are kept because Santa Eulàlia was 13 when she was martyred.
There is a small Cathedral museum where one can see a few big paintings. The Monstrance of Barcelona is very large and made of gold and precious jewels, and displayed to celebrate special occasions.
This music 'palace' is one of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona and also a Modernist masterpiece designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, a contemporary of Antoni Gaudi and the director of the School of Architecture of Barcelona. The building was supposed to become the home of the Catalan Choral Society, founded by Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vives. The palace was completed in 1908, only three years after it was started. Ite has plenty of light because the side walls have many stained glass windows and a wonderful stained glass skylight. The palace has been built using many different materials, such as exposed brick, glazed tiles, glass and iron. There is a sea of flowers in the stained glass and ceramic tiles used that is really amazing to see. On the facade of the palace is a beautiful sculptural group that was created by Miquel Blay, that depicts a warrior, a beautiful woman, children, and youths. There are busts of Palestrina, Bach, Beethhoven, and Wagner in the front of the building. The concert hall inside has seats arranged in three levels. The stained glass skylight is a masterpiece and is in the shape of an enormous drop of light. On the sides of the stage are huge sculptures of a winged horse, three muses called the Flowers of May, and the Valkyries. The back of the stage has 18 sculptures of women playing historical musical instruments. The figures were created by Eusebi Arnau and show half of the body of the women coming out of the wall. The lower part of the figures showing the dresses are done in glazed tile and are flat on the wall. There are about two thousand large ceramic roses in different colors that adorn the ceiling. The mosaic artists were Lluís Bru and Mario Maragliano. The stained glass was done by the firm of Rigalt Granell. When the group is seated in the concert hall, there is a demonstration of organ music of the large organ that sits behind the stage on the second floor. It shows how good the acoustics are in the concert hall. One is really overwhelmed by all of the decorative arts used in the palace, so very much beauty. No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing this magnificent palace. The palace was named as a World Heritage Site in 1997. There is a very good museum store where one can buy a booklet about the palace.
The only way to visit in the daytime is by guided tour. These are available at the ticket office or online at the Palau's website. Guided tours are conducted in English, Spanish and Catalan daily from 10 am - 3pm. Another enjoyable alternative is to attend an evening concert at the Palau. Performance information is also available on the Palau's website. Palau de la Musica Catalana video here.
8. Palau Guell
The Palau Guell is located at Nou de la Rambla, 3-5. Eusebi Guell was a rich businessman who became the patron of Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi designed for him his home, the Palau Guell. In this house, Gaudi designed everything, including the stained glass, the furniture, the lighting, the wrought iron decoration, the fireplaces,and the twenty chimneys on the roof designed using trencadis (mosaic of broken tile shards). The building was constructed between 1885 and 1889. Guell wanted to use this house for artistic discussions and acts that he could enjoy with his friends, who were the cream of Catalan society at that time. The grand salon had an organ for musical recitals. From the higher floors, the Guells could observe visitors in the parlor without being seen themselves. The wrought iron bars in the front of the building also allowed one to see the street from inside the house, but not the contrary. The inside of the palace was influenced by Mudejar art. The Unesco designated the building as a World Heritage site in 1984 and the building has recently been restored. Palau Guell video here.
This hospital (Hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul) is another Modernist masterpiece by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and was finished in 1902. The hospital has a large amount of land not too far from the Sagrada Familia Church, and there are 26 pavilions in a Neo-Mudejar style around the spacious grounds. The pavilions are linked by paths and are surrounded by gardens that give an atmosphere of peace and quiet. The entrance pavilion has a tower and a clock. Domènech built the entrance building and 12 of the pavilions. The rest of the pavilions and the Convalescence House were the work of his son, Pere Domènech i Roura.
The Hospital of the Santa Creu was founded in Ciutat Vella in 1401 and was the basis for the present hospital, which is Europe's second oldest and used continuously to the present day. In 1902 a Barcelona-born banker, Pau Gil, who was living in Paris, donated a large amount of money to the hospital to expand it to the present site. The new hospital decided to add the saint's name of its benefactor, Sant Pau, to the name of the hospital to honor him.
One can wander around the grounds and also see the chapel, which is of Neo-Gothic design and sparsely decorated. The large gardens with aromatic and medicinal vegetation were supposed to help patients recover from their illnesses. The pavilions are connected by a network of two km of underground passages. A new hospital is being built on the premises, so it is planned that the older buildings will be used for cultural purposes. The site was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
10. Las Ramblas
A rambla is a tree-lined avenue. The Ramblas in Barcelona are a series of tree shaded pedestrian malls that go from the Plaza de Catalunya to the port. Many street artists are found here to entertain tourists.
a. La Rambla de Canaletes - This contains the Font de les Canaletes. The story is that if one drinks water from the fountain, that person will return to Barcelona. The Barça is the local football team, and when this wins a match, all the fans meet at the Canaletes fountain to celebrate. Nearby is the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona.
b. La Rambla dels Estudis - This used to have the first university of the city, which was demolished in 1843. There are bird and pet stalls here, giving it the name of Rambla dels Ocells (Rambla of the Birds in Catalan). Nearby are the Teatre Poliorama and the Betlem Church.
c. La Rambla de les Flors - This is also known as La Rambla de Sant Josep. It has all the flower stalls. It contains the Boqueria Market (Mercat Sant Josep), Antigua Casa Figueres, and the Plaça del Pi.
d. La Rambla dels Caputxins - This used to have the old house of Capuchin friars. There is a mosaic by Joan Miró on the ground, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and the Cafè de l'Òpera.
e. La Rambla de Santa Mònica - This goes to the port and has the Monument to Christopher Columbus. There are also the Teatre Principal, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, and Maritime Museum.
f. Rambla de Mar - This is not officially part of Las Ramblas, but is a continuation, built on a wooden jetty that goes to the shopping center Maremagnum. Video of Las Ramblas here.
11. Santa Maria del Mar Basilica
In La Ribera there is the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica. It is one of the best examples of the Catalan Gothic style and was the church of the ship owners and merchants during Gothic times. The building of the church was promoted by the canon Bernat Llull and was built between 1329 and 1383 by the architects Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despuig. The exterior has two towers of octagonal shape. One of these towers was completed in 1496 and its companion was completed in 1902. What makes this church different from other Gothic churches is that the exterior appears very solid and robust, with few openings or decoration. Yet the interior gives the appearance of weightlessness. There are three naves, but there is no transept. The original rose window was destroyed in an earthquake in 1428, but a new rose window was finished in 1459.
There is a simple ribbed vault that rests on slender octagonal columns. There is plenty of sunshine that streams in through tall clerestory windows. The west door is decorated with images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, while the tympanum shows Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary and Saint John. There is little decoration in the interior because a fire in 1936 during anticlerical demonstrations destroyed them, as well as the main altarpiece. The church gives an impression of being very light inside because of the dimensions used. The church has excellent acoustics and is used for concerts on many occasions. It is said that the French architect Le Corbusier always visited the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar when he came to Barcelona, since it was his favorite church. He always regretted that he had not been able to build it himself.
12. Basilica of La Mercè
The Basilica of La Mercè is located near the port. The Virgin of La Mercè ( Our Lady of Mercy) is the patron saint of Barcelona. This church is a late Gothic church and later renovated to a late Baroque style by the architect Josep Mas between 1765 and 1775. It contains a 14th century Gothic statue of Our Lady of Mercy that was made by the artist Pere Moragues. The church has a single nave and there is a plaza in front of the church with the same name. The people of Barcelona hold this Virgin in a profound reverence and every September there is a festival that is dedicated to her. There is a legend that Our Lady of Mercy freed the city from a plague of locusts in 1637, so that is when the City Council named her as the patron saint of the city. Whenever a city sports team wins a championship, it is the custom for the team to go to the church to sing a hymn of gratitude.
13. The Ciutadella Park
The Ciutadella Park is located near the port, in the Ribera district. It started out as a fortress in 1714 when Philip V became the first Bourbon king and his man the Duke of Berwick ordered its construction. In 1869 it was decided to turn this into a park and the fortress was demolished. The park was going to be used for the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the architects of the park were Josep Fontsere and Elies Rogent. The gardens were the work of the French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier. The park has the former Arsenal, which is now the Catalan Parliament building. There is a spectacular and monumental waterfall, called the Cascada, that was designed by Fontsere with the help of a student called Gaudi. The cascading waterfall has sculptures of horses and winged dragons. The backdrop of the fountain is a triumphal arch that is topped with a sculpture of a manned chariot of four horses. All of these have the Baroque style.
There is a large lake, a big outdoor stone sculpture of a mammoth, and many sculptures by 19th and 20th century Catalan sculptors. One of these sculptures is of a woman in distress and is called Desconsol, done by Josep Llimona. This sculpture stands in a pool in front of the Catalan Parliament. The Barcelona Zoo is in the park too. A building that was built for the 1888 Exhibition is the Castle of the Three Dragons, now the Zoological Museum, and a work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Another building is the Geology Museum, in a Neo-classic building. Just outside the park is the Arch of Triumph, which was the entrance to the 1888 Exhibition. This is done in red brick and looks like a Mudejar construction. The architect was Josep Vilaseca. The top has a beautiful frieze done by Josep Limona and has winged angels.
The International Exhibition in Barcelona took place in 1929 and the Magic Fountain was designed by Carles Buigas, who was an engineer and chief of the electromechanical installations section of the Exhibition. Buigas had a very original thought, which was to change the shapes of its jets of water. Over 3000 men worked on the huge project. This project was completed and the cascades and fountains were installed in several places along the Avenida Maria Cristina. The main feature was the monumental fountain on the platform built just below the National Palace. On the Feast day (September 24) of La Mercè ( Our Lady of Mercy), Barcelona's patron saint, the area of the fountains becomes the scene of a music and fireworks spectacle.
The Magic Fountain has a show of moving water jets that are illuminated in many different colors and shades. The water jets are synchronized with the music, which is a very big show. Before the 1992 Olympic Games, the fountain was restored to be ready for the Games. The Magic Fountain is the biggest ornamental fountain in Barcelona, and it uses recycled water to conserve on drinking water. This was probably the first synchronized water, light, and music show in the world and it continues to be one of Barcelona's most popular attractions. Magic Fountain video here.
15. Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
The Montjuic hill contains the National Museum of Catalan Art, the biggest fine arts museum in Catalunya. It is housed in the Palau Nacional, a beautiful building made for the 1929 International Exhibition. It has an encyclopedic collection of Romanesque art, Gothic art, Renaissance art, Baroque art, and Modern art. The Romanesque art collection is the biggest and oldest (11th, 12th, and 13th centuries) in Europe and has paintings on panels from Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees. The Gothic Art Collection has paintings and stone and wood sculpture from the 13th through the 15th centuries. Sculptors included Jaume Cascalls and Pere Sanglada, while painters were Pere Serra, Lluís Borrassa, Bernat Martorell, and Jaume Huguet. The Renaissance and Baroque Art Collection includes works by Titian, Tintoretto, Cranach, El Greco, José de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, and Rubens. The Modern Art Collection has the largest Catalan art collection from the 19th century until the 1940s. Artists of this period include Marià Fortuny, Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Gaudí, Josep Maria Jujol, Picasso, Pablo Gargallo, Salvador Dalí, Joaquim Mir, Isidre Nonell, Joaquim Sunyer, and Julio González. At present the museum has the Catalan paintings from the collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the biggest collections in Spain.
16. Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum includes five large palaces on the Carrer de Montcada, many of the palaces dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries. All of the palaces have been remodeled over time.
Picasso lived in Barcelona in his youthful years, when he started out as an artist. He always wanted his museum to be in Barcelona. Jaume Sabartés was his secretary and he proposed the museum to the City Council in 1960. The museum opened in 1963, and included the personal collection of Sabartes and works of Picasso that at that time were in the Barcelona Museums of Art. In 1970 the artist donated about 2,500 paintings, engravings, and drawings to the museum. After Picasso died, his widow Jacqueline donated many other of his works to the museum.
The collection has many paintings from the Blue and Rose Periods. There is an exceptionally beautiful painting called The Harlequin. There are many portraits of his friends. Another highlight of the collection are the series called Las Meninas, which are the artist's many interpretations of the masterpiece of Velázquez that is in the Prado Museum. There are many ceramics that Picasso made that are also in the museum.
17. Joan Miró Foundation
The Joan Miró Foundation is located on the Montjuïc hill and the museum shows the works of Joan Miró, one of Spain's greatest modern painters. The museum was designed in 1975 and holds about 11,000 art pieces that Miró created, including 240 paintings, 175 sculptures, and 8000 drawings. The building is very modern and has many salons, each salon having an explanation for the paintings it contains. So going to this museum is very educational because one learns all the phases of the artist's life. The Foundation has the largest number of works done by the artist.
Joan Miró was born on April 20, 1893, in Barcelona and died on Dec. 25, 1983. His work has been classified as Surrealism. He became one of Spain's greatest modern painters and his works can be found in the most important museums of the world. His work is characterized by bright primary colors, such as red, yellow, and blue, and one can say that the works are happy in nature. Perhaps that is one reason that people immediately love his work when they first see it.
One interesting thing is the explanation for the major work of the artist in his mature phase. There are five designs that he incorporated, and these are designs of woman, bird, sun, moon, and star. One can decipher Miró's paintings by looking for the symbols of each element. The museum was designed by Josep Lluís Sert. Outside there is a large red sculpture done by Alexander Calder, who was the friend of Miró.
18. Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) - This contemporary art museum was finished in 1995 and the American architect was Richard Meier. It is located in the Raval Barri. The artists found in this museum are those of the second half of the 20th century, such as Antoni Tàpies, Mario Merz, Paul Klee, Francesc Torres, Barceló, Joan Brossa, and Zush.
19. The Museu d'Història de la Ciutat at the Plaça del Rei
The History Museum of the City is located beside the Cathedral and has the most amazing building because in the basement one can see the Roman remains of the Roman city of Barcino. These archaeological remains cover an area of 4000 square meters and there are walkways that go to all the areas. One can see where wine was produced, a laundry where cloth was dyed, and where garum was made. Garum was the sauce made from fermented fish that the Romans loved so much. The period of the remains is from the first century before Christ to the 7th century. This museum is really amazing and makes history interesting. This museum probably has the biggest underground archaeological remains on show in all of Spain.
20. Poble Espanyol / Pueblo Español (Spanish Village)
The Poble Espanyol is an enchanting village on Montjuïc that was built in 1929 and that contains architecture that represents each province of Spain. Every single building is a copy of a real building. There is no traffic inside the village, as it is really a theme park. And the stores here are very entertaining because they feature crafts that one would not normally see, done by artists and craftsmen. There are many restaurants where one can have lunch.
The Poble Espanyol was built for the 1929 International Exhibition to showcase Spain. It was supposed to be demolished after the Exhibition, but there was wide popular support to keep it intact because it was so charming and a good tourist attraction. The builders of the village were the architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera, while the artists were Xavier Nogués and Miquel Utrillo. Before the building of the village, the four made may trips around Spain to take photographs and get ideas. They took many notes and made many drawings. The four visited 1600 towns and villages in Spain!
21. Gran Teatre del Liceu
The Gran Teatre del Liceu is Barcelona's opera house and was built in 1847. It started out as the Drama Aficionados Society in 1837 under Manuel Gilbert. This turned into the Barcelona Dramatic Philharmonic Lyceum of HM Queen Isabel II in 1838. Later Joaquim de Gispert i d'Anglí was the leader to build a new theater on the ramblas. The architects were Miquel Garriga i Roca and Josep Oriol Mestres, and the theater opened on April 4, 1847.
On Jan. 31, 1994, there was a devastating fire that destroyed the main hall and the stage. A new foundation was formed to finance the project of rebuilding the opera house. The opera house was rebuilt and reopened on Oct. 7, 1999. Today the theater is owned and run by the Catalan Regional Government, Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Provincial Council, and the Ministry of Culture.
The opera house is the artistic center of Catalan society. The auditorium seats 2292 persons. There is a Hall of Mirrors where people attending functions can meet. This survived the fire and has been recently refurbished. The Foyer is a place for attendees to relax during the interval between acts. The Liceu is one of the largest opera auditoriums in the world. The acoustics are extraordinarily good. It is one of the architectural gems of the city.
22. Frederic Marés Museum
Frederic Marés was a sculptor who was born in Portbou in 1893. When he was ten years old, he and his family arrived in Barcelona. He studied at the School of Fine Arts and the School of Arts and Crafts. He studied abroad and returned to be a teacher at his school until he retired in 1964. He progressed as a sculptor and became very successful, making many sculptures for many cities, including Barcelona. Many of his sculptures adorn many Barcelona monuments.
He started collecting sculpture and many other objects d'art. He donated his collections to the city of Barcelona in 1944, and he lived until 1991. He was able to collect the most important Spanish sculptures from the 12th to the 19th centuries. He did not come from a wealthy family, so all of his collections were financed from the sale of his own sculptures.
When one enters the museum, one is amazed at the amount of art he was able to collect, which could fill several museums. The Gothic art collection is amazing because there are very many walls that are covered with life size wooden crucifixions of Christ, collected from churches from all over Spain. One cannot count the number of these. There are also images of Mother and Child, showing the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, and these cover many walls also.
In the basement there is a collection of Gothic and Romanesque art in stone that is also amazing. His other collections are of fans, ceramics, seashell vases, wrought iron, watches and clocks, photography, pipes, jewelry, pharmacy bottles and toys. The museum is in the Royal Palace of the Counts of Barcelona, in the Gothic Quarter.
23. Archaeological Museum (MAC)
The Archaeological Museum (Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya) is located at the foot of Montjuïc and is located in the Palace of Graphic Arts that was constructed for the 1929 International Exhibition. The museum traces the roots of Catalunya since prehistoric times. There is a terracotta sculpture of the Lady of Tanit, from Phoenician times.
The Roman remains are some of the more interesting exhibits in the museum. On the ground floor are two Roman mosaics that are inset into the floor. The second floor has a very large mosaic, called the Circus Mosaic, that is incomplete, that shows men and animals that were in the circus. There are sarcophagi that have beautiful sculptures on the sides. Another masterpiece is the mosaic of the Three Graces.
Another important work is the Visigothic votive crown that is made of gold and jewels. This is part of the treasure of Torredonjimeno of Jaén, that was discovered in 1926 in an olive field.
24. Museu Egipci
The Egyptian Museum of Barcelona is on Carrer València, 284. The Clos Archaeological Foundation is the owner of the museum and this was founded in 1993 by Jordi Clos, who was passionate about Egyptian art and started his private collection. The museum has more than 2000 square meters of gallery space, with about a thousand exhibits. These include mummies, sarcophagi, jewelry, and amulets. The museum has one of Europe's largest private collections of Egyptian art. The Foundation does research and publishes works about Egypt. It is actively involved in education about Egyptian art and life and also has a travel agency to promote travel to Egypt.
25. The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes
Elisenda de Montcada was the wife of King Jaume II, king of the Crown of Aragon. She wanted to redeem her sins and those of her family by founding a monastery. Pope John XXII gave her permission in 1325 to found a monastery. The site chosen was Pedralbes, an unimportant area in the 14th century. Some of the most important architects of that time took part in the building of the monastery. These included Ramon Despuig and Berenguer de Montagut, builders of the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica. Reinard des Fonoll was another architect, who created the sculptures of the Cathedral of Tarragona. The monastery was finished in 1327. Queen Elisenda turned the monastery over to the Poor Clare Nuns, an order of nuns formed by the daughters of the noble classes. This order is the female branch of the Franciscan Order. The monastery is one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic, both for the church and the cloister, which is three stories tall and is one of the most spacious (40 meters in length) and graceful. The church has the beautiful pantheon of Queen Elisenda, which stands out. The church has stained glass windows and three choirs, the upper, the lower, and the friar's choir. Around the cloister one can see examples of the day cells, where each nun had her personal retreat. The kitchen can also be seen. There is a very good museum in the cloister, which includes donations from the nuns through the centuries. These include art, religious objects, paintings, sculpture, gold and silver works, and manuscripts. The monastery was declared a Historic and Artistic monument in 1991. Today the barrio of Pedralbes is the most upscale barrio in Barcelona and the home of the Princess Cristina.
26. The Temple of Tibidabo
The complete name of the church is the National Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In Catalan it is called the Sagrat Cor del Tibidabo. It is a church that sits on top of Tibidabo Mountain. St. John Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Order and he was offered a plot of land for the erection of a church in 1886 when he visited Barcelona. The church was to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The architects were Enric Sagnier and his son Josep Maria Sagnier. The construction started in 1902 and was finished in 1961.
The church has a Neo-Gothic design and an Art Noveau crypt. There is a huge bronze statue of the Sacred Heart (Christ) on top of the dome of the church. It is seven meters high and was made by the artist Josep Miret. There is an elevator that takes visitors to the top of the temple. There are many decorations in the church that are Byzantine in design, and these are quite beautiful. There is an impressive view of the city from the top of the temple and the church surroundings.
To go up the Tibidabo Mountain, one can take the Blue Tram or the Funicular.
27. Plaça d'Espanya
The Plaça d'Espanya is located at the junction of several major streets: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Avinguda del Paral·lel, Carrer de la Creu Coberta, and Carrer de Tarragona.
Plaça d'Espanya (Plaza de España in Spanish) is one of the most important squares in Barcelona and sits at the foot of Montjuïc. It was built for the 1929 International Exhibition. What calls attention are two Venetian towers that are 47 meters tall. These towers were the gateway to the grounds of the International Exhibition. They were inspired by the Campanile of San Marco in Venice. The architect for this project was Ramon Reventós i Farrarons.
There is also a monumental fountain designed by the architect Josep Maria Jujol. It has three large columns and several sculptural groups done by the artist Miquel Blay. The monument is a homage to water, and each sculptural group represents the seas and oceans that wash the coasts of Spain. The Mediterranean and Ebro river is represented with a young man surrounded by youths. The Atlantic Ocean and the Tajo and Guadalquivir Rivers are represented with two old men surrounded by youths. The Cantabric Sea shows a group of youths, which represent the rivers that flow into this sea. The three columns represent Religion, the Arts, and Heroism.
28. The Cervantes Rose Garden
Barcelona has such beautiful architecture, museums, and monuments that few guide books even mention any gardens in Barcelona. Well, there is one beautiful garden that calls attention and can be visited by lovers of nature, gardens, and flowers. The Cervantes Rose Garden sits on a hill (San Pere Màrtir) that is planted with 2000 species and varieties of roses. There are about 10,000 rose bushes that come from all over the world. The garden occupies four hectares of land and was designed in 1965. There are gravel paths and grass that surround the roses and there are also benches where one can sit and admire the flowers. One can inhale the marvelous perfume of the roses and touch them lovingly, since there are no barriers that separate the visitors from the flowers. There are arbors where the roses climb the wood frames and form a canopy.
Close to the entrance of the park, there is the white statue of a nude woman on one knee who seems to be contemplating the roses. It is a beautiful statue and makes one think. The gardens are quiet and one can think and admire the flowers. Few tourists ever visit this beautiful garden, so it is not overrun by people.
Every year it hosts the International New Rose Competition in May and the winning rose bushes are planted in spaces that show previous winners. New hybrids take a lot of work to produce them, so this competition shows off all the new varieties.
29. Columbus Monument - This is located at the end of the ramblas at the port. It honors Columbus, whose statue is pointing to the sea. The statue is on top of a cast iron column that is more than 80 meters in height. The monument was built in 1886 by the architect Gaietà Buïgas i Monravà. The statue measures 7 meters high and is the work of the sculptor Rafael Atche. There is an elevator in the column that brings visitors to the foot of the statue.
30. The Aquarium
This aquarium is located at Port Vell and is a popular place for all ages. The aquarium opened in 1996 and is the largest in Europe, with 21 glass tanks that are on both sides of a wide and curving corridor. There is a tunnel with glass sides that allows one to view the sea life from the inside. Each tank in the aquarium shows a different habitat.
31. Olympic Stadium of Montjuic - This can seat 77,000 people and is used for sports and popular events. It has an impressive modernist facade.
32. Joan Miró Park
This park is located very near the Plaça d'Espanya. The only thing it has is the monumental sculpture of Joan Miró, titled Woman and Bird. The sculpture, done in 1982, is faced with glazed bits of ceramic tile and is very colorful. It is about 22 meters tall and has the colors of red, blue, yellow, and green. He completed the statue a year before his death at 90.
33. Olympic Port
The new yacht harbor was built for the 1992 Olympics and houses many good restaurants. Close by are the Hotel Arts and the Hotel Icària. Frank Gehry has a large bronze whale sculpture at the entrance to the port.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey and basilica located in the Montserrat mountain, which is called Monistrol de Monstserrat. The site is located 38 km from Barcelona. From afar, the mountain looks very strange because of its rock formations. The monastery started as the Hermitage of Santa Maria, the Mother of Christ, in 1025. Very soon there were stories of miracles worked by St. Mary the Virgin of Montserrat, and pilgrimages started to the site. A bigger Romanesque chapel was built to be able to receive more pilgrims. It became one of the best known shrines in the Christian world and the most prestigious shrine in Catalonia. In the Napoleonic wars of 1811 and 1812, the French destroyed most of the abbey, but the statue of Our Lady was saved because it was hidden somewhere in the mountain.
The rebuilding of the abbey started slowly after the Napoleonic wars and has continued to the present. Today the mountain of Montserrat is a place of worship to God and a place where many pilgrims go, and is the most famous religious site in Catalonia. For people of other religions, it is said that the mountain is a source of great energy, one of the best in Europe, and people flock to it for the experience.
The statue of the Virgin is called “La Moreneta” because of the black color of her face. The statue is a wooden Romanesque statue from the end of the 12th century. The varnish on the statue has oxidized and because of the effect of candle smoke and the smoke of lamps, the appearance is now black. The Virgin has a crown of diadems and has a ball in her hand. On her lap is a statue of Jesus Christ. He also has a crown and His hand is making a sign of blessing, while the other hand is holding a pine cone. Many women in Spain are named Monstserrat and she is revered all over the world. One of the men who accompanied Columbus in the New World was a former monk from Montserrat and he started her veneration in the Americas.
In 2003 they opened the new funicular railroad, which goes to the monastery from a station way below. We took this railroad in a modern railcar and the ride takes about 20 minutes, with spectacular scenes along the way. They call this the “tren de cremallera”.
When one goes to the basilica, one sees a beautifully designed atrium floor, which was designed by Father Benet Martínez. There is a medallion in the center and there is an inscription around it with a message that only those baptized and born in the water like fish can understand the meaning of the fish of the Eucharist. People of many faiths and children like to balance themselves on one foot on this atrium floor, as it is a custom from way back.
The basilica has a neo-Plateresque design and was built in 1900. When one enters the basilica, one can see that way on top of the main altar is the statue of the Virgin and child, La Moreneta. The basilica’s style is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance. To see it close up, one has to go through the portico on the right side of the basilica. This portico has beautiful designs in sgraffiti. There is usually a long line of pilgrims who want to see La Moreneta. One has to go through the Angel Door, which has designs of many angel musicians adorning it. Then one goes up many steps until one reaches the Shrine of the Virgin and Child and sees La Moreneta. The ceiling above the statue has beautiful mosaics designed by Josep Obiols and were produced by Santiago Padrós in 1947. Everywhere one sees beautiful designs contributed by Catalan and other artists.
After seeing the basilica, one can go and see the museum, which surprises you with its quality and quantity. The museum is in a building across from the basilica and it is built underground, comprising of two stories. This was built by the architect Josep Puig I Cadafalch in 1929. There are many works of art donated by rich Catalans. There are archeology pieces from the Bible lands, gold and silver work from the 15th -20th centuries, and beautiful paintings from masters such as Caravaggio, El Greco, Sisley, Dalí, and many Catalan artists from the early 20th century. There are also many paintings done by many artists with the subject of Saint Mary of Montserrat. This museum is among one of the best private museums in Spain.
The Hotel Abat Cisneros is a hotel is where many pilgrims stay and where one can have lunch. There is the Montserrat Boy’s Choir, which usually performs at noon. The boys who perform in the choir live in a separate part of the monastery and go to school there. There are about 80 monks who live in the monastery today.
The visit to Montserrat is very unforgettable and the views of the monastery and surrounding mountain are incredible. Really a very beautiful place.
The spectacular Catalan tradition of Castells has been gaining fame and popularity around the world and has increased in terms of the number of groups (colles) taking part. Visitors are recognising that this is something that they want to experience.
The main season for castells runs from about March to November, although there are events on some weekends out of season, usually associated with local festivals and saints days, for example Santa Eulalia in Barcelona in February. The majority of events are on Saturdays and Sundays for the simple reason that the participants are volunteers and have jobs, school, college etc. to attend in midweek.
The primary source of information is the website of the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya at www.cccc.cat . If your browser doesn't support automatic translation, to find dates and locations, select "Agenda I resultats" from the menu of the left hand side, then scroll down until you find a suitable event and date. Many of the events will contain a link to a map, under "Com arribar-hi" which will show the precise location.
The events can easily last 3 hours, particularly if there are 3 or more colles participating so bear in mind requirements for food, water and sun protection. Outside Barcelona, many events can be easily accessed by rail.
There is a good pages about Castells on Wikipedia that explains the terminology and the structure and difficulty of the different towers that is worth reading in advance and a number of Tripadvisor Barcelona Forum regulars will be pleased to offer advice to help visitors enjoy the spectacle. And remember, please be quiet until the enxaneta "makes the little wing".