Sightseeing in Barcelona
To see the Sagrada Família in Barcelona is to experience a waking dream. Mecca of the world’s Modernista architecture, this was Gaudí’s life’s work, his masterpiece. Still unfinished, it is nevertheless one of the most unique manmade structures on the planet. The spires are dotted with colorful fruit and bubbles. The towers are reminiscent of melting candles. The carvings and statues have their own surreal spirit. The stained glass resembles modern art more than classic Catholic windows. The western Passion Façade appears to be held up by stilts. Think classic cathedral meets Tim Burton.
[ Page of interest: Best of Spain ]
More Gaudi Architecture
There are also several other Gaudí works sprinkled throughout the city. Among the most interesting are:
Casa Mila, or La Padrera, the architect’s last work of civil engineering. Today, it serves as a museum devoted to his work. The façade has curvaceous balconies with unusual wrought ironwork.
Casa Batiló looks a bit like a building exposing its skeleton, with bone-like detailing. That starkness is contrasted by colorful mosaics. At the time it was built, the locals were appalled and nicknamed the building the house of bones. This is a good spot to take in Barcelona architecture, as the two neighboring buildings were designed in a competitive spirit at the time by fellow architects.
Casa Vicens on Carrer de les Carolines is another fascinating example of his work. This was his first significant project, and has checkerboard detailing and interesting towers.
Barcelona's Gothic Cathedral
The Barcelona Gothic Cathedral on Pla. de la Seu is a perfect contrast to the Sagrada Família. It is classically Gothic and traditional down to its foundation, yet equally enchanting. Its courtyard just might be lovelier than the interior, as sunlight shoots piercing beams onto the carvings and statues of the large outdoor area. Visitors are greeted by 13 geese, which stand symbolic guard over entry to the cathedral.
Barcelona Museums and Monuments
The Museu d’Art de Cataluña, or MNAC, on Palau Nacional has an extensive collection of Catalan art spanning a thousand years. Highlights include the Romanesque murals (of which the Altar Frontal from Avià is among the most notable), unique Gothic works, the Modernisme collection and a vast sampling of photographs.
The Poble Espanyol on Avenida Marquès de Comillas is a unique spot in the city that serves as a miniature Spanish village, with examples from regions throughout Spain. There are artists and craftsmen here, and the spot serves as a venue for many events.
Mirador de Colom, or Columbus Monument, on Portal de la Pau, where La Rambla meets the shore in Barcelona, is an ideal stopover for a view of the city and the sea. Ride the elevator to the top. Open daily from June through September, 9 am to 8:30 pm, and from October through May, daily from 10 am to 6:30 pm. Entry costs i2 for adults and i1.30 for children and seniors.
Museu d’História de Catalunya at Pla. Pau Vila 3, Palau de Mar, has a nice mix of permanent and temporary exhibits devoted to the rich Catalan history.
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona on Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell is a large and ever-interesting aquarium. It has a lengthy underwater tunnel and a fine mix of fish, animals and plantlife.
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