An unfinished religious icon that is steeped in profound cultural value and features an incomparable aesthetic, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is an astounding marvel. Gaudí began working on this utterly surreal temple, now a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1882. Originally intended to be a modest, neo-Gothic church, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia has since become arguably the most iconic building in all of Barcelona. Gaudí broke away from the reigning neo-Gothic style in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, imbuing his architecture with symbolic meaning and pioneering the Catalan Modernism movement. Intricate details like palm-tree pillars whose bases take the shapes of turtles, eye-catching colors, Baroque-style influences, and materials ranging from mosaic tiles to an array of stones converge to create an absolute masterpiece.
Gaudi's masterpiece, the Casa Batlló is one of the most unique residential buildings ever constructed in the Modernista style. Its facade bedecked with a rainbow of colored tiles gives way to the entrance hall that evokes an underwater sojourn complete with wave-like walls, turtle-shaped skylights, and a staircase that resembles the spine of a mythical creature. The upper level Noble Floor features windows that open out onto Passeig de Gràcia and are flooded with natural light and the connected outdoor patio is a kaleidoscope of hues wrought in glass and tile. From the terrace, it's easy to understand why the house is called casa del drac locally, as the roof tiles resemble Sant Jordi's dragon. A marvelous expression of both creativity and architectural acumen, the Casa Batlló stands as a testament to Gaudi's psychedelic genius.
An eye-catching fixture of downtown Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana boasts a striking modernist design. It was built in the early-20th century by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who designed the now-iconic exterior to feature intricate carvings, red brick arches, and exquisite Spanish and Arabic architectural details. Inside, the concert hall is even more breathtaking with its gold accents, floral patterns, and exceptional stained-glass elements. Visitors to the Palau de la Música Catalana will be awed by the kaleidoscopic skylight whether they take in a show or simply tour this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the past, the Palau de la Música Catalana has hosted such quality performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Paco de Lucía, Woody Allen, Ángel Corella, and Duke Ellington.
An impressive sight and the crowning glory of the football community in Spain, Camp Nou is one of the largest stadiums in Europe. Home ground of the beloved FC Barcelona, known simply as Barça to locals, this spectacular stadium was constructed in 1957 on a separate piece of land when the expansion of the Camp de Les Corts stadium was deemed impossible due to lack of space. The stadium is sometimes referred to as the 'house that Kubala built', in reference to the great Slovak-Hungarian goal scorer who played for Barça through the 1950s. Kubala was so popular with spectators that the stadium was even unable to accommodate the extraordinary masses that flocked to watch him play on more than one occasion. Camp Nou can accommodate more than a whopping 99,000 spectators at a time, and is profoundly iconic for its vibrant bleachers, painted in the club's royal blue and red colors.
Barcelona's oldest residential district is a maze of narrow streets housing some fantastic examples of Gothic architecture. Lots of trendy young designers have opened up outlets here over the last few years, along with some classy but not too flashy restaurants, including tapas bars that fill up with the city's youth most nights. Alongside Gothic buildings like the imposing Cathedral of Barcelona, you can see the most concentrated remains of the Roman period here, between Plaça de la Catedral and Plaça Sant Jaume. The old Roman walls still demarcate the boundary between this and its adjacent districts. This spirited neighborhood, known locally as Barri Gòtic, is one of the city's most atmospheric and enchanting explorations serving up style in spades.
Featuring an air of striking regality that can be attributed to its historic dull rose facade, the Gran Teatre del Liceu is a longstanding symbol of Barcelona's prized culture. Perhaps the most important theater in Barcelona, the Gran Teatre del Liceu was built in 1847 as a venue for opera performances. The original building showcased a modern aesthetic designed by architects Miquel Garriga i Roca and Josep Oriol Mestres, and while the theater was rebuilt after a fire in 1994, a handful of cherished artifacts from the first structure remain. The main façade, the Hall of Mirrors, and staircase notably represent the historic Gran Teatre del Liceu as it was originally conceived. As important as ever, the new theater stays true to its roots by staging an exciting program of operas, concerts, and ballets performed by some of the most reputable companies in the world. It even houses a symphony orchestra and choir that perform throughout the year. With 2,292 seats, the Gran Teatre del Liceu is certainly grand, and it has one of the largest opera auditoriums in Europe.
From noon till late hours of night, Milano Cocktail Bar welcomes patrons into its elegant atmosphere to enjoy a drink or feast on traditional tapas. Renowned for its cocktails, do not leave this place without trying a few of their interesting concoctions. Green Almond, Gentleman Apple, Picasso, Lady Sour and the Watermelon Martini are highly recommended. In the afternoons, patrons are given a trip back in time, as the restaurant recreates a 1940s ambiance. Nights at this place are brought alive by soothing melodies strummed by Jazz musicians.
Ibiza's Contemporary Art Museum (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, or MAC, for short), can be found in one of the historic buildings that is part of the city walls - the arms room in the San Juan bastion, above the main gate of the city walls, la Puerta de Taules. The museum came into being as a result of the biennial international art show that took place for the first time in 1963. Nowadays, the museum organizes several exhibitions throughout the year, including collections of works by local contemporary artists, as well as exhibitions organized by other entities. The museum continues to organize the biennial international art exhibition, which includes works from all over the world. The works owned by the museum include pieces by Barry Flanagan, Hans Hinterreiter, Erwin Broner and Will Faber.
Designed by Richard Meier, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in an aptly modern building with a glass facade and striking white color. It combines elements of contemporary American architecture with the Mediterranean rationalist tradition. The museum opened to the public in 1995, showing a permanent collection of work produced over the last 50 years and donated by the city's other artistic institutions. Visitors will also find regular temporary exhibitions featuring Spanish and international artists, as well as lectures, seminars, and audiovisual competitions on offer. If you like art, culture, and all things modern, swing by the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
Tàpies himself created the Fundación Antoni Tàpies in 1984 as a place to study contemporary art. Today, its library has become one of the most important of its kind in the world, exhibiting a large collection of his original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and engravings. Designed by modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the building that houses these extraorindary works traces back to 1880. It served as the headquarters of prestigious publishing house Editorial Montaner i Simón until the 1970s though the spirit of the arts is still very much alive. Keep an eye out for temporary exhibits, and be sure to look up above the entrance for one of Tàpies's avant-garde sculptures when you visit.