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Best Historic Locations in Barcelona

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Palau Nacional is one of the most spectacular buildings in Plaça Espanya and was built for the 1929 Universal Exposition, as were a lot of buildings in Montjuïc. The brainchild of architects Eugenio Cendoya and Enric Catà, the aim was to build a monumental, grandiose structure but the duo managed to surpass expectations. The Palace was restored by Italian architect Gae Aulenti and now houses the Museu Nacional de Arte de Catalunya (MNAC).

If you're in Barcelona for a vacation, don't miss out on a visit to the Bunkers del Carmel, a place known as a romantic tourist destination. Housed on the Hill of the Rovira, this heritage site offers outstanding panoramic views of the Catalonian city and is the perfect place to watch the sun rise and set. Take a look at impressive Spanish Civil War bunkers where anti-aircraft guns were assembled during the 1930's. There are numerous guided tours available at different levels where you can learn about the war period and how the place was used to defend the city. This is a must-see tourist attraction for any visiting traveler.

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.

Nestled in the heart of the city is the Plaça de Catalunya, an upbeat and animated public square that you cannot miss on your visit to the city. The generous square with grassy lawns, shady trees, fountains that light up after dark, is surrounded by an abundance of bars, restaurants, and cafes. The square, because of its central location, is close to numerous city attractions making it the perfect spot for a midday meal or to people watch as you sip on a cup of joe.

Four magnificent columns of the original Temple of Augustus remain intact, surviving more than 2,000 years and today representing the best preserved Roman relic in the city. This site was once a pagan temple located in what used to be the Roman center of the city, which is now known as the Gothic Quarter. The four original temple columns are housed within the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, a cultural center that dates back to the late 1800s. Next time you're touring Barcelona, don't miss the chance to explore one of the last traces of the Roman town known as Barcino by visiting this historic site.

The Italian architect, Domenico Bagutti, is the mastermind behind Parque del Laberint d'Horta. Constructed in the 18th Century, it shares space with the Desvalls' family mansion in the Horta-Guinardó district and is the oldest of its kind in the city. Spread over nine hectares (20 acres), its most significant feature is the labyrinth that lends its name to the park. It boasts an inspiring amalgamation of Neoclassical and Romantic schools of architecture with manicured lawns punctuated with Greek mythological sculptures, ornate fountains and rich flora. The beautiful layout has served as a backdrop for numerous performing arts and has served as a film set too.

Painted in soul-stirring Gothic splendor the likes of which the world has rarely seen, the Barcelona Cathedral is a striking religious landmark, and the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. This historic cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia, a patron saint of Barcelona whose crypt sits peacefully beneath its high altar. While construction on the cathedral officially lasted between the 13th and 15th centuries, the majority of the work was finished in the 14th Century. After its completion in 1420, the Barcelona Cathedral revealed expert craftsmanship in everything from skilfully rendered Gothic cloisters, to mythical gargoyles that protectively watch over the cathedral, lending to an architectural significance that persists even today. Perhaps the most festive legacy left by the cathedral is the Catalan tradition of the dancing egg, which is said to have originated when a hollowed egg was filled with wax and left to dance atop the jets of the cloister fountain, in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The cathedral, adorned with intricate spires built atop a handsome nave and marvelous bell towers, vies for domination over the city's skyline with another priestly landmark, the Sagrada Família.

Located in central Barcelona, the Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. It sits facing southeast, pointing to Jerusalem. The architecture of the Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona dates back to the third century, and excavations have unearthed first-century Roman walls made of stones from Carthage. A historic treasure, the synagogue has two rooms, the foyer and the main room, and a healthy number of artifacts on display. It was converted to a museum in 2002 and now welcomes guests both local and visiting to learn about the Jewish history of this lovely city.

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