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This stopover on the way to Montjuïc was once the gateway to the city because of the creu coberta found in the square. The creu coberta was a Gothic cross that symbolized arrival in Barcelona. Historically, criminals were hanged in this part of the city, often remaining on display to dissuade newcomers from straying from the "path of righteousness." Urbanization plans for the area began in 1908 and ended in 1929, the same year as the Universal Exposition of Barcelona. Beyond the architectural jewels surrounding the square, there is a fountain in its center designed by Josep Maria Jujol, a disciple of Gaudi.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc occupies the original space of The Four Columns. Built for the World Fair in 1929, the man-made masterpiece is the brainchild of Carles Buigas. Having faced the brunt of the Spanish Civil War, it was restored to its magical charm in 1955. Concentric pools surround the state-of-the-art mechanized features. Stop by every half hour in the evening for a breathtaking visual display. The chromatic lights give the water a dancing illusion as it synchronizes with the rhythm of the music that accompanies the show. The shapes and colors are constantly changing, and the effect is mystical and enchanting.
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.
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.
Aside from being one of the best places to view Catalan Modernist architecture, Passeig de Gràcia is also the city's elegant shopping area par excellence. Foreign brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, MaxMara, Escada, and Armand Bassi stand beside Spanish labels such as Purificación García, Camper, and Loewe. The exclusivity of Vogue, Bally, and Yanko are offset by more accessible shops like Mango, Globe, Benetton, and Laura Ashley. This street also boasts the Bulevard dels Antiquaris, which is excellent for antiques, as well as many restaurants and outdoor cafés, bookshops, and jewelers. At number 55, Boulevard Rosa also offers more than 50 small, elegant shops under one roof. Above all else, Passeig de Gràcia offers passerby boundless style and energy.
Built in the 19th century, Plaça Reial sits in the heart of the Gothic Square and is a famous landmark surrounded by various other places of interest on La Rambla. The square lights up after dark when it becomes a hang-out spot for young denizens convening before heading to famous nightclubs in the vicinity. It also plays host to the annual La Mercè festival and a number of concerts and open-air events. Interesting fact: Plaça Reial's twin square- Plaza Garibaldi can be found in the historic center of Mexico City.
Disseny Hub Barcelona, nicknamed DHUB, is equal parts museum, education center, and laboratory. Split into four different subdivisions of the design world, DHUB covers the topics of interior design, consumer product design, informational design and, of course, fashion. The collections at DHUB change frequently, although there are several permanent exhibitions such as their clothing display that informs guests about Barcelona fashions from the 16th Century to the modern day. With a host of lectures, workshops and other events, DHUB is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the European design scene.
Montjuïc's "Olympic Ring" was one of the four major competition sites used during the 1992 games. It is located on an esplanade alongside the Estadi Olímpic, where you'll see a series of sports facilities designed by Federico Correa, Joan Margarit, Alfonso Milà and Carles Buixadé. The Palau Sant Jordi hosts a mixture of sporting events and seats up to 17,000 spectators. The Piscines Bernat Picornell is currently open to the public. The Olympic Stadium (Estadi Olímpic) now houses the Galeria Olímpica, a permanent exhibition and information center about Barcelona's Olympics and its sports facilities.
Start at Plaça Francesc Macià with a branch of El Corte Inglés, a quality department store that has become a national institution. Just next door is Pedralbes Centre, an exclusive shopping mall with brand-name shops, shoe stores, jewelers, perfumeries, and high-quality accessories, as well as shops such as Pepa Paper and Items d'Ho, which sell arts, crafts and plenty of great gifts. Further down stands L'Illa del Diagonal, a huge shopping mall with an entire floor dedicated to gastronomic delicacies. As well as numerous shops, the avant-garde building houses a hotel, offices and several restaurants; Moncho's seafood cocktails are a favorite amongst their business clients. Head down to Les Glòries roundabout for Centre de Les Glòries, the largest in the city, popular with Barcelonians, who appreciate the wide range of goods and affordable prices, not to mention the free parking.
Immerse in the Catalan spirit at the Rambla de Canaletes, the first walkway you'll encounter while strolling down Las Ramblas. The landmark takes its name from the iconic Font de Canaletes, a small fountain where Barça soccer fans gather to celebrate victories. According to legend, if you drink from this fountain, you're guaranteed a return to Barcelona one day. Visitors are also likely to come across performers playing rock or Andean music surrounded by crowds of entertained bystanders. At once charming and energetic, the Rambla de Canaletes is a cosmopolitan area that can't be missed.
Las Ramblas, a premier destination for both locals and visitors, stretches across central Barcelona from the Plaça de Catalunya to the waterside Columbus Monument. The popular pedestrian mall houses several notable attractions, including the Gran Teatre del Liceu and Palau de la Virreina, as well as plenty of opportunities for retail therapy. This cultural hub is lined with trees and filled with friendly crowds, particularly where restaurants offer outdoor seating amidst all the action. Whether relishing the sights and sounds of La Boqueria, one of the most spectacular markets in the world, or embracing the Catalan pace on a leisurely stroll, Las Ramblas is a must see in Barcelona.
Nova Icària Beach is one of the best beaches in Barcelona. Located near the Olympic Port, this stretch of seaside is fun for the whole family. Play a game of volleyball, swim in the ocean, have the kids play at the playground, or simply relax and enjoy the sun. If you get hungry, there are a lot of nearby cafes and restaurants. Calmer than some of the other beaches in Barcelona, Nova Icària also makes a great romantic outing for couples or quiet getaway for serenity seekers.