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Catalonia Square, also known as Plaza de Cataluña once stood outside the city walls, between what is now Eixample and Ciutat Vella, or the Old City. This square, considered the city center, is the meeting place of many important streets, and you will find many hotels and shopping centers here. You'll also find wonderful sculptures like Joseph Clarà's Deessa and Pablo Gargallo's Pastor de Pau. If you're not a fan of pigeons, steer clear. Visit in the spring, and you'll find concerts taking place for the Festival Internacional de Jazz Terrassa in this lovely plaza.
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.
Part of the Illa de la Discòrdia, or Block of Discord, Lluís Domènech i Muntaner's design displays a spectacular use of mosaic, as well as stained-glass windows by Lluís Rigalt and sculptures by Eusebi Arnau. These decorative elements reflect Hellenistic, Gothic, and Renaissance influences, especially the stained-glass windows. Built between 1902 and 1906, the landmark stands in the same residential block as two other outstanding modernist buildings created by different architects in hugely different styles, hence the collective name: Block of Discord. Guided tours are available though tickets must be purchased online as they do not sell tickets at the house.
The name for this architecture-rich attraction makes reference to the golden apple of discord in Greek mythology given its unparalleled beauty. Comprised of three spectacular structures, the block plays host to what some would argue is Barcelona's most recognizable group of buildings. It is home to Gaudì's Casa Batlló, Domènich i Montaner's Casa Lleo Morera, and Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Amatller, all of which are famous for exemplifying the Modernista architectural movement. Stroll between the three at your own pace, but be sure to visit as no trip to Barcelona is complete without a detour to the Manzana de la Discordia.
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.
La Rambla, 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, La Rambla is a must see in Barcelona.
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.
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.
Antoni Gaudí, the architect who built this jewel of Catalan modernism, wanted the facade to reflect his romantic and anti-classical ideas about design. It was built for the Milà family between 1906 and 1910. Neither the family nor the public were much impressed, and it was dubbed La Pedrera (stone quarry) as an insult. Only later in 1984 did it win great acclaim when the UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Now internationally celebrated, Casa Milà is a prime example of Gaudí's civil architecture; it is aesthetically interesting and unique as well as outstandingly practical. Call +34 90 220 2138 for more details.
While competition for the most outstanding religious structure in Barcelona is high given architectural masterpieces like the Sagrada Familia and Barcelona Cathedral, this basilica is quite spectacular. It was built between 1329 CE and 1384 CE, giving visitors a glimpse into Gothic history and serving as an important stop along any tour of the Barri Gòtic. The austere Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar boasts a lovely 15th-century stained-glass window shaped like a rosette, as well as impressive sculptures on the facade and tympanum. Mass is held in the Santísimo chapel except on Sundays when it is held in the main altar. Mass is regularly conducted in Catalan, as well as in Spanish on select days.
This grand monument to Christopher Columbus opened to the public in the summer of 1888 during the famous Universal Exposition. As the legend goes, Columbus alighted on Barcelona's shores first after returning from his arduous voyage to the New World and the Americas. The structure was designed by Gaietà Buigas i Monravà, who won a contest for Spanish artists that was held to determine who would have the prestigious honor. The 51-meter (168-foot) metallic column is topped by a statue of Christopher Columbus symbolically pointing out to sea in commemoration of his historic voyages, above the hustle and bustle of Las Ramblas. There is an elevator that whooshes to the top that afford stunning views of the iconic street as well as Barcelona's seafront and ports. Among the many sights that unfold from the 60-meter height, visitors can look for the Santa Maria del Mar's towers, Mount Montjuïc with its looming castle, Parc Natural de Collserola and Port Vell.
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.