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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The seaside district of El Born is a place where history is intertwined with contemporary, popular culture. Peppered with shades of the Medieval times, this district is most notable for its historical and cultural landmarks. Popular amongst travelling history buffs this area is best known for its many iconic buildings such as the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and the Santa Eulàlia Cathedral. Also found here is the Picasso Museum, the Museu Barbier-Mueller d'Art Precolombí and the Palau de la Musica.
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.
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.
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.
Architectural icon Antoni Gaudí designed this sprawling park to create harmony among urban and natural landscapes. He began building the park system on Carmen Hill in 1910, creating an eye-catching tapestry of structures, gardens, and public institutions for citizens and visitors of Barcelona to enjoy. Gaudí finished working on the project in 1914, and although it was never completed, Park Güell stands proudly today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experience varied architectural styles in intriguing features like the columns of the Sala de las Cien Columnas, or Hall of the Hundred Column, which support a Romantic-style balcony covered in mosaic tiles.