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Best Local History & Culture in Barcelona

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Museu del Modernisme de Barcelona

Art enthusiasts shouldn't miss a trip to this beautiful modern art museum in the Eixample neighborhood. Featuring a carefully-curated collection of Modernista art, the focus here is on local artists and the indigenous Art Noveau style that developed in Catalonia from 42 of the genres most representative artists. These include such names as Antoni Gaudí, Joaquim Mir and Gaspar Homar. Expressed in a variety of different mediums, the works of these artists were diverse as they subverted traditional notions of art. From sculpture, furniture, painting and decorative arts, each discipline is well represented. The museum itself is a living work of art, designed by architect Eric Sagnier, it has been restored and renovated to house the museum. Fans of Anton Gaudi should make it a point to visit the top floor; there is an entire room dedicated to his work.

Barcelona, Spain
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Picasso Museum

Barcelona's tribute to one of its adopted sons, the Picasso Museum displays a fabulous collection across three adjoining medieval palaces. Although the famous Cubist artist was actually born in Málaga, his long artistic career started in Barcelona. Visitors to this museum will see important early works in various mediums, including engraving, lithography, and pottery. The best-known pieces on display at the Picasso Museum are the Harlequin, a portrait of one of Picasso's wives, and the Las Meninas series. Regular temporary exhibits focus on different aspects of the artist's legacy like his research on landscapes and foray into theater design. Additionally, there are some works by other artists from the avant-garde movement on display, rounding out the experience.

Barcelona, Spain
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Maritime Museum

Museu Marítim describes the history of the Catalan fleet through exhibitions of old sailing ships, paintings, figureheads, navigational instruments, maps, and charts. There are two permanent exhibitions and educational activities for children, who can physically board both Don Juan de Austria's royal galleon and Narcís Monturiol's primitive submarine. The museum is housed in the Reials Drassanes, a typical 13th-century Catalan Gothic construction built on the orders of King Pere el Gran as a boat repair yard at a time when the Catalan fleet controlled many of the Mediterranean's important trade routes.

Barcelona, Spain
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Catalonia History Museum

Housed in a 19th-century warehouse on the Barcelona port, this museum was created to preserve, exhibit, and disseminate Catalonian history. It is a dynamic and contemporary cultural center where the past is brought to life through artifacts, documents, historical re-creations, mixed media presentations, and interactive displays. Beyond regular exhibitions, there are also learning opportunities in the form of historical archives and libraries, as well as a dedicated educational department. Move from prehistoric times to the modern era, explore with a topographic model of Catalonia under your feet, wind down on the rooftop terrace with hot coffee and exquisite vistas, then swing by the souvenir shop on your way out.

Barcelona, Spain
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Refugio 307

Refugio 307 is a historic air raid shelter that was built during the Spanish Civil War. Tucked away in the Poble Sec neighborhood, the shelter is part of the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA). Made up of 200 meters (656 feet) of tunnels, the shelter was dug and built by older men, women and children since most of the abled-bodied men were off fighting on the front lines. Holding up to 2,000 people, the shelter was made of clay to help absorb the shocks from possible gunfire, and a lime coating on the interior to prevent humidity. Visitors can take a tour of this historic Spanish landmark on Sundays with group tours offered throughout the week.

Barcelona, Spain
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Montjuïc Castle

This historic castle is perched atop the Montjuïc hill not far from the Barcelona port. The original structure was built in the mid-17th Century during the Catalan Revolt, at which time armies under King Philip IV sieged much of what is today eastern Spain, though the landmark saw significant expansion and improvement from 1751 to 1779. The building that protects the harbor today has become a symbol of centralist repression and the abolition of Catalan liberties, reminding visitors of Barcelona's complex history. Visitors can reach Montjuïc Castle by cable car and enjoy breathtaking ocean views from its scenic vantage point as well as tours of the landscaped grounds.

Barcelona, Spain
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Gaudí House Museum

Casa Museu Gaudí is the house where Antonio Gaudí spent much of his life, from 1906 until 1926. Parts of the building were actually designed by Gaudí himself who was also responsible for the furnishings, along with some of his pupils like Josep Maria Pujol. It's one of the fantastic range of Modernist buildings you'll find in the magical and amazing Parc Güell. The park itself is an artistic masterpiece that includes many of Gaudí's own brilliant works.

Barcelona, Spain
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FC Barcelona Museum

The FC Barcelona Museum, also known as the President Nuñez Museum, is a soccer fan's paradise. The focus is on Barcelona soccer, but the museum also presents a number of artistic and thoughtful reflections on the sport as a whole. A well-planned and visually appealing museum, it displays photos and trophies, as well as playing videos of FC Barcelona in action. Since 1899, Barcelona has been a force to reckon with in European soccer, and this museum takes you through the entire history, right up to the present day. You can also opt for a guided tour of the stadium, which offers a visit to the press boxes, the away teams' locker room, and even the sacred field itself.

Barcelona, Spain
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