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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.
Designed by Richard Meier, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in an aptly modern building with a glass facade and striking white color. It combines elements of contemporary American architecture with the Mediterranean rationalist tradition. The museum opened to the public in 1995, showing a permanent collection of work produced over the last 50 years and donated by the city's other artistic institutions. Visitors will also find regular temporary exhibitions featuring Spanish and international artists, as well as lectures, seminars, and audiovisual competitions on offer. If you like art, culture, and all things modern, swing by the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
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.
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 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.
Parc de la Ciutadella is a lush attraction nestled in the Old City, known locally as the Ciutat Vella. The park was designed by Josep Fontserè and his then-unknown assistant Antoni Gaudí, who went on to pioneer Catalan modernism with such masterpieces as the Basilica de la Sagrada Família. Although it no longer bears the distinction of being the only green space in the city, the park remains an important respite for city dwelling nature lovers, as well as those looking to experience the essence of Barcelona. Within the park are several attractions for the whole family, among them the Barcelona Zoo and Catalan Parliament. Weave through the verdant park and its many cultural offerings, taking time to relax by the lake as the ornate fountain creates a peaceful melody.
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.
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.
Established by surrealist artist Joan Miró, this institute was founded to support the study of contemporary art. It was built by architect Josep Lluís Sert who was also a close friend to Miró and member of the Catalan art scene. Its outstanding octagonal tower houses a concert hall that puts on classical music performances, and the striking building also houses a permanent collection of Miró's art. Large canvases mingle with tapestries while engravings complement photographs. Given the eclectic stylings of its honored artist, the institute showcases a number of disciplines and aesthetics. There are also a café-restaurant and souvenir shop onsite, promising plenty of comfort for visitors to the Joan Miró Foundation.
Built in 1990, the National Art Museum of Catalonia offers the best collection of Romanesque murals in the world, including some real gems from the Pyrenean region. Other pieces housed in the collection demonstrate diversity through such mediums as carving, sculpture, wood paintings, and glazed objects. Also found in the museum are uniques works like intricate altarpieces and gold and silver ornaments. You'll enjoy a selection of Gothic period paintings by 14th- and 15th-century Catalan School artists alongside those of their counterparts from across Spain and Europe. Art lovers will enjoy a healthy dose of local art at the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
Towering over the city at 173 meters (570 feet) is this scenic hill overlooking the sea. Montjuïc remained uninhabited until after the Middle Ages despite the fact that the Jewish quarter in Barcelona had already extended to the nearby Miramar area. The first path to the summit opened in 1607, and in 1640, a fortress was built to resist Spanish invasions during the Catalan Revolt. For centuries now, the Montjuïc park area has been a popular place for locals to pick wild herbs during leisure time, as well as an enjoyable attraction for visitors. Please note that while the park is free to visit, Montjuïc Castle charges an admission fee of EUR5 per person.