The home of Gaudí and the Catalan Modernism
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Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia in the North-East of Spain. When you say Barcelona, you also say the home of Gaudí and the Catalan Modernism. Everywhere in the city, you find wonderful buildings of the hand of Antoni Gaudí. Of course, also Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró are linked to Barcelona. What are all the other reasons why Barcelona attracts so many tourists? This post will inform you about the insides of this wonderful city.
Do you like architecture? In that case, Barcelona is a must visit city for you. Because it is the playground of the Catalan Modernism. But, what is this building style? It is an Art Nouveau style which is linked to the nature and Catholic Faith. The Catalan Modernism dates from the end of the 19th century. Antoni Gaudí was one of the greatest masters of this beautiful architectural style.
The most impressive structures are Park Güell, the 3 houses of Gaudí and of course the famous Sagrada Família. Gaudí was a deep Catholic person and loved the nature. So, all his buildings have a wonderful connection with the faith and the nature. All the used techniques are completely integrated into the architecture in such a way that no motorised and automated equipment were needed. The used techniques bring natural light, colour and fresh air into the building. Everything that has built, also had to be functional and beautiful without pointed corners. Only rounded corners and curves. Because everything has to stay in movement, without begin or end.
In my opinion, these days we still can learn a lot of Gaudí. His connection with the nature and architectural constructions to bring light, colour and fresh air into the building, without the use of any technical equipment is genius. In a time that we want to be more ecological with less emissions and consume less energy, these seem to be great techniques to reach our goals.
Of course, Barcelona is more than the architecture of the Catalan Modernism. Other famous artists like Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró are connected with Barcelona. Both have their own museum in the city and places where they liked to come. You still can visit some of them. In our digital Barcelona Tour Guide, I will share them with you.
Barcelona is located at the Mediterranean. With the mountains around the city looking over the city and the sea. The most famous mountains are Montjuïc and where Tibidabo is located. Both have wonderful viewpoints to discover.
Famous neighbourhoods are Barri Gòtic, El Raval, Eixample, Gràcia and Montjuïc with El Poble-sec. At the seaside, you have Barceloneta and Poblenou.
A lot of guides and travel sites tell you about the popular spots and things to do in a city. According Voyageiro, these are the 5 most popular must things to do and see in Barcelona.
First of all, we can't ignore the Sagrada Família. The ultimate masterpeace of Antoni Gaudí. A basilica which represents the New Testament, the Bible, in Gaudí's typical way. The top project of a connection of nature with faith.
When the Sagrada Família is finished, it will have 18 impressive towers. They represent the 12 Apostles, the 4 Evangelists, Virgin Mary and in the middle the highest one for Jesus Christ. But, this tower will not become higher than the Montjuïc mountain. Because, Gaudí don't wanted to built something that is higher than what the nature has created. Do you see, also here you have a connection with the nature.
Aside of these towers, the Sagrada Famíllia also has 2 different facades. The Navity facade and the Passion Facade. Both of them has 4 towers of the Apostles.
The Sagrada Família is the most visited monument of Barcelona. So, the best way is to book your tickets in advance. In that way, you have a specific time slot to enter for your visit. And you don't have to wait in the long queue to buy your tickets. To buy your tickets, visit Get Your Guide, Viator or the official site of the Sagrada Família itself.
Also famous in Barcelona is the La Rambla. This is known as a large walking boulevard in the centrum of Barcelona. La Rambla starts at Plaça de Catalunya and is around 1,2 km long to reach the port of Barceloneta. In the middle of the street, it is for pedestrians only. With a pleasant crowd due to shopping stalls, terraces and living sculptures. At the end you arrive at the statue of Columbus and the Mediterranean.
The Rambla is divided in 5 parts. The Catalan names are Rambla de Caneletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins and Rambla de Santa Mònica.
Now, La Rambla is a nice boulevard to walk. But, in the past it was a long dry river bed. When it rained very hard, this was the way where the water flowed to the sea from the mountains around Barcelona. At the other side of the Plaça de Catalunya, you also have the long Rambla de Catalunya to the Av. Diagonal. Av. Diagonal is the long diagonal line you see on the aerial photos of Barcelona.
The highest mountain in the city is the Montjuïc mountain with on the top the castle. Montjuïc also is the home of the Olympic park from the Olympic Games of 1992. You can take a telecabine from the top, at the castle, to the port and visa-versa. There also is a funicular.
At the main entrance of Montjuïc, you find the wonderful building of the National Museum of Art from Catalunya. In front of this building are beautiful fountains. The large central is known as The Magic Fountain with a huge water, light and music show from April till October.
September has some changes in the hours due to La Mercè Festival and the Day of Catalonia.
Also in sometimes, the fountains are shut down by drought.
Barcelona has a lot of Mercats. A Mercat is a market hall with fresh products. Always full of life, a place to buy your fresh food and taste. Yes taste, take a lunch or enjoy the tapas.
The most famous market hall is Mercat de la Boqueria. This one is located at La Rambla. Mercat la Boqueria is the largest and most lively fresh market hall in the city. Give it a try.
Finally, we again are by Gaudí. When you visit Barcelona, you have to visit at least 1 project of Gaudí aside of the Sagrada Família. In the city of Barcelona you discover 3 famous houses of Antoni Gaudí. Also the famous Park Güell is of the hand of Gaudí. They all are UNESCO classified.
Built: between 1883 and 1889
Built for: Manuel Vicens
Residents till: 2007
Visit since: 2017
In Gràcia, you find the first house of Gaudí. This is Casa Vicens, built in commission by Manuel Vicens i Montaner, a rich tile manufacturer. Casa Vicens is known as Gaudí's first masterpeace in Barcelona and an anticipation of Gaudí's next work.
Built: 1877 - Renovated by Gaudí: between 1904 and 1906
Built for: Josep Batlló i Casanovas
Residents till: early 1950s
Visit since: 2002
Casa Batlló is located in Eixample, at the Paseig de Gràcia. The whole house has no corners, only wave lines. From the facade, the rooftop as well as inside the building. Everything is curved, like the waves of the sea.
Connection with St Joris
The facade has mosaic tiles, like the scales of a dragon while the way roof is his backbone. Balconies look like the jaws of sea animals. Inside you find columns as the legs of the dragon. While at the rooftop a chimney is constructed as the cross of St Joris. St Joris who fought with and killed a dragon, according the legend.
Connection with the nature
It wouldn't be Gaudí, if the house had also no deep connection with the nature. The stairwell is designed as a true light shaft with blue tiles and to bring fresh air into the building. No windows, doors and frames are straight. All curved like the waves of the sea. You feel like you are standing in a Disney movie in the sea. At the back side, you find impressive mirror glass to bring light and colour inside the building, but from the cellar it is an ordinary window.
In a lot of hands
After the latest occupants left the building, Casa Batlló was in the hands of different businesses. At this moment, the family Bernat is still the owner of Casa Batlló. Since 2003, the family had to mortgage the building due to business losses. Casa Batlló is estimated at around 70 million euros.
Built: between 1906 and 1912
Built for: a family Milà
Residents till: people still live there
Visit since: 1987
Also in Eixample at the Passeig de Gràcia, you find third famous house of Gaudí. This building is not a single house, but an apartment building. When you stand in front of this building, you also see it immediately that everything is curved. Casa Milà was built for the noble family Milà who lived there. All the other apartments were rented to those who could afford it.
Casa Milà is characterised by 2 impressive rounded patios where all the apartments are connected. Again to bring fresh air and light in the apartments. It also was the first building in Barcelona with a parking garage for carriages and cars. The residents were able to drive their own apartment.
The other name of Casa Milà is La Pedrera. La Pedrera is a Catalan word for "stone quarry" and given as a nickname. The Barnas didn't liked the building, because it followed none of the architectural norms of that time.
Today, some apartments still are rented by people who live there or have a business. You are able to visit the income hall, some apartments and the impressive rooftop of Casa Milà. They also have a nocturne with a huge light show on the roof where you have a great view of the Sagrada Família.
Park Güell is an impressive park built for Gaudí's friend Eusebi Güell. The park is located in the neighbourhood Gràcia and hold a house where Gaudí lived.
Gaudí designed a huge park with a lot of architecture, stairs, and patios inspired on the nature. Güell was inspired by his many journeys. He was fascinated by the English landscape gardens and romantic garden architecture. This is why the English word "Park" is used.
One of the most wonderful location in the park is the Greek Theatre with the colourful tiles of the bench and the view to the fairytale main entrance. You need a special ticket to enter this part of the park. At this entrance you find the famous Salamander with a lot of mosaic tiles. It is known as "El Drac", The Dragon.
As told, all these monuments are UNESCO classified. So, they are very popular to visit. To plan a visit to a house of Gaudí or Park Güell, buy your tickets in advance. So, you are sure you can visit the monument. Sometimes, on the day itself, you cant buy a ticket anymore. Select a button below to already buy your entrance tickets in advance.
Park Güell is an absolutely must do. Of the 3 houses, my personal favorite is Casa Milà, La Pedrera. This is because the used architectural techniques and yes maybe I could live there if I have the money for it. According the wonderful designs, colours and vibes, I would go for Casa Batló.
When you visited these masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí, you'll discover also the signature at some other buildings designed by Gaudí in the city.
Like in any city, Barcelona also has some hidden gems to discover:
What are the famous events? Are there regional festivities? What are the huge city festivals to join every year? Are there festivities you don't may miss in this city? Below, you find some of the famous yearly activities to do in Barcelona.
Santa Eulalia is the patron of the city. Around 12 February, in Barcelona are the festivities of Santa Eulalia. The Barnas celebrate their patron with parades, traditional dances and the Castellers of Barcelona. For the Castellers Santa Eulalia is the start of their season.
Llum BCN is a light festival. Every year, in February you have to be in Poblenou for a light art of internation artists. It is a combination of art, science and technology. Llum BCN takes place since 2012.
Ready to run? Nice, half of March you have to go for the marathon of Barcelona. It is the 5th biggest marathon of Europe. This marathon attracts runners from all over the world. The previous name of this marathon was Marathon Catalunya.
Easter is one of the most important holidays in Spain. Barcelona is known for the impressive parades for Easter Day. So, if you want to enjoy your visit in Barcelona, maybe this is not the ideal day to make a city trip.
Half of May is the ideal moment to visit a museum in Barcelona. On the day of the Museum Night, a lot of museums are free to visit. This is a wonderful project. Also in many other European cities, they participate at Museum Night.
Again sport! At the begin of June, Barcelona is the home of the Formule 1 Grand Prix. The biggest autopilots and teams arrive in Barcelona to see who is the fastest rider on the racing circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya.
24 June is the name day of Sant Joan, Saint John and a public holiday in Spain. So, 23 June is the ideal day to celebrate, have parties and festivities. It also is known as the begin of the summer. With the shortest night and the longest day of the year. They believe that the summer point has a lot of vibe in the air. When you are in the city, you will feel these vibes, with a lot of festivities, fireworks and fire in the streets of Barcelona.
The whole month of July, you have to be in Montjuïc for the Festival Grec. The Teatre Grec is the home of a nice festival with international artists, dance, music and circus acts. This is major summer attraction in Barcelona.
While in July, you have to be in Montjuïc, in August you have to visit Gràcia. Gràcia is the stage of a huge street festival, the Festa Mayor. During 1 week in August, the neighbourhood transforms with a lot of colours and parades. It is not only a festival, but for the people of the neighbourhood itself, also a competition. All streets participate to win the price for the best decorated street. Every year, whole Barcelona looks forward to this event.
The Naional day of Catalonia is on 11 September, also known as "La Diada". The history of this day goes back to 1714. Because 11 September 1714 was the day of the fall of Barcelona and Catalonia. From that moment on it became part of Spain. Already many years, there again is an increasingly loud call of independence for Catalonia. So, this is an important and sensitive day in Catalonia.
end of Setpember
For the biggest street festival in Barcelona, you have to be there at the end of September. Than it is time for La Mercè, a 5 day street festival with parades, events and fire runs to say Adéu! at the summer. La Mercè already takes place since 1902 and has hundreds of street events. Due to the many street events, it is not recommended to use a car in the city.
Castellers are traditional events in Catalonia. Every event is good enough to make human towers. Because, that is what the Castellers do. Making human towers without the help of any tools. At this moment, the highest tower is made by the Castellers de Vilafranca. In 2015, they built a human castel of 10 levels in Tarragona. Tarragona, which is every 2 years the place to be for the "Concurs de Castells", the Castellers competition.
In Barcelona, the first moment to built castells, human castles, are Santa Eulalia. From that moment on the new season of the Castellers of Barcelona starts. While in Catalonia, the official start of the Casteller season starts in June and lasts untill November. Every festival, Festa Mayor, is good enough to built castells. So, at every huge summer festival you have the opportunity to see the Castellers. If you are in Barcelona on such a day, don't miss them.
It is always good to be informed when you visit a city, location, region or plan to make a road trip. So, you are on the right way by reading my posts. Aside, of this, it can help you to have a personal guide in your pocket. Why not put a short guide document in your hand luggage, backpack or on your mobile device? To do this, we have some personalized tour guides for you. More information is available on our Guides page.
Below you find some of our personalised guides about Barcelona created especially for travel lovers like you. These will give you another dimension to your trip. It allows you to better understand the location where you are. To travel with more passion.
We created a digital brochure, especially for travel lovers like you. This travel book is available as a digital download from the Etsy shop of Galeria Sámuel, the online shop of our travel content.
You can use this Travel Guide Book as a digital file on your personal device or print out on A4 or A5 paper. The digital download also has a foldable print-ready pocket version.
Good points of our travel guides are:
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