Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan region of Spain, with about 1.6M population in the city and 5M in the metro area. Beyond the endless apartment blocks, a hint of the Mediterranean glimmers on the horizon.
The city was struggling to find its identity post WWII, until it was chosen to host the 1992 Olympic Games; this served as a catalyst for infrastructure improvements, enhanced civic pride, and a renewed interest in the Modernist architecture for which the city is now well known.
Home to a vibrant local population, suplimented with a year-round influx of tourists, Barcelona has enough to do that each visitor will have his or her own unique experience. Classic tourist spots include a stroll on the pedestrian bouldevard las Ramblas, a visit to the excellent Picasso Museum, and wandering around the historic Gothic Quarter.
However, getting just a little bit off the tourist track will yield dividends to the adventurous traveler. Mingling with the locals at a street market allows one to discover the truly friendly nature of the Catalan people.
While there, be sure to sample the local delicacies. But if you don’t like, for example, tentacles with your beans, you need to pay close attention while ordering!
Several evenings a week, there is a sound and light show at the Magic Fountains near the Placa Espanya which draws a family-oriented crowd.
Just up the hill is the National Palace, home of the Catalan Art Museum and its outstanding collection of Romanesque art, especially the impressive 11th- to 13th century frescos which were rescued from remote village churches in the 1920’s and reinstalled in the museum on custom replicas of the original church ceilings and walls. This is definitely worth a visit.
Our next post will cover some of the eye-popping Modernist architechure around the city. Stay tuned!