Barcelona's Most Exciting, Authentic and Historical Sites to See
By Sam Mednick
Barcelona Local Expert
There's no lack of sights to feast your eyes upon in Barcelona. Even if you're just strolling up Passeig de Gracia or along Las Ramblas down to Barceloneta beach, the breadth of intricate architecture, zany characters, avant-garde design and gorgeous buildings can make a five-minute walk turn into an hour journey.
No matter what time of day, if you walk by Gaudi's Casa Batllo, you'll see people gathered together below, gawking up at the Modernist visage; and this is just one 'must-see' attraction in Barcelona.
Whether you're spending time along the water or feel like heading into the more Catalan filled, Gracia neighborhood, there are sights to be seen and one of the best things about Barcelona is that it's one of the easiest cities to navigate and to get around.
The metro quickly takes you from the Roman Ruins in the heart of ‘Ciutat Vella’ (Old City) into the Modernist period where you can hop a bus, a ‘ferrocaril’ (train) or cable car up to Montjuic or Tibidabo. Barcelona is a city designed to be explored and with so many landmarks, monuments and breathtaking works of art, there's no shortage of things to keep you occupied no matter how long your stay.
Cathedral La Seu
The construction of this cathedral began in the late 13th century and was not completed until the middle of the 15th century. The interior design is distinctly Gothic, whereas the front and spire of the church were touched with a French influence at their completion in the 1800's. The cathedral is dedicated to a Christian martyr whose tomb is located in the crypt beneath the high altar. The choir stalls are intricately carved with religious images. The Cathedral is situated in the heart of the Old City close to Santa Catarina market, amazing shopping and eclectic buskers and street performers. (93-315-15-54)
La Sagrada Familia
Without a doubt this is Gaudi's crowning glory. Set to be completed in 2046, the Sagrada Familia is a Barcelona must-see. Even if you don't want to go inside, the outside facades, history and master design are equally breathtaking. This was Gaudi's last piece of work before he died and is still yet to be finished having taken more than 100 years already. The outside is breathtaking and leaves most people gawking, eyes and mouths wide open. If you want to look inside it's worth it to take a tour or get the audio tour. The towers and elevator up provide for gorgeous city views as well. (93-455-02-47)
Another one of Gaudi's amazing creations, Park Guell features the longest bench in the world as well as Gaudi's tiny house where he lived for several years. The park is a mix of design and architecture with nature and illustrates Gaudi's connection with natural beauty and its greatness. From the Park you can see beautiful city views and even bring food for a small picnic on the grass. This is a romantic and very unique park, intertwined with authentic Modernism structures as well as a rich and beautiful landscape. New to the Park is the Gaudi Experience which is a small shop and interactive ride at the bottom of the Park's entrance. (93-213-04-88)
Tibidabo is one of the best places to take in panoramic city views of Barcelona. Atop this mountain, which is accessible by tram, there is an amusement park, Church of the Sacred Heart as well as some excellent restaurants and places to picnic. This is a perfect way to see some of the outer lying areas in the city, get some fresh air and see gorgeous views. It's also nice for walking and hiking and if you feel like renting a motto for the day, this is the perfect place to ride through; even park the bike, walk around and go for lunch. (93-211-79-42)
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
Another one of Gaudi's masterpieces, Casa Mila, otherwise known as La Pedrera, is one of Gaudi's most well known creations and is situated on Passeig de Gracia, just a stone's throw from Casa Batllo. Constructed between 1905-1912, from the outside La Pedrera looks like it is made up of skulls. Architecturally however, it is considered to be incredibly innovative as its facade is self-supporting. It also has underground parking and separate lifts and stairs for the owners and servants. Something that many people dont' know, is that the structures on the roof were actually what inspired George Lucas' Storm Troopers for his Star Wars series. (93-484-5995)
Day or night, the street in front of one of Gaudi's most classic buildings, is always full of people; mouths wide open, staring up in awe. If you're wondering which of Gaudi's creations to enter, this should definitely make the list. One of two great buildings created by Gaudi on Passeig De Gracia (La Pedrera being the other), the building's facade appears to be made of skulls and bones, which are in fact balconies. There are often parties in the museum, but they are usually private and hard to get into. Right across from this house is La Pedrera another Gaudi buildings definitely worth checking out. (934 880 666)
Another region of the city built as a host site for the 1929 World Expo, this village represents the range and styles of Spanish architecture. Restaurants, shops and bars on-site are usually open for a drink or meal and the streets are lined by quaint cottages. Situated atop Montjuic, Poble Espanyol is like a village within a city. You'll feel as if you've been whisked away to a far out land, and if you feel like venturing outside the confines of the little 'pueblo' (small town) step outside and take a stroll around Montjuic where you can see beautiful panoramic city views.
Palau de la Música Catalana
If you're able to experience a concert in this gorgeous music hall, then definitely do it! Palau De La Musica is a modernist masterpiece, designed between 1905-1908 by architect, Lluís Dom?nech i Montaner. It was originally built as a home for the Choral Society but today has turned into a prime spot for live concerts on all scales. If you're able to take a tour of the inside, be sure to set up a time with the Palau de La Musica itself. Only their official guides are licensed to give tours inside, which they do in both English and Spanish. (93-268-1000)
Arc de Triomf
This archway served as the main entrance during the city's 1888 Universal Exhibition. Built from sculpted brick and surrounded by statues, including a sculpture representing the city welcoming international visitors to the Exhibition. Barcelona's Arc de Triomf sits atop Parc Ciutadella and is a beautiful spot for pictures, to stroll, bike ride or picnic on the grass next to it. The attraction itself is eye catching but the area surrounding it is what makes it so stunning and serene. If you walk towards the water you'll be met by bike paths, beautiful gardens and lounging locals and tourists alike in Parc Ciutadella. (NA)
What used to be 'Mountain of the Jews' (Montjuic literally means Mountain of the Jews) has turned into one of Barcelona's greatest attractions. It's hard to find views as gorgeous as the ones you get from atop the mountain. Easily accessible via cable car (two of them to get to the very top) train or bus, the panoramic city views you'll find at the top are breathtaking. Where now sits a military museum and a castle, Montjuic used to be a fortress dating back to the 17th century. Today it is a hot tourist attraction and a nice place for locals to spend an evening. During the summer there is the open air Montjuic cinema, which features a different movie every night. (93-329-8613)
About Sam Mednick
Sam’s passion for the sea and the mountains makes Barcelona the optimal living destination.
Sam's passion for traveling has taken her around the world including Fiji, Argentina, Lebanon, Uganda, Ghana, Israel the Philippines, and Canada. Before moving to Barcelona Sam worked in Ghana as a foreign correspondent for a Canadian NGO, as well as a the Executive Radio Producer for an internationally syndicated lifestyle show based out of New York City.
In addition to freelancing Sam works as a professional Life and Executive coach. She also hosts an English Radio Show every Friday and is interested in Real Estate.
Sam's coaching philosophies: www.blueprintcoaching.ca. Listen to her podcast: http://blueprintcoaching.podomatic.com.
Read more about Sam Mednick here.