Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Barcelona belongs to you! Barcelona es Teva!

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia county in Spain with 1,6 million inhabitans. Barcelona itself says that it is one of the most stylish cities in the world: "the city sizzles - it's always on the biting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music, sunbathing and good times".

This year, I and Erik decided to explore the atmosphere of Barcelona - we were looking for a holiday with lots of sunshine and beach pleasures, but also to satisfy my constant need to do something exciting and to go and see something different...

We stayed in Barcelona for 5 days (+1 day in Montserrat and 1 day in Tarragona) and really liked the city! We could stay there a lot more and still have enough things to do... We didn't feel bored even for a moment!

Barcelona is a big city, yet quite easy to navigate, so we mostly walked from one interesting spot to another. It was time consuming, but on the same time, one could learn about the city much more than taking the metro. Only in the last days, when we already had a good overview of the city already, we took some longer distances with the metro.
Photo: View of Barcelona from Güell Park

There's so much to see in Barcelona! First, the atmosphere of big, southern city. You have to feel it to understand how people live in Barcelona. You can wonder around in the old town (in gothic style), you can walk in straight streets of Eixample quater with lots of modernistic houses, you can enjoy the clear air near the see looking at the yachts, nice sandy beaches and promenades next to the Mediterranean Sea, you can relax in many nice parks inside the town (Güell Park, Ciutadella Park etc), watch the Magic Fountain show in the edge of Montjuic Mountain, and of course, one cannot stay in Barcelona without falling in love with Gaudi's work.

La Rambla
La Rambla is the main street of Barcelona - 1.2 kms walkway through the heart of the city; and
it is never dead: thousands of people promenade up and down La Rambla. Here one can find all kind of stalls, shops, bars, open-air restaurants and street performers. Almost each evening we ended up in La Rambla - just to see what's going on in Barcelona...
Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca once said that La Rambla was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end".

Photo: Erik in the start of La Rambla.
Photo: A street artist (doing lovely pictures with nitro paints) who we watched for a long time - it was amazing!
Photo: Street performers are very popular in Barcelona. It's only one of them, but you can see them in every step, and very different (funny) ones.
Photo: In La Rambla, there's also a very large (and well-known) market - called Mercat de la Boqueria. It offers loads of sweets, fresh fruits and vegetables. It was born as a travelling market in 18th century, first regulated in 1826, and a year later it got the rights for an official open-air market. In 1914, the market with the metal roof was inaugurated. From there, it began to modernise and to improve, and is a nice decorative market nowadays. We bought some fruits there, too :)
Photo: La Rambla ends with the Statue of Columbus - Mirador de Colom. This 60 metres high monument was designed by Gaietà Buigas i Monravà for the Universal exhibition of 1888. The monument is placed at the site where Columbus arrived in 1493 after his discovery of America the year before.
Photo: I and Erik with lions...
Photo: In Barcelona, you can see everywhere citybikes. At first, we thought they are there for tourists (like those are available in Denmark, France etc) , but after visiting the web page of bicing company (which was Spanish), we gave up the hope that we can cycle around in Barcelona. Looking around, we saw many bicycles in use, but mostly among the citizens and not tourists.
Photo: Arc the Triomf. It was built for the 1888 Universal Exposition. It is designed by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas who stands out from other well-known arches - in particular the Arc de Triumphe in Paris.
Photo: I and Erik in Lluis Companys esplanade, back many palm trees and Arc de Triomf. We are on the way to go to the beach of Barcelona.

Palace de la Musica
It is a beautiful concert hall designed in catalan modersnista style by architect Domenech i Montaner, built between 1905 and 1908. It is often overshadowed by the admiration of GAUDI's work, but actually, it's surely a building which should get equal attention compared to Casa Mila or any other beautiful building in Barcelona.
Photo: Tiled pillars in the balcony of Palau de la Musica. Each of the pillars is different. The style is inspired by the garden. Photo by Pere Vivas.
Photo: The main hall in Palau de la Musica. It's absolutely beautiful with many stained-glass windows. And the stained glass domed of the ceiling is amazing. Photo by Pep Botey
Photo: Erik outside of Palau de la Musica. He's knocking to the window where a seller used to sit inside and one could buy concert tickets.
Photo: The new part of Palau de la Musica.

Barcelona & Seaside
Barcelona is very lucky to have such a long sandy beachline so close to the city centre as well as lovely walkways along the coast and yacht ports. During the sunset, it's so romantic to walk along the sea and enjoy the views...
Photo: Marina Port Vell - closest yacht port to the Old Town of Barcelona.
Barceloneta beach is the closest beach to Barcelona city centre. Approximately 1,100 m long, together with the Sant Sebastià beach, Barceloneta is one of the biggest in Barcelona, and it is also one of the oldest and most traditional beach in the city. By the way, Barceloneta means "Little Barcelona". The area used to be the main fisherman's quarter back in the mid-1800s and is characterized by tiny, dead-straight streets, all running toward the Mediterranean Sea.
It's very easy to walk there - we did it from our hotel through the lovely Ciutadell Park, and enjoyed the sun and salty sea for 2 mornings during our trip. Barceloneta beach can get very busy during high season, but in June, it's still quite quiet, and you do not have to worry not to find a spot to lay down on your beach towel. The only a bit annoying thing was a large amount of restless Chinese masseurs, who walked around the people and asked after every 30 seconds "do you need massage?".
Photo: Karin walking down to the Barceloneta Beach.

Photo: Barceloneta Beach and Frank Gehry's huge gold fish sitting on top of a building plus lots of other modern structures. The fish marks the start of the Olympic Port area and is placed at the base of two landmark towers.
The photo is taken in the sunny morning in the beginning of June, and as you see - no people at all!
Photo: I beside the sea; back you can see a wooden walkway, now known as the Rambla de Mar or Rambla of the Sea, which leads to Maremàgnum, a complex with shops, movie theaters and a large aquarium.
Photo: Erik and I in Marina Port Vell.
Photo: I and 2 mermaids on the PG Colom walkway.
Magic Fountain of Montjuic
Magic Fountain show in Espanya Square is a "must see" when one visits Barcelona. It is a spectacular display colour, light, motion, music and water acrobatics and all together, it's just magical! I've not seen such a lovely fountain show anywhere else before and I almost fell in love with it...
The first performance on the Magic Fountain was in 1929 during the Great Universal Exhibition. The designer of the Magic Fountain is Carles Buigas. Over 3000 workers were commissioned to work on the project and less than 1 year later the magic fountain was born.
Photo: The Fountain show and Placa Espanya.

Photos: All the nice colours during the Magic Fountain show...
Gaudi's Barcelona
Architect and designer Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) is the most internationally prestigious figure in Spanish architecture. Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. He has a style one cannot mix with anyone else - it's so unique! And to see and feel it, you have to visit some wonderful places in Barcelona - Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and Parc Güell. All worth to visit! We enjoyed Gaudi's work a lot.
This monumental church dedicated to the Holy Family is Gaudi's most famous work. Gaudi worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to the church. When he died in 1926 only one facade (the nativity facade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished. So, the church is still unfinished, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2026 the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.
Photo: The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. Photo by Eddavid CSP.Photo: I in front of Sagrada Familia.
Gaudi planned and directed the construction of this fantastic park in Barcelona from 1900 to 1914 for Count Eusebio Güell (a well known Catalan industrialist). Originally, the park was designed as a part of living area (residental garden village with 60 houses); but in 1914 it was clear that the project was commercially as a failure - Güell failed to sell a single house in the village.
In 1918, Barcelona city acquired the property and in 1922 it was opened to the public as a park.
Photo: The Square called Grand Placa Circular is bordered by Serpentine bench which is known as the largest bench in the world. The colorful ceramic serpentine bench, designed by Jujol, twists snakelike around the plaza.
Photo: The dragon-like lizard in the middle of the ceramics-decorated staircase is the best known symbol of the park.
Photo: One of the pavilions in Güell Parc, designed by Gaudí, seem to be taken out of Hansel and Gretel, with curved roofs covered with brightly colored tiles and ornamented spires.
Photo: I walking around in the parc.
Photo: Erik and nice colorful bushes in Güell Parc.
Photo: Colonnaded footpath under the roadway viaduct, with external columns sloping to take the diagonal thrust from the vault supporting the road.
Photo: Erik enjoying the view over to Barcelona.
The colorful Casa Batlló, a remodeled 19th century building, is one of Gaudi's many masterpieces in Barcelona. Casa Batllo was originally built between 1875 and 1877. In 1900 it was bought by the rich industrialist Josep Battló i Casanovas who commissioned Gaudi to tear down the old house and reconstruct a new one. Gaudi however convinced Battló to remodel the existing building. Between 1904 and 1906 Gaudi redesigned the facade and roof, added an extra floor and completely remodeled the interior.

Photo: Casa Batllo outside.
CASA MILA (La Pedrera)
Casa Mila is a large apartment block built between 1906 and 1910 for the Milà family, designed by Gaudi. It breaks with traditional architecture by using not a single straight line. The façade is an impressive wave-like mass of rough-shipped stone. The windows and doors seem to be dug out of this stone mass.
One can have an audio-tour inside the house to get familiar with Gaudi's life, work as well as to see the roof of the building and one sample apartment. Certainly worth to visit!
Photo: Casa Mila outside.

Photo: The roof is probably the most extraordinary of the building. It features a number of surrealistic colorful chimneys. Many of them look like warriors in a science fiction movie, others look more frivolous.

Photo: Erik with one of the "warriors" in the science fiction movie.
Photo: I on the roof of Casa Mila.
Photo: The courtyard of Casa Mila.
Photo: Erik sitting on an ergonomic bench designed by Gaudi.

Photo: I in the sample apartment of Casa Mila. It shows the interior must have looked at the beginning of the 20th century. Just like on the outside, the interior has virtually no straight lines.
Ciutadell Park and Barcelona Zoo
The Parc de la Ciutadella is Barcelona's most central park. The park includes a zoo, a lake, a large fountain and several museums. The Catalan Parliament is seated at a building in the center of the park. Already in 1872 works to convert the area into a central city park had started, but it progressed slowly. In 1885 the park was designated as the site of the 1888 Universal Exhibition, giving a boost to the development of the park.
Photo: Erik in the Ciutadella Park; back a lake and Cascada - a triumphal arch with waterfall and fountain built for the 1888 Universal exhibition. The architect Josep Fontsere was assisted by Antoni Gaudi, at the time still a student.
Photo:I in Ciutadella Park. Back you can see a small lake, a popular spot where you can hire a rowing boat.Photo: I and the elephant-statue in the park.
Barcelona Zoo
The zoo was founded in 1892 and is one of the oldest in the world. It prides itself on its human facitilies and habitats for the wild animals.
The most famous of its 7000 animals was the albino gorilla, 'Floret de Neu'. Unfortunately, he died in 2004.
We had a nice tour there, even when a bit rainy; and also a very sweet dolphin show! Erik saw the dolphin show for the first time in his life and loved it!
Photo: the Barcelona Zoo
Photo: Flamingos in Barcelona Zoo. Photo: Erik and a hippo:)Photo: I and a very cheerful dolphin.

Photo: The dolphin show in the Zoo.


*m* said...

Barcelona is my favourite city besides Porto. i've been there 3 times and i'd like to return, all cataluna is amazing! me and mané know it quite well
have a nice weekend

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