Things to Do in Barcelona - page 4
Get closer to Barcelona’s vibrant art scene by perusing the masterpieces of one its most famous artists, Antoni Tapies. Born in Barcelona, Tapies specialized in contemporary art that was dominated by social themes. His work, which was influenced by the likes of fellow Catalan artist Joan Miro, is imaginative and abstract, employing elements beyond just paint and canvas but also rags, paper and other scraps.
Founded by Tapies himself, the foundation serves to promote and provide education around contemporary art. While there, you can explore a collection of his creations, an impressive library, as well as revolving exhibitions by other artists. The building itself is a work of art too: Constructed in the late 1800s, it was considered a pioneer of Modernisme architecture. Meanwhile, you won’t be able to miss the cloud-and-chair sculpture that tops it, which is meant to represent meditative attitude and aesthetic contemplation.
There are many reasons to head up to Montjuïc hill’s Olympic Ring, and Saint Jordi Palace (Palau Sant Jordi) is certainly one of them. Designed for the 1992 Olympics, the indoor stadium played host to events including gymnastics, handball, volleyball, as well as various competitions during the Paralympics.
On the outside the structure looks like a square spaceship of sorts, and on the inside it’s nothing but beautiful light that pours through the building’s famous window-checkered ceiling. Today the stadium — which can hold over 16,000 people — still hosts top sports competitions, as well as events, and high-profile concerts for artists ranging from U2 to Bruce Springsteen and Rihanna. Go there to see a show yourself, or simply to admire Palau Sant Jordi’s exterior as you explore the Olympic Ring and its other sights, including the Olympic Stadium and Esplanade.
Since its opening on La Rambla in 1847, the Gran Teatre del Liceu has been a cultural, artistic, and political hub for Catalonia, as well as one of the most impressive opera houses in all of Europe. After fire damaged the theater on several occasions, the Gran Teatre was completely restored in 1999, complete with new technology to put on modern productions.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and engage in some retail therapy at the high-end outlet mall La Roca Village. Located only 40 minutes from downtown Barcelona and featuring over 130 brand-name shops offering deep discounts, La Roca Village is a fashion lover and bargain hunter’s paradise.
Many come to Barcelona to see the colorful mosaics (trencadís) by famous architect Antoni Gaudí. Far fewer get to learn about the process and create their own works of mosaic art. That’s where Mosaiccos comes in; this studio offers hands-on workshops, as well as a shop selling unique gifts made from broken tile and glass.
Interactive exhibits at the History Museum of Catalonia (Museu d'Història de Catalunya) focus on the region’s development from prehistory through to the present day, explaining how the Romans, Moors, and others each left their mark on Catalonia. The exhibits focused on the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s rule are particularly well-done.
With an area of nearly 20,000 acres, Collserola Natural Park is one of the largest metropolitan parks in the world. It sits in the Serra de Collserola coastal mountain range, on the northeastern edge of Barcelona, where vast woodlands are home to an abundance of flora and fauna.
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) will give you good reason to head into the gritty streets of the El Raval neighborhood, just west of the tourist-filled Las Ramblas. Partially located in a 19th-century almshouse, the urban culture center is a hub for discovery, debate and reflection.
The multidisciplinary institution is noted for its impressive offering of everything from debates, concerts, readings, festivals and exhibitions. Indeed, it’s those conversation-worthy rotating exhibitions that will draw the everyday visitor, so be sure to check the center’s schedule in advance to see what might be of interest to you. And, since the CCCB sits in the El Raval neighborhood, you have all the more reason to wander this often-unexplored part of Barcelona.
Located on the slopes of Montjuïc Mountain, the Botanical Garden of Barcelona spans 35 acres (14 hectares). Dedicated to protecting and promoting Mediterranean plants, the garden is home to more than 1,300 species from Australia, California, Chile, South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin.
Formerly an industrial area, Diagonal Mar is one of Barcelona’s newest neighborhoods—a mix of residential complexes, hotels, businesses, and conference centers. Located along the northeastern portion of the city’s coastline, the area is known for its huge shopping complex, Parc del Fòrum event center, Parc Diagonal Mar, and the city’s newest beach.
More Things to Do in Barcelona
If you’re looking for a completely different museum experience, the Erotic Museum of Barcelona (Museu de l’Erotica) may just fit the bill, with its lighthearted yet informative exhibits. Uncover the history of sexuality while marveling at everything from vintage sex toys to pinup calendars.
The sister museum to Madrid’s popular CaixaForum cultural center, CaixaForum Barcelona showcases a permanent collection of more than 800 thematically displayed works. This museum houses one of the biggest modern art collections in Spain, including pieces by Salvador Dalí, William Turner, William Hogarth, Joseph Beuys, and Sol Lewitt.
Originally constructed in 1326, Barcelona’s Monestir de Pedralbes, a church and monastery-turned-museum, is one of the city’s most striking examples of Catalan Gothic architecture and the Pedralbes quarter’s oldest building. The cloister has been carefully reconstructed, while the small but impressive chapel is home to both spectacular 14th-century Ferrer Bassa murals and the ornamental grave of Queen Elisenda, who lived in the monastery for a time.
Cava is one of Catalonia’s greatest exports, so take the time to sample some at Freixenet Winery in Altes Penedes. This almost century-old vineyard—which makes for an easy day trip from Barcelona—is perhaps the country’s best-known cava producer. Here you can learn about the history and production of cava, and ride an underground train through the cellars to the tasting room.
The Barcelona Pavilion was built for the city’s 1929 International Exposition by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and stands today as important building for both the city and the modern architecture movement. It once served as the official opening for the German section of the exhibition, and is now admired for its simple design and intelligent use of special materials. It was constructed in less than one year, following World War I, with materials such as travertine, Greek marble, steel, glass, and golden onyx. Its emphasis on simplistic structure and minimalism makes this a peaceful place to visit, and still a model of expert design.
Perhaps the highlight of a visit to the Barcelona Pavilion is the prestigious and iconic Barcelona Chair, also designed by Mies van der Rohe. The Barcelona Chair was purposefully designed and keeps with the minimalistic style of the building. The Barcelona Pavilion continues to inspire modernist artists all over the world.
Montjuïc Mountain (from Catalan, meaningmountain of the Jews) is located southwest of Barcelona’s old city, and gets its name from a Jewish cemetery flowing down its slopes. After hosting both the World Exhibition in 1929 and the Olympics in 1992, the neighborhood is home to numerous attractions, including a castle, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the Miró Museum (Fundació Miró), and the Magic Fountain.
Though Egypt may not come to mind when you think of Barcelona, think again, as the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona (Museu Egipci de Barcelona) displays an impressive collection of some 1,000 ancient artifacts from the African country. The pieces once belonged to the museum’s founder, Catalan Jordi Clos, and are now on display in the intimate and relatively crowd-free galleries found just off the main drag of Passeig de Gracia.
The diverse permanent collection spans everything from ceramics to jewelry, mummies, and a host of items related to the culture and funeral practices. Meanwhile, rotating exhibitions offer other themed looks into Egypt’s distant past. Cap off your visit with a snack at the outdoor terrace and a visit the museum’s Egypt-inspired store.
Down the centuries the Port of Barcelona has played a strategic role in the development of the city it serves; its geographical location on the Mediterranean Sea made it an important trading port that brought great wealth into Catalonia. Today it is a major stopover on cruising itineraries as well as the base for ferry services to the Balearic Islands and Mediterranean ports such as Rome, Genoa and Algiers; it is currently being extended in a development that will see it double in size and capacity.
Port Vell is adjacent to the ferry port, an historic area of fishing fleets and marinas into which new life was breathed in 1995; it is Barcelona’s number-one spot for destination shopping and dining, strolling along the seafront promenades and taking boat trips out onto the Med. It’s also the place to learn about Catalan history in the sprawling 19th-century Palau de Mar and travel by cable-car high above Barcelona to the museums and Olympic stadium at Montjuïc; to enjoy wrap-around movies at the IMAX; and to catch the sharks and rays in Europe’s largest aquarium.
The municipality of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia is the center of production for cava, Spain’s version of Champagne. The area is home to some 100 wineries specializing in the production and export of the sparkling wine, and travelers can visit vineyards, tour production facilities, and taste some of Spain’s best cavas at their source.
Found along the ancient road to Barcino (the former name of Barcelona) the Via Sepulcral Romana is one of the most intriguing remnants of the city’s Roman past. Located on the site of the present-day Plaça de la Vila Madrid, the unique site served as a burial ground, where more than 80 graves have been uncovered, dating from the 1st to the 3rd century AD, during which period burials were forbidden within the city walls.
Today, visitors can visit part of the excavated ruins and view artifacts found at the site at the on-site museum, which also offers insight into the Roman road network and burial rituals.
The quirky onetime abode of eccentric traveler Frederic Marès is now a museum devoted to his lifetime collection of artifacts—a fascinating space crammed with an eclectic array of curiosities. Opened by Marès in 1948, the Frederic Mares Museum (Museu Frederic Marès) was bequeathed to the city upon his death in 1991 and has become one of Barcelona’s most distinctive attractions.
Rising high from the top of the tallest mountain in Barcelona, the unique design of the Collserola Tower (Torre de Collserola) has made its mark on the city’s skyline. Built for the 1992 Summer Olympics, the tower stands at 288 meters high (946 feet), and is used as a radio and TV transmitter that broadcasts throughout Catalonia. Outside of its functional use, it has an observation deck with some of the best views of the surrounding city, mountains, and sea. From its windows you have 360 degree views from the highest vantage point in all of Barcelona.
The tower appears futuristic, almost like a needle pointing toward the sky. It takes two and half minutes to reach the observation deck, but you’ll be rewarded with views that can reach as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day. The experience is almost like seeing Barcelona from the sky. (Helicopter tours are really the only way to get a better view.)
El Poblenou (“new village” in Catalan) is sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Avinguda Diagonal, which slices through the modern heart of Barcelona. The former working-class neighborhood was given a facelift for the 1992 Olympics and is today one of the Catalonian capital's most modern and creative quarters.
This delicious museum tells the story of chocolate across Europe, including its history, trade, manufacturing, and uses all the way back to its origins in South America. The collection includes various devices used to manufacture the sweet treat, as well as chocolate models of some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
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