Barcelona is the intoxicating heart of Cataluña, effervescent and forever coated in sunlight, politically hot headed, full of it’s own quirky cultures, and as bizarrely artistic as cities come. If there’s one thing that Barcelona isn’t, though, it’s typical of Spain. For that, head to Madrid, or down south to Andalucía; but remember this: you’ll be missing out.
Start out in the gothic quarter, where imposing spikes and fairytale architecture dominate the landscape, before delving into Park Guell (‘Gaudi Wonderland’), the home of open air surrealism, incorporating mosaic benches, a large ceramic lizard, houses that look like they could only have been drawn, as opposed to actually built, and sensational panoramic views across the city to top it all off. Gaudi’s architectural output is so ginger-bread-house like many find themselves letting entire days drift about amongst his dreamlike landscapes.
If you’re really into your architecture (and the locals certainly are), head to the Spanish Village, where you can explore a maze of courtyards containing buildings representing each of the different Spanish districts, as well as workshops full of traditional products; for the more modern side of life head for the markets, pick up affordable, colorful fashions and finish off your evening with a large jug of Sangria, a bowl of fried baby squid and a spinning tray of tapas at the edge of a cobbled street.
Barcelona’s range of museums is impressive, too, and include the Picasso Museum, Barcelona Football Club’s mammoth collection of European trophies at the Nou Camp (take the tour, and catch a match too if you have the chance), and the Miro Museum (home to a vast array of the artist’s most famous pieces). It wouldn’t be Barcelona without Las Ramblas, a street of vibrant market stalls and vivacious street art, a kooky, uniquely Catalonian street you’ll need several stops for shots of extra-strong coffee to make it round all of.
Don’t spend a weekend in Barcelona, take a summer to explore a sophisticated, cultured city that’s as artistic as they come, and welcomes you to the hills and a picture-perfect beach, too.
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