I’ve been to Barcelona so many times now I guess I could write a hundred pages about it. From all cities I’ve been to in Europe, Barcelona is by far my favourite place. It’s such a mixed, multi-cultural city with an amazing atmosphere. No wonder it has become Spains most visited city.
This post will be a general introduction of Barcelona – including all the important sights you need to check out once you’re there. However, if you want to get to know the city on a more personal level, stay tuned for next week! Then I will be focusing on more hidden places and my personal experiences.
The city of Gaudi. I’m sure you’ve come across this name at least once. The famous architect has left Barcelona with a great heritage constructing a lot of the most famous buildings of the city. His most famous building which is known all over the world is the church Sagrada Familia. He worked on this church his entire life, yet it was still not finished when he died in 1926 as he was run over by a tram. It’s still being built to this day following Gaudis exact instructions. That’s why you will never get a picture of it without a bunch of cranes in the background. It also won’t be finished any time soon. The estimated date now 2026 – 100 years after Gaudis death. The church itself really is beautiful. As it is a long-term project you can clearly see from the outside which parts have been built a while ago and which ones are being built right now as the sandstone is already getting darker in the older parts. The facade is composed of multiple details, a lot of statues and ornaments. You could look at the church for hours without having paid attention to every single detail there is to see.
If you want to go inside the church as well just keep in mind you won’t be the only one. You definitely will need a lot of patience there. Even buying the tickets in advance won’t prevent you from waiting for a long time to go inside. Seeing the inside I was a bit disappointed though. You can see marvellous architecture there, no doubt. The colourful glass windows let the church appear in a magnificent light when the sun is shining directly through them. Sonthe inside as well shows Gaudis fondness for detail. But for my taste, there were too many tourists around as the church is really big and a lot of people can enter at the same time. If you visit any other church, you experience a completely different atmosphere. Normally, it is quiet, people are whispering and mostly in a devotional mood. Sagrada Familia has none of this spirit left anymore, it’s been transformed into a Mecca for tourists. People there are taking selfies and talking loudly, only a few people seem in to be in the mood to pray. The atmosphere of the church definitely suffered from the many tourists visiting it. For me, Sagrada Familia is a stunning building of a genius architect, but has no sprit of a church left anymore.
However, Gaudi left way more behind than just Sagrada Familia. Parc Güell is also one of his most famous constructions. It’s a huge park a bit outside of the city centre. As it is quite expensive to go in the most decorative and colourful part I never visited it. But I saw it from above. The park goes all the way up a hill. When you reach the top you have a perfect view over the whole city of Barcelona. You can spot all the famous buildings, the beach and the hills surrounding the city. Especially in the evening you have a stunning view when the sun disappears behind the hills and lets the city appear in a beautiful red and orange light. Stay a while longer and the city is slowly lighting up. Traffic lights, laterns, a lot of small lightballs everywhere. Buildings slowly slighting up . Turn your head to the sky and if you’re lucky you will see the stars above your head as well.
Most parts of the park are for free and you can walk around there for hours. You’re surrounded by palm trees and flowers. The free part of the park is also pretty, even though it’s not the one you see on postcards and which is widely advertised. If you want to go to the most colourful and famous part as well – but without paying a fortune – you can do so as well. Just wait until the evening, then this part is open for everyone. It might be dark but you can still see a lot and take some great pictures there as well.
Las Ramblas. That’s the famous shopping street in Barcelona. Starting at Plaza Catalunya it goes all the way down to the beach. The street itself is full of shops and overpriced restaurants. So, if you really want to find a good place to eat you should better not try this area. In smaller streets you can usually find better and way cheaper food. Or you try out Mercat de la Boqueria which is an amazing street market on the side of las Ramblas. This market is offering exotic fruits in abundance, juices, dried fruits, nuts and the best falafel place in whole Barcelona. These falafel are a must try for everyone. Situated in the back corner of the market but definitely worth the way.
Some other important sights of Barcelona are the Arc de Triomf and the Parc de la Citudella. The arc is situated at the entrance of the park, is 30 metres high and quite impressing. The parc itself is really nice as well. There’s the Cascada monumental with a little lake in front of it and a giant mammoth I simply have to take a picture of every time I’m going there.
The sea. One of the greatest things about Barcelona. The promenade at the beach goes on for kilometres and is perfect to go for a run or to just enjoy some time at the beach. People usually play volleyball there the whole time – even if it’s cold like in December – nothing is holding them back, they simply don’t seem to feel the cold. During summer time the beach is a bit crowded, but during winter it’s a perfect place to relax with not so many people around. Only if there’s a lot of cold wind coming from the ocean you might not want to go there as it can get chilly quite fast.
The beach is also one of the reasons why I like Barcelona that much – I mean where else in Europe would you find such a great, international city with so many different people from all over the world which is directly situated at the beach? Such unique places simply just exist once.