This beautiful city was the first halt on my months-long solo backpacking trip to Europe. Undoubtedly, it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating experience and a perfect start for this long trip.
The city that has been a home to the European artists during the Renaissance Era and Modernisme Movement is speckled with a number of buildings singing the glory of Art Nouveau. Even a week-long visit to this city would not let you experience enough of its art and architecture. However, if you are supposed to choose the ‘must visit’ places then the following list would surely do justice to your exploration.
Palau De La Musica – The Music Palace
The man-made architectural garden, a music lover’s paradise or a musician’s dream, call what you wish. The Music Palace would surely become one of your most favorite places in Barcelona. It shows the Catalan people’s love for music and the architect’s most imaginative gift to the musicians.
With the stage adorned by 18 angels playing the different instruments of the world, it is certainly one of the unique structures made of white marble. The marbles smoothly merge into the designs of colorful ceramic tiles. The renowned western classical musician Zubin Mehta to Oprah Winfrey, this stage has been a favorite of all. With the sight of the giant Sun ceiling and a unicorns’ flight, the musicians’ emotions take an artistic flight.
The stained windows and ceiling, the plethora of natural elements in the form of the structures of animals, creepers, and the flowers are a delightful sight.
A guided tour of the Music Palace includes a short movie, a detailed and interesting explanation of each and every architectural element and of course an opportunity to hear the 100-year-old Piano that produces the music with its 1200 pipes.
El Gran Teatre del Liceu – Opera House
This 19th century Opera House holds the traces of the Renaissance era when the women dressed in their best flowy gowns. They were helped down their fancy horse carriages and were taken to the grand entrance of the theatre by their beaus clad in their expensive custom-made suits. The ‘Hall of Mirrors’, the public area and the bar area for the middle-class (of that era) are decorated with the finest paintings of the neo-classical and modern time. And the main Opera Hall is the most stunning thing you would see in the building. With the balconies and private arena set across five floors, this hall can accommodate more than 2000 spectators at a time.
And again you have a Free Entry with Barcelona city Card
La Sagarda Familia
A building that is indeed a masterpiece of Gaudi who died while working on it, is still under construction. And you would be lucky enough to witness the excellent weaving of the law of physics with the natural elements. With the blooming creepers, flowers and flocking birds on the towers reaching the sky, Sagar Da Familia makes into one of the excellent specimens of Gaudi Architecture. The interior is quite dreamy too. The pillars inside resemble the tree-trunks spreading into a number of branches. They definitely give it quite an artistic look. At the same time, you could clearly sense the law of Physics implied in the best manner to support the huge ceiling.
The lightings within are also set as if the thousand little Suns are showering blessings on the devotees. The stained glasses create the magical effect in this dramatic settings. No two windows here have the same shades or designs. The colors range from deep dark at the bottom to light shades at the top, which was meant to let more light in. Also, do not miss to notice the naturally illuminated crown above the main altar.
The most intriguing part is the carving of Jesus’s life story on two of its side entrances. Opting for a guided tour would give you an opportunity to understand the philosophical meaning of each of them. It is surprising how the simple faceless structures represent significant phases of people’s life.
The main features of the building are explained in a small section in the right corner of the building. Here, you would be shown a short documentary about its design, structure, and history.
Reserve your place in advance by booking your ticket online for Sagar Da Familia. Note that you must reach at the time given in your ticket.
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Hospital de Sant Pau
Hospital?? Oh yes, it is a hospital that you must visit but for all good reasons. In the bygone era, the architects devoted much of their time in constructing and revamping the buildings of the rich class. Whereas Lluis Domenech I , the Catalan Modernisme architect, created this beautiful gift for the ever-growing victims of the untreatable diseases. Since the admission of its first patient, this hospital hasn’t only given new life to thousands of patients but has also made them fall in love with its architecture.
As a prominent feature of Modernism, the designs of flowers, creepers, and animals form the core part of the architecture. Apart from these, Mother Mary’s statues and paintings are also common. She is seen here as a life giver.
The wards are spacious with a recreation area for the patients. The designs on the walls and the pillars are the representation of the bunch of aromatic flowers and other plants in the hospital’s garden. And the plantation of the aromatic flowers wasn’t a coincidence either. This hospital was probably the first of its kind that stressed on a holistic approach for the treatment of the patients.
You must not be in hurry to leave this place while at the exit because the real beauty lies in the former entrance hall bedecked with colourful ceramic tiles creating beautiful murals and the stained glasses adding to its beauty.
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Well, this is among the most clicked Gaudi buildings on Passage De Gracias. The creeper shaped railings and the exterior design gives it a look of a flying palace in the sky. It looks like a building from some fairytale stories where the unicorns land straight into the hall through a magical Balcony.
La Pedrera is also famous for the structures on its terrace which also gives an astounding view of the Passage De Gracias.
This home of a former businessman has become a cynosure of the tourists’ eyes. The building was an ordinary one until the 19th century when the contract to demolish and rebuilding it was given to Gaudi. He disliked the idea of demolishing the house and instead proposed for the revamping of its façade which also saved energy, time and the money.
This building is also awarded for being one of the most beautiful urban buildings. With the dragon-shaped edges and skull-shaped balconies, this house is more famous as the ‘House of Bones’. The house is now a museum open for public. You can see some of the finest furniture sets in its rooms. The top balcony has an open window for a flabbergasting view of the city. Wait until it turns dark and this building is illuminated if you wish to see the wonderful charm of this building. Read more about it on its official Website and buy its tickets online to skip the long queue.
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An urban park built for the rich class during the 19th Century is now the city’s best open-air exhibit of Gaudi architecture. The flora-fauna and the various elements of Art Nouveau make Park Guell, the most visited and appreciated park in Spain. You can relish the view of the city painted with modern buildings and a deep hue of the sea kissing the horizon. On the other hand, the colorful ceramic tiles murals around you would give a perfect frame to this visual platter. Read more about it on its official Website.
The Gothic Area
The extensively carved cathedrals, chapels and the balconies bridging over the narrow lanes is what sums up the picture of the Gothic Area located off the La Ramblas Street. A number of free walking tours are organized to move around the Gothic area. They would explain to you the stories behind each carved structure and wall. Do not forget to take a look at those gargoyles with animal faces. A very similar architecture can be seen in the southern Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus.
Travel tips and FAQ
- You need at least 3-4 days to enjoy and experience the city of Barcelona.
- Direct flights to Barcelona are available from India, Moscow, and Helsinki.
- The best way to roam around this huge city is by taking the hop on hop off bus from the city center. Choose the route on the map and head to the attraction of your interest. Unlike the other hop on hop off buses, Barcelona Touristic buses let you spend whatever time you wish to spend at a place or even skip a place. Once you are done exploring a place, head back to the nearest stop (Less than 2-3 minutes) and you would find a bus standing right there or arriving in a few minutes. Ensure to understand the different routes (Red, Blue, Green etc) before you board a bus. The guides are always present on the bus to answer your queries. You can also avail the audio guide facility to listen about the next destination enroute while you are on the bus.
- Some areas would be better to cover on foot, for an instance the Gothic Area and La Ramblas.
- You must carry your water bottle and refill it at the available points or potable water fountains in the city.
- An information desk is available almost at all the attractions in Barcelona. But to check the best possible information on Barcelona, I had referred Barcelona Tourism’s official website and you can do that too.
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