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Ciutat Vella, Quintessential Barcelona

created by fodors-partner on 2018-01-16

Ciutat Vella, Quintessential Barcelona

Stroll La Rambla and see the colorful Boqueria market before cutting over to the Catedral de la Seu in Barri Gòtic, unrivaled for the density and number of its surviving medieval buildings and monuments. Detour through stately Plaça Sant Jaume where the Palau de la Generalitat, Catalonia’s seat of government, faces the Ayuntamiento (City Hall). The Gothic Plaça del Rei and the Neoclassical Plaça Reial—not to be confused—are short walks from Plaça Sant Jaume. The Museu Picasso is five minutes from the loveliest example of Catalan Gothic architecture, the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. An evening concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana after a few tapas and before a late dinner is an unsurpassable way to end the day.

Budget another whole day, perhaps, for the Raval, behind the Boqueria, for the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, the medieval Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, the Sant Pau del Camp church, and the medieval shipyards at Drassanes Reiales. Palau Güell, just off the lower Rambla, is an important Gaudí work. A short hike away, the waterfront Barceloneta neighborhood is a prime venue for a paella.
The Post-1860 Checkerboard Eixample
A morning touring the Eixample starts early and begins at Gaudí’s magnum opus, the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (while there include a side trip up Avinguda Gaudí to the Hospital de Sant Pau–-but be aware that you can manage both in the same morning only if you buy your tickets to the Sagrada Família ahead online, to avoid the inevitable queue). Afterward head to the central Passeig de Gràcia, but en route swing past Moderniste architect Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Terrades and his Palau Baró de Quadras. Spend the afternoon in the Eixample with the undulating facades and stunning interiors of Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. Other Eixample masterpieces include Gaudí’s Casa Calvet, not far from Plaça de Catalunya, the Fundació Tàpies, and more far-flung Moderniste gems such as the Casa Golferichs, and the Casa de la Papallona (the "Butterfly House") out toward Plaça de Espanya. Parallel to the Passeig de Gràcia is the Rambla Catalunya, a tree-shaded promenade lined with shops and cafés.
Upper Barcelona: Gràcia and Sarrià
For a more rustic and restful excursion, try the formerly outlying towns of Gràcia and Sarrià. Gràcia is home to Gaudí’s first private residential commission, Casa Vicens, and his playful Park Güell above Plaça Lesseps; the tree-lined lower reaches of this bustling neighborhood are filled with houses by Gaudí’s right-hand man, Francesc Berenguer. Sarrià is a village long since absorbed by the ever-expanding city, an intimate warren of narrow streets, neighborhood shops, and restaurants. A bit removed from the village itself are the Monestir de Pedralbes, with its superb Gothic cloister, Gaudí’s Torre Bellesguard, and his Col.legi de les Teresianes (a convent school, not open to the public).
Art in Montjuïc
Montjuïc is the site of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya; the nearby Fundació Miró features Catalan artist Joan Miró’s colorful paintings and textiles, and a stellar Calder mobile. Down the stairs toward Plaça d'Espanya are the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion and the restored Casaramona textile mill, now the CaixaForum cultural center and gallery.
  • 1
    Las Ramblas

    223 votes

    Sight

    Bordered by nice little shops, gorgeous historic palaces and various street perfomers Barcelona's...

  • 2
    Mercat La Boqueria

    153 votes

    Shop

    The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria (Catalan: [lə βu...

  • 3
    Catedral de Barcelona

    94 votes

    Sight

    Not to be confused with Sagrada Família, which is a large minor basilica by Antoni Gaudí, and San...

  • 4
    Plaça Sant Jaume

    5 votes

    Sight

    This square has been the political hub since the Roman era. It has been witness to some of the mo...

  • 5
    Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya is a historic palace in Barcelona, Spain. It houses the ...

  • 6
    Plaça del Rei

    5 votes

    Sight

    This square has two important buildings, the ''Santa Àgata'' church, where the kings from the ''A...

  • 7
    Plaça Reial

    38 votes

    Sight

    This square is famous for the nightlife and the uniform architecture, and features fountains and ...

  • 8
    Museu Picasso

    50 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Extensive collection of one of twentieth century’s most significant artists, emphasizing his earl...

  • 9
    Parroquia Santa Maria del Mar

    53 votes

    Sight

    One of the most representative examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, it features a sombre but ...

  • 10
    Palau de la Música Catalana

    35 votes

    Theater / Opera

    Barcelona's best monuments of the Catalan art nouveau style. These are two of the finest contribut...

  • 11
    El Raval

    16 votes

    Neighborhood

    A large neighborhood near Las Ramblas. This is a historical neighborhood, also known as China tow...

  • 12
    MACBA - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

    17 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Exhibiting artwork of the most important contemporary Spanish and International artists

  • 13
    Old Hospital de la Santa Creu, Barcelona

    4 votes

    Sight

    This Gothic building was the old city hospital, before the modernist ''Hospital de Sant Pau'' was...

  • 14
    Esglèsia de Sant Pau del Camp

    6 votes

    Sight

    A rare example of Romanesque architecture, the prettiest in Barcelona. Its name reflects the fact...

  • 15
    Palau Güell

    38 votes

    Sight

    Remarkable palace, built by the exceptional architect Gaudi . This mansion is an UNESCO world heri...

  • 16
    La Barceloneta, Barcelona

    49 votes

    Neighborhood

    La Barceloneta (Catalan pronunciation: [lə βəɾsəluˈnɛtə]) is a neighborhood in the Ciutat Vella d...

  • 17
    Eixample

    17 votes

    Neighborhood

    The Eixample (pronounced [əˈʃamplə]; Catalan for 'expansion' or 'Expansion District') is a distri...

  • 18
    Basílica de la Sagrada Família

    349 votes

    Sight

    Barcelona's most popular and famous attraction, the Sagrada Família is a testament to Antonio Gau...

  • 19
    Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

    7 votes

    Sight

    Working hospital which is at the same time an architectural masterpiece open for visitors. Althou...

  • 20
    Farolas del Passeig de Gràcia

    49 votes

    Sight

    Passeig de Gràcia (Catalan pronunciation: [pəˈsɛdʒ də ˈɣɾasiə]) is one of the major avenues in Ba...

  • 21
    Casa de les Punxes

    3 votes

    Sight

    The Casa de les Punxes or Casa Terradas is a building designed by the Modernista architect Josep ...

  • 22
    Palau Baró de Cuadras

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Palau Baró de Quadras is a small modernista palace located in Barcelona on Avinguda Diagonal,...

  • 23
    La Pedrera - Casa Milà

    151 votes

    Sight

    One of Gaudi's masterpieces, there is not one straight edge on the exterior and the structure is ...

  • 24
    Casa Batlló

    64 votes

    Sight

    Another Gaudi masterpiece along the same avenue as La Pedrera. Open to the public. No straight li...

  • 25
    Casa Calvet

    0 votes

    Sight

    Casa Calvet (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkazə kəlˈβɛt]) is a building, designed by Antoni Gaudí for ...

  • 26
    Plaça de Catalunya

    54 votes

    Sight

    Connecting many of the major streets in the city, the Plaça is a central location and a hub of ac...

  • 27
    Casa Montaner i Simó–Fundació Tàpies

    3 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and cont...

  • 28
    Casa Golferichs

    0 votes

    Sight

  • 29
    Casa Fajol

    0 votes

    Sight

  • 30
    Plaça d'Espanya

    9 votes

    Sight

    Placa d'Espanya was created for the 1929 World Exhibition, on a site once used for public hanging...

  • 31
    Casa Vicens

    2 votes

    Sight

    Casa Vicens (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkazə βiˈsɛns]) is a house in Barcelona, designed by Antoni ...

  • 32
    Parc Güell

    253 votes

    Park / Zoo

    A large urban park heavily influenced by Antonio Gaudi. The area was originally meant to be a res...

  • 33
    Monastery of Pedralbes

    3 votes

    Sight

    Beautiful cloister just below the Tibidabo

  • 34
    Col.legi de les Teresianes

    0 votes

    Sight

  • 35
    Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

    25 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Has the single best collection of Romanesque art in the world, and a fine Gothic collection as we...

  • 36
    Fundació Joan Miró

    50 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    Founded by Joan Miro himself, this museum owns more than 11.000 pieces of his work

  • 37
    CaixaForum

    4 votes

    Museum / Gallery

    CaixaForum Barcelona is an art gallery in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is sponsored by Barcelo...

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