Barcelona, Spain: The Hippest crowds, Flamenco & the Sagrada

For most foreigners visiting Barcelona; Spain is typically cast as a supporting actor, rather than the star of your trip. I know it’s weird how a city can overshadow an entire country teeming with awesome places. But that’s how it is.

Ask anyone what their favorite cities to visit in the world are, and surely Barcelona features on the list. Ask anyone what their favorite countries to visit are and Spain may not necessarily feature on the list!

It is the not only the gateway to Catalan culture, it has more exotic destinations: the Catalonia coast, the mountains of the Monsterrat, picture-perfect Sagrada and balmy La Ramblas. Some overseas visitors plan on staying a week here and still feel unfulfilled when they leave Barcelona. It’s that magical. Apart from the beleaguered Catalan movement, everything else is picture perfect here! Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 6.38.24 PM

Sagrada Familia, the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family to be exact started when in 1866 when Josep Maria Bocabella Verdaguer founded the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph, which in 1874 began campaigning for the construction of an expiatory temple dedicated to the Holy Family. In 1881, enabled by various donations, the Association purchased a 12,800m² plot of land, located between the streets of Marina, Provença, Sardenya, and Mallorca, to build the temple on.

The first stone was laid on St Joseph’s day, 19 March 1882, in a ceremony presided over by the Bishop of Barcelona, Josep Urquinaona. It signaled the start of construction, first in the crypt located under the apse, following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the Sagrada Familia’s first architect. After a short while, due to disagreements with the promoters, he resigned from the post of chief architect and the job fell to Antoni Gaudí.

The construction has taken painstakingly long and little wonder the Sagrada Família has not always been quite as popular with the people of Barcelona as it has been with tourists. In July 1936, revolutionaries set light to the crypt and broke their way into the workshop, destroying Gaudí’s original plans, drawings, and plaster models, leaving the next generation of architects with an enormous puzzle of how best to proceed. So now the snail’s pace continues.

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Neo-Gothic architecture at its best
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Dramatic stained glasses with hues of every colour possible

WaxBone-like columns twist their way to the ceiling, branching out from ellipsoid knots, reaching upwards, creating the impression of being in an enormous forest. Vast geometric stars decorate the ceiling, punctured by open hyperboloids, sucking in the light and all suggesting the canopy of heaven. The greens, blues, yellows and reds of the light coming through stained-glass windows create a speckled effect with constantly shifting patterns illuminating the stone.  This truly is a work of art at the grandest scale. (Sagrada Familia website)

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One of best sights an eye can see. Just look up!

 

The other incredible thing about Barcelonians is how well-dressed and fashionable everyone consistently is. No Hombre, Mujer, Chico or Nina would ever go to grave shabby. That’s for sure! Anyway, I’m getting off track. Some other hot spots to check out in this cultural capital is the Palau de La Musica Catalana. This artsy theatre is a sight to behold in itself. It hosts various music fests among others. We went to ‘Opera y Flamenco’ a fusion of the two art forms performed in syncs and in sequence. It’s truly magical and the setting makes it more so. Also Tapas and wine at the lobby, perfecto! Don’t waste money on a tour. Watch a show. (Palau de La Musica Catalana website

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The Elaborate Stained glass roof at Palau de La Musica Catalana

 

 

Antoni Gaudí I Cornet is synonymous with Catalan architecture. He is  recognized as one of the most prodigious experts in his discipline, as well as one of the top exponents of modernism. Most of his buildings are now a study in modernism and are pure art. Do check out the Casa Battlo. See the pics below. No words needed. (Casa Battlo Website)

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Then there’s the uber quirky Casa Mila. (Casa Mila Website)

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Not done with Gaudi yet? Check out the maze that is Parc Guell. The colors and contrasts are a pro photographer’s dream and an amateur photographer’s nightmare. You really don’t know what to focus on. There are too many colors and too many distractions, but that’s all part of the Gaudi magic. (Parc Guell Website) Here you will find one of the most photographed places in Barcelona, and that’s no mean achievement in a city teeming with awesome places.

 

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The vibrant Parc Guell

 

People often come to Barcelona for a week or so but end up staying a lot longer. Let me show you some reasons why. There is the famous Montserrat about an hour’s drive from the city. It’s the Adobe of the religiously important Black Madonna. You get up to the serrated mountains via a scenic cable car ride and take in views like this. When you come down you can sample free wine and buy from a wide range of locally produced and oddly flavored wines.

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Monsterrat mountains

 

Back in the city, you can walk around the famous La Ramblas. This open street is lined with trees and all kinds of souvenir shops. It’s a tourist’s delight. You can check out the nearby neighborhoods of Barrio Gothic and El Raval while you are here. Street performances like these are a regularity.

Then visit the Montjuic castle, Spanish village and the gardens via a cable car. You could easily spend half a day here.

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Montjuic Castle

Then there is the Picasso museum for art lovers, Tibidabo amusement park for kids of all ages, the hippy Barceloneta beach and La Boqueria with its variety of shops. All this and you would still have scratched only the surface of what Barcelona has to offer.

Then there are more things to do and places to check out around Barcelona. Do visit Calella de Palafrugell, a beautiful village on Costa Brava. It is hemmed in between cliffs and a pretty fishing village, Calella’s beach has one of Catalonia’s most attractive seaside settings. See the pics below and decide for yourself.

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones fans will love Girona nearby. Girona provided the backdrop for many key scenes in Braavos and King’s Landing. The confrontation at the Sept of Baelor, blind Arya begging, the scenes with the Braavos theatrical players among others. So check out the beautiful medieval town. Perhaps these photos will refresh your memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paella Everywhere

After you are worn out get your fill of the Paella and move on to the next spot in this really amazing city.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Read: This grim book conveys the atmosphere of northeastern Spain during the brief civil war at the end of the thirties and the passion that drew men to fight what they hoped to be the battle which would end the spread of Fascism. (Buy here)51D5-SQG7EL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Saw: This love quadrangle set in Barcelona does manage to take in the rustic atmosphere of Barcelona. Have a look.MV5BMTU2NDQ4MTg2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDUzNjU3MQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL__QL50

 

 

 

 

 

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46 thoughts on “Barcelona, Spain: The Hippest crowds, Flamenco & the Sagrada

  1. Barcelona is on our list and we loved that comic strip you added to the post.The light coming from those stained glasses is actually creating an incredible effect. Palau de la Musica Catalana is truly a sight which can behold you for long. Riding through the cable car and visiting Montjuic castle will be super fun. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, I have to agree, for me, Barcelona features more highly than Spain 🙂 Beautiful city with so much to offer. You’ve hit all the high points visitors to Barcelona must experience. A truly dynamic and vibrant city. Besides the paella, the tapas are amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know that the Sagrada Família was attacked by revolutionaries in the 30s. Wow. You’ve listed great things to do here. Barcelona has so much to offer. I loved Monserrat and found it well worth a trip, especially if you stay overnight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The first time I went to Spain, I spent most of my time in Costa Brava and only spent one day in Barcelona. I was able to see a lot of the Gaudí architecture, but I would love to go back and explore more of the city. I’d especially love to see more flamenco dancing. It’s such a beautiful and passionate dance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice summary of what Barcelona and Catalonia has to offer. Palau de la Musica was performing flamenco things for tourists?
    I did not know that Urquinaona was a bishop, for me it has always been a street at l’Eixample, ha haa! And great to learn about the exact scenes shot in Girona. I knew GOT was there but I could not link to any spot of the city. What was your favorite Gaudi work by the way?

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  6. I adore Barcelona, I think it’s one of the most wonderful cities of Europe for a city break. I think as you say, whilst it’s hardly undiscovered, it doesn’t get the attention of Paris or Rome. For me, it’s the sheer variety of attractions, the incredible food, the location right on the coast, and the warm welcome (even though the flip side of that is quite high petty crime rates). You’ve highlighted all the things I really enjoyed!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t believe that I have not visited Barcelona. I know most of these places that you’ve spoken about here because I’ve heard or read so much about them! And I have been thinking about visiting for the longest time. I love the colours of Park Guell, it’s gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah I really enjoy Barcelona as well and I also visited Calella de la Parafrugell like you and was so blown away by the beauty of Costa Brava! It is such a lovely day trip from Barcelona, but it seems to only be visited by the Spanish. Guess it is our little secret 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m heading to France next month but do not know where to go next (so much for planning! :P), and your post is tempting me to go to Barcelona! Loving the architecture and the vibe there… I’m just not sure how it is during winter time. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can never figure out whether I love or hate the Sagrada Familia. Part of me really doesn’t want them to finish it as it might somehow ruin the strangeness of it all. I love the Gaudi stuff in Barcelona though. it is definitely an highlight for me and makes me wonder what was going on in his head

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What an absolutely gorgeous city! I love the look of the cathedral and the Casa Battlo. I’ve never been to Spain but I would love to some day. How do you think Barcelona compares to Madrid? I agree that everyone talks about Barcelona but not much about other places in Spain.

    Liked by 1 person

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