Barcelona, the unique city of modern art and architecture
that exudes an old-world charm.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, enjoys a culture that is distinct from the rest of Spain. As a region that came under Spanish control less than a century ago, it maintains its own unique identity with its language, cuisine, and geography that is reflective of its strong modernist aesthetics, whilst being a home to heterogeneous communities from around the world. With our Barcelona City Guide, DSSC helps you explore this exciting city.
Drop By Here
One of the biggest attractions in all of Spain is the modernista and neo-Gothic architecture of Antoni Gaudí which is reflected in both civil and religious constructions. Gaudí’s work takes inspiration from the architecture of Persia, India, Japan, the Gothic revival in France, and from nature. These inspirations are integrated with craftwork that includes ceramics, stained glass, carpentry, and wrought iron forging. Some of the most prominent examples of Gaudí’s unique architecture are Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Park Güell, Casa Vicens, and the largest unfinished Roman Catholic Church in the world, the Sagrada Família.
#DSSCTopTip: Before embarking on your journey, check out Hiroshi Teshigahara’s documentary Antonio Gaudi (1984) to gain some insight into the life and works of the architect.
Barcelona is best explored on foot, and La Rambla is the best place to do so. Located in central Barcelona, this 1.2 km promenade is comprised of a series of shorter streets that connect Catalonia Square with the Christopher Columbus monument. Enjoy evening performances at the Liceu Opera House, admire the beauty of the 19th century Font de Canaletes, and partake in the local cultural activities related to visual and performing arts at the Virreina Palace, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, and Barcelona’s oldest theatre, Teatre Principal.
To the east of this bustling tourist attraction lies the old city of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter, which houses the night-time tourist attraction, Plaça Reial (the Royal Plaza); street lamps designed by Gaudí; and the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia. To the west of La Rambla is El Raval, a racially diverse enclave that is home to several bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Its other attractions include the Monastery of Sant Pau del Camp, the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, Gaudí´s Güell Palace, and a large statue of a cat by Fernando Botero.
Museums and Galleries
Whilst in El Raval, head to the MACBA (the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona), which has a collection of over five thousand works of art, all of which were created after 1945. The southern end of this neighbourhood, Port Vell, is also home to the Maritime Museum of Barcelona, where one can learn about the history of the Spanish Navy, stretching all the way back to the early days of colonial expansion. The Fundació Joan Miró in Parc de Montjuïc exhibits over 225 paintings, 150 sculptures, and around 5000 sketches by Miró. The MNAC (National Museum of Art of Catalonia) preserves Catalan Art from the 12th to 20th centuries, and has also salvaged twenty-one murals dating back to the 10th century from falling to ruins. Finally, pay a visit to the Museu Picasso, a gallery that showcases artwork attributed to Pablo Picasso during his formative years.
Get in on the act
Barcelona is fast emerging as a hub for music festivals headlined by some major names in the industry. The Sónar Music Festival, started in 1994, is a three-day electronic music festival, and garnered a footfall of over 1,23,000 people who came from 101 countries in 2017. Past performers include Björk, Janelle Monáe, Skrillex, The Chemical Brothers, Nicolas Jaar, and FKA Twigs. For indie music buffs, Primavera Sound is one of the best experiences in Europe. Past performers at this five-day fiesta have included Arcade Fire, Glass Animals, The xx, Bon Iver, and Frank Ocean.
Football enthusiasts can enjoy a match at FC Barcelona’s home stadium, Camp Nou. Completed in 1957, it is the largest football stadium in all of Europe, and has hosted several Champions League, UEFA Cup, and FIFA World Cup matches.
By the sea
The lively neighbourhood of La Barceloneta is renowned for its sun, sand, and surf-friendly waves. Visitors can also participate in extreme water sports such as windsurfing and kite-surfing, before heading to the local chiringuitos (seaside huts) to partake of fresh seafood, vermouth, or beer. On the other end of the spectrum are Ocata, Bogatell, and Mar Bella, which offer the luxury of more space, privacy, and safety. Visitors can sunbathe, play volleyball, enjoy the sunrise and the sunset, and have a tranquil experience. For the adventurous souls, certified scuba diving guides lead excursions to the marine reserves of the Mediterranean.
Lose Some Wallet Weight
Ranked by CNN as the best fresh food market in the world, Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria originated as a pig market in the 13th century, but was recognised legally only in 1826. Located on La Rambla, it is a popular stopover for lunch, the ingredients of which are directly sourced from the butchers greengrocers, cheesemongers, and fishmongers nearby.
Passeig de Gràcia
Situated in the district of Eixample is Passeig de Gràcia, the best-known shopping and commercial centre of Barcelona. It is also the most expensive street in Spain. It is notable for its buildings that were designed by four of Barcelona’s most eminent modernista architects. Stroll through the shopping street for several designer boutiques as well as international fashion houses for that makeover of a lifetime.
Mercat de Sant Antoni and Encants Vells Flea Market
Designed in 1882 by Antoni Rovira i Trias, the Sant Antoni market sells everything from fresh food to clothes to homewares during the weekdays, and morphs into a collector’s paradise over the weekend. On Sundays, visitors can buy second-hand books, stamps, coins, postcards, comics, and magazines. Barcelona’s Encants Vells Flea Market is one of the oldest flea markets in Europe. Housing 500 stalls, the shopping complex designed by Fermin Vázquez stands out for its architecture, and sells antique goods and vintage charms.
So pack your bags and embrace the most lively adventure of your life.
Monument of Christopher Columbus pointing towards America; Image: servingjoy.com
Visitors admiring Picasso’s ‘Las Meninas’ at Museu Picasso; Image: introducingbarcelona.com
Spectators at Camp Nou; Image: pubcrawl-barcelona.com
La Boqueria; Image: bubahouse.com