The capital of the Catalonia region in Spain – Barcelona, is rich in history and architecture. With modern landmarks, famous museums, stunning architecture, Roman archaeological sites, and countless fountains and plazas, there is something for everyone in this city. It is quite overwhelming for a first-time visitor to take it all in. Here is a list that captures the Best of Barcelona Attractions – one that brings out the essence of this lovely town.
Barcelona Attractions – Churches & Cathedrals
Barcelona has over 30 churches and cathedrals. The two most famous tourist attractions are the Sagrada Familia and Barcelona Cathedral. The others worth noting are the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and the Basilica de la Merce.
Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and the project relied solely on private donations. The still unfinished Roman Catholic church was designed by the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí. Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, in November 2010. It is distinct from a cathedral, thus, must be the seat of a bishop. There has been great debate over the building in the past couple of decades. The constructions are estimated to be completed in 2032. Visitors can go inside in the Basilica and take a tour for a fee (currently 15 – 20 euro). The building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Consider buying a fast-track ticket to Sagrada Familia through this website. The tour ticket will help you skip-the-line at a discount. In case you wish to include a visit to one of the gorgeous towers, then you should try out this tour. Again, the same ticket will also, fast-track your admission to this place.
Barcelona Cathedral is not to be confused with Sagrada Familia. They are completely different buildings. The official name in Catalan is Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia. This is also, known as Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Construction of the stunning Cathedral began in the 13th century and was completed in the 15th century.
The Cathedral contains tombs of several Saints and Bishops. The entrance here is charged and you must make sure that your shoulders are covered when you visit the same.
Barcelona Attractions – Museums
Barcelona has over 160 art galleries and museums. Visiting some of these museums require a complete day. So, you will really want to decide which is a priority for you. The most popular Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA), and Museo Picasso. There are plenty more and if you wish to see them all, you should consider taking this Museum Passport through this link. It will give you access to 6 of the key museums of Barcelona
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – MNAC
This stunning building is the backdrop to the famous “ Magic Fountain ” and sits on top of Montjuic hill. It is one of the largest museums in Spain. It is housed in a stunning Italian-style building dating back to 1929. The museum is known for its exceptional collection of Romanesque church paintings, and for local Catalan design and art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can also get a birds-eye view of Plaza Espanya and the city of Barcelona from the Terrace areas in front of the building.
Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA)
The MUHBA museum is involved in researching, conserving, communicating and exhibiting the historical heritage of Barcelona. Discover the history of its origins in the 14th century Roman times until the present-day Barcelona. Walk through an old Catalan Gothic Quarter, built in the 15th and 16th century, to get to the entrance of the museum. These used to be courtyards to private houses. The archaeological space under Plaça del Rei is over 4000 m2.
The exhibition showcases daily life. It includes Roman houses, factories (dying, laundry, winery, and salted fish), shops, and streets. Additionally, there are remains of the early Visigoth and Christian Episcopal architectural complex.
The Picasso Museum is located in five adjoining medieval palaces within Barcelona’s city center. The collection includes over 4,250 pieces from Pablo Picasso. This was the first museum dedicated to the Spanish artist. Started in1963, it was the only one created and opened during his life. The museum displays the relationship between Barcelona and Picasso beginning with his youth, through adolescence, until his death.
If you like Museums, you will love the Vatican Museum too. Check out the masterpieces done by Raphael and Michelangelo through this post.
Barcelona Attractions – Stunning Architecture
The stunning architecture throughout Barcelona is all thanks to Gaudi and several other modernist architects. The three popular places that you can experience this art are as below.
Palau de Musica Catalana
My personal favorite place is the Palau de Musica. Palau was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, a Catalan modernista. The stunning building was built between 1905 to 1908. The place was added as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, Over 400 shows take place every year. Additionally, there are several building tours available for the visitors. They help you admire and appreciate the finer details within the building – like its gorgeous stained glass windows.
Casa Batllo was a redesign of a previously built house in 1904. Antoni Gaudi, along with his assistants Josep Canaleta, Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, and Joan Rubió. Considered one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, it has very few straight lines. The sculpted stonework, colorful mosaic, irregular oval windows, and arched roof make it an unforgettable building. Tours are available inside. However, beware of the long lines to get in.
Casa Mila is also known as “The Stone Quarry” or La Pedrera. It was designed by Gaudi and built between 1906 & 1912. In fact, this is the last private residence designed by the architect. It contains a stone façade, twisted wrought-iron balconies, and an astonishing rooftop terrace. The place has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It hosts educational activities, cultural events, exhibitions, and rooftop parties. Again, you can opt for a tour of the building to explore and appreciate its details.
These are just a few of the things to do in Barcelona. The city also has numerous monuments, thousands of restaurants, and a thriving nightlife. You can relax at one of several parks throughout the city. Additionally, Barcelona has ten beaches with several beach activities. You will always see magnificent sandcastles being made, and large areas with people playing volleyball or football. Remember to take out time for some water sports. Surfing, sailing, paddle boarding, and wind sailing are just a few of the activities that you get involved with on the water.
It is no wonder that Barcelona is a favorite in Spain. All set to go there?
Go ahead and plan your travel. There are plenty of flights that land you directly in the city. As for your stay, there are plenty of hotels in Barcelona that you can pick from based on your budget. All you have to do is set your dates and pin this as your bookmark 😀
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This article along with most of its photographs has been contributed by my guest author - Sally Pederson. She is a professional freelance travel writer, international house sitter, and novice photographer. A true “Wanderlust Gene”, she has been to over 24 countries and 120 cities. When she is not writing or out with her camera, she is either at the gym or outside running or most likely making her next travel plans. A few of her favorite things in life other than travel are pasta and seafood, cheese and chocolate, wine and whiskey. You can find her on her Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/luxuriouslifestyles.co/