Monday, August 12, 2019

BARCELONA’S GOT IT!

The writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón once described Barcelona as being a city that's ‘extremely vain’. But this self-love isn’t without reason, and you can see why with this list of the sights and attractions in Barcelona that are simply unmissable. 

From the indescribable beauty of Sagrada Família and other Gaudí wonders to the city’s famous beaches and parks where you can soak up the sun, there is always a huge choice of things to do in Barcelona. In between stops for tapas and drinks, you can explore hidden attractions or spend your time immersing yourself in Catalan culture and art at the city’s best museums and galleries. 

Whether you live in Barcelona or are just visiting for a few days, you simply have to explore some of the wonders of this fantastic city, whether it be those which are rightly world famous, or other gems, some of which remain unknown even to most city residents you will never be stuck for choice.
Barcelona’s list of “must-sees” is ample, but no visit would be complete without a visit to at least some of the following;

La Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. Or simply, La Sagrada Familia, to you and me.

Antoni Gaudí dedicated more than 40 years (the last 14 of them exclusively) to the project, and is buried beneath the nave. Many consider the crypt and the Nativity façade, which were completed in his lifetime, as the most beautiful elements of the church. The latter, facing C/Marina, looks at first glance as though some careless giant has poured candle wax over a Gothic cathedral, but closer inspection shows every protuberance to be an intricate sculpture of flora, fauna or human figure, combining to form an astonishingly moving stone tapestry depicting scenes from Christ's early years.

Providing a grim counterpoint to the excesses of the Nativity façade is the Passion façade on C/Sardenya, with bone-shaped columns and haunting, angular sculptures by Josep Maria Subirachs showing the 12 stations of the cross. The vast metal doors, set behind the sculpture of the flagellation of Jesus, are particularly arresting, covered in quotations from the Bible in various languages. The Glory façade on C/Mallorca, the final side to be built and the eventual main entrance, is currently shooting up behind the scaffolding and is devoted to the Resurrection, a mass of stone clouds and trumpets emblazoned with words from the Apostles' Creed. 

Sagrada Família

La Casa Mila or La Pedrera (The Stone quarry)

www.lapedrera.com         

Described variously as rising dough, molten lava and a stone lung, the last secular building designed by Antoni Gaudí, the Casa Milà (popularly known as La Pedrera, 'the stone quarry') has no straight lines. It is a stupendous and daring feat of architecture, and the culmination of the architect's experimental attempts to recreate natural forms with bricks and mortar (not to mention ceramics and even smashed-up cava bottles). Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it appears to have been washed up on shore, its marine feel complemented by collaborator Josep Maria Jujol's tangled balconies, doors of twisted kelp ribbon, sea-foamy ceilings and interior patios as blue as a mermaid's cave.

When it was completed in 1912, it was so far ahead of its time that the woman who financed it as her dream home, Roser Segimon, became the laughing stock of the city - hence the 'stone quarry' tag. Its rippling façade led local painter Santiago Rusiñol to quip that a snake would be a better pet than a dog for the inhabitants. But La Pedrera has become one of Barcelona's best-loved buildings and is adored by architects for its extraordinary structure: it is supported entirely by pillars, without a single master wall, allowing the vast, asymmetrical windows of the façade to invite in great swathes of natural light.



La Casa Mila or La Pedrera (The Stone quarry)

La Casa Batlló


Casa Batlló is a masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí – unique, unusual and exceptional. Much more than just a building, it has become a legend of art, architecture and timeless universal design. A benchmark of Modernism, Casa Batlló offers outstanding suites for exceptional events, where distinction is expressed in the most refined succession of artistic and architectural details, designed with the greatest possible creativity, and with the best skill and craft of the artists and professionals of the day. 
All those who love fantasy, theatricality and vitality cannot help but fall in love with this house. Casa Batlló is open to the world, and it offers the best modernist function rooms in Passeig de Gràcia, in the most elegant part of Barcelona, in the very heart of the city, with an area of more than 1,000 m² available to you for celebrating the greatest variety of events imaginable.
Casa Batllo invites you to a magical world and full of emotions that Antoni Gaudí created in the inside.


La Casa Batlló

The MNAC (Museu Nacional d`Arte de Catalunya)

www.museunacional.cat          

The Museu Nacional takes visitors on an uninterrupted journey through a thousand years of Catalan art, from the 10th to the 20th centuries, through its four permanent collections: Romanesque and Gothic art, Renaissance and Baroque art, Modern art, photography, drawings, prints and posters and the Catalan Numismatic Department.

Romanesque and Gothic art. The collection of Romanesque murals is a unique patrimony both in terms of the quantity and the quality of the Romanesque paintings from church apses, reconstructed in situ. The holdings of Gothic art illustrate the splendour and the peak of Catalan territorial expansion in Mediterranean Europe at the time.
Renaissance and Baroque art. The exhibitions of Renaissance and Baroque art feature works by major international painters such as El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Rubens.
Modern art, photography, drawings, prints and posters and the Catalan Numismatic Department. The museum's collection showcasing art from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, mainly comprising exhibitions of works by Catalan artists, covering all the artistic genres, including the Catalan Modernimst style (Art Nouveau) movements of modernisme and Noucentisme and the avant-garde.
The cultural supply of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is completed with a rich calendar of temporary exhibitions.


The MNAC (Museu Nacional d`Arte de Catalunya)

Parc Natural de Collserola – The Collserola Natural Park.


The Collserola mountain range stands as a watchtower in the middle of metropolitan Barcelona. For those who live in the area, the magnificent massif is close, familiar and valuable, with more than 8,000 hectares of natural space preserved, where forest dominates but there's also a variety of vegetation that makes for an important biodiversity. 

The substantial acreage of the park defines it as one of the largest urban parks in the world, and the vast majority of the park remains in its natural state, unadulterated by human activity. There are miles of tracks and trails through the park and one could spend days exploring them on foot, if however, time, or energy, are somewhat limited, there is an alternative. 

Take a TOURISIMO TOUR from the barrio of La Salut, close to Park Gúell and enjoy a self-drive, guided tour of the hills above Barcelona driving an eco-friendly, 100% electric, two-seater car following a guide in another vehicle up and out of the city. The tour stops at the best miradores, or scenic look-outs that the city has to offer where you can get to know your fellow travellers and learn something about the city from the guide’s extensive local knowledge. 
The tour takes you through the historic village of Vallvidrera, first mentioned as a religious retreat in 14th century literature and now home to some beautiful modern and modernist homes.
With TOURISIMO you also have the opportunity to ascend to the observation deck of the iconic Torre de Collserola. The Collserola Tower was designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened as part of Barcelona’s preparations for the Olympic Games 1992. Unfortunately, the tower has very restrictive public opening hours, 13:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays and Sundays only, but if you are lucky enough to coincide with those times, the best sightseeing, incredible photo opportunities and views from the tower at 560 meters above sea level are well worth the effort.

Parc Natural de Collserola – The Collserola Natural Park.

Camp Nou. – The home ground of FC Barcelona.

No club in football history has achieved what Pep Guardiola's men managed in 2009: six tournaments, six trophies. This 'annus memorabilis' climaxed in December with the FIFA World Club Cup win over Estudiantes, the tactics-obsessed young coach telling his players: 'Lose and you'll still be the best team in the world; win, and you'll be eternal.' Like Guardiola himself, seven of the Champions League-winning XI were formed at FCB's youth system, including Xavi, Iniesta and Lionel Messi. 
When the new stadium first opened in 1957, it had a capacity for just over 93,000 spectators. In 1982, the stadium increased its capacity to hold 115,000 fans and hosted the first game of the World Cup that year. However, the stadium has been altered to include more seats and less standing area - making the total capacity 99,000.
Attend a Barça game, or you can take a tour of the stadium that includes the field, the pressroom, and the away side's changing room. The FC Barcelona Museum includes a trophy gallery and an audiovisual space dedicated to replays and the history of the Barça team and Camp Nou.


Camp Nou. – The home ground of FC Barcelona.

Park Güell


At Park Güell, stone, tile, plants, and Mediterranean skies magically come to life on a mountainside perch designed by Barcelona’s resident architectural genius, continuing to delight adults and children alike.
Built between 1900 and 1914 as part of Gaudí’s naturalist phase, the project was initially designed as part of Count Eusebi Güell’s private city, who envisioned the plot as a self-contained residence with private homes for 60 families. Only later was the failed housing development reimagined as a municipal park, which opened to the public in 1924. 
Nestled among Carmel Hill’s north face, the main terrace of the park offers sweeping panoramic vistas of the city below – including many of Gaudí’s other famous creations peppering the landscape – featuring a scalloped perimeter and a giant bench built to resemble a sea serpent. At the main gate, a giant salamander known as “el drac” or “the dragon” greets visitors upon their approach to the terrace, as they wend their way through a network of Doric columns, some palm-like, that support a pillowy roof inlaid with mosaics. Colonnaded footpaths lead to manicured gardens and trick arboretums, as gracefully curving viaducts and roadways soar overhead. Gaudí’s former home, too, now converted into a museum, is easily distinguished by its Pepto-Bismol pink exterior rising four stories tall from the garden grounds. 
Despite embodying a purpose entirely separate from its initial conceptualization, Park Güell remains so transcendent in its current form that it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, ensuring that the public will continue to find respite in this fantasy world for centuries to come.
For an ideal combination of Catalan culture and Barcelona sightseeing opportunities why not combine a visit to Park Güell with a tour of the hills of the Collserola Natural Park with the company TOURISIMO TOURS BARCELONA. 


Park Güell


Tourisimo is located only 50 meters from the park’s side entrance at Carrer de Sostres 17 so it is an ideal combination. On a Tourisimo tour, you drive an eco-friendly, 100% electric, two-seater car and follow a guide in another vehicle. You dive up and out of the city to the cool hills and fantastic views far above. A previous client described the tour as “the hollywood hills experience of Barcelona” and the name fits very well. Views and photos of Barcelona from a vantage point few get to see. Then back down to the city to re-join your trajectory to or from Park Güell.
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