Barcelona • Spain

Spain‘s second-largest city and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is full of markets, shops, museums, churches, and beaches too. Barcelona‘s official languages are Catalan (not a dialect) and Spanish. Local people consider that Catalonia is a nation, with its own culture, history and traditions, different from the other regions in Spain. Its tradition of creative art and craftsmanship, Barcelona is known for its award-winning industrial design.

In 1992 Barcelona hosted the World Olympics which transformed the city and it became well known all over the world, many claims that before this Barcelona was not recognised on a global scale, but after the games, it all changed with an increased number of tourists.

Barcelona is a great city to walk around, “La Rambla“, a tree-lined pedestrian walkway is the busiest and most lively street of the city with flower sellers, street performers, paintings and restaurants. For great panoramic views over the city visit Montjuic Castle on Montjuic Mount. At the base of Montjuic mount is Plaia d’Espanya, once used for public hangings, during the summer music and festivals are held around the fountain.

Most impressive is the Barri Gotic, the largely intact medieval centre of the city, many of the buildings date from medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona, 400 years before the building of Rome, remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral, basilica La Seu, said to have been founded in 343.

Catalan modernism architecture (known as Art Nouveau), developed between 1885 and 1950 and left an important legacy in Barcelona. Works of architect Antoni Gaudi can be seen throughout the city including his still unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction since 1882, financed by private donations, completion is planned for 2026, 100 years after his death. Also worth visiting is the Parc Guell on a hill overlooking Barcelona including the famous colourful terrace, and the houses La Pedrera/Casa Mile and La Casa Batlle.

Barcelona’s architecture is beyond its time, as with Salvator Dali, it seems that this part of Spain seems to export originality and creative vavoom. The Gaudi Park is like candy land, the walkways and terraces are simply too colourful, almost edible but again a triumph towards the imagination of Gaudi.

The city comes alive at night as the Spanish demonstrate that life continues after hours. Even in winter, Barcelona is still warm enough to go out in light wear, with fewer tourists at this time of year.

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