Life in Spain Thu, 23 May 2013

Barcelona is a fashionable city that seems to attract a wide variety of age groups and cultures. Like the majority of Spanish cities, it is steeped in history and, perhaps more than most, has courted controversy over the years. It has a reputation for being a centre of rebellion and that continues to give it the edge that so many people find attractive.

Barcelona drew particular attention when it hosted the Olympic games in 1992 and since then it has grown in appeal for young and old. It benefits from being a lively port and having its own beach front all within easy reach of the famous Ramblas - a busy street in the centre of the city renowned for its market, street performers and general atmosphere.

There are plenty of museums to choose from. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is a world class museum that presents a rich history of Catalan art. The MNAC is particularly well-known for its Romanesque collection which is considered to be the best of its kind in the world.

The gothic quarter is at the very heart of the old town and has a great concentration of medieval buildings. Whilst you are there it is worthwhile visiting the cathedral, La Seu, and perhaps the archeological remains at the Museu d’História de la Ciutat.

El Raval is the old-town area to the west of the Ramblas, it has a somewhat chequered reputation but now also hosts a contemporary art museum, MACBA. This museum includes collections of contemporary art since 1945 mostly from Spain but also featuring some artists from the rest of the world.

Barcelona has more than its fair share of exotic cathedrals. Perhaps most famous is Antoni Gaudís church of the Sagrada Familia. This church was begun in 1882 and its design was taken over by Gaudí and was the focus of his attention until his death.It has remained a controversial building attracting numerous debates about how it should be completed in the absence of its major architect. It is an aspirational building that is startling in its size, detail and symbolism.  

Aside from the buildings and monuments you can also find plenty of green and tranquil spaces if that’s what you prefer. Parc Güell is on a hill and has fabulous views across the city. There are some intriguing sights inside this park with pavilions, decorative lizards, ceramic benches and a number of mosaics and decorations which provide plenty to look at whilst you’re relaxing.

Another green space that’s not so relaxing is Camp Nou. This is the football stadium,for FC Barcelona, a team that continues to inspire and is reported to have the world’s largest football club membership. If you’d rather learn about football than watch it then you might be interested in visiting the Museu del Futbol. This museum celebrates Spanish football and, as you would expect, is full of silverware and memorabilia.

There is so much to see that if it’s your first trip to Barcelona, it might be wise to take the tour bus to get a really good sense of where everything lies in this spectacular city. 

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