There are some very nice areas in town most tourists do miss because these are not right in the center. I do agree these are probably not for a first time visitor with too little time, but once you have seen the "musts", you can reach very interesting places, just 15-20 min. away from Plaça de Catalunya by metro. Some ideas:
- Les Corts/Sarria/Sant Gervasi: there my favorite is the Monestir de Pedralbes, a Medieval gem. You'll feel as if you were is a different town from the hectic city centre.
Then, walk down to Bar Tomás in Carrer Major de Sarrià 49 for the (allegedly) best 'patatas bravas" in town and if you have sweet teeth, do not miss Foix de Sarrià in Major de Sarrià, 57
If you're into sports, the FCB stadium (Nou Camp)is as well in the Les Corts area.
- Gràcia: I could write pages and pages about my favorite area in town!
Better go there and discover by yourself. Great shopping and eating. Ultra-modern fashion shops neat to old groceries. Lovely small squares to sit in a cafe seeing the world go by. Alternative clubs. All kind of ethnic restaurants. Traditional food market. All this just 10 min by metro from the city center... please don't tell anybody! ;-)))
- Sant Marti: this is a very big district, with quite different areas. The Rambla del Poble Nou is great to walk, shop, have a drink or a meal in a traditional Catalan Rambla. You can imagine how the infamous "Las Ramblas" were 50 years ago before being converted on the biggest tourist trap in town. Near the sea end you can visit the Cementiri del Poble Nou (very "Gothic" cemetery with beautiful artworks and tons of history, there are guided visits on Sundays but I believe these are only in Catalan and Spanish). The area known as "22@" (near Plaça de les Glories) is a mix of ultra-hype skyscrapers signed by the most famous contemporary architects (leaded by Jean Nouvel's Torre Agbar ) and old abandoned warehouses. If you want more ultra-modern buildings, take the tram to Diagonal Mar.
... and these are just the few places than come to my mind now. Each of these areas deserve a full day exploring. You'll be not bored!
I know this tip will be not everyone's taste... but for the ones who think of death as part of the life, and how to cope with death as part of every human culture, a visit to a local cemetery may be a very interesting experience. Not to say if the cemetery is loaded with artworks!
Barcelona has a few cemeteries, but the most interesting are Cementiri de Montjuic (the best known, and the one you may have seen in many films) and the smaller, but very interesting, and even more "Gothic", Cementiri de Poble Nou
Both are open to the public daily from 8:00 to 18:00.
Some tombs are great artworks and there are even guided tours sometimes (you may ask at the tourist offices for schedule if interested)
Around Barcelona you can go to many nice places along the coastline or interior.A few of most important are: Figueres,Monserrat,Sitges and all spots along Costa Brava.
Also is close Andorra an Pyrinees Mountains,here a beautiful place to see is:
NATIONAL PARK OF AIGUESTORTES.
A metro train can be taken as far as Olat, and this small town is quite pleasant to wander round. There is a tree shaded walk or ramblas traverses the center of town, where the traditional Catalan dance is often seen. There is a church with a clock tower and some interesting old houses. The country that surrounds Olat appears simply bucolic at first but around Olot is the volcanic landscape of the Garrotxa area. The largest crater is the Crater de Santa Margarida, northwest of the town, which has a diameter of 350m/380yd.
Besides train, it's also possible to get to Olat by rental car, which of course, would better help explore the volcanoes, but also as Olat is also on the highway leading to Andorra from Barcelona.
From Barcelona, it's easy to catch a train and continue to Olat (see previous tip) and San Juan de las Abadesas. There's a marvelous arched stone bridge that must be quite old, and a small romanesque church with interesting details. The church seen there is the third on the site, and was built in 1150, when the related convent transferred to the Augustinians. A translated Wikipedia article found by the link below provides a rambling account of the mixture of folklore and history associated with the convent and church. The little town is very pleasant to walk in the morning. I like the tree shaded decomposed granite ramblas where saw a group dancing the traditional Sardana. We had stayed with a friend overnight at her house, and together we took a second day to drive into the Pyrennes.
A great day trip could include a train ride out to the town of Ripoll, which is also on one of the highways leading to Andorra in the Pyrennes Mountains. There's an electric train that runs from Barcelona to Ripoll. Ripoll has on it's main plaza a great Romanesque style Benedictine monastary and Church known as Santa Maria de Ripoll, which should be considerably older than the Gothic cathedral in Barcelona, except that fire destroyed much of it in 1835. Nevertheless, the doorway arch stonework appears to be from the original, and has medieval figures working. Since there is coal mining in the foothills of the Pyrennes not far away, it's not surprising that one of these medieval figures in stone appears to be digging for coal. Originally founded in the sixth Century by the Visigothic king Reccared, the first church was consecrated in the ninth century and enlarged in the 11th to a five-aisled basilica. The monastery became a great center of learning and culture. Benedictine monk Gerbert of Aurillac (c. 940-1003), the future Pope Silvester II, was a product of this monastery. The current restored church is modeled on the original and reproduces the Romanesque style architecture very well. At the time of our visit, we had the pleasure of seeing a local wedding completed on the square before the church, as my photo shows. After studying the great entrance stonework for awhile, we wandering alone inside the church, which has a candle lit altar display. It's also possible to wander the corridors of the monastary itself, which has wonderful hardwood flooring.
My personal favorite and least known "off-the-beaten-path" town in Catalunya, just outside Barcelona, is Castel-Fullit. This rock precipice hamlet was frequently shown in areal photos during the Olympics on NBC television, when the host anchors broke for a commercial. We visited Castel-Fullit because my wife's cousin, a former Cataluyan senator to Madrid, and the owner of a salami factory in town, lived there. He was a major property owner in town. Now the sausage factory is closed, but the many old stone homes remain and will be restored as residences because many have spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. I took these photos from below the citadel town, where there's a community garden of sort, and a reservoir servicing the towns need for irrigation.
The city council is trying to sell Barcelona as a kind of post-modernist nirvana full of yacht havens, conference centres, shopping malls, etc. - in fact the kind of stuff you can see almost anywhere.
Wars, uprisings, riots and revolutions are swept under the carpet by the marketing boys. It is a pity, because all of those things have made Barcelona the way it is today.
I am thinking of drawing up a Spanish Civil War itinerary. In the meantime, here are a couple of snippets on Barcelona's strife-torn history.
If you happen to be in the Sant Andreu district, look a few yards up on the wall of number 2 Socrates street. There's a cannon ball incrusted in the wall - a remnant of shelling by General Prim, who bombarded the then town of Sant Andreu de Palomar on December 22, 1842. The townsfolk were demanding a more liberal government in Spain.
Read Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia"? Visit eslgesia del Pi (church) in Placa del Pi. On the wall you will see faded writing: Placa del Milicia Desconegut (Square of the Unknown Militia Man) - the name it was given in September 1937 during the Civil War. Amazing, when you think of the pains Franco took to erase all traces of the Spanish Republic.
Underground Sant Andreu (red line), placa Orfila > Gran de Sant Andreu street > Socrates street.
Placa del Pi in the Barri Gotic (Old Quarter). [worth a visit in its own right]
[Tip to be extended in due course]
from Barcelona, a train can be taken to Ripoll, and further on to Nuria, which sits in a valley of the Pyrennes Mountains. The stone village is quaint and has a great view of the mountains above. Judging by the architecture of the roofline, I'd say this village gets a fair amount of snow in winter, but we had visited it with friends in July.
After seeing so many modernism buildings I didn’t expect to be surprised with another Gaudi’s work, but I did! This church crypt was build by Gaudi in 1914 (begun in 1899) in basaltic stone bricks while some mosaics give an “archaic” touch! Gaudi tried here several styles (and that is the amazing thing about) so to get ready for the construction of Sagrada Familia. I was walking for minutes between the five aisles, checking the columns, the porch (columns made of terracotta bricks) the roof etc
E.Guell, a rich man of his era wanted to create a new factory area at this grounds (that era away from Barcelona) that would provide a nice, healthy and family friendly environment for the workers of the textile factory. Have in mind that the famous Guell Park (the most of the tourists visit anyway) hadn’t been created yet. So, he asked Gaudi to design the area for the community. Gaudi build the church while other architects created buildings for other cultural activities etc
Actually Gaudi didn’t manage to complete the whole church (that was supposed to be over the crypt) and that’s why we see only the crypt now.
We took several photos of the exterior too and then we walked on the roof of it.
The crypt is open daily 10.00-19.00(weekends till 15.00). From November to April 10.00-15.00. The entrance fee is 4 euro but for some strange reason you cant find tickets near the Crypt but you have to walk down the road at another building!
The crypt is located at Colonia Guell, at Santa Coloma.
You can take the train(S4, S7, S8) from Plaza Espanya to Colonia Guell. There is a train every 15’ and the ride will take about 25’.
We stayed at my wife's relative's home which is adorn with paintings like a museum. In the morning, I walked through the village, which includes an updated church. The first view is from the rooftop of the former salami factory, with the tower of the church in the distance.
All my trips to Spain begin with a visit to the Salon. And after a hectic December at work I am sure I deverve it.
People have different ways of de- stressing. This is mine. Nothing more relaxing than being pampered.
And yes, sadly I was catching up with some work.
El Bosc de les Fades (the Fairy's Wood) is a hidden nice place near the Wax Museum, perfect to have a break. When you come inside this place you find yourself in a magic wood full of talking trees, falling water, little bridges and strange characters like fairies, animals and dwarfs. In the middle of this wood you can have a coffe or some drinks. The music and the sound of water falling are very pleasant. Last time I went there it was raining in Barcelona but my surpise was that when we came inside we found out that thanks to some special sounds and lights it was raining inside too...cool :-))
Passatge de la Banca, 7
You have to do as if you want to go to the Wax Museum and then turn on right
Girona is a one of the biggest towns in Catalonian region, Spain, almost 100 000 people live here.
Girona was populated by Iberians in old times. Later Romans constructed a castle here. For some time Girona belonged to Visigoths and Moors. Girona got city rights in 11th century by Alfonso I of Aragon declaration.
Girona is still in its unique medieval feeling, having such nice objects to see as huge Cathedral, Saint Feliu church, medieval city walls, nice Onyar river channel, small medieval narrow streets and so on.
Girona is about 100 kilometers from Barcelona.
For further information watch my Girona VirtualTourist page.
Tarragona is a town in the south of Catalonian region, with a variety of Roman time buildings left. It is mostly visited for a wonderful cozy old town, full of Roman and medieval things.
Tarragona was the one of the main Roman colony tows when conquering Spanish territory, so all around was fully equipped with fortified walls, barracks as well as buildings for leisure time – Circus or amphitheatre. I should say it is nice place for a daytrip from Barcelona; it could be nice to overnight here as well.
Tarragona is about 85 kilometers from Barcelona.
For further information watch my Tarragona VirtualTourist page.
This is a beautiful property with a modern, luxurious feel. For those of you who want a more...more
We spent 3 nights at this hotel , which is very well located for most things Gaudi and the city...more
This is a funky 25 room hotel in Barcelona. It's produced and run by the Spanish shoewear giants...more