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There is so much more to Barcelona than its beaches, sangrias and fantastic weather, though these are valid reasons to visit this Spanish city. During your trip to Barcelona, one can discover works of art from the mastermind Gaudi, which have now permanently become part of the city, walk around the Gothic Quarter and, of course, fill up on delicious Spanish food.
Antoni Gaudi, Spanish architect, was part of the modernista movement. With a majority of his works residing in Barcelona, it would be a shame to visit the city without paying tribute to "God's Architect."
• Park Guell was originally to be part of a housing complex, which turned out to be unsuccessful. In 1926, the park was open to the public and became a UNESCO site in 1984. Admission into the park is free, however, to view the famous tiled houses and funky statues, you have to pay for admission. It is recommended to buy tickets online beforehand if you plan to visit the park during a high tourist season, buying your ticket online will cost €7.50, and you may choose a time to enter the park.
• Casa Batllo, centered in the middle of Barcelona, is a multi-colored almost scaly looking building. It is said to resemble a dragon with St. George’s lance driven through it. Visit the building (Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain) and decide for yourself!
• Within walking distance from Casa Batllo is Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, which was built to look like an open quarry. Today, it is home to the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, hosts cultural events and is also home to a museum about the architect himself. One can buy a ticket to visit the museum (about five stories high), which will also grant you access to the roof where the view of Barcelona is stellar.
• Within the Parc de la Ciutadella, Gaudi designed the fountain Cascada del Parc in his earlier years, which, after viewing some of his other works, you can see the difference. The fountain looks much more traditional, similar to those found in Rome or Paris. In contrast, his later works are much more funky and true to his style. While you’re there, enjoy a little time in the park; it is always a great place to people watch or take a little siesta.
• Possibly his most famous piece of work is La Sagrada Familia (meaning “The Church of the Holy Family”), which has yet to be finished. Construction began in 1882 and has slowly progressed since then. One can only imagine that with such an impressive exterior, that the interior is just as awe-inspiring. With the incredibly detailed ceiling and the large stained-glass windows, it almost feels like you’ve crawled into a cave. If you decide to go inside, it is recommended to buy tickets beforehand; due to the ongoing construction, only a limited number of people can come in.
Barcelona is home to one of the most well-preserved medieval areas in Europe. Stroll through the streets of the Gothic Quarter, and you will instantly see the difference between the medieval and the modern architecture. You could easily enjoy a perfect day just within the Gothic Quarter.
• Starting at the Picasso Museum, you can view some of the artwork from one of Spain's most famous artist as well as artwork from different artists (usually displayed in the temporary exhibit). If you are between the ages of 18 and 25, to explore the artwork of the Cubist Movement’s founder is only €7; otherwise, entrance is €12.
• If you’re feeling hungry after viewing all the artwork, head to Caelum. Caelum is a café where the nuns and monks from the surrounding convents and monasteries make freshly baked goods for your enjoyment. Not only is it an enjoyable Spanish experience, but the prices are very reasonable for such good quality snacks.
• Following your short break, continue towards Catedral de Barcelona. This Gothic-style church is free to enter, but you need to pay €3 to visit the rooftop. While visiting the church, be sure to pay attention to all the different gargoyles that hang about the church. Keep in mind that this is still a fully functioning church, so be respectful in how you dress and with your behavior.
• Along a palm-tree lined walkway lies Barcelona's Arc de Triomf. Even though the name is similar, do not confuse this arch with the one in Paris. The two have entirely different architectural structures. Challenge yourself to visit both and decide which you like more. Along the arch, there is a wonderful park where there are always people hanging out and enjoying themselves. It seems like the area always has a summery vibe.
You cannot visit any city in Spain without enjoying your fill of tapas.
• Barcelona has a very vibrant food culture that can be experienced at La Boqueria Market. There are stalls upon stalls of just pure tastiness. Grab a snack, smoothie or sit down for a whole meal here. Tapas are meant to be shared with friends and family. When going to a tapas bar, be sure to ask how big each tapa is to determine just how many you'll have to order.
• If you’re health-nut or simply enjoy environmentally-friendly dining, Cometa Pla (Carrer del Cometa 5) is your place. However, the prices are a little bit more than if you just went to a typical tapas bar.
• If you’re looking for a quality tapas bar while on a budget, head to La Plata (Carrer de la Merce 28). The serving sizes are large enough to share amongst two or three hungry tourists. La Plata will exceed your expectations with its menu of traditional Spanish food.
Hej! I am an American grad student studying and living in Sweden. Being a grad student, I have perfected the act of budget traveling. I have a fierce passion for cute dogs, film festivals, coffee and traveling. Join me as I work towards my personal goal of visiting all 28 EU countries before I graduate in June 2019! Feel free to pop over to my personal blog, Little Mouse. Big World, to read more about my travels while balancing grad school life.
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