Barcelona - La Segrada Familia, Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer, Casa de les Punxes, Casa Comalat, Palau del Baro de Quadras, C/ del Rosselló # 248 and # 279, La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Bagues Joieria / Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó Morera, Passeig de Gracia other Modernista houses, Placa Catalonia - Part II.
(This itinerary is a continuation of Barcelona - Modernista Architecture - Part I.)
It is 500 m. walk from Sant Pau Hospital to the Sagrada Familia. We walk along Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret WESTWARD until it meets Avinguda de Gaudi. The intersection of these two roads is, exactly, in the most southern corner of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Look back and the view of the hospital from the Avinguda de Gaudi is breathtaking:
A wonderful semi-pedestrianised street that connects two magnificent landmarks, one by Domènech i Montaner and the other by Gaudí. We arrive to this avenue during the (most hot) afternoon hours - but the avenue is more admirable in the morning hours. This is a lively street which showcases a series of Modernista streetlamps that lend it an elegant touch and unique style. They were designed by Pere Falqués and placed along the Avinguda Gaudí in 1985, after being stored for many years in a warehouse. They originally stood at the crossroads between the Passeig de Gràcia and the Avinguda Diagonal but were removed from this site in 1957 because they were a obstacles to traffic:
In spite of the busy cross-streets, this artery features all the elements that give it the appearance of a boulevard: restricted vehicular access, bollards on either side, pavement cafés and a whole host of shops which delight lovers of typical neighborhood shops:
On our way south to Sagrada Familia - we cross the following bustling roads: C/ del Industria, c/ de Podilla, C/ de Corsega, c/ de Rosello, Carrer de Lepant - before arriving to the La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi (1852–1926)-designed landmark church. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral which must be the seat of a Bishop. Construction of the Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style and genius, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was completed. Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death... The building is still under construction so be prepared to see a lot of work continuing when you visit. However this in itself is interesting, especially if you visit the museum inside the building. Regardless of all the controversy surrounding the Sagrada Familia it is a truly magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona. The Basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona: over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona's cathedral, over Gaudí's design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí's death disregarded his design, and the recent proposal to build an underground tunnel of Spain's high-speed rail link to France which could disturb its stability. Opening hours: October - March: 09.00 - 18.00, April - September: 09.00 - 20.00. 25 and 26 December, 01 January and 06 January: 09.00 - 14.00. Admission: Main entrance (Queuing): €14.80, Main entrance + towers (Queuing): €19.30. How to get there: Metro L2 and L5, stop Sagrada Família. Bus 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50 and 51. Barcelona Bus Turístic, stop Sagrada Família.
We advise you to buy your tickets in advance for this Barcelona attraction. The Sagrada Familia is is the no.1 most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona with 3,000,000 visitors per year and is one of Spain's most popular tourist attractions. There are often very long queues to get into the attraction (between 1 to 2 hours) at entrances that deal with ticket purchases at the door. Bring water and hats.
Main nave and apse of Sagrada Familia:
Apse, Altar and Baldaquin of La Sagrada Familia:
Transept and Ceiling of Sagrada Familia:
Right aisle of Sagrada Familia Basilica:
Left Aisle of La Sagrada Familia:
Works in progress:
Typical Modernista curved handrails and stairs:
Tomb of Antoni Gaudí in the crypt of Sagrada Familia:
From the south side of Plaça de la Sagrada Família we walk along Carrer de Mallorca WESTWARD (with our back to the Basilica - we turn RIGHT). We cross Carrer de Nàpols and Carrer de Roger de Flor to arrive to Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer:
You cross a nice avenue, Passeig de Sant Joan, on your right and left and continue westward (in the same direction) along Avinguda Diagonal: one of Barcelona's broadest and most important avenues. It cuts the city in two, diagonally from east to west. Walking along the Diagonal westward - you cross: Carrer de Bailèn, Carrer de Bailèn and on the 3rd crossroad with Carrer del Bruc you arrive to (on your right) the Casa Terrades Casa de les Punxes. The “Casa de les Punxes” (House of Spikes) is really a residential block built in the shape of medieval castle which is one of the most recognizable Modernista landmarks on the Barcelona skyline. The Terrades sisters owned three buildings standing between the Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer Rosselló and Carrer Bruc. Josep Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned to redevelop the buildings and linked them together on one site behind a vast brick façade. His project, which was completed in 1905, resulted in an imposing triangular structure which rises up like a grand medieval castle with four turrets, one on each corner. The nickname, “Casa de les Punxes”, comes from the conical roofs, which end in a spike. The house is privately owned and not open to visitors, but the exterior delights anyone who goes to take a closer look. The brickwork on the façade blends with the wrought-iron on the balconies, designed by Manuel Ballarín, the neo-Gothic style sculptural reliefs by Alfons Juyol, and stained-glass windows by Eduard Amigó. The ceramic panels surmounting the façade refer to the patriotic symbols of Catalonia. Another example of the nationalism that often imbues Catalan Modernista/Modernisme:
Hereby, on the right side (north side) of the Diagonal at # 442 - you see Casa Comalat. Two distinct façades, both of them showing the influence of the curve redolent of Gaudi's work. The architect Salvador Valeri i Pupurull worked on the Casa Comalat from 1909 to 1911, and was clearly influenced by Gaudi’s organic forms. Built in 1911. Not open to the public:
Move to the left, south side of the Diagonal. Turn/bend left from the Avinguda Diagonal to Carrer del Rosello. Continuing along Carrer del Rosello - you cross Carrer de Pau Claris (on your left). On your left, Avinguda Diagonal, 373 - you see the Palau del Baro de Quadras (formerly: Casa Asia) (Architect: Josep Puig i Cadafalch):
In the crossroad, you see, on your right, another Art-Deco house (# 279):
and Barcelona - C/ del Rosselló # 248:
Along Carrer del Rosello, in the second crossroad turn LEFT to Passeig de Garcia. Passeig de Gràcia was from the beginning designed to be Barcelona's Grand Avenue. It is Barcelona's most elegant avenue and one of the best architectural walks in the city with lots of Modernista buildings. The quality and quantity of Modernista buildings is un-rivalled. This avenue is one of the major streets for shopping in Barcelona. All national and international fashion houses have their boutique here. Among prestigious designers, you will find Adolfo Dominguez, Loewe, Chanel, Yves-Saint-Laurent, Hermès, Laurel. Foreign brands, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Max Mara, Escada and Armand Bassi stand beside Spanish ones such as Purificación García, Camper and Loewe. There are also even more accessible brands like Zara, Mango, Globe, Benetton and Laura Ashley.
Stay on the LEFT (north) side of the avenue. Immediate on your left is La Pedrera / Casa Milà. The Casa Mila of architect Antoni Gaudi was built for Rosario Segimon and Pere Milà. The original design was not followed because the local government objected to some aspects of the project. They fined the owners for many infractions of regulations, ordered the demolition of aspects exceeding the height standard for the city. The original plan included also a huge sculpture atop the building, representing the goddess Gaia. It never was put there.The house is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Casa Milà got the nickname "La Pedrera", the quarry, because the stone facade made the building look like a steep rock with cave openings. The exciting architectural expression as demonstrated in Casa Milà is not a style which could be imitated or developed. Getting there: Bus: 7,16,17, 22, 24 and V17. Metro: lines 3 and 5, Diagonal. FGC: Provença-La Pedrera. FGC: Passeig de Gràcia. Opening hours: 3 March to 2 November. Monday to Sunday:
09.00 - 20.00 (last admission: 19.30). 3 November to 2 March. Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 18.30 (last admission: 18.00). Closed: 25 December. Admission fees: Adult: €16.50, Student: €14.85, Disabled: €14.85, Children (six and under): free, Children (seven to twelve): €8.25. Buy your ticket through online ticket sites.
La Pedrera's curved facade:
Casa Mila Apartment:
The attic and the roof:
Dali in the Casa Mila roof:
Now move to the right (south) side of the Passeig de Gracia bustling street. Along Passeig de Gracia, with your face to the south-east you cross: Carrer de Provença, Carrer de Mallorca, Carrer de Valencia, Carrer de Arago, passing the Passeig de Gracia Metro station and arriving to Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló (Casa dels Ossos) is rebuilt by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol in the years 1905–1907. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), which will be obvious when you have a good look at it. located at Passeig de Gràcia (Paseo de Gracia) in the Eixample district was built in 1877 and transformed from 1905-07 by Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) and Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949) for the industrialist Josep Battlló i Casanovas. Casa Batlló got the nickname "Casa dels ossos" (the House of Bones) because it contains skeletal-like design such as the street facade's balconies that are shaped as skulls. The first floor (beletage) contains irregular oval windows and sculptural masonry. The main part of the facade are decorated with mosaics made of broken tiles. The tiles' pattern is fixed with ceramic forms in varying sizes. The background colour consists of a light greyish tone and coloured mosaic squares form a part of it. The colour strength increases upwards, the blue colour is most visibly distinctive - the colour shifts from a light delicate blue into indigo. Other colour nuances are green blue, green, yellow, orange and golden brown. The colours of the facade can be compared with colours of the sea and the motion of the waves, a moving curtain or as if confetti was being sprinkled down the facade. The balconies are made of stone from Montjuïc and resemble skulls or masks. Getting there: Bus Numbers: 7, 16, 17, 22, 24 and 28. Barcelona Tourist Bus (North & South) - Casa Batlló – Fundació Antoni Tàpiesstop
City Tours (Barcelona Tours) (Español) Parada3 A, Passeig de Gràcia-Casa Batlló. Metro: Passeig de Gràcia: L2, L3 and L4. Train RENFE: (Español) Estación Passeig de Gràcia station. FGC: (Español) Estación Provença station. Opening hours: open 365 days a year, from 09.00 to 21.00 (last entrance 20.00). Adult (+18) 21.5 €, Juniors (7-18) 18.5 €, Students (with card) 18.5 €, Seniors (+65) 18.5 €, Residents (Prov. BCN) 15 €, Children (-7) Free. Buy your ticket through online ticket sites.
The front facade of Casa Batlló:
The grand stair leading to the Batlló family apartment:
The living room:
Top floor apartment room:
The roof with the the dragon, tower and chimneys:
The rear facade of Casa Batlló:
Atrium window at Casa Batllo:
The building adjacent to Casa Batllo, Passeig de Gracia #41 is not the less interesting - Bagues Joieria (jewelery shop) - actually, in Casa Amatller. Bagués Masriera Jewelry is one of the oldest companies in Europe. With the unique craft of jewelry, its history goes back to 1766. Later it joined Masriera (created in 1839). But it was not until 1985 that Bagués (created in 1917) and Masriera jointly gave a boost to the world of Catalan jewel worldwide:
Enter inside this building. It is open free to the public. The building itself is Casa Amatller which is also a building in the Modernista style, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. The building was originally designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller and was constructed between 1898 and 1900:
Cafe Faborit inside Casa Amatller. Good for breakfasts. Busy during weekdays lunches:
Nearby, Regia Cosmetics and Perfumes, Passeig de Gràcia 39. Reputed to be one of the best perfume stores in the city, and in business since 1928. Regia stocks all the name brands and also has a private perfume museum out the back. It also has its own line of bath products:
The third building in this chain of adjacent buildings in Passeig de Garcia is Casa Mulleras, Passeig de Gràcia 37 designed by Enric Sagnier:
The next building (all last four ones are adjacent to each other) Casa Lleo Morera (1905) designed by Domènech i Montaner. Guided Tour in English: Monday to Saturday, at 11.00. Express Tours: Monday at 10.00, 10.30, 11.30, 12.:30, 13.00, 15.30, 16.00, 16.30, 18.00.
Stained glass gallery, first floor:
Second floor balcony:
Third floor gallery:
Top of the building:
The last four unique buildings, which have relationship in location, time and space, are nicknamed "la Manzana de la Discordia" (The Apple of Discord). The Spanish word Manzana means both apple and block of flats:
Casa Lleó-Morera, Passeig de Gràcia 35, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1849-1923) in 1906:
Casa Mulleras, Passeig de Gràcia 37, designed by Enric Sagnier:
Casa Amatller, Passeig de Gràcia 41, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch:
Casa , Passeig de Gràcia 43, designed by Antoni Gaudí:
Casa Amatller + Casa Batlló:
The Illa de la Discòrdia or Mansana de la Discòrdia - English: Block of Discord; Spanish: Manzana de la Discordia - is a city block on Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Spain. The block is noted for having buildings by four of Barcelona's most important Modernista architects, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Antoni Gaudí, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Enric Sagnier, all the four in close proximity. As the four architects' styles were very different, the buildings clash with each other and the neighboring buildings. They were all built in the early years of the 20th century.
But, in this street, Passeig de Gràcia - there are even more Modernista gems:
Passeig de Gràcia, 65 - Cases Jofre:
and Pg. de Gràcia #27: Casa Malagrida: Architect: Joaquim Codina i Matali:
Passeig de Gràcia #21 - Edificio "La Unia el Fenix Espanol" 1927 - 1932:
Passeig de Gràcia #20, Cases Antoni Rocamora:
Passeig de Gracia 2-4, Cases Pons i Pasqual by Enric Sagnier (1891):
Two minutes walk further south and you are in Placa Catalonia:
Barcelona - Barri Gòtic.
Tip 3: from Plaça del Pi to Plaza de San Felipe Neri.
Main Attractions of Tip 3: Plaça del Pi, Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, Plaza de San Felipe Neri, Church of Sant Felip Neri.
How to arrive from La Rambla to Plaça del Pi: From Liceu Metro station (lin3 , the green line) - head northwest on La Rambla toward Pla de la Boqueria, 40 m (see Tip 2). Turn right onto Pla de la Boqueria, 20 m.
Continue onto Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, 100 m and continue straight onto Plaça del Pi for further 15 m where Carrer d'en Roca on your left:
The name of Plaça del Pi stems from the pine tree planted in the centre of the square. The “pine” refers to the grove of Mediterranean scrub pines that used to cover this area, which originally spanned the area from the Roman walls to what is now the Ramblas. The local custom is that should be a pine tree planted in the centre of this square. with the time the pine had to be replaced so you won't see the original, of course. The existing one has been planted in 1985 and succeeded numerous ones planted during the history. This is one of the best loved areas for artists and bohemians, located just off the Ramblas. Without the frequent festivities held here - this romantic square is calm, relaxing and one of the best squares for having a breakfast or supper. Food markets (honey, cheeses (including "mato" - local mild cheese), breads, nuts, fruits, vegetables and meats) are held here at certain times. As you walk along the stalls, you're frequently offered free samples:
The square is surrounded by old decorated façades antique shops and old bars and restaurants. Do NOT miss having photos of the surrounding houses' facades:
During Septembre the famous procession of the Gigantes (Giants) is taking place:
The quite small square is dominated by the mighty Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi (14th and 15th centuries) with its huge multicolored rose window. Along with the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral, and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, it is one of the most-visited churches in the city. The meaning is: "St. Mary of the Pine". It is a 14th-century church. The church was built in Catalan Gothic style during 1319 to 1391. it is known that in 987 there existed a church outside the city walls and to the west of Barcelona. This was a small Romanesque church dedicated to the Blessed Lady of the Pine Tree (one of the titles of the Virgin Mary). The church was built between 1319 and 1391. The style of the church was Catalan Gothic. However, in 1936 the church was gutted by a fire deliberately set by anarchists, who wanted to destroy the building. The church was restored following the end of the Civil War. Opening hours: every day: 9.30 - 13.00, 17.00 - 20.30. FREE. We can also find here the house of the Gremio de los Revendedores, which dates from 1685. Opening hours: everyday: 10.00 - 18.00.
The front façade has an incredible large rose window, that is actually a reproduction done on 1940 of the original one that was destroyed in 1936. Over the years, the construction of neighbouring buildings has obscured the ancient walls of the church. Below is the Gothic arch of the main entrance. The tympanum of the main entrance is divided by two small columns into three arched areas. In the central area is a statue of the Virgin and Child, and above this are placed the arms of the city and of the parish.
Outside, we can see a Romanesque portal from a series of sculptures, such as capitals, with figurative ornamentation plant, a remarkable quality, which joined the Gothic doorways and can be dated to the middle of the 12th century:
The bell tower is octagonal in shape, rising to 54 metres. It has six bells, of which the largest is "Antònia", which has a diameter of 1.4 metres and weighs 1,806 kilograms. Construction was started on the bell tower in 1379, under the instructions of the architect, Barthomeu Mas, and was completed in 1461, or thereabouts:
Inside, the church is vast and very dark, making the light from the rose window (particularly in late afternoon) all the more stunning. The floor plan of the church comprises a single nave, almost devoid of ornamentation, made up of seven rectangular sections, each covered with a vaulted ceiling and with side-chapels placed between the supporting pillars. The fire of 1936 destroyed the high altar, the altarpiece, the statues, the choir stalls from 1868 and the organ created in 1808 by Johan de Kyburz:
The high altar is the work of Joaquim de Ros i de Ramis. It was installed in 1967. The statue of Santa Maria del Pi, 3.3 metres high, was created in 1973 by the sculptor Enric Monjo.
The original Baroque choir stalls dated from 1771 and were designed by Josep Mas i Dordal. In 1868 these were replaced by neo-Gothic stalls, which were destroyed in the fire of 1936. In 1986 the previous Baroque stalls were re-instated.
The most notable feature of the architecture however, and which completely dominates the facade, is the gigantic rose window, a full 10 meters in diameter. It was completely restored in 1940 thanks to the efforts of the great Catalan architect Josep Maria Jujol, a pupil of Gaudí. By sheer luck, Jujol and his students had sat down and drawn detailed plans of the window prior to the Civil War. The parish was able to use the plans to reconstruct their lost window directly from an architect’s plans, rather than from photographs or simply a best guess. The original stained-glass windows have not survived:
The oldest of of the other windows that exist now date from 1718. Of these, the window depicting the Adoration of the Magi (above the Door of Avemaria) is the work of Antoni Viladomat. Saint Joseph Oriol, canonized in 1909, who was priest in this parish between 1687 and 1702, is buried in this church in the Chapel of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat:
the treasury (Tresor) of the Basilica, which contains a large collection of jewelry Catalan, the permanent historical exhibition, the crypt, the garden and the bell, first opened to the public with views of Barcelona:
The Basilica Garden:
When you enter Santa Maria del Pi, look directly to your right and you will find four giants staring back at you from inside a floor-to-ceiling glass case. These Gegants are wearable puppets. They’re a highlight of parades and Catholic feast days in Barcelona and are known for their traditional dances. The largest giants are the oldest, dating from some time prior to 1601. The man is a Saracen, a medieval Muslim and the woman is a medieval lady. They were temporarily retired in 1780 when King Charles III issued a decree declaring them too grotesque for religious celebrations, but they returned in 1799 for the feast of Corpus Christi after a successful petition on their behalf and a formal pardon. The smaller giants, the petit Gegants, joined in the festivities after the 1780 ban was lifted. They’re dressed as a respectable, upper-class couple and their clothing has often changed with fashion. All four giants were packed in boxes and stored in the bell tower in 1870. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War they were moved to the city’s historical archives and then to the Monastery of Pedralbes in Barcelona north district. There they were spared during the Tragic Week of 1936 when members of the Radical Party destroyed many of Barcelona’s churches and monasteries. After the war the giants were moved back to Santa Maria del Pi and were sadly forgotten about. In 1951 the giants were rediscovered and restored. Nine years later they were back on the streets performing in festivals. In 1985 they were given names to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their rediscovery. The Saracen is now known as Mustafá and the medieval lady Elisenda (to honor Queen Elisenda de Montcada, the foundress of the Monastery of Pedralbes.) The petit Gegants are known as Oriol (for St. José, patron saint of the barrio of Pi) and Laia (a nickname to St. Eulalia, the patroness of Barcelona). Every year close to the end of September Barcelona holds its largest street party, the Barcelona La Mercè Festival. These 4 giants and many others are marching along Barcelona streets - statrting their route in Placa del Pi:
Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol resides 45 m. east to Plaça del Pi. Again, one of the prettiest in the Barri Gòtic. Its bars and cafes attract bohemians and artists and make it a lively place to hang out. It is surrounded by quaint streets, many dotted with appealing cafes, restaurants and shops. The Mercat del Art de la Placa de Sant Josep Oriol is held here. On your way to this square you pass through Placeta del Pi (behind the Basilica). Both are cosy and idyllic areas in Barri Gotic.
From Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol we head northeast on Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 10 m. Turn left to stay on Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 35 m. Turn right to stay on Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 10 m. Slight right onto Carrer de la Palla for 60 m. and you see the Duck Store, Carrer de la Palla, 11 on your left:
From the Duck Store, Carrer de la Palla, 11- head north on Carrer de la Palla toward Carrer dels Banys Nous, 5 m. Sharp RIGHT (east) onto Carrer dels Banys Nous, 45 m. Turn left onto Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, 45 m. Continue onto Carrer de Sant Sever, 30 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Felip Neri, 30 m. Turn left onto Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, 30 m. The narrow, labyrinthine streets of the Gothic Quarter come out into this unexpected spot. A tiny square with a charming little fountain in the middle and overlooked by the Baroque church of Sant Felip Neri. On one side, you can see the buildings that once housed the city's shoemakers' and coppersmiths' guilds, which moved here from their premises on Carrer de la Bòria and Carrer de la Corribia, respectively. The square features a number of historic elements that make it particularly attractive, especially when you view it in silence. During the civil war the convent was used as a home for evacuated children. On the 30th of January 1938 a bomb dropped by Franco’s air force exploded directly in front of the church killing 30 of the children who were sheltering inside. Shortly afterwards, while people were trying to rescue survivors, a second bomb exploded in the square bringing the death toll to 42. A plaque reminds us of the fact that a bombing raid by Fascist planes:
The romantic, slightly faded Plaça Sant Felip Neri is an unmissable corner of the Gothic Quarter. It is dominated by the Baroque church from which it takes its name. The Church of Sant Felip Neri was built as an annex to the convent of the "Felipons" (the followers of the saint) who settled on this site in 1673. The Baroque church was built later, in around 1750, and was one of the few examples of this style in Barcelona. The main façade has simple lines. The doorway is crowned by a niche with a statue of the Saint to which the temple is dedicated. Note the awful verdict of the Fascist bombardment in the church walls:
The interiors has a single cross-vaulted nave and rectangular apse, and features side chapels with neoclassical altars and paintings by Joan Llimona. The atmosphere inside the church is very peaceful. The sculptural group behind the high altar in the apse with the crucifixion in the center is spectacular. There is fantastic acoustics in the church. Sometimes concerts of Baroque music are held inside.
In case you find yourself in the Barri Gotic in Saturday midday or afternoon - hurry up to Plaça Nova (150 m.) - to see the Sardana dances there during the summer months. (we've been in Plaça Nova - see Tip 2).
From Plaça de Sant Felip Neri to Plaça Nova: Head northeast on Plaça de Sant Felip Neri toward Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe, 15 m. Continue onto Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe, 55 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de Garriga i Bachs, 10 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Bisbe, 55 m. Slight right onto Plaça Nova.
To return from Plaça Nova to La Rambla - see Tip 2.
To return from Plaça Sant Felip Neri to Liceu Metro station, La Rambla: From Plaça Sant Felip Neri head south toward Carrer de Sant Felip Neri
30 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Sant Felip Neri, 30 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Sant Sever, 30 m. Continue onto Baixada de Santa Eulàlia,
45 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Banys Nous, 30 m. Turn right onto Carrer de l'Ave Maria, 40 m. Continue straight (BACK) onto Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 10 m. Turn right to stay on Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 40 m. Turn left BACK onto Plaça del Pi, 25 m. Continue onto Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, 50 m. Turn right BACK onto Passatge d'Amadeu Bagués, ascend the stairs, 50 m. Turn right onto La Rambla/Rambla de Sant Josep, 30 m.
You arrived to the Liceu Metro station.
1/2 day in Tibidabo Mountain:
Weather: ONLY clear day. Duartion: 1/2 day. The Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart is spectacular and is worth visiting at a leisurely pace because it is loaded with details, symbolism and history, that one can only perceive if one looks at it carefully. Distance: 1/2 km.
Introduction: Tibidabo is a 500 m. and the tallest mountain overlooking Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It provides spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline. On the summit of the mountain reside the Sagrat Cor church and adjacent Tibidabo Amusement Park. The Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower is also a short walk away. The church is topped by an impressive sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Josep Miret Llopart and designed by Enric Sagnier,
The most conservative way of transport is the Tibibus, which runs every 20 minutes from Plaça de Catalunya to Tibidabo. The bus T2A operates, on days on which the Tibidabo Amusement Park is open, from 10.15 every 20 minutes.
Tibidabo can be reached via the Tibidabo Funicular, which was the first of its kind in Spain, and by the Tramvia Blau or road. The Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona minibus service 111 connects it to Vallvidrera village and the upper station of the Vallvidrera funicular. From Placa Catalunya Metro stations follow the L3 signs and then follow the signs of orange FGC (or: train wagon symbol) . On the electronic board search locations and times of FGC S1 and S2 lines to Terrassa. The 8th stop in these lines is the Peu Tibidabo or Peu del funicular (train station). From there you take the cable car or elevator until Vallvidrera Superior. You just need one normal metro ticket for the whole combination of vehicles !
From there bus 111 ((ordinary ticket)) until the Basilica located on the summit of Mount Tibidabo:
The bus stops opposite the Basilica located on the summit of Mount Tibidabo: Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor or Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (in Spanish: Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús).
The building was designed by the Spanish architect Enric Sagnier and was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. The construction of the church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, lasted from 1902 to 1961 !!! The crypt was built between 1903 and 1911, and the main church was built between 1915 and 1951. The towers were completed afterward, with work officially ending in 1961. On 29 October 1961 the church received the title of minor basilica from Pope John Paul XXIII.
Even if you are walking up Rambla Catalunya or Passeig de Gracia, you always see the Tibidabo Basilica far on the horizon. The external appearance of the whole church looks like a Romanesque fortress of stone (from Montjuïc) The monumental neo-Gothic church is accessed by two grand outdoor stairways. The upper church has a central floor with an octagonal dome on eight columns. To many people it shows similarity to the Basilica de Sacre-Coeur in Paris or the Sacro Cuore di Gesu in Rome (see our Tipter blogs in France and Italy). Opening hours: 11.00 - 20.00 (winter: 18.00) for the cathedral. Remember: the elevator to the top and the funicular to the mountain close, both, earlier: so make sure to be here before 19.00. Prices: the Basilica itself is FREE. The elevator to the top is 3.00 Euros:
The façade of the lower Crypt has a richly decorated tympanum with sculptures by Alfons Juyol i Bach following the design of Eusebi Arnau. The sculptures represent the Virgin of Mercy, Saint George, and Saint James, the patron saints of Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain, respectively. The crypt facade consists of three semicircular arches on columns, inserted under a larger semicircular arch, originally decorated with a mosaic of the Holy Trinity by Daniel Zuloaga (destroyed in 1936). In 1955 it was redecorated by the Bru Workshop of Barcelona; the work depicts an allegory of the devotion of Spain, represented by its patron saints:
The Lower Crypt Interior:
The crypt was designed in a neo-Byzantine style, combining Gothic and classical elements, and decoration close to Modernisme. The space of the crypt consists of five naves separated by columns, the central one being wider, all with semicircular apses. The walls and vaults are lined with alabaster or decorated with mosaics, with scenes relating to the dedications of the altars: Mary Help of Christians, Saint Anthony of Padua, the Blessed Sacrament, Saint Joseph, and the Virgin of Montserrat. Polychrome alabaster is also used for the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) sculpted by Josep Miret:
The windows that bring natural light inside are complemented by stained glass windows with the following topics: the largest in the arch, in the corners, represent the appearance of the Our Lady of the Pillar and the conversion of King Reccared I to Catholicism; Saint Ferdinand and Saint Hermenegild are represented in the two large vertical windows; and the small ones located above the door are dedicated to Joachim, Isidore the Farmer, Saint Anthony and Saint Elizabeth of Portugal:
On both sides of the main door of the crypt there are two wide and winding staircases that lead to the top patio (there is also an elevator). The right hand staircase leads to the tiny primitive chapel (built 1886), financed by the Barcelona aristocrat Dorotea de Chopitea, which is situated on the highest point of the mountain, and contains an image of the Sacred Heart.
The upper church (last stop of the elevator) is square with three apses, a large central tower, and four lower towers marking the four corners of the square, and statues of the Twelve Apostles sculpted by Josep Miret. The main facade has three sections, the central wider, chaired by the figure of the Archangel Michael in the arch of the main entrance, and John Bosco in the pediment above. Over the left door is the statue of Teresa of Ávila and over the right, Marguerite Marie Alacoque. Above the door is an open gallery of arches with tracery.
The upper Basilica towers from the upper viewing terrace of the Basilica:
The last stop the elevator makes is the second terrace. This allows visitors also to go around the temples, and see the backs of the 12 apostles:
and gain access to the viewpoint at the top of the temple, first by an outside staircase, then via an interior one. The staircase also leads to the main terrace (518 m2), with beautiful views of Barcelona, the sea, the main entrance of the crypt, and Tibidabo's theme park:
The Tibidabo Amusement Park from the upper viewing terrace of the Basilica:
The upper Temple Interior: The interior is divided into a nave and two aisles with semicircular apses, with stained glasses and four rose windows on the facades. In the main altar stands the great crucifix, a work by Joan Puigdollers:
The eight stained glasses of the dome depict scenes from the life of Jesus:
The church is crowned by the enormous bronze statue of the Sacred Heart made by Josep Miret in 1950, replacing the original made by Frederic Marès in 1935, and destroyed the following year. The ascent from the Crypt, passing through the church and ending at the sculpture, reflects the rise and the purification of the human condition by means of sacrifice and devotion. The Jesus Christ bronze statue above your head resembles of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ statue of Corcovado:
The approximately 520-meter-high Tibidabo is the highest mountain in the Collserola mountain range and shields the city from the weather of the hinterland. The Tibidabo is worth it alone because of its breathtaking view. On a clear day, you have a vision to Montserrat:
From the distance - you see from Tibidabo mountain the Collserola TV tower is like a needle pointing towards the sky. It has been an iconic part of the Barcelona skyline since the year of the Olympics, 1992. its observation deck is the highest in the city and provides spectacular views of Barcelona and its surrounding area. You can sometimes see as far as 70 kilometres. The Collserola communications Tower was designed by the British architect Norman Foster. The complex comprises a service and maintenance building and the 445-metre-high tower, which has stood since 1992 on the hill known as Turó de la Vilana located in the Sarrià Sant Gervasi district. The glassy observation deck, 560 metres above sea level, is located on the tenth platform which is reached from inside the tower by means of a lift taking the public to the deck in under two and a half minutes. The highest point of this tower is actually the highest place you could be in the city of Barcelona. Bus line 111 (see above) connects the Tibidabo with the Conserolla Tower. Alternatively, if you first want to visit the tower, you can use the F.G.C. (Calatan transport companies, integrated in the metro network of Barcelona) line S1 or S1 to station "Peu de Funicular" and proceed with the funicular up to the mountain station. This is situated in the small village Vallvidrera. To the tower there are about 500 metres to go. Opening hours: WED – SUN: 11.30 – 14.30, 15.30 – 19.00. Prices: Adult: 5€, Child: FREE.
At the top station of Cablacarca which leads to the top of Tibidabo, is the Parque d'Atracccions. The amusement park offers a few good round-about, Ferris wheel and roller coaster with similarly grandiose views. Attractions also include the vending machine museum Museu d'Automates del Tibidabo on the grounds of the amusement park:
You can catch marvelous views of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor from the park's grounds:
View of the mountains in the west from the Amusement Park:
In Tibidabo Square, in front of the main entrance to the Basilica, you will find the Club del Aventures (The Adventurers Club) restaurant, which offers you a varied offer of salads, tapas and sandwiches. It has a terrace, heated indoor dining room and Wi-Fi service. Open: from 10.00 am to the closing time of the amusement park. From 10.30 to 11.30 you can enjoy a breakfast offer for only € 3.50: mixed sandwich + coffee or latte (available only on days that the amusement park is open):
We use the same means of public transport in our way back: catching bus #111 back to the Vallvidrera Superior stop. Going down with the elevator to the Peu del Funicular underground train station. Catching S1 or S2 trains (from platform/Via 2) back to Placa de Catalunya.
Barcelona - Barri Gòtic.
Tip 1: from La Rambla to Plaça del Rei.
Main Attractions of Tip 1 only: Placa de la Boqueria, Casa Bruno Cuadros, Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Plaça Sant Jaume, Palau de la Generalitat, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Plaça de Sant Miquel, Plaça de Sant Just, Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor, MUHBA Temple d'August, Plaça del Rei, Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA).
Tip 2: from Plaça del Rei and Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) to Plaça Nova.
Main Attractions of Tip 2: Museu Frederic Marès, Cathedral of Barcelona (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia), Pont del Bisbe, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Plaça Nova.
Tip 3: from Plaça del Pi to Plaza de San Felipe Neri.
Main Attractions of Tip 3: Plaça del Pi, Plaza de San Felipe Neri.
Start: Liceu Metro station, La Rambla. End: La Rambla - Liceu Metro station. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7-9 km.
Introduction: Do not miss the Barrio Gotico (Barri Gotic) With its iconic, old-Europe streets and alleys, this picturesque neighborhood is the very heart of Barcelona. It blends historic artifacts from its days under Roman dominion up through the Spanish Civil War with a vibrant modern-day culture of artisan shops and authentic culinary experiences. Avid explorers will be thrilled to discover quaint terraces and plazas
brought to life by the many small bars and local musicians lasting late into the night.The Barrio Gotico (Gotic Quarter) resides between La Rambla, Plaça Sant Jaume and the Barcelona Cathedral.
From the Liceu Metro station - we cross the Rambla avenue from west to east and walk a bit northward to connect with Placa de la Boqueria. The term Rambla used for this avenue, is due to Arabic, that means seasonal river. It is well tree-lined avenue with some kiosks selling handicrafts, with dining tables, with two parallel streets, which run from Placa Catalunya to the old port of Barcelona. Pla de la Boqueria is a bit north and adjacent to the mosaic by Joan Miró (created around 1976) in the Pla de l’Os. Placa de la Boqueria has many flower stalls. Note the impressive sculpture into one of the square's walls:
The Casa Bruno Cuadros or the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) stands in the beginning of Carrer de la Boqueria (on your left). Just make sure you look upwards at the buildings as you're walking in the la Boqueria square on the other side of Mercado La Boqueria. You might miss it without realizing it. It was 1883 when the architect Josep Vilaseca undertook the refurbishment of the Casa Bruno Cuadros and the umbrella shop on the ground floor. It was just a few years before the 1888 Universal Exhibition and Barcelona was in an hype of expansion, with interesting buildings being built all over the city. The Catalan home-grown art-nouveau movement, Modernista, was gaining momentum and, with it, the tendecy for oriental and exotic decorations. The Casa Bruno Cuadros of Barcelona, known by locals as the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) is an example. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s most opulent decorative element is the ornate Chinese dragon on the corner of the façade. It was used to advertise the shop, together with the umbrella below it. The building was refurbished in 1980, and the BBVA bank has, now, its premises in the stunning umbrellas shop of Barcelona.
Josep Vilaseca combined the former style of Modernista with more types of architectural elements inspired by other cultures into an eclectic building which amazes everyone who walks along La Rambla. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s balconies and the top-floor gallery are replete with Egyptian imagery. The façade features elaborate stained-glass windows as well as reliefs of umbrellas and fans made of cast-iron. Oriental motifs (people taken from Japanese prints) and enameled glasses decorate the outer walls.
Art Deco dragon at the Placa de la Boqueria:
We walk along Carrer de la Boqueria, for the whole road, from west to east. The road slights, a bit, left (to Carrer dels Banys Nous), and continues (immediately, RIGHT) as Carrer del Call. We enter labyrinth narrow streets in el Call - the Jewish Quarter. From Calle del Call turn left onto Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 35 m. In this narrow road you can can find many places of interest like the Centred Interpretació the Call (Arc de Sant Ramon). This place is in the House called the Alchemist - a very old building of 14th century. On your right, immediately as you enter this road - Hotel call. The Momo bar/restaurant is in Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 6. Japan's number one outlet in Barcelona. Authentic Japanese restaurant.
Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call - on the right: Centro de Interpretación del Call (MUHBA):
Turn right to Carrer de Marlet and after 30 m. you see the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Carrer de Marlet, 5 on your left.
Few people know however is that Barcelona is in fact home to a fascinating Jewish history, the echoes of which can still be found today in the fascinating quarter of El Call in Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic. It is said that Jewish people had lived in the region from as early as the Roman period and their culture had flourished up until the dawn of the horrendous Spanish Inquisition in 1391. They had resided in what was known as El Call (probably from the Hebrew ‘Kahal’ or ‘Kehilla’ meaning community), an area of the Barri Gòtic (Barrio Gotico). However, on August the 5th 1391 came the infamous massacre of the Jews in Barcelona causing, apart from the obvious huge loss of life, a vast fleeing from the city or at best the conversion to the Christian faith. Jewish public life virtually disappeared for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Jewish people started returning to the Catalan capital.
Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the history of the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona – the city’s once principal synagogue, located on Carrer de Marlet 5, (or at number 7, Sant Domènec del Call street), right in the heart of the old Jewish neighborhood. inside the block lying between the streets Sant Domènec, Marlet and Arc de Sant Ramon del Call and the current Manuel Ribé square. It had tree access doors: via Marlet street,
via an alley which has since disappeared which left number 8 of Arc de Sant Ramon del Call street and the entrance at number 9 of Sant Domènec street. At the start of the street there was the entrance portal, the doorkeeper´s house and the Jewish butcher's which, although not an institution, it was the place where kosher meat was sold. With Roman foundations, the building is thought to have existed in some shape or form since the 5th century, and along with Rome’s Ostia synagogue is said to be one of the oldest in Europe. It has been described as one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building re-opened as a synagogue and museum in year 2002. It is used ONLY during festive occasions. Archaeological excavations show that the original structure of the building was built in the third or fourth century; whether this structure was the synagogue is uncertain. The building was expanded during the 13th century. Medieval Barcelona is known to have had several synagogues, and the main synagogue was certainly in the immediate area. King Jaume I visited the synagogue in year 1263. Shlomo ben Aderet served as the Rabbi of the Barcelona Sinagoga Major for 50 years.
Ancient Hebrew street signs and engravings, secret Jewish baths and ancient Jewish ruins are hidden beneath and under existing cafés and shops in El Call. As we said before - the Sinagoga Major was restored and finally opened to the public in 2002. This captivating building is well worth the visit and the entrance is, especially, fascinating: a small door leading down flights of stairs to the original street level of the Roman foundations. In the left room of the synagogue you’ll notice two large windows. These windows face to the east, to the city of Jerusalem.
The building also has other interesting curiosities such as displays of Jewish items revealing a great deal about the culture and society of the community. Today no regular services are held in the synagogue however special ceremonies do occasionally take place. Tours of the building are available in both English and Hebrew. Opening hours: Summer: MON – FRI: 10.30 – 18.30, SAT - SUN: 10.30 – 14.30. Winter: MON – FRI: 11.00 – 18.00, SAT - SUN: 11.00 – 15.00.
The Menorah in the ancient Sinagoga Major:
Walk until the most northern end of Marlet street and turn right to Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call:
Do not miss the the Tinglado tapas bar in Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call, 10. This is a tiny, very low key restaurant in a lane way that you could easily walk past and miss - but don't. Very special experience and tastes - very high quality tapas with chocolate candies, salads , cakes etc'. If you do not like them, you do not have to pay for. English-speaking owner. Reasonable prices. Sweet and polite (not pushy) service.
From Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call - turn LEFT back to Carrer del Call. Walk north-east along Carrer del Call until you arrive to Plaça Sant Jaume. We shall return to Plaça Sant Jaume, but, at the moment, turn left to Carrer de Sant Honorat. This road was the epic centre of the rich Jewish community in Barcelona. On your right, in this road, is the Gothic, robust and austere facade of the Catalan Generalitat. It corresponds to the old houses of great Jewish families who left Barcelona when the Call was abolished in 1401 . At that time, the Jewish houses were confiscated and passed to private hands or public institutions. In the 17th century , the Generalitat palace was expanded under the direction of Pere Pau Ferrer, as we see it today.
In Calle Sant Honorat, 9 you see the first Catalan school opened in Catalonia:
We return southward to Plaça Sant Jaume. This is the administrative heart of both Barcelona the city and surrounding Catalonia. it derives its reputation and importance due the Palau de la Generalitat (Palace of the Generalitat) of Catalonia and the City Hall (Ayuntamento) which are located here across from one another. This square was the centre of the Roman city of Barcino. At this junction there were the forum and the Temple of Augustus, of which four columns are preserved on top of Mont Tàbor and found at the adjacent Paradís Street. The Square takes its modern name from the church of Church of Sant Jaume, The old church was demolished in 1823 when Ferran Street was being built. Its demolition also allowed for the Sant Jaume square to be rebuilt as it exists today. Prior to these demolitions, the square was limited to a small angular space, with the rest of the future plaza being occupied by the old church, its cemetery, and the houses of the Magistracy and the General Court of the Veguer. Here, in this square converged, the Cardus (now Carrer de la Llibreteria and Carrer Call), and the Decumanus (now Carrer Ciutat and Carrer del Bisbe) in the Roman era. This square has been witness to some of the most important events in recent Catalan history, such as the proclamation of the Catalan State in 1931 or the return of Josep Tarradelles from exile in 1977. On Sunday mornings, people come to dance the Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia. It is a very Catalan event and worth watching by foreigners and tourists (see Tip 2).
Festival of La Mercè in Barcelona 2016 in Plaça Sant Jaume: The words 'Mercè' in Catalan and 'Merced' in Spanish mean mercy in English. Every year at the end of September, Barcelona performs the biggest street party, the La Mercè festival in several central sites. La Mercè de Barcelona lasts 5 days and is a festival that takes place in honor of the Mare de Deu de la Mercè (Mother of God of Mercy), the patron saint of Barcelona. During the festival, which officially took place for the first time in 1902, there are hundreds of different activities that take place in the city. One of the main events is Giants (Parade of Giants) at Plaça Sant Jaume (usually at 11:00 and 16.00 on Sunday). The parade of giants is a very popular event for the whole family. Enormous giants with images of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets of Barcelona. These huge figures rise above the crowd and spin around so that the audience can see them in all their glory. The parade is usually accompanied by small percussion groups that play a rhythm with the drums while the giants pass by:
The Legend of La Mercè: according to legend on the night of 2nd August 1218 the Virgin Mary appeared to the Catalan knight Pere Nolasc. She asked him to form a sacred order of monks with her name. He did as she asked and formed the Order of Merced, which was dedicated to ransoming Christians, who had been taken prisoners by Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades and who could not afford to pay their ransoms. The Order of Mercy was established on August 10th 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort, and with support from King Jaume 1 of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona. The details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy can be seen in the Crown of Aragon Archives in Barcelona. Centuries later in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè came to the aid of Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear. After the locust plague the city council elected La Mercè as co-patron saint of Barcelona although she was not officially canonised as a patron saint of Barcelona until 1868 by Pope Pius IX. Barcelona has celebrated La Mercè festival every year since 1687 and never been plagued by locusts since then. La Mercè was also briefly appointed "supreme commander" of the army during the war of Spanish succession in 1714, when Barcelona was under siege from French troops. The Virgin of La Mercè had better success fighting locusts than French soldiers because Barcelona lost the battle in 1714 and the city was captured by the French on 11th September 1714... This defeat ... is now commemorated every September 11th as the Catalunya national day:
The Palau de la Generalitat was built to provide a permanent seat for the Corts Catalanes, the Catalan Assembly set up in 1283 which is referred to as "the first parliament in Europe". The Palau de la Generalitat is one the most historically rich places in Barcelona. It is bounded by the Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de Sant Sever and Carrer de Sant Honorat. As the name indicates, it is home to the offices of the Generalitat of Spain and houses governmental institutions. The building was built during the medieval era which makes it one of the very few structures in all of Europe from that time period. The building and its façade were designed by Pere Blai in 1596. This façade faces the Placa de Sant Jaume and is unique in the fact that it is perhaps the only façade built based on this style in all of Barcelona. The Catalan parliament was abolished in 1714, when the city fell to Philip V's army, but it was reinstated in the 20th century during the Second Republic, only to be suppressed again by General Franco after he won the Civil War in 1939. In 1977, two years after Franco's death, Spain was moving towards democracy and the former President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Josep Tarradellas returned from exile to Barcelona and uttered the historic words: "Catalans, I am here!". He spoke from the main balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, in front of Andreu Aleu's sculpture of Saint George (1860). The gallery floor, and the inner courtyard, inside, are very beautiful. Inside the building there is a superb Gothic cloister, with a staircase designed by Marc Safont, who also created the façade on Carrer del Bisbe (the former main entrance) and the beautiful chapel on the first floor, built in the flamboyant Gothic style:
Upon prior arrangement (http://www.catalangovernment.eu/pres_gov/government/en/president/palau-generalitat/visites.html), the Palau de la Generalitat can be visited on the second and fourth weekend of every month (excluding August). Each guided visit is free, lasts approximately one hour and should be prearranged by filling out the application form below. Saint George's Day (23 April), La Mercè (24 September) and the National Day of Catalonia (11 September) are all open days at the Palau de la Generalitat. No appointment is necessary. On these dates - admission is FREE.
Opposite the Generalitat Palace stands Ajuntament de Barcelona or Barcelona City Hall or Casa de la Ciutat. The neoclassical façade was, designed by Pere Llobet and built in the 14th century. There is a tourist information office on the ground floor of the building:
South to Plaça Sant Jaume resides Plaça de Sant Miquel. A nice square with modern, attractive sculptures. The most impressive sculpture is Antoni Llena’s chicken wire tribute to "Castellers" - the human beings' tower building in festivities of Catalonia. This unusual 26.5m high stainless steel tower by Antoni Llena i Font was unveiled in 2012 during the Feast of Santa Eulalia. It is titled "Homenatge als Castellers". In the real human towers the lower layers are formed by men, the middle layers by women and teenagers and the upper levels by children. The unattached part(s) at the top of the sculpture bring to mind the outstretched arm of the "Enxaneta" or small child who tops the tower:
From Plaça de Sant Miquel head northwest, 20 m. Turn right toward Placa de Sant Jaume, 40 m. Turn right onto the square further for 45 m.
Turn right 35 m. Turn left, 70 m. We arrive to Plaça de Sant Just. Placa Sant Just lies deep in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It was once the burial place of the first local Christian martyrs. Back in the Middle Ages it was the only place of Barcelona where Jews and Christians were allowed to trade legally together. A testament to that period is the 14th century fountain (Font de San Just) said to be the oldest water source in the city. Made of Montjuïc stone, it was carved in 1367 (BUT it is now a 19th century version). The fountain is bearing an image of St. Justo along with a pair of falcons and the kings’ coat of arms. Freshen up your face or fill a water bottle for a free clean drink:
The 13th-century church on the plaza, the Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor is an ancient church, perhaps one of the oldest in the city of Barcelona. It stands on the site of the original 4th-century Christian basilica in Barcino (Roman Barcelona), and the predecessor to this Gothic church functioned as the seat of the archbishop until the city’s cathedral was constructed. The Church of the Martyred Saints Just & Pastor is said to contain remains of the two martyrs: Saint Justo and Pastor who lost their lives in the fourth century. Looking from the outside it is hard to imagine that a major part of the church represents the original Visigothic style of art and architecture and that later modifications were done on the structure. This plain stone edifice was ever used for anything as grand as a cathedral. Back in the eleventh century, this particular church was a cathedral during the time that the Romanesque cathedral was under construction:
The church boasts Gothic architecture. Some of the relics that once belonged to these two saints have been preserved in a chest and are present in this church. The entrance to the church is grand and there is a courtyard present at the left side. Looking up from the wooden benches, the magnificent stained glass windows come into sight. Walk forward and you'll find yourself in a chapel adorned with statues and chandeliers. If hungry and wish to soak up the atmosphere of the square, have a dinner outside at the famous Café de l'Academia:
From Plaça de Sant Just we zigzag towards MUHBA Temple d'August. Head southwest for 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza de San Jaime, 40 m. Now, turn left toward Plaza de San Jaime, 35 m. Turn right onto Plaza de San Jaime, 50 m, turn right 40 m and you'll see the sign of Temple Roma d'August, Carrer del Paradís,10. Temple d'August or the temple of Augustus was built during the Roman Imperial period as a temple for the Emperor Augustus. The Temple d’August is believed to have been constructed under Tiberius. The temple originally had 11 columns on every wing, one on each corner, 6 at the front and 6 on the posterior side. The original temple was destroyed at some point in history and archeologists failed to recover the remains till the 19th century. It was then that initially 3 columns of the temple, followed by the fourth one were found and are visible today near the Placa del Rei (see below) and the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya. Entry is FREE, and it's usually quite peaceful unless a passing tour pops in. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. MON: 10.00 - 14.00:
110 m. further north is the Plaza del Rey. From the Temple of Augustus we head northwest, 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza del Rey, 65 m. Turn a bit to the left and on your right is the Plaça del Rei ("King's Square"). The royal palace, the Palau Reial Major, and its surrounding buildings, enclose a noble, harmonious and peaceful square. No shops and no bars. This small square is just about history and architecture.
The imposing royal building that we see in front of us (north side of the square) is the Palau Reial Major. The palace was the residence of the Catalan counts from the 13th to the early 15th centuries, and the history of the building can be traced back even to the Barcelona of the 11th century. Its current appearance is the result of alterations carried out in the 13th century. The building is Gothic in style, but the base of the building features Visigothic and Romanesque elements. It is equipped with the watchtower of King (Rei or Rey) Martí on one side. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Children: FREE. Free admission on the first Sunday of the month, and every Sunday from 15.00.
Palau Reial Major (centre of the picture):
Inside, the Great Hall, or Saló del Tinell, with its round arches, is the most representative and beautiful room in the Palau Reial Major:
On one side of the building (with your face tothe Royal Palace - on the right), on top of the old Roman wall of Barcelona. Santa Agata chapel is also known as the Royal Chapel. It was built in 1302 by order of Jaime II and his wife Blanca D'Anjou. Opening hours: TUE - SAT:10.00 - 19.00, WED: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Groups: €5, Children: FREE:
Inside, the Agatha chapel houses the 15th century reredos of the High Constable, by Jaume Huguet, one of the landmarks in Catalan painting. A staircase that leads to the sixteenth century tower by Martín el Humano is accessed from a small room to the right of the altar:
The building opposite is the 16th-century Palau del Lloctinent, or Lieutenant's Palace, which has a beautiful Renaissance courtyard. The Palau (palace) was built in the 1550s as the residence of the Spanish Lloctinent (viceroy) of Catalonia and later converted into a convent. From 1853 it housed the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragón, a unique archive with documents detailing the history of the Crown of Aragón and Catalonia, starting in the 12th century and reaching to the 21st. Entrance from Carrer dels Comtes de Barcelona 2:
From Placa del Rei walk eastward 30 m. along Carrer del Veguer to enter the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA). Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Price: 7 euros. FREE admission every first Wednesday of the month. DO NOT MISS THIS MUSEUM. Beautifully presented Roman and early Christian excavations. Excellent voice commentary and clear directions. Most of the museum exhibitions are underground. You actually go below the streets of medieval Barcelona to see the older Roman city of Barcino. You will be blown away by the Roman archeological ruins which are very interesting and have good explanations. You follow a walk way through the Roman ruins listening to an audio guide and It is really fascinating. The Roman ruins are displayed In the basement of the museum You walk on top of the foundations and view them through a plexi-glass floor. Note: during the summer months the temperature downstairs in the MUHBA halls can be a bit too high. Expect the aircon system there to solve this problem entirely.
After entering the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona - MUHBA we shall walk around (eastward) its walls. Head southeast on Plaça del Rei toward Baixada de Santa Clara, 20 m. Continue onto Carrer del Veguer, 60 m. Continue onto Carrer de les Trompetes de Jaume I, 25 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Jaume I, 35 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de l'Àngel, 20 m. From Plaça de l'Àngel - you can see the eastern wall of the Palau Reial Major:
Head BACK southwest on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Carrer del Sots - Tinent Navarro, 20 m. Turn right to stay on plaça de l'Àngel, 25 m. Turn left onto Baixada de la Llibreteria, 60 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Freneria
20 m and walk until you arrive to Plaça De Sant Iu and see, again, the towering Cathedral of Barcelona:
From Plaça De Sant Iu - there is an entrance to Museu Frederic Mares (see Tip 2 below). We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our itinerary in the Barri Gotic. Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA).
We strolled around in the alleys of Stone and Mali Stone, and I wasn’t too impressed. We were too tired to climb the wall. We planned to take a cruise to Mljet island that day, but the cloudy weather, a two hour wait till the ferry arrived, and the fact that we hadn't booked a place for the night on the island led us, with much regret, to change our plans and to head on to Split. We admired the view along the shores and the view of each and every bay and inlet. On the way we passed by a beautiful nature reserve with lakes and islands named Baćinska jezera.
"Finally, we got to Brisbane, the city that looked so far away on the map. It took us a month, but the fact of the matter is, we are here at last. So what did we have in Brisbane? We got mail, and a lot of it, as a big chunk of it chased us along the way and the lesser part was sent here. There were letters from Sydney and Singapore, and one package even followed us all the way from Iceland!! There was McDonald’s and all kinds of maps we picked up from RACQ, postcards bought in NPWS and traveler checks cashed into real money. We didn’t go up the city tower because of an elevator malfunction. Tomorrow we’ll probably head on north, since we are not in the mood for a big and crowded city. But, importantly, we have showered, we have something to read, and tomorrow we’ll do our laundry and phone home. From the big city, all that is left is a photo of an agama that passed by the camp".
We naturally continue to the Tuileries gardens. It's the beginning of the spring, and the some trees are starting to bloom. Other trees are still bare and hibernating for the winter. We wander in the beautiful gardens. The girl was running from one statue to another, while I was trying to catch her. The local fountains didn't work (later we found out the entire city’s fountains were disabled). We realize we're approaching the Seine River, and just ahead of us, a bridge.
Surrey Quays Circular Walk.
Start: Surrey Quays Station.
End : Surrey Quays Station.
Distance: 12 km.
Orientation: History, nice city views, pure nature, tranquility and striking docks and piers - all in one ticket. In a bright day - I promise you unforgettable places. Greenford Wharf in a clear day - one of the most unexpected gems of London ! The old Surrey Docks area has now been extensively regenerated brilliantly with new buildings, eateries and warehouses. The mix of water, remains of the docklands, boats, tree-lined avenues and walking promenades in these areas - is one of the most beautiful around the globe. The walk is quite long - but extremely pleasant in a clear day. A marvelous day, especially in a cloudless day !!!
Lunch: We recommend that you'll pack sandwiches and wait, patiently, until the end of this long trip. You'll find the Nando's restaurant in the second floor of the Surrey Quays Commercial /Shopping Centre. Otherwise find a bar or restaurant in Rotherhithe. Later, it might be difficult to find an established restaurant...
From Surrey Quays Station turn left and cross the junction continuing on the left-hand side of Lower Road for about 50 metres. Turn left through China Hall Gate into Southwark Park:
Take the left fork on a path that curves around a fenced running track. Swing right at the end of the fence and follow a path near the left edge of the park. Continue until you see a block of flats. Turn right to find a lake on your left. On front of the gallery turn left and continue to follow the lake edge. Continue to the end of the lake, then turn left into the Ada Salter Garden:
Ada Salter, after whom this garden is named, was Britain's first woman Labour mayor. Exit through the gate at the far end of the garden and turn right. Turn right again at the T-junction and cross internal park drive to go down the path opposite. Take the next right, then left to pass in front of a cricket green area. While arriving to a drinking fountain, fork left to arrive at the charming bandstand from the Great Exhibition of 1851:
Continue half-right to the corner of the park. Exit the park through the Paradise Gate and go across the pedestrian crossing. To your far right, at the far side of the roundabout, is the Norwegian Church of St Olav which is hidden behingd the trees (probably, you'll see only the Norwegian flag).
Go forward into King's Stairs Gardens and take the left fork. Facing the children's play area , turn left to take the curving path which joins Fulford Street. Continue to the end of the grassed area and turn left to find a somewhat unexpected view of Tower Bridge, The Shard and the City of London:
Keep close to the river as possible and then turn left along Rotherhithe Street, between refurbished old warehouses. The St Mary’s Church is on your right. You reach the Mayflower pub. The Mayflower was the Pilgrim ship that in 1620 made the historic voyage from England to the New World (America). The ship carried religious emigrants from Holland and a largely non-religious settlers group from London. The Mayflower started its voyage from Rotherhithe.:
Turn right down St Mary Church Street and go right around the front of the church to reach Hope Sufferance Wharf in the heart of Rotherhithe village. In Hope Sufferance Wharf cargoes had checked for duty when landed. Opposite Hope Sufferance Wharf is St Mary’s Burial Ground. Opposite are two buildings: the Engine House on the right and on the left is the Watch House. Next to the Watch House is an 18th century building which once housed a school founded for poor seamen's children. The boy and girl figures show school uniforms of over 200 years ago:
St Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1714. The church is closed most of the time. When it is open it affords a good view of the handsome interior. Nonetheless interesting is th the church burial ground. The most remarkable grave is of Christopher Jones, the Rotherhithe sea-captain who took the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620:
From the church, turn back and walk down Tunnel Road for 50 metres to arrive at the Brunel Museum. The drum-shaped construction marks the position of the shaft for the world's first tunnel to be driven under a navigable river by Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The tunnel they built was converted to underground railway use in 1865-9 and now carries the East London Line. The project succeeded after many delays and disasters. It began in 1825. The tunnel was finally opened to pedestrian traffic only in 1843:
Turn left behind the museum, then right to continue along Rotherhithe Street, turning back to the river at Cumberland Wharf opposite Swan Road.On your right you'll see the Winchelsea Court. Do not skip it:
You face, now, the Thames river and the Thames Path. The sculpture here is titled the Sunshine Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket. It depicts the astonishment of a 17th century pilgrim at a boy reading a 1930’s comic, with a dog gazing at him. The pilgrim’s pocket contains an A-Z, dated 1620...:
Continue now between new housing, and the river as far as the circular brick building. This building marks ventilation shafts for the Rotherhithe Road Tunnel:
Return to Rotherhithe Street and cross a bridge, which raised the roadway to allow access to the main entrance of the Surrey Commercial Docks:
Go around a large inlet, still following the river:
The way forward is now blocked by the large bulk of Globe Wharf, a grain warehouse of 1863, which was later used as a rice mill:
Go around this housing project returning to Rotherhithe Street and walking up the other side of the building back to the river. Continue on, accompanied by a line of newly-planted plane trees:
As the Canary Wharf complex comes into view:
Look across the river for the entrance to Limehouse Marina and the Limehouse Basin. This is actually Regent’s Canal Dock and is one of the two exits of London’s canal system into the Thames:
The tower of St Anne Church in Limehouse soon comes into view:
As you cross another inlet, look over to the right for the Lavender Dock pumphouse which controlled the water levels in the Surrey Docks. It is now a museum. Behind this (not visible from here) is Lavender Pond Nature Park. Continue along the riverside, passing a tall obelisk:
Another former warehouse blocks the way. Descend steps to Rotherhithe Street again and turn left, soon arriving outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. 40-50 metres further on, cross to the corner of Acorn Walk. Nelson Engine House and Draw Dock opposite had a carriage by which ships could be drawn out of the Thames for repair. Next door is the elegant mid-18th century Nelson House. Go through the gate and take the forward path away from the river, taking the subway under Salter Road.
You are now in Russia Dock Woodland, formed by the infilling of one of the Surrey Docks. What a contrast to the former parts of our daily trip and other sights of Greater London ! Continue on the main path, and cross the stream and, after 80-100 metres, turn left, recrossing it again. Keep following the stream and bear right around the pond:
Go forward through a gate. Redriff Primary School is on your left. - Redriff being an old name for Rotherhithe. Go around the curve and, just before the bridge, turn right by some large granite blocks. In 40 metres, turn right again towards the mound of Stave Hill (Note: the directions to Stave Hill might be embarassing !). Stave Hill was created by re-excavated spoil from the surrounding area. At the summit, there is a bronze relief model of the Surrey Docks as they existed in 1896. The sights from the top of the mound or hill are impressive:
Avoid exploring the Ecology Park. It will be a long and exhausting walk. Too much for one day... This is a surprisingly extensive area of woodland. Better, continue on and turn right along the base of the hill before ascending steps to the viewpoint on top. Return down the steps and turn left, taking the second of two paths on the right, Stave Hill Path, passing a school on the right. On reaching the open, continue forward for 30 metres, pass through railings and turn left. Continue on a right curve along the main path and cross a bridge to an old quayside which still retains its granite edging blocks. Over the bridge, turn right.
As you approach Redriff Road, bear right through the underpass, then through the barrier to reach Greenland Dock. Turn left, then right by the Moby Dick pub to follow the water’s edge. This dock began life around 1695 as Howland Great Wet Dock, the first of London’s docks south of the river and was renamed Greenland Dock. Gradually, as the whaling trade subsided in the 19th century, general cargo, including timber and grain imports took their place. Timber especially was handled by the Surrey Docks, and four-fifths of London’s timber was unloaded here, coming mainly from Canada and the Baltic. Between the wars, Greenland Dock saw use by 'A' Class Cunard Liners, which plied between here and Canada. Surrey Commercial Docks finally closed in December 1970 and were sold to Southwark Council:
You are now walking back towards the Thames again. Cross over the repositioned Norway Cut Swing Bridge and continue on. Continue to the junction with the Thames, where Canary Wharf has now come back into view. Note the hydraulic capstan which enabled ships to make the tight turn into the lock:
Go back and cross the bridge. Turn right along the opposite side of the Dock for just 30 metres. Turn left through a short stretch of gardens by the Wibbly Wobbly floating pub to arrive opposite South Dock on Rope Street:
Turn right here and continue until Steel Yard Cut, the channel linking the two docks. Once over, turn right, then left, along Greenland Dock again. On reaching the compound, turn left, then right down Rope Street again. Go past the Watersports Centre, then turn right to reach the water again:
The slipway just past here marks the start of the Grand Surrey Canal. The Grand Surrey Canal was intended to link all the way to Portsmouth but only got as far as Peckham before the money ran out! Continue along the remainder of Greenland Dock, at the end turning right to pass under the bridge which carries Redriff Road:
Swing to the left of the end of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and continue on past bus stands. When the road bends right, go down the ramp and cross Lower Road back to the Surrey Quays Station.
Brix-Mix - Brixton - 1/2 day walk:
Start & End: Brixton Tube Station. Last stop on the Victoria line ( still 2nd zone) in South West London, well conected with buses and Victoria line to the rest of London. See map in the end of this half-day blog.
Orientation: A short circular stroll in the centre of Brixton. Nothing special. Brixton has become very gentrified. The markets are not as gritty and tough as they used to be and but they are still fun. Go soon before the developers move in and ruin everything. During the day Brixton is quite safe except for the pickpocketing, There are cheap shops all around.
From the station go southward (left) along Brixton Rd. On your left is the Brixton Electric Avenue Market. If world food is your thing, Brixton market is the place to go. Be prepared to eat wherever there is space for you. It is a vibrant, multi-ethnic area with diverse communities and types of food:
Continue along Brixton Rd. (it changes its name to Brixton Hill Rd.). Cross Acre Ln and on your right you see the Lambeth Town Hall. Although Lambeth Council now has offices throughout the borough, the centre of Lambeth's local government is still in Brixton, where the Town Hall stands at the corner of Brixton Hill and Acre Lane. The Town Hall houses the Council Chamber and Committee rooms where the borough's elected representatives meet regularly to deal with local affairs:
On the first junction turn to the left to St. Matthew's and right to Effra Rd. Continue southward in Effra Rd. Here is the Baltic House in St. Matthew's/Effra Rd. Brixton is fluent with "posh" houses and cars...
In St.Matthew's Rd. you see the imposing front of St. Matthew's Brixton church. St Matthew's was one of four new Lambeth parish churches built in response to the growing population in the early 19th century. Consecrated in 1824, the church featured an imposing facade created by the architect C.F.Porden:
Continue in Effra Rd. and turn right in the second junction to Brixton Water Ln and, again, right to Brixton Hill Rd. Return to Windrush Square. Lambeth Town Hall will be on your left and St. Matthew's gardens on your right. Turn right to Coldharbour Ln. The Library and Ritzy Cinema are in the corner. By the library is the Sharpeville Monument. It was built to commemorate black people killed on 21 March 1960 when police opened fire on a peaceful protest in the South African township of Sharpeville. Cross the road to Coldharbour Lane. The Ritzy Cinema , opened in 1911 as the ‘Electric Pavilion Cinema’, is the second oldest cinema in London:
In front of the Ritzy is the London Plane Tree , Acer Platanus x acerifolia,
ideal for London streets as it is not harmed by pollution. Also here is the
Foundation Stone of the Old Brixton Theatre, bombed during World War II. You are now walking down Coldharbour Lane, once a winding country lane connecting Brixton to Camberwell. Turn left down Electric Lane to
Electric Avenue. This was one of the first London streets lit by
electricity. At the junction with Electric Lane, look down to Atlantic Road and the railway bridge and you will see the Hexagonal Clock. This clock has six faces so that all the train passengers can see the time:
From here you walk a few steps back to Brixton Station.
Fulham Palace and the Bishop's Park:
Start and End: Putney Bridge Tube Station.
Orientation: 2 hours pleasant walk in the Bishop's Park, Fulham Palace with nice views to the Thames and Putney Bridge. Makes a great day out.
From Putney Bridge Underground Station head north on Station Approach, turn left to stay on Station Approach and turn right onto Fulham High St. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Fulham Palace Rd. Turn left onto Bishop's Ave and you face the entrance to the Bishop's Park. Bishop's Park is located in the south of the Fulham borough adjacent to the river Thames. Restored in years 2011-2012. The park boasts an urban beach unique to London parks. It includes 4 gardens: Sculpture garden, Pryor's Bank garden, Rose garden, Spanish War Memorial garden. Its main attractions are: The Ornamental Lake, The Thames promenade overlooking the river (part of the Thames Path) (nice riverside setting !) .and the Moat Garden. A memorial to members of the International Brigade who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War is located within the park's grounds. Usually full when the weather is nice, there are places on the grounds where you throw down your blanket to enjoy the calm and relaxing atmosphere of the "palace" grounds.
Fulham Palace/Museum is a hidden gem and I recommend a visit if you want to see more of West London for free. Admission to Fulham Palace and the gardens is free of charge. Opening hours of the Palace/Museum: Saturday to Wednesday from 13.00 - to 16.00. The Museum of Fulham Palace charts the long history of the Fulham Palace site, from Prehistoric times and Roman settlement, through Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian bishops to the present day. The Fulham Palace is not, actually, a palace. That's in the church sense of the word - not royal. This building used to be the palace of the Bishop of London who is the 3rd in importance in the UK after the Bishops of Canterbury and York:
Opening hours of the Gardens: Botanical gardens – daily from dawn until dusk. Walled Garden – daily from 10.15 to 16.15 (summer)
10.15 to 15.45 (winter). The Palace grounds are not overly landscaped or manicured. Behind the house lies a walled garden that has been pretty stripped back as part of a regeneration project. The Tudor courtyard is lovely. The house itself includes more religious artifacts (minor local archeological finds). It is worth visiting if only for the walled courtyards/garden and the most pleasing small chapel.