Spain Trips

Barcelona - El Raval

Brenda Furley


El Ravel:

Start: Plaça de Catalunya. End: Palau Güell. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 8 km.

Orientation: The best self-guided walking tour of El Raval in the net. Remember: we devoted one whole blog to Sant Pau Hospital (NOT included in this daily blog). It is a circular route.

The daily El Raval tour is divided into two parts:

Tip 1: from Plaça de Catalunya to Mercado La Boqueria.

Tip 2: from La Boqueria to Palau Güell.

Tip 1 Main Attractions: Carrer dels Tallers, Plaça Vicenç Martorell, Chok, Church of Santa Maria de Montalegre, Plaça Castella, Plaça dels àngels, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Plaça del Bonsuccés, L'Església de Betlem, the Church of Bethlehem, La Boqueria.

See Tip 2 (below) - for the next half of our daily itinerary in El Raval.

Tip 3: La Gardunya Restaurante, Carrer de Jerusalem, near Placa de Sant Josep (western side of Mercado La Boqueria).

Introduction: Walking down La Rambla from Plaça de Catalunya on your back, the section of the Old City to the right-hand side is known as El Raval. In the 1930s this area was one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world, when it became known as the Barri Xino (literally Chinese Quarter, but meaning "degenerate"). However, it is one of the districts of the city with the most potential and ambitious plans for regeneration. Although some areas are still fairly run-down and can sometimes feel decaying, significant number of the city's most interesting cultural activities are now taking place in El Raval.

From Plaça de Catalunya

we turn right (WEST) onto Carrer de Pelai, 210 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Jovellanos, 100 m. Turn right onto Carrer dels Tallers, 75 m. Carrer dels Tallers is a beautiful hidden street and can be seen as a sort of connection between El Barrio Gotico and El Raval. It is not at all full of tourists. The street is a very secret place, full of vintage stores, restaurants, bars and spots to relax. When entering the street from “Las Ramblas”, you walk across a tight and pretty dark side street:

The first road to our left is the Carrer de les Sitges (even narrower than Carrer dels Tallers):

Once you walk a little bit further down the street, Calle Tallers turns out to be a small but really beautiful “Plaza”:

Tip for a short detour: Holala!, Taller 73: selected-carefully vintage clothes, furniture and all kind of objects imported from France and the United States. Some of the items that they sell are truly unique and their prices are crazy, but the majority of the stuff has similar prices compared with high street shops. It is for girls and guys. Another branch is in Valldonzella 6.

On the 2nd road to the left (Carrer de les Ramelleres) - turn left Plaça Vicenç Martorell. The upper part of the Raval has long been thought of as more salubrious, and here you will find young couples sitting in the arcaded Plaça Vicenç Martorell drinking coffee while their children run around the central park. On one side of the square is the Casa de la Misericòrdia (1583), formerly a hospice for abandoned children:

The road that extends west to the Plaça Vicenç Martorell is Carrer de les Ramelleres. If we continue walking further (southward) along Carrer de les Ramelleres we the Chok - The Chocolate Kitchen. A small shop that sells chocolates, donuts and cakes along with other sweets. All the products are handmade in the shop and taste amazing. It also serves drinks. The coffee is one of their highlights. Expensive but rare, generous
pieces. Limited space to eat or sit there:

We trace back and return northwest along Carrer de les Ramelleres, 85 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Tallers, 130 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Valldonzella for 90 m. and Esglesia De Santa María De Montalegre
Carrer de Valldonzella, 13, will be on the left. For over 700 years the Church of Santa Maria de Montalegre has stood paying homage to Our Lady of Joy (Alegre) in Barcelona. The Order of Canonesses of St. Mary of Montalegre was founded around a hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of Joy (“Alegre”) about the year 1100 in Tiana, a town some miles outside of Barcelona. As they community grew in size, the nuns were eventually able to build a priory near the town, which was completed by 1265. In 1362, the nuns expanded the project further with the construction of a new priory immediately outside the walls of the city, which made it closer for the residents of Barcelona. The order continued to grow, and absorbed the sisters from two other priories into their numbers. This led to the amalgamation of the two priories and hence the number of nuns grew more and more over the years. During the Renaissance the nuns refused to implement the new laws of the cloister required by their rule. In 1573 then-Archbishop Martinez de Villar banned the entry of new women to the novitiate of the Order; this effectively sealed its fate. This resulted in the culmination of the cause that the church was built for. However, by the order of Pope Clement VIII this law was dissolved and made ineffective in 1593. In 1598 the old buildings of the monastery were converted for use by the Archdiocese as a seminary, a role which they continued to play until the premises grew too small and a new seminary was built in 1772. The complex then mouldered until the beginning of the 19th century, when it was sold to the municipal government and converted for use as the city’s House of Charity (Casa de la Caritat), or municipal almshouse. It continued to serve this purpose until 1957, when the city moved these facilities to a new location:

We change direction, again. From Esglesia De Santa María De Montalegre
Carrer de Valldonzella, 13 we head northeast on Carrer de Valldonzella toward Carrer de Montalegre, 20 m. Now we face Plaça Castella in front, to our left. A lovely place in summer’s afternoon in Barcelona. It has a couple of cafés and bars with tables and chairs in the square, or if you prefer you can sit on the grass in the sun and gaze up at the beautiful church which overlooks the plaça (Parroquia de Sant Pere Nolasc Mercedarios).

There was a Vincentian monastery on the same spot where the present Parròquia de Sant Pere Nolasc stands. The present church was built between 1710 and 1746 in a Baroque style. The chapel was dedicated to St. Severus and St. Charles Borromeo. The church has a dome covered with a mosaic pattern of tiles, which is not common for Barcelona church architecture, and two bell towers at the entrance portico, the typical style of the Counter-Reformation churches of the period it was built. After reconstruction, Mercedarians took over the church, who renamed the building in homage of their founder, Barcelona's St. Pere Nolasc:

Turn right onto Carrer de Montalegre, 190 m. Turn right onto Plaça dels Àngels and Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Plaça dels Àngels, 1 (MACBA) is  on the right, 80 m. The Plaça dels àngels opens up into the unexpected space dom­inated by the breathtaking MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona). The museum was built in the grounds of the enormous Casa de la Caritat (poorhouse), which once provided a home for thousands of children. The former 18th-century hospice has now become the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona), a cultural centre with a vibrant programme of exhibitions. Go through the central Patí de les Dones of the CCCB, a courtyard often used for performances or film festivals, into the Plaça Joan Coromines which links it with the MACBA. This area is a central part of the Sónar Festival every June, Barcelona's famed music festival. Plaça dels Àngels has become a daily hangout for hordes of young people. Lit up by blinding white light from the museum, the plaza’s mix of flat paving, steps, and stone benches creates the perfect arena for an international crowd of skateboarders who aren't shy about practicing their tricks while like-minded spectators cheer them on from their perches on the surrounding walls. Across the way, that CCCB (see below) cultural center reflects the backsides and heelflips of the skaters from its massive glass façade, and inside hosts a constantly varied range of events, exhibits, film series, festivals, and more. A slightly older bohemian crowd fills the numerous café terraces around the museum’s periphery, sipping claras (beer with lemonade) and enjoying yet another warm Barcelona evening in laid-back company. Hard to believe this area of El Raval was considered undesirable before the MACBA moved in, as Plaça dels Àngels is now part of one of the city’s coolest districts. The building’s architectural style has strong references to Modernism. This large (120 by 35 meters) white building has much of its southern elevation glazed, providing the visitor with views across the plaza, and allowing natural light into the interior:

Inaugurated in 1995, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) is a vast white temple to modern art designed by American architect Richard Meier. Opening hours WED-MON: 11.00 - 20.00, from September 25: 11.00 - 19.30. Tuesdays: Closed. SAT: 10.00 - 15.00.Open Day, September 24: 10.00 - 20.00. Prices: adult -10 € (the admission ticket is valid for one month. It allows unlimited multiple entries to all current exhibitions for one month from the date of purchase). Concessions: 8 € (students, journalists, teachers, pensioners), free - children under 14. There is 6 museum pass for 30 euros. Museu Picasso (c/ Montcada 15-23); Fundació Joan Miró (Parc de Montjuïc); Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc); CCCB (c/ Montalegre, 5); Fundació Antoni Tàpies (c/ Aragó, 255); and MACBA (plaça dels Àngels, 1):

The better aspects of the MACBA museum are its exterior and its internal architectural design. The exhibitions that were on site during our visit were disappointing. Do inquire in advance on the current exhibitions ! Usually, there are no permanent exhibition-- only temporary ones. WE may dare saying: skip the MACBA:


Head east on Plaça dels Àngels toward Carrer de Montalegre, 80 m.
Turn left onto Carrer de Montalegre, 100 m. The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Carrer de Montalegre, 5 (former Casa de la Caritat building-see above), is on your left (south). Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 11.00 – 20.00, Mondays - closed. Prices change according to the current exhibitions. FREE Sunday afternoons. Nearest Metro is station Universitat: Red L1, Purple L2. Opened in 1993, CCCB offers innovative programs with exhibitions, festivals, concerts, film series, talks, and panel discussions. The building is a mixture of old and new styles, dating from the early 18th century up to recent renovation of a facade in the Plaça de les Dones. The centre, one of the most visited museums in Barcelona, hosts temporary exhibitions, a cinema, concerts and other cultural events. It opened in 1994 as a centre of urban development and urban culture studies administered coinjointly by the City Council of Barcelona and Diputació of the province of Barcelona, but soon after that became a museum about eclectic and varied subjects ranging from photography to sculpture or video art. Our advice: skip it like the MACBA:

The :Thinking Machine” exhibition. Marking the 7th centenary of the death of Ramon Llull, (1232-1316) “The Thinking Machine” explores the impact of Llull’s thinking on today’s arts, literature, science and technology. Philosopher, logician, and writer, Ramon Llull (Anglicised Raymond Lully) is considered a pioneer of computation theory, especially given his influence on Gottfried Leibniz:

Very difficult to understand exhibition. The exhibition closes with Perejaume’s installation “La rel de l’arbre és una roda” [The root of the tree is a wheel], specially created for the exhibition:

Head southeast on Carrer de Montalegre toward Plaça dels Àngels, 130 m. Turn left onto Carrer d'Elisabets, 170 m. Before you continue direct (east) to Plaça del Bonsuccés - turn right (2nd turn to the right) to Carrer del Notariat to see the Against Muebles Siglo Xx, Carrer del Notariat, 9. Against specializes in architect designed furniture and decorative arts from the 20th century. A furniture boutique, for those with deep pockets, patience and time to have a look and appreciate immortal beauty of retro-designed goods and splendor of household furniture from mid-20th century. Open since 2000, featuring two floors packed with mid-century goods, Against is the place to find vintage furniture, ceramic objects, glass and plastic of European origin dating back to the early 1950s, as well as a wide collection of Spanish furniture from the 20th century. All items featured in the store, are carefully selected to bring good quality and originality. Opening hours: MON - FRI: 16.00 - 20.30, SAT: 11.00 - 14.00:

Continue onto Plaça del Bonsuccés, 30 m.

The Old Convent of the Bonsuccés is a building of the municipality of Barcelona (Barcelona) protected as a cultural asset of local interest . It is a convent built between 1626 and 1635 with Baroque style. It was abandoned in 1835, used as a barracks and, finally, demolished in 1945. Currently, there is only a five-story building body with a half-point arches gallery that is the headquarters of the Old City (Ciutat Vella) District Council and which since 1952 had served as the headquarters of the former fifth district.  An interesting architectural element is the work portico of Mallorcan Miquel Perelló from 1690 which leads to Bonsuccés Square:

Head southwest on Plaça del Bonsuccés toward Carrer de les Ramelleres,
30 m. Turn left onto Carrer d'en Xuclà, 200 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Carme and, immediately, on your left is the Parròquia de la Mare de Déu de Betlem. L'Església de Betlem, the Church of Bethlehem, is a rare example of a baroque church in Barcelona and is located at La Rambla, 107 with the main entrance at Carrer del Carme, 2. La Mare de Déu de Betlem or Our Lady of Bethlehem was built on the site of an older church that dated from 1553 and was originally the main Jesuit school in the city. The school and chapel burnt down and the current building was constructed between 1680 and 1732 and at the time it was considered the most important church in Barcelona. The present church was designed by Josep Juli and begun several years later in 1680 with the first stone being blessed by Alfonso de Sotomayor Bishop of Barcelona in 1681. The works were directed by Jesuit priest Father Tort and by Dídac de Lacarse and completed by 1732 in a High Baroque style, although work on the decorations continued until 1855. In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from Catalonia, and the Església de Betlem housed the Seminary Council of Barcelona from 1772 to 1878. The current parish was not officially created until 1835, but remains very active in providing aid to the poor in the local community of El Raval, traditionally part of the red-light district of Barcelona. In 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War, Betlem was burned by anarchists, causing the vaulting to collapse and all of the interior decoration to be destroyed. This is considered by most architectural historians to be among the greatest of the city’s losses during the Civil War as the Església de Betlem was possibly Barcelona's most ornately decorated church. Many important works by Baroque painter Antoni Viladomat were destroyed along with a sculpture of Saint Ignatius by Miquel Sala and the fine church organ. What we see today is a relatively austere church consisting of a single nave with altarpieces from other churches and private collections placed in the side chapels:

The main facade of the church on Carrer del Carme is visible as you walk up La Rambla due to a widening at that point. The main door is framed by two Solomonic columns and sculptures of the Jesuit saints Ignatius of Loyola and Francesc de Borja, both by Andreu Sala and dating from 1688. Above the door there is a nativity scene by Francesc Santacruz, who is also responsible for the sculpture of Sant Francesc Xavier on the corner of Carrer Xuclà:

Head southwest on Carrer del Carme toward Carrer d'en Xuclà, 50 m.
Turn left onto Carrer de les Cabres, 70 m. Carrer de les Cabres turns right and becomes Plaça de Sant Galdric, 30 m. In Plaça de Sant Galdric you can find the more budget stalls of La Boqueria market (the most expensive ones are in the entrance from La Ramblas). Usually, there is Farmers' Market in Plaça de Sant Galdric. Try to sample the small Bistro Au Port de la Lune in the Sant Galdric square. A quiet, French cuisine. Delicious portions. Menu del Dia in 12 or 15 euros. We enter La Boqueria market frim its rear side. Just off las Ramblas in the heart of the city and action in Barcelona. This outdoor covered market is very colorful, noisy and crowded. Watch your wallets and purses. You can shop for almost every food product imaginable and there are several sit down stalls to dine at. We did NOT get off our mind in this market. Quite conventional and NOT cheap.

Valencia - Museo Fallero, Museu de Belles Arts, Montfort Gardens and Mercat de Colón

Brenda Furley


Tip 1: Museo Fallero (Fallas Museum), Plaza Monteolivete 4, Valencia:

Opening hours: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 14.00.
Prices:  €2, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: Free entrance.

In short: Museum of  Las Fallas festival. Displayed are the REAL figurines of Fallas (Valencia Giants' procession figures),  history of the festival, how the Fallas are made, how the Fallas have evolved. Colorful, captivating, FANTASTIC collection of giant figures which took part in former Fallas processions in Valencia Fallas festivals. Presentation: ninots (figurines), photos, text boards (in Spanish), posters, portraits, models, video.

The building: formerly a monasterial complex, later a military prison, the building is currently owned by the Fallas Committee and includes a cute church worth a look. The present Church dates from the 18th century. Built between 1767 and 1771. The Church of Monteolivete is based on an old hermitage where priests of Neapolitan origin gave worship to the icon that is still preserved. It is one of the best preserved.  the Church of Monteolivete is neoclassical style. It consists of a nave with a Latin cross plan, with the façade flanked by two twin square-shaped towers:

Inside it stands the icon of Our Lady of Monteolivete , presiding over the high altar over a small olive tree that serves as a base. In 1826 the monks of the Congregation of St. Vincent de Paul were installed in the hermitage, that had to leave it in 1835 given the laws of confiscation. Finally, 15 of July of 1941 was erected in independent parish, by decree of the archbishop of Valencia, Prudencio Melo. It is one of the best preserved churches in Valencia, although it is highly restored.

If you are not in Valencia for the Fallas festival, here, in the Museo fallero is your chance to get a very good idea of what it is (although Museum of the Fallero Artist is better, but further). This festival, internationally known, is unique to Valencia and so spectacular and strange that your visit will be incomplete without having a taste of it, whatever time of year you come. Every year one ninot (a figurine of a Falla) is saved from fire and placed into this museum. The Fallas are traditionally humorous. It is also an interesting insight into the Valencian psyche, as the figures are saved by the popular vote. You will see representatives from the last 80 years of Las Fallas, as well as atmospheric posters, pictures of the best fallas and portraits of Fallera Mayor. If your Spanish is good, there are also sections on the history of the festival, on how the Fallas are made, and even a model of mascleta (pyrotechnics). A 10 min video will show you all the major aspects of Las Fallas, from assembly and costumes to fireworks and the night of burning.

In the current Museo Fallero (Fallas Museum) there remain principally those ninots indultats that, across the times, have been saved from the flames by the people annual festival vote. Moreover, posters of the most important Fallas of the year are exposed, as well as other elements of interest relating to the Fallas world. The display of almost the totality of the ninots saved along the years will make the visitor see the festival evolution, from the first ninots which had wax head and hands and dressed with real clothes to the last and new ninots, made of papier-mâché and polystirene. The displayd Fallas constitute a live history of Valencia Fallas festivals declared to be of international tourist Interest.

Poster of the festival from year 1933:

Poster from year 1933:

Poster from year 1936:

La Mareta - 1936:

Llaurradors Ballant, 1935:

Museo Fallero - El Vell del Violi - 1942:

Museo Fallero - Cantinflas i Don Manoliti - 1946:

El Dolcainer San Felieu - 1949:

Poster from year 1950:

Lladre de Coloms - 1954:

Familia de Turistes Indes - 1956:

Vespa Tipus Llonganisso a Missa - 1958:

Falla Plaza del Ayuntamento:

El Castic de - Ser - ne Massa - 1961:

Ambmala Fortuna - 1965:

Cabassada de Xiquets, 1969:

Praella de Hippis, 1971:

El Palleter - 1973:

Transeunts de POble - 1974:

Despertar a L'erotisme - 1976:

La Corda Fluixa - 1980:

Museo Fallero - Canvils Senda vella per Novella - 1981:

La Dama de L'engrunsadora - 1982:

Valencia, Mova i Christina - 1987:

Familia Japoneso - 1991:

emple Hindu - 1992:

Amb le Poli en els Talons - 1995:

Espantall - 1996:

L'embogador - 2000:

Es Xopa... i Fins LaIaia - 2001:

Per l'Horta - 2003:

Amor Incondicional - 2005:

Iain Valentin - 2011:

Quina Monada - 2012:

El Clasics mai moven - 2013:

Miguel Cervantes - 2014:

La Cochina d e las Abuela - 2015:

Grucho Marx:

Frederico Fellini:

Boris Karloff - MGM:

Queen of Fallas Festival in Valencia - 1998:

Queen of Fallas Festival in Valencia - 2010:

Valencia - from the Bioparc to Plaza de la Virgen

Brenda Furley


Tip 1: Valencia Bioparc:

Tip 2: from the Bioparc to Plaza de la Virgen.

Valencia Bioparc:

Public transportation: By Bus: routes 7, 17, 29, 61, 81, 95. By Metro: lines 3 and 5, Nou d'Octubre stop, a 10 minute walk from the park's entrance. Opening hours: The Bioparc is open 365 days a year. January and February: 10.00 - 18.00. March:  MON-FRI: 10.00 - 18.00, SAT-SUN:10.00 - 19.00. APR-JUN: 10.00  - 20.00. JUL-AUG:10.00 - 21.00. SEP: 10.00 - 19.00. OCT: MON - FRI: 10.00 - 18.00,  SAT-SUN: 10.00  - 19.00. NOV-DEC: 10.00 - 18.00. Prices: Single Adult €23.80, Single Child €18.00, Single 65+ €17.50, Group Member €18.50, Group Child €12.50, Group 65+ €15.20.

The new Bioparc Valencia was opened in year 2008. The bioparc is located in the Parque de Cabecera, at the most northern-west end of the dried, former Turia riverbed. This is an innovative zoo. Practically, cages and barriers are practically invisible and the animals feel free. Contrary to traditional zoos, this park has the unique feature of bringing the visitor totally into the habitat of the animals. The Bioparc’s main objective is to promote respect for animals and make the general public aware of importance of protecting the environment through a commitment to education and the preservation of the animals. Its design employs the “zoo immersion” concept, in which visitors are surrounded by meticulous recreations of the natural habitats being presented. Most of the existing park is devoted to Africa. The Bioparc displays a range of African flora and fauna and the different habitats in which they live together. However, the Bioparc is not limited to Africa, since the plan is to expand it over the next few years by 20,000 metres in order to dedicate a portion of the zoo to Southeast Asia and South America flora and fauna.

BioParc Valencia is, without doubt, one of the coolest zoos we’ve ever been to. The BioParc opened its doors in 2008, replacing the former city zoo which had been located in the Viveros Gardens. Currently, it’s home to 4000 animals of 250 species, with a special focus on the fauna of Africa. And new babies are being born all the time.

After getting your ticket, you enter the park by crossing a pedestrian bridge which spans the Turia Gardens. The tour of Bioparc Valencia begins at the entrance with a stunning, white suspension bridge:


Once, visitors cross the 145 metre-long walkway over the Parque de Cabecera lake,

they can enter into a fascinating world in which they can enjoy the unique animals and settings that make up the park, as well as other surprises…:

The animals live together in the Bioparc as they would in nature, in groups of the same species co-existing in the same habitat. They are separated from one another by natural barriers such as rock, rivers, and bridges that are invisible to the visitor’s eyes. Depending on which ecosystem we find ourselves in, we are able to see the different animals that live there. As we said, the Bioparc’s main theme is Africa. The majority of the animals are only from that continent and some of the surrounding islands, predominantly Madagascar.

On leaving the theatre, we find ourselves on the main boulevard where an African lodge houses a cafeteria-restaurant (see below) with a spacious terrace and views of the African savannah. The main boulevard also offers us the option of deciding which ecosystem we would like to explore first: the savannah, forests of Madagascar and equatorial Africa. The amphitheatre in the centre of the park deserves special mention: a large outdoor space which offers the visitor the chance to watch birds and mammals acting naturally.

Near the entrance are a large flock of Flamingos. These are fairly common in many parts of Southern Spain so often go unnoticed despite the noise they make. The mud mounds that can be seen in the photos are their nests where they will hopefully lay one egg. Flamingos in Madagascar Habitat:

A large group of Pelicans sit in the sunshine or swim around diving for food. There are fish in the lake in the Bioparc and they get enough from the keepers. These are Great White Pelicans and are very big birds. The wingspan can range from 226 to 360 cm  with the latter measurement the largest recorded among extant flying animals outside of the great Albatros. Adult males, weigh from 9 to 15 kg, females are considerably less bulky and heavy, weighing from 5.4 to 9 kg:

In Madagascar, we find seven different species of lemurs, including the highly-endangered grey bamboo lemur. What the Madagascar Immersion area is all about is to be part of the Lemur’s world. You literally are right there with them only a few inches away. Don’t touch them. The flora is also directly from Madagascar and the overall exhibit is really big. You can spend as much or as little time as you want here.

Palms in the Lemurs area:

enjoy interesting projections about the African continent in the theatre situated at the entrance. You’ll immediately encounter the first set of animals: rhinoceroses, zebras and ostriches, all running around a huge area together.

In the African savannah, we’ll see zebras, impalas, blesbok, marabou storks, cranes, giraffes, lions, striped mongooses, exotic birds, African elephants, white rhinoceroses, etc… as well as the subterranean life that exists in anteaters' dens and African termite nests.

Impalas. The impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. Two subspecies are recognised—the common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala. The impala reaches 70–92 centimetres at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg. It features a glossy, reddish brown coat. The male's slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92 centimetres long:

No animal has a more distinctive coat than the zebra. Each animal's stripes are as unique as fingerprints—no two are exactly alike—although each of the three species has its own general pattern:

There is only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies. Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi was named after the UK Tring Museum's founder, Walter Rothschild. It is also known as the Baringo giraffe, after the Lake Baringo area of Kenya or as the Ugandan giraffe. The Nubia sub-species of the Giraffes are normally found in northern Uganda and west Kenya. But they're incredibly rare, with fewer than 1500-2,000 specimens left in the world:

African Lions:

Elephants. The elephant yard has been opened in 2007:

The Meerkat or Suricate (Suricata suricatta) is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Suricata. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan". A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members. In captivity, meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years:

In equatorial Africa, the primates are the main attractions -- gorillas, mangabeys, monkeys, herds of bongos, forest buffalos, red river hogs, leopards, chimpanzees, drills, talapoins, pygmy hippopotamuses and sitatunga antelopes.


Fallow Deer:

Red River Hogs:

The Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) has a tawny or rusty yellow coat with dark spots and close-set rosettes, which are smaller than those that appear on the Indian Leopard. They are solitary hunters, and like other Leopards, silently stalk their prey until it is within striking distance. Once close to the prey, it unleashes a burst of speed to quickly pursue and pounce on its victim:

The Western Lowland Gorilla is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla that lives in montane, primary and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the Gorilla most common to zoos. The main diet of the Gorilla species is roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark and pulp, which are provided for in the thick forests of central and West Africa. An adult will eat around 18 kg of food per day. Gorillas will climb trees up to 15 meters in height in search of food. Females do not produce many offspring, due to the fact that they do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine (!) months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny and able only to cling to their mothers' fur. The infant will ride on mother’s back from the age of four months through the first two or three years of life. Infants can be dependent on the mother for up to five years:


The Cape Thicknee (Burhinus capensis) also known as Spotted Thicknee. A curious bird due largely to its long legs and large yellow eyes. Native to tropical regions of central and southern Africa:

Baobab Tree:

We had a lunch in the Samburu restaurant. Delicious Paellia Valenciana costs 8€. Pleasant breeze. You can sit inside (AC) or outside near the amphitheatre of the elephants and rhinos. Price of adult menu is 15,20€ (first course + main course + dessert, drink and bread) and child menu is 8,90€ (Main course + fruit or yogurt + drink and bread). Also you can choose only one main course. Open:  weekdays: 13.00-16.00, weekends: 12.30-16.00.

We move, now, to Tip 2 below.

Valencia - the Old City - Ciutat Vella

Brenda Furley


The Old City of Valencia- Ciutat Vella.

Tip 1: From Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim to Plaça del Mercat.

Main Attractions: Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim, Puerta del Mar, Iglesia del Patriarca, Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües (Ceramics Museum), Iglesia de SantoTomás Apostol y San Felipe Neri, Iglesia San Juan del Hospital, Plaça de la Reina, Valencia Cathedral, Santa Catalina Church, Place Redonda, Plaça del Mercat.

Tip 2: From Plaça del Mercat to Plaça de l'Almoina (see tip 2 below).

Start of the day: Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim, End of the day: Plaça de l'Almoina.

We start at Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim. This beautiful square is, also known as El Parterre. It is located at the border between the quarters of San Francisco and Xerea , in the Ciutat Vella district. To the north it borders with the gardens of the Glorieta and the street of Carrer de la Pau (La Paz) ; to the south is Carrer del Pintor Sorrolla. The square is dominated by, a statue of Jaume el Conqueridor (James the Conqueror) , sculpted by Agapit Vallmitjana which stands in the middle of the square.

Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim in the afternoon:Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim in the morning: 

From Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim we shall walk eastward along Carrer del Palau de Justícia when the Tribunal Superior de Justicia Sala Civil y Penal is on our right (south) and La Glorieta garden is on our left. La Glorieta garden is home to monuments dedicated to famous Valencian personalities. The most important sculpture of the garden is the Triton, work inspired by a similar one of Bernini:

The square of Alfonso the Magnanimous and the Palace of Justice are the southern border of the Ciutat Vella of Valencia. We advance along Carrer del Palau de Justícia to the Plaza del Marand Porta de la Mar which are the most eastern edge of the Ciutat Vella. The Plaça de la Porta de la Mar connect with SIX main streets in Valencia - all are outside the Ciutat Vella.

The current Puerta del Mar, which is actually the Monument to the Fallen during the Spanish Civil War, is a reproduction of the old Puerta del Real, which rose a short distance, opening the way to the now defunct Royal Palace. It was designed by the Valencian architect Javier Goerlich Lleó,  who in 1931 was appointed major architect of the city of Valencia, as a monument to the fallen. It still retains the cross in its main arch, but the plaque in tribute to Generalismo Francisco Franco has been covered.

It has three bays. The central one is higher and culminates in an arc of half point, whereas the lateral ones, of smaller height, are lined. On these there are four reliefs of the sculptor Vicente Navarro Romero , who represent "The value", "The Abnegation", "The Peace" and "The Glory" ("Valor", "La Abnegación", "La Paz" and "La Gloria").

The original door had been opened on the wall in 1356. Reformed several times, the last in neoclassical style in 1843, and finally demolished with the rest of the wall. This door is the one that can be seen in the engravings of Alfred Guesdon .

We change direction and return westward. We'll try to return to the Plaça del Collegio del Patriarca - just to take part in the morning service or, even, in the guided (or free) tour (see our blog on the City of Arts and Sciences - Tip 2). Head northwest on Plaça de la Porta de la Mar toward Carrer del General Palanca. Cross the Glorita Garden and Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim from east to west. Turn left onto Carrer del Verger, 65 m.
Turn right onto Carrer de Bonaire, 15 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Tertúlia, 40 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Vestuari, 75 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Nau, 100 m to enter the Iglesia del  Patriarca on your right.

From the Iglesia Del Patriarca we head north on Carrer de la Creu Nova toward Carrer de les Dames, 110 m. We turn left onto Carrer de la Pau
100 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües and the Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües is on your right after 30 m. The Palau del Marqués de Dosaigües is one of the most significant buildings in the Baroque and Rococo city ​​of the city of Valencia and home of the Ceramics Museum . The space in which it is located is believed that was probably originally the field intended to a Roman necropolis of the 1st and 3rd centuries, due to the findings in one of its courtyards. The palace dates also far back as 15th century, although it has been fully re-shaped since then. Home to a Valencian noble family - the Marquis de Dos Aguas, it was originally a Gothic building. In 1740 it was re-shaped to Baroque by Hipolito Rovira, and it is then that the famous entrance was added. The last modification took place in 1850s-60s, when the entire facade was redesigned to a hybrid of newer elements. In 1949 the palace was bought by the Ministry of Education to house the collection of ceramics donated by Dr. Gonzalez Marti.This mansion that was of the Marqueses of Dos Aguas, is currently owned by the Spanish State, where is installed the González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts. The palace combines neo-classical, rococco and oriental elements. The unbelievable Baroque entrance to the building never fails to impress the visitors. The rich ornament of the building is enough incentive to come here. The exterior of this palace is an extraordinary. Price: 3 euros.

Inside, however, more marvel awaits you - the fully furbished interior of the palace and the best of ceramics that Valencia had to offer through the centuries. Two upper floors are devoted to ceramics. Valencia claims to have been a centre for the production of pottery and earthenware in the middle ages and beyond. The focus starts with Roman artifacts. It moves to the Moorish period and early Christian. Then, century by century from 15th through 20th. The first floor is a palace, fully furnished. Several rooms are stunning. Some public rooms and bedrooms are beautifully preserved. Phenomenal ceilings. Luxurious floor and wall coverings. Beautiful period furniture all bear witness to the immense wealth of the family. There is also an interesting reproduction of a 19th century, below-stairs kitchen. A really beautiful place. The staff are very relaxed and there is some information in English. Well worth a visit. Allow about 60-90 minutes.

Old Carriages in the Ceramics Museum:

Dormitorio del Marques in the Ceramics Museum:

Floor 1 - Sala Roja:

Ceiling of Sala Roja:

Floor 1 - Sala Pompeyana:

Floor 1 - Salon de Barli:

Floor 1 - Ceiling of Salon de Barli:

Ceramics Panels in the Palace Balcon:

Floor 1 - Fumoir:

Floor 1 - A picture in Sala Gotica:

Floor 2 - Ceramica Panels:

Floor 2 - Ceramics:

Head north on Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües toward Carrer de la Pau, 30 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Pau, 40 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Ruiz de Lihory, 45 m. In the corner of C. del Mar and C. de Lihory resides an interesting store of textile - Indumentaria Dos Aguas:

From the intersection of C. del Mar and C. de Lihory - continue east on Carrer del Mar toward Carrer de Sant Cristòfol, 95 m. At Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, take the 2nd exit onto Carrer del Comte de Montornés, 95 m. to face the Iglesia de Santo Tomás Apostol y San Felipe Neri. This church is also known as "The Congregation". It was built in 1725 and it stands out for the simplicity of its design. The church's architectural model corresponds to and resembles the "Il Gesú" church in Rome. It consists of a central nave divided into three parts and various side chapels. It really is an interesting church to visit, though you may do so only during masses services: MON-SAT: 09.00, 10.30, 19.30 20.30, SUN:  09.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 19.00.

From Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer we walk northward along Calle Trinquete de Caballero and at #5 we se, on our left the Iglesia San Juan del Hospital. San Juan del Hospital Church is one of the oldest churches in Valencia. It was built in the 13th century on land donated by Jaime I to the Military Order of the Knights: the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (now Order of Malta). The king also built a hospital, a convent and a cemetery. It is a building that mainly combines Romanesque, Valencian and Baroque Gothic style. The church, built around 1261, as a Baroque-style building, has a single nave covered with a pointed barrel vault.

North Door:

Inside, you may contemplate the magnificent chapel of Santa Barbara, where are the remains of Constanza Augusta, Empress of Greece, and other chapels with painted murals from the Gothic period, discovered recently:


350 m. walk further west will bring us to Placa de la Reina. Head south on Carrer del Trinquet de Cavallers toward Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, 55 m. At Plaça de Sant Vicent Ferrer, take the 1st exit onto Carrer del Mar
260 m. Turn right onto Plaça de la Reina. Plaza de la Reina is one of the oldest and busiest plazas in Valencia and the city’s epic centre and beating heart. It is situated in the heart of the Ciutat Vella. and marks the Kilometer 0. It is NOT the usual picturesque Spanish square you’re probably expecting to see, but is an excellent base for exploring the city.

It is bounded by the Cathedral and its bell tower (the Miquelet) in the north,

and Plaza Santa Catalina with its charming Iglesia de Santa Catalina and its impressive towerin the south west:

The center of the PLaca de la Reina plays host to a small patch filled with flowers and benches, where visitors can take a break and watch the world go by:

The busy plaza is filled with restaurants and bars. Good area to walk around or stop for a bite to eat or drink. Taxis and buses hog the road. A small park has market stalls with tourist fare. A lot of hassle and bustle. Noting in the square itself is impressive. The square is lined with an excellent selection of cafes, terraces, and restaurants, including one of the oldest (200 years old) and most renowned cafeterias in Valencia (Horchateria de Santa Catalina).

Valencia Cathedral (Valencian: Església Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de l'Assumpció de la Nostra Senyora de València) was consecrated in 1238. It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque. The Valencian Gothic is the predominant architectural style of the cathedral, although it also contains Romanesque, French Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical elements. Variety of architectural styles, from the Romanesque to the Baroque, can be reflected inn the three main doors of the cathedral. The main door, or Puerta de los Hierros ("Door of the Irons"), is Baroque:

The Puerta de los Apóstoles is Gothic:

The Puerta del Palau is Romanesque:

The Miguelete belfry was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and was designed by Andrés Juliá Torre; it is octagonal, 50.85m high and built in a markedly Baroque style, next to the main entrance.

Bell Tower, "Micalet" or "Miquelet":

There is a spiral stairway inside (207 stairs) that leads to the terrace, where there are views of the city, the countryside and the sea:

Opening hours: NOV-MAR: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 17.30 pm. Sundays - closewd. APR - OCT: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 18.30, SUN: 14.00 - 18.30. During April, May and September closing time is 17.30 on weekends due to the 18.00 Mass at the Main Altar. Prices: €7- adult, €4 - groups members, €5.50 - pensioners, disabled people and children up to 12 years old. Try to come after closing time and the Cathedral is often still open and FREE. Come on Sundays when it is open and FREE. DO NOT walk around during Mass times !

Inside, the cathedral contains numerous 15th-century paintings, some by local artists (such as Jacomart), others by artists from Rome engaged by the Valencian Pope Alexander VI who, when still a cardinal, made the request to upgrade the Valencian See to the rank of metropolitan see, a category granted by Pope Innocent VIII in 1492. The Santo Cáliz Chapel, the old Sala Capitular y de Estudios (1356) was originally a Chapter House and study and was separate from the cathedral. The Holy Chalice that according to tradition was used by Christ during the last Supper is kept inside. The "Obra Nova" or "Balconets de Cabildo" were built over three floors next to the cathedral dome and they dominate the Plaza de la Virgen. It was a renaissance work of a triple serlienne arcade.

Dome of the Cathedral of Valencia:

The Nave:

The chapel of the Holy Grail (Chalice) is almost in the end of the guided tour (no. 16 ?). The Chapel of the Holy Chalice is in the south-east corner of the cathedral. It was built by Bishop Vidal de Blanes in the 14th century to serve as a chapter house and burial place for bishops and monks.It was also intended to hold theology classes. It is three metres square and 16 metres high. Note the magnificent cross ribs in the shape of a star on its ceiling:

The Holy Grail (Santo Caliz) is believed to had been left in the house where the Last Supper took place - a house belonging to the family of St Mark the Evangelists, who later took it to Rome when he went to serve as an interpreter for St Peter. Passed on within the church and used as Papal Chalice, the relic was shipped out of Rome in 3rd century by St Lawrence, in anticipation of a persecution. It was taken out of Rome in the hands of a Spanish soldier to Huesca, Spain. During the Muslim occupation of the Iberic peninsula, the Grail went into hiding and later re-emerged in various Spanish monasteries and cathedrals. The Kings of Spain looked after it, on occasions taking it into their treasuries or palaces, until it was finally presented to the Valencia Cathedral in XV century, where it remained ever since. It briefly left the Cathedral only twice, both times during the 1930s Civil War, for fears of plunder. The Holy Grail (Chalice) of Valencia arouses feelings of admiration and skepticism at the same time. The visitor feels captivated by the beauty of the Grail, its perfect and exceptional shape, the details in gold, the pearls and the precious gems. The observer comes with the mind full of legends, films, even warned by the novels and pseudo-scientific literature. It was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9, 2006. Most Christian historians all over the world declare that all their evidence points to this Valencian grail/chalice as the most likely candidate for being the authentic cup used at the Last Supper. But, is this grail of medieval appearance the grail of the Last Supper ? The Holy Chalice of the Gospels got mixed up with medieval pursuits of a “Holy Grail” around the time of 13th century Arthurian legends. The “grail” was considered, in different tales, as either a bowl or dish, a platter, or sometimes even just a stone. It was said to have mystical powers of spiritual or material abundance, grace, or eternal youth, and stories of the grail were eventually grafted onto the goblet of the Bible. The Holy Chalice became the Holy Grail, and vice versa. One fact is doubtless: it is difficult to see and take photos of the Holy Grail itself, its details and to step close to this sensational artifact: it is guarded behind glass and, frequently, attracts crowds of visitors around:

Main Chapel, Valencia Cathedral, Valencia:

The Valencia Cathedral is situated in the north side of Placa de la Reina. We shall cross the square from north to south.

The Cathedral Bell Tower (Micalet) - a view from the centre of the square:

The south side of Placa de la Reina is dominated by the Santa Catalina Church which is one of the oldest in Valencia. The church dates from the Middle Ages (13th century, probably from year 1239), and is built on the site of a former mosque. It is the only Gothic church in the city with a retrochoir in the transept, the same as you will find in the Cathedral. A large part of the building was rebuilt in the 16th century after being destroyed by a fire. The eighteenth century Baroque tower housing the belfry is possibly the most notable element, standing out from the rest of the building. The bell tower, for its part, is in Baroque style. It dates from the 17th century and is the monument's most outstanding feature. It is hexagonal, with five levels, and is topped by a niche and a small dome. The two bell towers: THe Cathedral's Micalet and the Santa Catalina one are, according to popular legend, husband and wife. Open: daily 11.00 - 13.00. FREE:

The church is composed of three naves with side chapels, crosspiece domes and the apse which includes a chapel. Part of its Baroque decor had lost during the Civilians War:

Inside, we have, basically, genuine Old Gothic space with coloured windows:

Santa Catalina Tower marks the entrance to the well-known Mercat neighbourhood:

The square west to Santa Catalina church is Plaza de Santa Catalina (Plaça de Santa Caterina). Here resides Horchateria Santa Catalina: lovely Valencian cafe, not what you would expect from the modest outside. A great place to try local specialities - horchata with fartons (a sweet, Valencian drink made from pressed chufas (type of nuts), into which you dip finger-shaped buns called fartóns). The price is approximztely €3. 

From the Plaça de Santa Caterina head west toward Carrer dels Jofrens
45 m. Continue onto Carrer de la Sombrerería, 40 m. Turn left onto Plaça de Lopez de la Vega, 20 m. Head southeast on Plaça de Lopez de la Vega toward Carrer del Trench, 20 m. Turn left to stay on Plaça de Lope de Vega, 5 m. You arrived to  Plaça Redona (Plaza Redonda) (The Round Square). Place Redonda (Round Square). One of Valencia’s most unique tourist attractions and most enchanting spots due to its peculiar design. Constructed by Salvador Escrig Melchor in 1840. Restored in year 2012. Surrounded by traditional craft shops and tapas bars at street level. A CHARMING SQUARE !! Many stalls that sell lace, silk, embroidery, fabrics and Valencian souvenirs (fantastic, colorful fans !), among other things. Four streets converge together into this round square to form colorful and welcoming site. You can see, from the fountain in the square's centre, a beautiful view of the bell tower of Santa Catalina Church. It stands high over the five stories of the round tower. It was built in 1840 by Salvador Escrig and was the place for local families to come and buy their fish and meat. One of the inlets to the square is called ‘Street of fish’. It is traditionally known as ‘el clot’ which means ‘the hole’. A recent revamp includes a circular covering, creating a cool environment for shoppers to come and enjoy the shade, the history and the ancient fountain at its centre – a perfect spot for sitting in the sun:

Head southwest on Plaza Redonda, 25 m. Turn left to stay on Plaza Redonda, 16 m. Turn right onto Carrer dels Drets, 110 m. Turn left onto Carrer d'Ercilla, 65 m. Turn right onto Plaça del Mercat (Plaza Mercado), 50 m. A beautiful square where you find the Mercado Central (Mercat Central), the central market hall in modernista style, and outdoor market, La Lonja de la Seda (presented in its own section) and beautiful buildings painted in splendid colours, some in art nouvau style. Mercado Central, built in 1914 is one of the oldest European markets still running. It was designed by the modernista architects Francesc Guàrdia i Vial and Alexandre Soler. About 400 merchants have their stalls (over 1000 according to some sources). it is very impressive and beautiful. The market is open 07.30 - 14.30. Sundays closed. At the square you also find the Gothic church Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, also known as San Juan del Mercado (St John's of the Market). The original gothic interior from the 14th century was destroyed in a terrible fire in 1552 (unfortunately it wasn't open during our visit).

inside you can find almost whatever in the more than 1000 selling posts: fresh fish, vegetables, meat, fruit... You must go inside to feel the atmosphere of the market, and being surrounded by the smells and colours of this place. Try to visit in the morning, as early as possible...:

This place like this makes one realize how bland the food shopping experience has become back hom:

We ate our lunch at Galle de Oro restaurant opposite the main entrance to the market hall. Busy, quality, generous and delicious food. We found it a value for money. But, remember it is very busy:

Valencia - City of Arts and Sciences, Turia Gardens

Brenda Furley


Tip 1: City of Arts and Sciences and Turia Gardens - Valencia:

Main Attractions: the Ágora, El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or, L'Oceanogràfic, El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L'Hemisfèric, L'Umbracle, Pont de Montolivet, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. 

Tip 2: Turia Gardens and Valencia City Centre.

Tip 3: Eurostars Gran Valencia Hotel.

Start & End: Eurostars Gran Valencia Hotel, near Beniferri Metro station (see Tip 3).

Tips and Hints:

1. Valencia is VERY hot during the (long) summer months. The waist-deep pools and water around the buildings of the City of Arts and Sciences make it cooler.

2. We recommend allowing 1 DAY for visiting only the outside landscaping of the city. Skip entry of the buildings. The architecture outside and walking along the Turia river gardens will consume, easily, one day.

3. To walk around the complex is free. You have to pay to get into the museums and the Hemisferic or taking part in the aquatic activities (like the Bubbles, canoes).

4. Combined ticket for the city's building (excluding aquatic activities) is €37.

5. Bring with you a lot of water and some food. Restaurants around are a bit in scarce and are on the pricey side, There are no more than little cafes/eateries to grab food and drink are close by

6. Come also during the dark. The lighting at night takes it to another dimension, it is even more impressive.

7. There are cheap bikes to hire: €2/hour.

8. There is a left-luggage service where you can leave your luggage or other belongings. It costs 2€ per day - at the entrance building to the Oceanogràfic, next to the information point/office.

Introduction - City of Arts and Sciences: The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is situated in a two-kilometre-long area on the old Turia River bed. It is made up of six large elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX Cinema and digital films) the Umbracle (landscaped vantage point), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative interactive science centre), the Oceanogràfic (Europe's largest aquarium with over 500 marine species), the Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts (dedicated to opera), and the Ágora (a multipurpose space in which concerts and many activities take place). You are transported into the future, not into the past.

Trust me: this is a breathtaking feat of architecture that has to be seen to be believed. Coming to Valencia without seeing the City of Arts and Sciences (in Spanish: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or in valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. You can’t skip or ignore this futuristic complex devoted to sciences and culture located at the southern end of Valencia - what was formerly the bed of the River Turia. This spectacular and futuristic complex, was inaugurated in 1998 and designed by the great architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela as well as the engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro, The whole extensive site attracts more than 4 millions of visitors every year. Its architect, Santiago Calatrava, native of Valencia, wished that all eyes turned to the city of Valencia. His mission is accomplished and the “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” is today the modern and avant-gardist representation of the city. The 4 square kms of the city contains scientific and cultural buildings such as: the Oceanogràfic (Oceanographical museum), the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe (Sciences Museum), the Hemisfèric, the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía (Arts Palace), the Umbracle (urban gardens) and  the (deserted) Ágora. You will also find (very few) restaurants, shops and places to cool down. Around this area, were built high-rise residence towers, offices,  hotels and big shopping centers (the Aqua mall and Corte Inglés).

The main purpose of this ambitious project was to regroup in one place, open to everyone - leisure, art and science. It’s a unique concept in its kind in Europe that spread over two kilometers on the formerly river Turia to attract tourists to Valencia for something else than getting tan and enjoying the beach. This project has finalized, nowadays, with being a magnet, for tourists, with its architectural qualities and variety. The whole site is breathtaking collections of architectural gems. A stunning mix of grandiose buildings, green parks, waterways, fountains, museums and exhibitions. Another two goals of this project were  to earn money and to revitalize an area of the city that was abandoned before, where hotels and shopping centers were almost empty. Since the construction of the City of Arts and Sciences, all has revived and was renovated in this district.

In April 1998 the complex opened its doors to the public with L'Hemisfèric. Eleven months later, was, inaugurated the Prince Felipe Museum of the Sciences, although the museum was not yet finished. The museum was opened to the public twenty months later. December 12, 2002 was the opening of L'Oceanographic, the largest aquarium built in Europe. Finally, on October 8, 2005 the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was opened and became the opera house of Valencia.

You can catch a train that will lead you through the City and the Turia dried riverbed gardens and explain a bit about the history of this place. Other activities here include kayaks, some kind of waterbikes and bubbles, all for reasonable prices. I HAD NOT visited any of the buildings on the inside, but the outside looked to me too grandiose but, a bit, lifeless. A stunning mix of concrete and water, still, lacking more green spots - in order to create even better harmony.

Public Transport: from Hotel Eurostars Gran Valencia (see Tip 3 below), Carrer de la Vall d'Aiora, you Walk 350 m to Corts Valencianes Avenue - la Safor. You cross the bustling avenue using the crosslights and catch bus # 99 destination: Estació del Cabanyal. You drop off after 27 stops (or ask the driver for the Agora). It is a long, but delightful ride along this pretty city. You walk 350 m (4 min) to the Àgora, Plaça Num 130 Res Urb.


From Hotel Eurostars Gran Valencia, Carrer de la Vall d'Aiora, 3, walk
240 m (3 min) to Beniferri Metro station, 2 Torrent Avinguda. Take Metro # 1 or #2 to Túria (2 stops). Walk to Petxina - Ferran el Catòlic and take bus #95 to Marina Real (15 stops) and get off at  Eduardo Primo Yúfera - Front Àgora. Walk 290 m (4 min) to the Àgora, Plaça Num 130 Res Urb.

First, after dropping off from the #99 bus - we see the Ágora (completed 2009), the most recent addition to the family of buildings making up the City of Arts and Sciences: a polyvalent space with the vocation of being a meeting point that was inaugurated by welcoming the tennis open of the Community of Valencia in November 2009. The name Agora, of course, harks back to the ancient Greek concept of the public forum. Its intricate metal structure, has a blue outer shell which affords a bright, open and diverse space. The multi-functional setting has been planned for the staging of congresses, conventions, concerts, and performances; it can also be converted into an exhibition area. The Agora metallic structure  resembles an ellipsis: 88 metres long and 66 metres wide. Its covered area is of 4,800 square metres. This large interior space has been planned as a covered public square with an open ground plan on a level with the adjacent lakes and parades. The fixed roof, when closed, has a maximum height of some 70 metres above ground level. Its silhouette has become a recognizable icon, with its vertical blue-and-white ellipse and interplay of columns and soaring (sometimes, dirty) windows.


El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or (2008) — a suspension bridge in the middle of the complex. A white cable-stayed bridge crossing the dry Turia riverbed, connecting the south side of Valencia  with Minorca Street. It stretches between El Museu de les Ciències and L'Agora. The tower of the bridge at 125 meters high is the highest point in the city:

The bridge + the Agora - a stunning combination:

Agora + El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:

Residence buildings in the east from the Agora:

L'Oceanogràfic (2003) — is the largest aquarium in Europe and if you would like to see a large variety of fishes, crabs, seals, sharks you probably want to visit this beautiful park. This aquarium is a home to over 500 different species including dolphins, belugas, sawfish, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins, turtles, sharks,and rays. It also inhabits wetland bird species. Furthermore there is a daily dolphin show. The open-air oceanographic park, was designed by Félix Candela. It consists of 110,000 square meters and 42 million liters of water. It was built in the shape of a water lily and is the work of architect Félix Candela. Each building represents different aquatic environments including the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands and the Ted Sea. The Oceanogràfic centre might be a full day out on its own. Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 18.00, and in the high season even from 10.00 to 00.00. Prices: Adults: €29,10, concessions: €21,85, groups: €19,40.

Entrance to L'Oceanogràfic:

View from L'Oceanogràfic to the Ágora:

Agora + El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (2000) — In this museum you can experiment with technology. In an interactive way you will learn a lot about Science and technology. It Is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale. It occupies around 40,000 m² on three floors. The exhibitions are designed more for 'entertainment value' than for science education. Much of the ground floor is taken up by a basketball court sponsored by a local team and various companies. The building is made up of three floors of which 26,000 square meters is used for exhibitions. The first floor has a view of the Turia Garden that surrounds it; which is over 13,500 square meters of water. The second floor hosts “The Legacy of Science” exhibition by the researchers; Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Severo Ochoa y Jean Dausset. The third floor is known as the “Chromosome Forest” which shows the sequencing of human DNA. Also on this floor is the “Zero Gravity,” the “Space Academy,” and “Marvel Superheroes” exhibitions. The building’s architecture is known for its geometry, structure, use of materials, and its design around nature. The building is about 42,000 square meter and 26,000 square meters of is exhibition space, which is currently the largest in Spain. It has 20,000 square meters of glass, 4,000 panes, 58,000 m³ of concrete, and 14.000 tons of steel. This magnificent building stands 220 meters long, 80 meters wide and 55 meters high. Opening hours: In low season from 10.00 to 18.00 and in high season from 10.00 to 21.00. Better, book online and reserve your tickets in advance. Prices: Adults: €8,00, concessions: €6,20, students: €6,80, groups: €5,80.

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe + .L'Hemisfèric:

Bridge between El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe and L'Hemisfèric:

Bridge between El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe and L'Hemisfèric - View to the Museu de les Bellas Arts:

Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:

Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - In the background: L'Hemisfèric and El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia:

"The Sky Over Nine Columns" - Heinz Mack (a founder and member in Zero Group):

Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - In the background: L'Umbracle:

Bubbles in ponds opposite the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:

Inside El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:

L'Hemisfèric (1998) — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. Before the movie starts, you will receive earphones and then you are able to choose a language. (English, French, Spanish or Valencian). The building is meant to resemble a giant eye, and has an approximate surface of 13,000 m². The Hemesferic also known as the planetarium or the “eye of knowledge,” is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. It was the first building completed in 1998. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This planetarium is a half-sphere composed of concrete 110 meters long and 55.5 meters wide. The shutter is built of elongated aluminum awnings that fold upward collectively to form a roof that opens along the curved axis of the eye. It opens to reveal the dome, the "iris" of the eye, which is the Ominax theater. There is a miraculous echo inside of the building and if two people stay on the two opposite pillars inside of the eye they can seamlessly speak with each other. Opening hours: 11.00 to 20.00 depending on the 3D movie. Prices: Adults:€ 8,80, concessions: € 6,85, students: €7,45, groups: €6,40. (1998) — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. Before the movie starts, you will receive earphones and then you are able to choose a language. (English, French, Spanish or Valencian). The building is meant to resemble a giant eye, and has an approximate surface of 13,000 m². The Hemesferic also known as the planetarium or the “eye of knowledge,” is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. It was the first building completed in 1998. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This planetarium is a half-sphere composed of concrete 110 meters long and 55.5 meters wide. The shutter is built of elongated aluminum awnings that fold upward collectively to form a roof that opens along the curved axis of the eye. It opens to reveal the dome, the "iris" of the eye, which is the Ominax theater. There is a miraculous echo inside of the building and if two people stay on the two opposite pillars inside of the eye they can seamlessly speak with each other. The Hemisferic is a unique and spectacular building that represents a large human eye, the eye of wisdom. It houses a large dome screen that forms the largest auditorium in Spain with three projection systems (including IMAX). Opening hours: 11.00 to 20.00 depending on the 3D movie. Prices: Adults:€ 8,80, concessions: € 6,85, students: €7,45, groups: €6,40:

The water pool in front of El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe. In the background - L'Hemisfèric:

The City of Arts and Sciences is divided into TWO levels that are connected with flights of stairs.  The underground level contains the above buildings and the upper level contains the L'Umbracle and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. We climb the stairs to the L'Umbracle. 

L'Umbracle (2001) — a garden with palm trees, plants and flowers and an open metal cupola which is covering the beautiful garden. During the summer months, a part of the L’Umbracle is often used for parties. An open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia (such as rockrose, lentisca, rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle, bougainvillea, palm tree). It harbors in its interior The Walk of the Sculptures, an outdoor art gallery with sculptures by contemporary artists. (Miquel de Navarre, Francesc Abbot, Yoko Ono and others). The Umbracle is also home to numerous free-standing sculptures surrounded by nature. It was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences. It is 320 meters long and 60 meters wide, located on the southern side of the complex. It includes 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches that stand 18 meters high. The plants displayed were carefully picked to change colour with each season. The garden includes 99 palm trees, 78 small palm trees, 62 bitter orange trees. There are 42 varieties of shrubs from the Region of Valencia including Cistus, Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), Buddleia, Pampas grass (Cortaderia), and Plumbago. In the garden there are 16 species of Mirabilis jalapa, or the four-o'clock plant (beauty of the night). Honeysuckle and hanging Bougainvillea are two of the 450 climbing plants in the L'Umbracle. There also are 5,500 ground cover plants such as Lotus, Agatea (Fellicia amelloides), Spanish Flags, and Fig Marigolds. There are over a hundred aromatic plants including Rosemary and Lavender. Opening hours: MON to SUN 08.00 - 00.30. Price: FREE. It is the only part of the complex with public access free of charge:

During summer 2016 there were sculptures of Francisco Simões (Portugal), "Cuerpo de Mujer" on display in front of the Valencia L'Umbracle:

L'Umbracle from the El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:

Umbracle + Hemispheric + European Space Agency (Easa) Buildings - A VIEW FROM THE AGORA:

From the northern edge of the Umbracle - you can see the Pont de Montolivet. Designed by Santiago Calatrava (1986-89) and used by pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The Montolivet bridge crosses the Túria gardens and connects the district of La Roja with those of Montolivet and the City of Arts and Sciences .  To the north, the bridge flows into the  square of Europe, one of the largest in the city, while in the south it meets another roundabout located in Avenida del Saler. It is a unique bridge in the city to consist of two clearly different parts: the old bridge, which crosses only the northern half of the garden, and the new one , which continues it to the southern bank. In fact, neither one nor the other is too old, although it was with the construction of the City of Arts and Sciences that it became necessary to widen the existing bridge. This double bridge is, therefore, of remarkable length:

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (2005) — an opera house and performing arts center. The architecture of this building (and the others nearby) is simply out of this world. Close to the mighty building - it looks like a fish with a mouth. Modern architecture at its best. It contains four large rooms: a Main Room, Magisterial Classroom, Amphitheater and Theater of Camera. It is dedicated to music and the scenic arts. It is surrounded by 87,000 square meters of landscape and water, as well as 10,000 square meters of walking area. The Palau de Les Arts has four sections; the main hall, the master hall, the auditorium, and the Martin y Soler theatre. It holds many events such as opera, theatre and music in its auditoriums. Panoramic lifts and stairways connect platforms at different heights on the inside of the metallic frames of the building. The building has a metallic feather outer roof that rests on two supports and is 230 meters long and 70 meters high. One of the supports allows for part of the building to overhang. The building is supported by white concrete. Two laminated steel shells cover the building weighing over 3,000 tons. These shells are 163 meters wide and 163 meters long. The building is reputed for its fantastic acoustics. Opening hours: closed along the days. Open only depending on the performances or current exhibitions.

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia from the bottom level:

the northern bridge leading to the Palace of Arts and residence blocks around:

View of the Hemisfèric and the Ágora from the Palace of Arts:

After walking around the City of Arts and Sciences and marveling at the architecture and interplay of the designs, as well as the good fortune of the city of Valencia to have the foresight after the devastating 1957 flood to reroute the Turia river and dedicate the former river bed to a green parkway intersecting the heart of the city, we set off to enjoy lunch. Our next destination are the Turia Gardens.

View to Turia Gardens from the Palace of Arts:

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia - from the Turia Gardens:

view from Museum of Bellas Artes to the west:

Valencia - City of Sciences and Artes - view from Museum of Bellas Artes to the east (Turia Gardens):

Figueres - Dali Theatre-Museum

Steve Fulham


Figueres - Dali Theatre-Museum (Teatro-Museo Dali), Gala-Salvador Dalí Square, 5:

Duration: 3 hours (at least) in the museum and the exhibition. 5-6 hours for the transportaion and walks to/from the museum.

How to arrive: The best way to arrive from Barcelona to Figueres is by RENFE (Inter-city and long distance Trains)) train (almost 2 hours - every direction). For timetable:

The main (perhaps only) reason for going to Figueres is to visit the Salvador Dali Museum. Figueres is quite far to go to 'just' see the Dali museum (even if it is an amazing one), The AVE (high-speed) train has made the travel times much shorter than they used to be.

  • With the regular (slower) RENFE train, from Sants or Passeig de Gracia - it takes 1 hour 45 minutes (every direction) and the price is 11.20 -15 €. Buy ticket at station on the day of travel. Round trip from Sants is 28 € / adult.
  • By new high-speed AVE or AVANT ONLY from Sants station to Figueres it takes 53 minutes, and costs circa 35 €. Buy online or at the station.

  • The train departs from Barcelona from Sants station, but you can pick it up at Passeig de Gracia (which is far more central than Sants). The closest Metro station to Sants RENFE station is Sants Metro station. It is ten-minutes walk from Plaça de Espanya. 
  • If we use Placa de Catalunya as our centre point - we connect to the Passeig de Gràcia RENFE station from the northern side of Placa de Catalunya. Turn left onto Passeig de Gràcia (Passeig de Gràcia is the boulevard running from Plaça Catalunya to Avinguda Diagonal) and walk 180 m. You see a square with fountains. You cross it and continue northward along Passeig de Gràcia another 400 m. Note :Passeig de Gràcia has a total of five different entrances. It is important to remember that these entrances also service the metro station. We are only using the over ground train station and do not need to use the metro, it is best to head to the Passeig de Gràcia station entrance that sits at the top of Passeig de Gràcia. There are four entrances to Passeig de Gràcia station at the top of the street. The easiest to find is the one that sits directly in front of Gaudí's famous building, Casa Batlló. There are only two toilets at Passeig de Gràcia train station: one men's and one women's. You will find them located directly opposite the ticket booths in the main station building. There is no disabled toilet.

How to arrive to Dali Museum: the Figueres Vilafant station is not close to the Museum, but there is a bus connecting the station with the city center (200 meters from the Museum) within less than ten minutes. The bus ticket costs 1,25 €, and there is a bus every 25-30 minutes. Taxis are also available at the Figueres Vilafant station. There are no lockers in Figueres Vilafan train station.

Prices: we recommend purchasing entry to the jewel exhibition, which is housed in a separate building less than 100m away.

12 €/adult ((including the separate jewellery exhibition).

REDUCED 9 € Dalí ( including Jewels exhibition): Students, pensioners and unemployed people with the appropriate documentation.

Opening hours:

01/11 - 28/02 From 10.30 to 18.00.
01/03 - 30/06 From 09.30 to 18.00.
01/07 - 30/09 From 09.00 to 20.00.
01/10 - 31/10 From 09.30 to 18.00.

General hints: The different collections managed by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation include all kinds of works of art: painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, installation, hologram, stereoscopy, photography, etc., up to a quantity of some 4,000 pieces. Of these, some 1,500 are on show in the Dalí Theatre-Museum Dalí of Figueres. The whole museum-gallery is more a maze-alike. A bit chaotic in layout but , it only adds to the atmosphere. The museum is a free-flowing kind of place with different routes that you can take. Many kinds of paintings, sculptures, murals, exhibitions, other types of media and objects - a feast for all your senses - but, not many explanations. Several rooms contained art that Dali collected - and not made by him. For Surrealism lovers.

  • No flash photography.
  • Large queues to get in but not overcrowded inside. There is plenty to see and lots of rooms to disperse into. Try to come before 09.30. DO NOT COME IN A BRIGHT, HOT DAY. One hour queue to get in at midday.

  • Unsuitable for teenagers or children.

We suggest staying in beautiful Girona one night at least. You can combine your visit in Figueres with 1-day in Girona.

From Figueres Vilafant station to the Dalí's birth house, Carrer Monturiol, 20 - it is a 1.7 km. walk: head southeast on Carrer de les Pedreres toward Polígon Ua3 Puig Grau, 350 m. At the roundabout, continue straight onto Carrer d'Avinyonet, 550 m. Continue onto Passeig Nou, 290 m. Turn left onto Av. de Salvador Dalí i Domenech/N-IIa
12 m. Turn right onto Carrer Pep Ventura, 130 m. Turn right onto Pujada del Castell, 70 m. Slight left onto La Rambla, 170 m (we'll return to the Rambla). Continue onto Carrer Monturiol, 140 m. At Carrer Monturiol, 20
 - is Dali's birth house.

​Salvador Dalí Domènech was born in Figueres on 11 May 1904 to a wealthy family. His father was a solicitor. The house is located at no. 20 Carrer de Monturiol, and is known as Cara Puig. It is a modernist building designed by a famous architect, Josep Azemar, the city's chief architect between 1899 and 1914. Figueres also boasts several other buildings designed by Azemar, including a number of houses on La Rambla. The painter's only sister, Anna María Dalí, was also born here. The house is currently closed to visitors due to an ongoing legal dispute. There are long-standing plans to convert this publicly owned property into a cultural centre showcasing personal items belonging to Dalí, but no public opening date has yet been set:

From Dalí's birth house, Carrer Monturiol, 20 to Dalí Theatre-Museum
Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí, 5  -it is a 450-500 m. walk: head southwest on Carrer Monturiol toward Carrer Sant Rafael, 140 m. Continue onto La Rambla, 170 m:

La Rambla turns slightly right and becomes Pujada del Castell
160 m. On your right - Dalí Theatre-Museum, Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí, 5.

Exterior: externally, the building itself is fantastic. The museum is surreal like Dali, very surprising and not like any museum you might have seen earlier. The building is in itself a huge Dali installation with the giant egg battlements and spiraling columns.

Fantastic figures adorn the south facade:

A big sculpture standing opposite the entrance:

Dali sculpture outside the artist's Museum in Figueres:

Interiors: an amazing range of artwork, sculptures, drawing, objects on display. All very well laid out. An easy to follow guide leaflet available free and in many languages. Aside from Salvador Dalí's works, there are works by other artists that the painter invited to be exhibited in his museum, such as Antoni Pitxot and Evarist Vallès, accompanied by other artist from the painter's own private collection, such as El Greco, Marià Fortuny, Modest Urgell, Ernest Meissonier, Marcel Duchamp, Gerard Dou and Bouguereau. In various galleries of the Theatre-Museum we can also find works by John de Andrea, Wolf Vostell, Meifrén and Ernst Fuchs. Since Salvador Dalí death in 1989, the crypt where he is buried can also be visited at the centre of the museum. This area was remodeled in 1997 to exhibit a collection of gold jewels designed by the artist.

Dalí Jewels: o​ne of the annexes to the Dalí Theatre-Museum houses a collection of 37 gold and precious stone jewels that Dalí produced between 1940 and 1970. Alongside the jewels, the exhibition also features the associated design drawings and paintings.

Smiling Venus (1921):

First days of Spring (1922):

Self-Portrait with l'Humanité (1923):

Port Alguer (1923-4):

Figures Lying on the Sand (1926):

The Spectre of Sex-Appeal (1932):

Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops Balanced on Her Shoulder (1933):

Autumn Cannibalism, 1936. As with many artists, Dali was to depict war and conflict in several of his major works. Autumn Cannibalism was painted in the year the civil war began in Spain. The painting is an  interpretation of the horror and destruction of war, and also containts hints on the nature of sexual relationships:

Soft self-portrait with grilled bacon (1941):

Poetry of America / The Cosmic Athletes (1943). Dalí painted this oil painting in the United States. The landscape is a mixture of the Empurdá plain and Cap de Creus and of the vast American deserts. The skin shaped as Africa appears in the background, on the tower of time, with the clock marking the time and the athletes - American football players - with the vertical symbolism of the Coca-Cola bottle between them, and the black telephone, encrusted into the bottle, from which comes a huge black stain that falls onto a white cloth that is attached to the athletes. The black stain has been the object of different interpretations, one of which ponders with the idea that it is a representation of the American racial problem. For me - it symbolizes the racial tension in the USA:

Geopoliticus Child Watcing the Birth of the New Man, 1943. This painting depicts the large egg-shaped globe of the world out of which a man from North America is struggling to hatch. There is blood running out of the crack in the egg and the new man's hand has England firmly in its grasp. In the foreground two figures are watching; one an adult the other a small child. The adult, of indeterminate sex, is drawing the child's attention by pointing at the new man being birthed, which is seen as Baku, Azerbaijan. The child is standing as if afraid - both hiding behind and holding on to the adult's knees. The painting is thought to be the parody during World War II, which shows the man emerging from the egg is rising out of the "new" nation, United States, which was in the process of becoming a new world power. Africa and South America are both enlarged, representing the growing importance of the Third World, while Europe is being crushed by the man's hand, indicating its diminishing importance as an international power:

Galarina (1944-45). Gala was the love of Dali's life, his one and only Gala. Gala was not only his wife but his endless source of inspiration. Salvador Dali had a pure, raw, some would even say a spiritual passion for Gala, and it is reflected in much of his art:

The Basket of Bread (1945). There is another painting of Basket of Bread from 1926:

Leda Atomica (1949). Dali himself described “Leda Atomica” as a picture created “in accordance with the modern ‘nothing touches’ theory of intra – atomic Physics”. “Leda does not touch the swan; Leda does not touch the pedestal; the pedestal does not touch the base; the base does not touch the sea; the sea does not touch the shore . . .” he explains.  Thus, presenting a suspended world similar to the one of the atomic scale. The design of the composition is purely mathematical and carefully prepared as is revealed in a 1947 study of the artist. Leda (portrayed as his wife Gala) and the swan are inscribed in a regular pentagon, closely connected to the golden ratio. Dali conceived the design influenced by the Romanian polymath Prince Matila Costiesco Ghyka. The mathematical formula for the length of the pentagon’s side appears in the lower right side of the study:

Galatea of the Spheres (1952). A marvelous portrait of Dali's wife known as Gala. Gala was born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova (7 September 1894 – 10 June 1982) in Russia, to a family of intellectuals. As a young woman she graduated as a school-teacher in 1915 from a University in Moscow. Dali first met Gala in 1929 while working on the film Un Chien Andalou (the Andalusian Dog) by Luis Bunuel, Gala was the wife of another Surrealist Paul Eluard. Causing a rift in his family and tensions with other Surrealists Dali seduced Gala away from Eluard. In 1934 Dali and Gala were married in a civil ceremony in Paris and in 1958 the church permitted a Catholic ceremony (Gala's former husband died in 1952) and forever after she became known as Gala Éluard Dalí. Gala managed Dali's business affairs for their entire marriage a task to which the artist was unsuited. Dali considered Gala his world and his saviour and signed many of his works with her name. This amazing portrait is one of the many works in which Dali paints his feelings for Gala. This painting today sits in the Palace of the Wind Gallery:

Abstract paintings which seen from two metres as Three Lenines - changes into the Head of a Royal Tiger as seen from six metres, 1962:

Car Naval. Rainy taxi (1974-1985) in the central patio of the museum:

Queen Esther, by Dali's friend Ernest Fuchs - opposite the Rainy Car or Taxi:

Below is a painting in the great room that looks out to the Rainy car sculpture:

The central patio glass geodesic dome roof. You see this "Dome" also from the outside. It is one of the museum's landmarks:

The central Patio in the Museum - behind the Rainy Taxi:

Queen Esther opposite the Rainy Car or Taxi:

Face of Mae West Which Can Be Used as an Apartment (1974). In this installation at Dali Theatre-Museum, he created a reconstruction of a portrait he did of Mae West in the 1930s. The elements representing her lips, nose, eyes, are framed by platinum hair which isn’t shown in this photo, unfortunately. On the same level as the exhibit, they look like individual pieces, as shown below. But from a platform above, the full picture is visible...:

Gala Nude Looking at the Sea (1975)

which at 18 metres appears as President Lincoln.

The Pearl. After the Infanta Margarita and Las Meninas by Velázquez, 1981. Salvador Dalí's admiration for the character and work of Velázquez is well known:

Ceiling fresco in the Palace of the Wind. One of the ceiling paintings in a fairly large room packed with paintings and sculptures. Many people believe that the legs (in red) belong to Dali's wife - Gala. The opposite couple of legs, opposite, with the mustache - belong to Salvador Dali himself:

The connotation of limp clocks:

Michelangelo’s Moses – with octopus perched on top. The real Moses statue is in Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome (see Tipter "Christian Rome - Tour of Four Major Basilicas" blog:

Decorative skeleton:

Salvador Dali bedroom (his own design):

Although the work exhibited is basically by Dalí, there are also works by other artists who Dalí wanted to include: Antoni Pitxot, Evarist Vallès, the private collection of Salvador Dalí with works by El Greco, Marià Fortuny, Modest Urgell, Ernest Meissonier, Marcel Duchamp, Gerard Dou, etc. Similarly, in different galleries of the Theatre-Museum, works can be found by Bouguereau, John de Andrea, Wolf Vostell, Meifrén and Ernst Fuchs, among others.

Pitxot, Antoni - Sleeping Beach, 1974. One in a series of paintings comprised of "pebbles" and broken stones:

Pitxot, Antoni - Woman lying on red background, 1976:

Pitxot, Antoni - Giorgione's Maternity, 1977:

Pitxot, Antoni - The Allegory of the Memory, 1979:

More surrealistic paintings:

Pitxot, Antoni (?):

Dali's surrealistic sculptures:

There are several Kaliedescopes / prisms  with surrealistic optic-illusion sights:

Another one - Dali touches a dancer's leg:

Poster of Bulls Fight (Corrida de Toros) from the 1950s with the name of salvador Dali:

1968 Aliyah to Israel - the series of graphic work entitled "Aliyah" dates from 1968, and was an assignment to commemorate the twenty years anniversary of the proclamation of the State of Israel. Dalí created a series of 25 mixed media paintings including gouache, watercolors and Indian ink on paper. They were reproduced as photolithographs and published in a limited edition presented in a folder with a letter of introduction by David Ben-Gurion, a key figure in the history of Israel. In order to illustrate the various meanings of the Hebrew world "aliyah", which means literally "migration to the land of Israel", the artist took inspiration from the Old Testament as well as contemporary history. Dalí depicted the vessel "Eliahu Golomb", full of refugees from the concentration camps, setting sail to Israel in 1946, despite the prohibition imposed by Palestine under the British Mandate. He also portrays David Ben-Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence in 1948. As usual in Dalí's work, the pieces also contain elements from his own iconography. This is the case with two lithographs that contain references to a major painting of that period, Tuna Fishing, an oil painting inspired by the Mediterranean coastal fishing practice which dates back to antiquity:

Since the death of Salvador Dalí, in 1989, one can also visit the crypt with his grave, situated in the centre of the museum; a space which was remodelled in 1997 in order to exhibit there a collection of gold jewellery designed by the artist. Dali was attracted by the materials and not by the money concerned. Salvador Dali designed these jewels in the 1940's and 50's and the original pieces were made up by the silversmith Carlos Alemany under the close supervision of the artist himself. As well as designing the jewels, Dali personally selected all the materials and precious stones used in each one. They were chosen not only for their quality and value, but for the symbolic meanings of each. In 1958 the Dali Jewel Collection was purchased by the Owen Cheatham Foundation and exhibited to raise money for various charitable organizations in the United States. The original pieces now reside at the Figueres Museum. It’s dark there. Taking photographs is difficult:

The human eye - with the tear in the left bottom corner:

Look and stay breathless:

Leaf Veined Hands:

Peace Medal:

Dali's Tristan & Isolde Brooch:

Short history: Inaugurated in 1974, the Dalí Theatre-Museum rises on the remains of the former Municipal Theatre of Figueres and is considered to be the last great work of Salvador Dalí. Everything in it was conceived and designed by the artist so as to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his unique and captivating world. At the beginning of the 1960s Ramon Guardiola, Mayor of Figueres at the time, asked Salvador Dalí to donate a work for the Museu de l'Empordà. Dalí's reply came quickly: he would donate to Figueres not just a single work, but an entire museum. From the 'seventies onwards, Dalí devoted his entire attention to the museum project, taking part in it and designing its tiniest details, until it became real with the official inauguration of the Dalí Theatre-Museum on 28 September 1974. Dali’s relationship with his place of birth is powerful, deep and intense. He rescued and restored the burned out theatre across from the church where he was baptized, and where he held his first exhibition as a painter. The museum is his personal design based on his own aesthetics. It holds the representative range of all his works created during his lifetime. One of the most noticeable features of the museum, the transparent reticular-shape like a geodesic dome that crowns the building, was entrusted by Salvador Dalí to the Murcian architect Emilio Pérez Piñero (1935-1972). That dome has now become the main icon of the Theatre-Museum and a great landmark for the city of Figueres.

Around Dali Museum:

Church of Sant Pere: while queuing-up to the museum cashier - the church is on your right (east). Figueres' largest church is where Dalí was baptised and where his family regularly attended mass. The site dates back to the year 1020, and it still houses some remains of its Roman past. However, the current building is mainly of Gothic construction, although it has undergone multiple extensions over the years. The baptismal font is the same one in which Dalí himself was baptised:


Barcelona - Modernista Architecture - Part II

Steve Fulham


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,[6][7][8] 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:

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

Casa Mulleras
Passeig de Gràcia 37
designed by Enric Sagnier

Casa Amatller
Passeig de Gràcia 41
designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch

Casa Batlló
Passeig de Gràcia 43
designed by Antoni Gaudí

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 027: Casa Malagrida: Architect: Joaquim Codina i Matali:

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 - Modernista Architecture - Part I.

Steve Fulham


Barcelona - Col·legi de les Teresianes, Park Guell, Sant Pau Hospital - Part I.

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, Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó Morera, Passeig de Gracia Modernista houses, Palau Guell - Part II.

Duartion: 1 day. 15-16 km.

Weather: Never walk this itinerary in very hot or rainy days.


1. Barclona hotels are expensive. Most of them are NOT a good value for your money.

2. Barcelona is easily walkable. Avoid using any kind of transportation - as possible. See next two comments...

3. Barcelona is concerned, sometimes, with steep hikes.

4. Take water with you to Park Guell, as the hike is worth it but you will be thirsty during the summer months! Do not make long walk if the temperature exceeds 28-29 degrees.

5. The admission fees to every kind of attraction ARE EXPENSIVE. Your daily budget for more than 3-4 sites can, easily, pass the 50 euros/person budget !

6. Plan in advance. Most sights seeing is involved with long queues of waiting. Long lines for the toilets too. It won't take time to book your tickets on internet and it will save you 2 hours.

Catalonia was marked by the so-called ‘Modernisme' (or Modernista) , a movement that extended from ca 1880 to the First World War, parallel to currents such as Naturalism, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau. It was motivated by return to traditions as an expression of national identity, as well as by the introduction of modern techniques and materials as part of progress.
It found expression in literature and music, as well as in painting, sculpture, decorative arts and architecture. The best known Modernisme architects include Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

The Modernisme movement was centred in the city of Barcelona, though it reached far beyond, and is best known for its architectural expression, especially in the work of Antoni Gaudí, but was also significant in sculpture, poetry, theatre and painting. Although it was part of a general trend that emerged in Europe around the turn of the 20th century, in Catalonia the style acquired its own unique personality. Its distinct name comes from its special relationship, primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, which were intensifying their local characteristics for socio-ideological reasons after the revival of Catalan culture and in the context of spectacular urban and industrial development. It is equivalent to a number of other fin de siècle art movements going by the names of Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezession in Austria, Liberty style in Italy and Modern or Glasgow Style in Scotland, and was active from roughly 1888 (the First Barcelona World Fair) to 1911.

The earliest example of Modernista architecture is the café Castell dels tres Dragons designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Parc de la Ciutadella for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. It is a search for a particular style for Catalonia drawing on Medieval and Arab styles. As well as combining a rich variety of historically-derived elements, it is characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, by rich decoration and detail, by the frequent use of vegetal and other organic motifs, the taste for asymmetry, a refined aestheticism and dynamic shapes.

Antoni Gaudí is the best-known architect of this movement. Other influential architects were Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and later Josep Maria Jujol and Enrique Nieto.

There are about 30 Modernisme works spread around Barcelona. Only the main, the 10-11 most important are explored here. Mainly, due to their proximity and accessibility for a-pied walkers.

Part I:

Col·legi de les Teresianes - This isolated, elegant and sober building, which looks like an unassailable fortress, is the amazing convent school designed by Gaudí for a community of nuns from the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus. This imposing building stands behind railings and among gardens, and has been used as a school ever since it opened.

Park Güell - A garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district, built in the years 1900 to 1914.

Hospital de Sant Pau - A complex built between 1901 and 1930. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009, since when it has been undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural center. In 1913 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

Part II:

Sagrada Família - An immense basilica that has been under construction since 1882 and will be under construction for the next 25 years. It is one of Barcelona's most popular tourist attractions and considered Gaudi's masterpiece.

Casa de les Punxes - Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes) or Casa Terrades is a building located on Avinguda Diagonal constructed in 1905, commissioned by the Terrades sisters. The house includes different ceramic panels illustrating patriotic motifs. The best known depicts Saint George and with the following legend: “Sant Patró de Catalunya, torneu-nos la llibertat” (“Holy Patron of Catalonia, give us back our freedom”).

Casa Milà - Casa Milà or " La Pedrera" is a building located at Passeig de Gràcia Avenue, built during the years 1905–1910. It is probably Gaudi's second most popular building in Barcelona.

Casa Batlló - A slender building originally built between 1875 and 1877 and remodelled in 1904-1906 by Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol.

Casa Amatller - A building originally designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller and constructed between 1898 and 1900.

Casa Lleó Morera - A building originally constructed in 1864 but renovated in 1902. In 1906 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

Palau Güell - A mansion designed for the Catalan industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell and constructed between years 1885-1900.


Palau de la Música Catalana - A concert hall in Barcelona built between 1905 and 1908 for the choral society Orfeó Català. In 1909 it received an award for the best building of the year from the Barcelona City Council.

Casa Bonaventura Ferrer, Passeig de Gràcia 103 - Build in 1906. Since 1979 it has been listed as an historical and artistic heritage of Barcelona. In 2010 the building was remodeled and converted into a luxury boutique hotel under the name of "El Palauet".

I stayed only one night in Barcelona. I stayed in Portugal for 3 weeks and returned to my country through Barcelona. It was far cheaper to fly from Barcelona (with Vueling) and the flight from Porto (Portugal) to Barca costed me just 80 USD with Ryanair (efficient, punctual and spartan) (100 USD including my 18 kg. backpack).

I'll start with my hotel choice. I booked a room in a last-minute process - one day before my arrival.. Hotels in Barcelona, especially in the centre - might be expensive. You can find good deals if reservation made several months before your booking date. Do not expect to find a double room with attached bath in a price less than 80 euros/night. In most of the hotels the noise, during the night, is inevitable. Staying out of tourist traps is highly recommended. The only hotel with a sound mind price was Hotel Catalonia Castellnou, C/ Castellnou 61, 08017 Barcelona. Reasonably priced. Good value for money. The hotel is clean, silent, respectable, very convenient and cozy. It is 3-5 min. walk from the Ferrocarrils Catalonia (FGC) stop (NOT METRO) Les Tres Torres. The ride to Placa Catalonia takes 15 minutes and costs 2.15 euros. There is a train every 10-15 minutes. The same price as the Metro. It is in an residential area. If you want to have nightlife around your hotel - it's not the right one. There are some bars and restaurants around (10-15 euros for dinner).  I booked a single room with a terrace (room 600) on the 5th + floor (45 euros). Double room will cost you 63 euros including breakfast. Breakfast was 9 (!) euros but worth every penny. It is a buffet style with a rich selection of pastries, fruits, juices and diary products. Taking a breakfast in a near bar, cafe or restaurant will cost you 6-7 euros at least. Internet connection, in the lobby, was working good. Good wifi. 12 - 13 minutes from supermarket on foot. A/C worked well. TV had English news channels (all in all 43 channels).

The view from the terrace:

Another important fact, from my experience: Barcelona is walkable. It is 45 minutes (3 km.) from my hotel to Park Guell. This the longest section in our daily route along the Modernista architectural sites. ALL OF THEM ARE NORTH TO Placa Catalonia.

The shortest route is (extracted from Google Maps): Head southeast on Carrer de Castellnou toward Carrer del Rosari, 77 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Rosari, 290 m. Slight right onto Via Augusta, 80 m. Turn left onto Ronda del General Mitre/Ronda General Mitre, 1.3 km. Slight left onto Carrer de Ballester, 550 m. Turn left onto Av. de Vallcarca, 150 m. Turn right onto Baixada de la Glòria, 350 m (the most difficult, inevitable section). Turn left onto Av. del Coll del Portell, 250 m. Turn right, 6 m - Park Güell.

I did a longer and a bit different way which should take about 60-70 minutes. The main point, in this route, is Jardins del Turó del Putget or Park Putget (Putxet). Every route chosen is involved with section of steep climb (especially, to Park Guell itself, via the Beixada de la Gloria stairs).  High above it all and nestled on Putget hill, these spacious and open gardens offer one of the most privileged viewing points of Barcelona. These gardens are much more accessible than they may initially seem, since there are more unobstructed paths than flights of stairs. Except for access to the highest part of the hill, the Park Putxet gardens can be crossed from one side to the other without stepping on a single stair.

From Hotel Catalonia Castellnou I headed north-east to the Plaça de Joaquim Pena and Carrer del Milanesat. Turn right to C/ Vergos and continue eastward along Via Augusta (where the Les Tres Torres FGC subway station is located). Turn LEFT to Ronda del General Mitre (a bustling, but, still, elegant street) and take its left pavement. On the first cross-road turn left to the Col-legi de les Teresianes, Ganduxer, 85-105.  In 1887, a community of nuns from the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus decided to build a school in Sant Gervasi de Cassoles, a village in the north of Barcelona. An unknown architect had already laid the foundation stone and established the floor plan of the building when Gaudí took over the project. He altered the actual structure of the building and left his own highly personal imprint on the ensemble. Unlike his other projects, Gaudí had to work with a limited budget and this explains the use of austere materials, such as brick and reconstituted stone, or the plaster walls inside.

Return to Ronda General Mitre. Now walk on the right side (shaded) pavement and continue eastward. Here, starts our adventurous section. Turn left to  Carrer de Balmes. The Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) line runs under Carrer Balmes, where you'll find Plaça Molina, Padua and El Putxet FGC stations. Turn right and continue climbing on the LEFT LEG of Carrer de Bertran. Turn right (2nd turn) to Carrer del Pare Fidel Fita. Here you climb up approx. 100 stairs and turn left to Carrer Roca i Batlle (a steep climb uphill). Turn right to Carrer de Marmellà. On your right is the Centre Esportiu Municipal Putxet. We arrived to Jardins del Turó del Putget. El Putget - often written El Putxet - is a small peak between Vallcarca and Sant Gervasi, which was first documented as the site of a chapel in the 17th century but whose history only really dates back to around 1870 when, owing to the dreadful sanitary conditions in Ciutat Vella, bourgeois Barcelona families began to build summer homes there. At the time, El Putget was one of the three neighborhoods, along with La Bonanova and Lledó, that made up Sant Gervasi. With the arrival of the Sarrià railway in 1863, the metro in 1924 and the tram, the summer homes in El Putget gradually became permanent residences. Just like in Sarrià or La Salut above Gràcia, fine houses, many of them Modernista, were built around the hill and some can still be seen particularly along Carrer de Mulet or Carrer de Puigreig. Usually is a very quite park, with some cozy resting places, and it has a huge variety of plants. As it's located on a hill, some of its roads and stairs are quite stepped, but it's a lovely park with seating areas, smalls squares and even a playground.

The views from this park are really wonderful. BUT, I think the best scenery is during the afternoon hours when the sun shines from the west with Park Guell to the east of this park. So, don't expect to have the best views, from this park, at the first half of the day... In case you decide to climb to the top of Putxet Hill, through the park's stairs - it will consume another 15-20 minutes of your time. The park contains taps, rest rooms and picnic benches.

You leave the Jardins del Turó del Putget by following the signposts pointing to C/ Manacor. You exit the park, at one of its eastern exits, along Carrer de Manacor, You walk down along Carrer de Manacor and see, almost, immediately, the steep road leading to Park Guell. The road slopes down and changes its name to Carrer d'Agramunt. You cross three roads on your way down: Av. Argentina, C/ Bolivar and Av. Valcarca. At last you arrive to the famous stairs leading to Park Guell - Beixada de la Gloria. It is a series of escalators (and a bit of a manual climb in parts) that lead you to Guell Park. Although the buildings inside are pretty interesting to look at, it's worth the visit for the fantastic views across the city. You'll find benches around, to rest, before the ascent to Park Guell.

Before the SECOND series of escalators, you have a very steep section of climbing on foot:

When Park Güell began to be built in 1900, Barcelona was a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis whose economy was based on the strength of its industry and which had over half a million inhabitants. Its walls had been knocked down nearly half a century earlier and the new city, the Eixample planned by engineer Ildefons Cerdà, had grown spectacularly from 1860 onwards, in what was the largest 19th century city development project in Europe. From the 1860s, the construction of the Eixample gave Barcelona’s architects many professional openings for expression, endowing the city with one of the continent’s richest and fullest repertoires. The first attempts at Modernisme were brought into its wide spectrum of historicist and eclectic architecture at the end of the century. When art nouveau finally triumphed at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900 - the most significant architects within Modernisme, such as Domènech i Montaner and Gaudí, went very much further in their original interpretation of art nouveau, based on the paradox of having to be modern without renouncing tradition. The association between entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and architect Antoni Gaudí began when Güell saw a window display that Gaudí had planned for glove retailer Esteve Comella at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878. In 1886 Eusebi Güell entrusted Gaudí with building his new house, the Palau Güell in Nou de la Rambla street in the old quarter of the city. Later, in 1895 Gaudí built a winery in Garraf county in collaboration with Francesc Berenguer. In 1898 he planned the church for Colònia Güell, home to the workers at the large textile factory that the industrialist owned on the outskirts of Barcelona. And finally, in 1900, Gaudí was given the assignment of designing Park Güell. Güell understood better than any of his contemporaries the meaning of Gaudí’s architecture. The relationship between the two men was not simply that of an artist and his patron, but a real story of friendship. For many years the Güell family lived in the large family house (now a school) that stood on the land where the development was located, while Gaudí lived in one of the two houses that were built there. In the businessman’s own lifetime, the park was already considered to be one of Barcelona’s great tourist attractions, and the large square was often let for staging Catalan events, traditional Catalan Sardana dancing and other civic and social events. Gaudí planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 as infrastructure and facilities for an English-style garden suburb, planned to accommodate sixty single-family residences. The project was a financial failure and became city property in 1923. Although it was never fully completed, it is one of Gaudí's most colorful and playful works. Be sure to check every corner of this beautiful place for a multitude of architectural surprises. A highlight of Barcelona.

While the entrance to the Park is free, there is an entrance fee to visit the monumental zone with the architectural sights, and a separate fee to visit Gaudi’s house, which contains the furniture he designed. Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," — containing furniture that he designed — can be only visited for an another entrance fee. There is a reduced rate for those wishing to see both Gaudí's house and the Sagrada Família Church. Opening times: Autumn-Winter from 27 October to 23 March: from 08.30 to 18.00, Spring-Summer from 24 March to 30 April: from 08.00 to 20.00, from 1 May to 26 October: from 08.00 to 21.00. General ticket € 7 (on-line) or € 8 (ticket office on-site). In addition, consider that now a limit is set on visiting the park. Only 400 tickets go on sale every half an hour. When buying tickets online, you need to clearly state the date and the time of your visit, and most importantly, not to be late, because in this case the ticket will be canceled. Remember: A limit of 400 tickets per 30 minute increments has been set to control the crowds ! Slots are limited. Although this route is planned as a full-day one, from morning till evening - I recommend going to Parc Guell (the Catalan name) just before sunset so that you can watch the sky light up as the sun sets and begin to see the city lights twinkle. It is also often less crowded at this time so you don't have to deal with as many tourist crowds. Don't forget to take your camera! Park Güell is one of the best photo opportunities in Barcelona, and an absolute must see for those visiting the incredible city. Beautiful architecture and mosaics can be found hidden (and in plain sight) all throughout the park, creating a surreal and magical feeling, almost as if you have walked into a fairy tale world. I wandered through Park Guell for a few hours and felt like I could've stayed for a few more. I'd definitely recommend bringing a picnic and spending some time on one of the many beautiful mosaic benches and watching the world go by. Yes, it's a very touristy attraction, but also incredibly peaceful and relaxing. The views are simply unreal and the park is bustling with life.

Two metro stations, Vallcarca and Lesseps, are situated within 20 minutes of walk from the park. Consider that in order to get to the park you have to surmount quite a steep ascent. You can take the underground metro to the station Lesseps along L3 and follow the signs towards Park Güell. better way is to take the bus, as it drops you right outside the park. Bus 24 goes from Plaça de Catalunya (it goes through Universitat area towards La Rambla), straight through Passeig de Gracia towards the park. You can see many of the attractions along the way, and experience Gracia quarter on the bus. A bus No. 116 goes from the metro station Lesseps directly to the park – stop L’Olot.

The paths within the park wind round the hill, up towards the highest point where you can see a complete view of Barcelona and the bay in panorama. We come, first, to these two point, the Mirador Villarco and the Turó de les tres creus. These are two gathering points  that offer great views:

El Mirador - view to the west:

Las 3 cruces (Turó de les tres creus): This is the highest part of the park, from here you can see most of Barcelona. Currently there are three crosses on top of a hill of stone, named "Calvari". Two of them indicate the cardinal points (N-S-E-W), and the other pointing skyward.

From these two highest points we slope gently into the park having wonderful overview of the whole park:

We don't enter the park from its main entrance. The main entrance to Park Güell is on the south side, on Carrer d’Olot, from which visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of the stairway (see later).

The navigation in the park is easy and, in every intersection - you see signposts directing you the various attractions. we shall refer to the main highlights in Park Guell.

Gaudí's multicolored mosaic salamander, popularly known as "El Drac" (The Dragon), at the main entrance, as restored after the vandalism of February 2007. This is the famous lizard, which is normally Confused with a dragon. Probably one of the most photographed, easily identified Gaudi pieces:

The Dragon Stairway: double flight of steps from front entrance up to the columns room. The stairs lead to a hall with 86 columns under an ornate ceiling. Besides supporting the huge terrace above, this area was intended to become the market of the complex. This is the most famous part of the park, has become a symbol of Barcelona as the "Sagrada familia", and other more modern constructions (Agbar Tower ...). Above the main entrance is a grand staircase leading to the Hipóstila room divided by a number of water sources:

wall leading up the stairs:

The Greek Theatre (or the Main Terrace): Right at the centre of the monumental zone of Park Güell is the large esplanade which the original plans called the Greek Theatre and which has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Following the stairs you go through a large porch that have eighty-six columns that supports a large square. The roof is covered with brittle and white uniform, but it is not plain, is sinking between column and column. In the middle there are fourteen brittle, spread unevenly. In spaces where there is no brittle medallions. The columns are also covered with white brittle at the bottom. Bird nests built by Gaudí in the terrace walls. The walls imitate the trees planted on them. A 100-meter-long unbroken bench, adorned with colorful mosaic, skirts the platform. Its shape resembles a twisting sea serpent that has got out of the deep in order to bask in the sun. Shady lanes and observation areas revealing the greater part of the Catalan Mediterranean seashore are situated throughout the park. Park Güell, which was intended as a commercial project, ended up being a real masterpiece of the landscape art.

Another name to this attraction is Hall of Hundred Columns. In spite of its name, the hall has only 86 columns of Doric Order. Its important element is the vaulted roof, on which rosettes symbolizing seasons, solar and moon cycles are situated. Thanks to its unusual structure the hall has wonderful acoustics. Musical concerts and performances are often organized here:

Hypostyle Room (columns room) - conceived as a covered space to be used as a market for the estate:

stairs leading to the Main Terrace or Greek Theatre (Nature Theater):

Serpentine bench the wraps around 3 sides of the esplanade:

No lack of decoration – multi-colored tiles make the Main Terrace a vibrant place:

The Main Terrace walls (with the "birds' nests"):

The Austria Gardens: What we now know as the Austria Gardens was one of the zones to be used as plots in the estate. When the Park Güell was turned into a public park, however, the zone was used as a municipal plant nursery. This part of the precinct has a completely different look to the rest of the park, and it got its name through a donation of trees from Austria in 1977. Most of the viaducts (photos - see below) are located, formally, in the Austria gardens. These areas were originally meant to be divided into residential plots but was instead a plant nursery. It was officially made into a public garden in the 1960s designed by Lluis Ruidor:

There are ceramics everywhere, even on the park's walls:

The Roadways, Paths and Viaducts: Outside the monumental zone of the central part of the park, running east towards the Carretera del Carmel exit, is the Pont de Baix, bridge, the first of the viaducts of the network of paths that help overcome the topography and connect the various parts of the park. Gaudí planned three viaducts with a width of five metres, snaking their way up the mountain, to lead carriages from the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot up to the high part of the estate, the Turó de Tres Creus (Three Crosses Hill). They are known as the Pont de Baix, the Pont del Mig and the Pont de Dalt (lower, middle and high bridges), names that already appeared on the first postcards of the park. They are suspended on a structure of sloping columns and vaults made from unhewn stones taken from the site itself. On their upper parts, the balustrades are crowned by plots with vegetation.

Mansion Salve:

The Museum: The house, designed by Francesc Berenguer i Mestres (Reus, 1848 - Barcelona, 1914) was built between 1904 and 1906. In 1906, Antoni Gaudí bought the house and became his residence. A few months before he died the year 1926, Gaudí left his residence To Park Guell. The Museum is the only thing that not really worth it in the park. While it gives you a deeper introspective to his works, it was still very small and honestly not worth the admission. OPENING TIMES: October-March: from 10.00 to 18.00, April-May: from 10.00 - 20.00, June-September: from 09.00  to 20.00. ADMISSION PRICES: 5.50 euros, reduced - 4.50 euros.

Same sculpture elements that adorns a portion of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia:

Gaudi often designed furniture to compliment his architectural work.

The main entrance to Park Güell and the porter's lodge pavillions: it is formed by an iron gate, and two pavilions, a warehouse, a shelter for the carriages, and a main staircase. It covers an area of 400 sqm. Currently one of the pavilions and the warehouse is business tours, gift shop (Casa del Guardia) and bar. The main entrance is in C/ OLot.

The two pavilions at the main entrance of the park:

the interior of the porter's lodge:

View from the main entrance in C/ Olot:

There are many musical gathering points around Guell Park:

You exit Park Guell from its eastern entrance in Carretera del Carmel. With your face out - turn RIGHT to a narrow road/path - C/cottolengo del padre alegre sloping down to the east. On your right a house for sick poor people (Cottolengo del Padre Alegre) and on your left a green wall. Along the asphalted path there are proverbs of Antoni Gaudi like: "Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.", "Nothing is art if it does not come from nature". In the end of the descent - turn LEFT (on your right and left - tennis courts) - Riera de Can Toda. You descend in this road and cross Carrer de la Mare de Déu de la Salut. On your left a Chinese restaurant Ta - Tung. Turn left onto Carrer de la Mare de Déu de la Salut, 28 m. Turn right onto Carrer del Secretari Coloma, 54 m. Turn left onto Ronda del Guinardó, 200 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Sardenya. On your right is Sardenya Centre Esportiu Municipal and Holmes Place sport hall. Here, you can find (on your right) a simple, straight-forward bar/restaurant with filling lunch at 9-10 euros (Menu'-del-dia). DO NOT continue with Car. de Sardenya. Take the most left street - Ronda del Guinardo and walk along this road, on your left Parc de les Aigües (A green island that audibly and visually separates part of the homes of the Baix Guinardó district from the intense traffic from Alfons X el Savi square) and, later, crossing C/ de Padilla:


Ronda del Guinardo # 49:

Here starts a nice avenue of palm trees (on your left). You cross Carrer de los Castillejos. Continue walking 2-3 minutes and the Hospital de Sant Pau is on your right. The formal entrance is further east along the bustling street. I recommend turning right and finding a way to enter the hospital from its back. Hospital de Sant Pau is actually two distinct sites. This site can be accessed FREE without security controls if you come from the back of the hospital. Sant Pau is still a working hospital, but the original Modernista buildings at the front (west) have been converted into a museum, The more western complex of hospital buildings is already a tourist site with admission fees of 8-14 euros. The largest, and in many ways the most impressive, of the Modernist sites in Barcelona, indeed in all of Catalonia, is probably also one of the least known and visited. The appearance is stunning to see and the impressive architecture is very interesting. A visit to this hospital is a pleasant activity. Make a visit and be amazed.

Sant Pau, is the world's largest Art Nouveau site. It is a complex built between 1901 and 1930, designed by the Catalan modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. In 1401, six hospitals in the city of Barcelona merged to form the Hospital de la Santa Creu, a fine example of civilian gothic architecture. With the growth of the city and the advances in medicine in the 19th century, the centre was unable to meet the demands of the time and construction of a new building was proposed. Thanks to the legacy of Pau Gil, a banker, the first stone of the new building was laid on January 15th, 1902. "Sant Pau" was added to the old name of "la Santa Creu" to honour the wishes of its benefactor. The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner was commissioned with the project. Over the years, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau became the most significant public building in Catalan modernista/Modernisme. The architectural complex of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is an unmistakable landmark in the culture and heritage of Barcelona city in particular and in Catalonia in general. Its architectural and patrimonial value extends beyond its urban location and the site has won European and international acclaim. In 1997, together with the Palau de la Música Catalana (one of the world's leading concert halls), the Hospital was declared World Heritage by UNESCO for its singular architectural and artistic beauty. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009, it is currently undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural center. As of July 2014 there are still tours of the hospital being given several times a day (in the western part of the complex). In 2003 a new hospital building was erected to the north of the Domènech i Montaner's Modernista pavilions.

First, we take the FREE section of Sant Pau hospital and spend here 15-20 minutes taking photos of the fantastic buildings around:

The west site of Sant Pau hospital cannot be accessed free of charge. Opening time: November – March: Monday to Saturday, 10.00 to 16.30. Sundays and holidays, 10.00 to 14.30, April – October: Monday to Saturday, 10.00 to 18.30, Sundays and holidays, 10.00 to 14.30. January 1st and 6th, December 25th and 26th, closed. Guided Visits: Monday to Saturday: Catalan, 11.30 and 12.30. Spanish: 10.30 and 13.30. English: 12.00, 13.00 and 16.00. French: 11.00.  Sundays and holidays: Catalan, 11.30 and 12.30. Spanish: 10.30a and 13.30. English: 10.00, 12.00 and 13.00. French: 11.00. Admission fees: Self-guided visit: 8€, Guided visit: 14€. Concession ticket: aged 16 to 29, over 65, disabled, Self-guided visit: 5.60€, Guided visit: 9.80€. A bit pricey considering that most of the buildings are not restored or, if restored, not open to visitors. 11 stunning building, 4 of which you can enter. Others are still under renovation. Allow a good hour and a half, two hours, as the details and the place are just amazing. The Sant pau is so much quieter than the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and you can really take your time and appreciate the beauty of the hospital.

This visit begins at the Administration Pavilion, in the exhibition space, where a video, an interactive touch table and other elements introduce you to the monumental and artistic heritage and its significance, the historical evolution of the institution and its contribution to medicine.  Undoubtedly, the entrance will be not indifferent to the visitor.

Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Entrance Hall:

Trencadís (broken tile shards) is a widely used technique in the Catalan Art Nouveau architecture, which can be found again and again in the old Sant Pau Hospital and particularly clearly in the Main Terrace in Park Güell. The tour continues with steps leading to a hallway with large windows and the Art Nouveau ceiling so beautiful and so worked, which confirm that the visit has been worthwhile:

Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Chapel:

In order to get to the other buildings you head down into the basement and then along part of the network of underground passageways that unite all the separate parts of the original hospital. You can’t explore all of these as the pavilions that are out in the garden are either used by different organisations or have yet to be restored. Nonetheless you do get an idea of what Domènech i Montaner was aiming for, keeping all the servicing of the hospital’s requirements underground and creating the ability to get to all the pavilions without having to pass through or disturb any of the others. Following the route indicated by this pavilion you will pass by different chambers, all with stunning Art Nouveau details. In some rooms there are monitors projecting information about the restoration of the old Hospital de Sant Pau and its transformation into the new Art Nouveau Site. Once traversed the halls of the Administration Pavilion that are truly amazing, if the official route is followed, you will go down stairs leading to the tunnels of the old hospital, through which workers moved and carried the stretchers. The route through the tunnel leads to the modernist courtyard of the site, from which you can visit the rest of the pavilions. Each of these pavilions had its particular function in the old hospital. The largest, the Administrative Pavilion, as said before, is also part of the tour. Its facade glows with mosaic murals telling the history of hospital care, and inside the building there are beautiful columns with floral capitals and a luxurious, dusty pink tiled ceiling:

Walking on through this superb setting you come to the Sant Rafael Pavilion, whose lovingly restored interiors are once again as they were conceived at the start of the twentieth century. You can also visit the Main Hall of the Administration Pavilion, the Pau Gil Room and the Lluís Domènech i Montaner Room, one of the main spaces of the building. The recommended tour finishes in the Sant Jordi Pavilion, a completely refurbished space that hosts temporary exhibitions. At the moment only eight of the buildings have been fully renovated. The initial plan, for which a budget of €100 million has been allocated, takes in 12 buildings and they are those around the central building of the garden as well as the administration building itself:

Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Main Stairwell:

If Art Nouveau interiors of the Sant Pau Site are awesome, the facades of the different pavilions composing the old hospital are equally astonishing. The site is still under restoration (Summer 2014) and it is easy to find fencing surrounding the areas that are not visitable. There are toilets and running water in the visiting areas:

Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau – Pau Gil i Serra:

In Part II of this blog - we continue to La Sagrada Familia and other Modernista monuments - north of Placa de Catalonia.

Northern Spain - Sample Trip

Frank Gore


Barcelona Gothic Quarter and Ribera. One Day Walk (One Day Tour - ODT).
Start: Place de Catalunya.
End: Place de Catalunya.
Orientation: Circular tour. 7-8 km walk.
Weather: no rain.
Main Attractions: Placa de Catalunya, Arc de Triomf, Parque de la Ciudadela, Museu de Zoologia, Zoo, Mercat del Born, Ribera Quarter, Iglesia Sant Maria del Mar, Museu Picasso, Clothing and Textile Museum, Placa de Ramon Berenguer El Gran, the Old Walls, Gothic Quarter, Museu Frederic Mares, Museo de Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA), Placa del Rei, Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona Cathedral, Claustro, Palau de la Musica, Placa de Catalunya.

From Placa de Catalunya - head north. Arrive to the Catalunya Metro station. Turn right onto Ronda Sant Pere. Turn right onto Passe de Sant Joan. Cross: Via Laitana, Carrer de les Jonqures, (the Urqinanoa Metro is on your left), Carrer del Bruc, Carrer de Girona. At the roundabout , take the 2nd exit. The Arc de Triomf is on the left in the palm-tree-lined Passeig Lluis Companys.

The arch is located between Passeig de Lluís Companys and Passeig de Sant Joan. Behind the triumphal arch starts a wide promenade connecting leading to the Park of the Ciutadella. The Passeig de Lluís Companys is an attractive avenue lined with palm trees and nice lanterns:

Cross the Parque de la Ciudadela. The Park of the Citadel is on the site of a fort built by Felipe V in the 18th century. The fort was demolished to make way for the Universal Exhibition in 1888. The Catalan Parliament, Museum of Modern Art (TUE-SAT 10.00-17.00, SUN 10.00-14.30) and the Cascada Monumental are on your left in the park. The Castell dels Tres Dragons and the Museu Geología are on your right.

The gardens are wonderful with their old and new statues, trees and fountains. The Zoology Museum (Museu de Zoologia), resembling a fortress, stands in the end of the park. Open TUE-SUN 10.00-14.00.

Inside the Catalan Parliament:

The zoo, in the end of the park is quite interesting and large-scale. The main attraction, Snowflake, the Albino Gorilla had been dead in 2003. From the exit gate of the park, turn right to the Carrer Distillers and, later, on Avinguda Marques de l'Argentera. Dine: Kiosko Gourmet Burger, Marques de L_Argentera 1. Cross Passeig de Picaso. On the left - the Estacio de Franca, wonderfully train station. Turn right to the Carrer de Commerc. Cross Carrer de Ribera. On your right – Mercat del Born: a local food market that had been transformed to an Exhibition Centre. Opposite the market – Passeig del Born – the heart of the Ribera quarter. Walk along Passeig del Born, crossing Carrrer del Rec.

Opposite the 3rd turn to the left – Iglesia Sant Maria del Mar. One of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in Catalonia. Don't be fooled by its exterior. Its interior is spectacular and gives an impression of light and spaciousness. Some interesting stained-glass windows have survived from various periods. Built between 1329 and 1383. The construction of Santa Maria del Mar is the background for the best-selling novel La Catedral del Mar, by Ildefonso Falcones (2006).

Walk back in Passeig del Born and turn immediately left to the Placeta de Montcada and continue along Carrer de Montcada. The street is full with old mansions transformed into variety of museums and art galleries. One of them is Museu Picasso (Montcada 15-23) with admirably renovated rooms and halls. Inside you see many works, representative, mainly, of the early period of Picasso in Paris and Barcelona. Open TUE-SAT 10.00-15.00.

At the same road (No. 12) stands the Museu Textil I d'Indumentaia – Clothing and Textile Museum with interesting display of period-costume display. Open TUE-SAT 10.00-17.00, SUN 10.00-14.00. Dine: El Xampanyet, Carrer de Montcada, 22, next to the Museu Picasso. Continue walking till the end of the Montcada road (north-west) and turn LEFT to the Carrer de la Princesa. Walk until Via Laietana and turn right (opposite is Jaume I Metro station). On your left Placa de Ramon Berenguer El Gran.

Pass the old walls and walk into the twisting Tapineria road. Continue with the Tapineria (Ferreteria Americana and Art Picasso to your right). Turn left (south-west) into the narrower Baixada de la Canonja toward Placa de la Seu. You are now in the Gothic Quarter.

Here stands the Barcelona Cathedral. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona (Not to be confused with Sagrada Família). We shall return to the Cathedral later. Follow the Cathedral walls and walk along Carrer del Comtes until you arrive to Museu Frederic Mares (Plaça de Sant Iu, 5). Open TUE-SAT 10.00-19.00, SUN – 11.00 – 20.00. Don't miss the internal patio with ists delightful fountain and fishpond. It houses the collection of the sculptor Frederic Mares.

Continue in the same direction until the end of the Carrer del Comtes and turn left to the Baixada de Santa Clara. The Museo de Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA) is on your left. Open: TUE.-SAT 10.00-19.00, SUN 10.00-15.00. For special interest in the museum are the subterranean excavations of the old roman Barcelona.

Turn left to the impressive Placa del Rei (King's Square). Rather small, but, beautiful square surrounded by Gothic architecture buildings.

Retrace your steps from the square and continue with the Carrer del Vaguer (south-east) until its end. Turn right and continue with the Carrer de Libreteria until you arrive to Placa de Sant Jaume. On your left – the Town Hall and on your right – the Palau de la Generalitat. The construction of the Generalitat Palace began during the reign of Jaume II in the 15th century. It was complted in the 17th century. It is now the residence of the Catalunyan government. It is one of the few buildings of medieval origin in Europe that still functions as a seat of government. Open: 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month from 10 to 13:30. In case it is open - you must visit the Chapel of Sant Jordi and the patio staircase.

A covered bridge connects the Generalitat to the Carrer del Bisbe. Walk in the Bisbe and turn right onto Carrer de Santa Llúcia to face, again, the Barcelona Cathedral. Open: Weekdays: 8.00-12.45 (Cloister: 8.30-12.30) Free entry, 13.00-17.00 Entry with donation, 17.15-19.30 (Cloister: 17.15-19.00) Free entry. Sundays and Holidays: 8.00-13.45 (Cloister: 8.30-13.00) Free entry, 14.00-17.00 Entry with donation, 17.15-19.30 (Cloister: 17.15-19.00) Free entry. Free to visit, and only 3 euros to go to the top of the towers. The Gothic Cathedral we have today was built on the foundations of the primitive Christian basilica and the subsequent Romanesque Cathedral. Construction commenced on 1 May 1298 during the the reign of King James II of Aragon, and was virtually completed by the mid-15th century, under the rule of King Alfonso V of Aragon. Three distinct periods can be defined: the first, the building was planned and the apse and radial chapels were built, as were the presbytery - with its altar and crypt- and the pseudo transept; afterward, the three naves, with their respective lateral chapels, were extended back to the choir; finally, construction of the basilica continued to the façade, which was later closed with a simple wall (1417). The Cloister was finished in 1448. At the end of the 19th century, the Barcelona industrialist Manuel Girona offered to undertake the work on the façade and on the two side towers, in keeping with the plans drawn up by the architect Josep O. Mestres and inspired by the initial 15th-century project. Mr Girona's children finalized their father's work in 1913. Beautiful, serene, and a quiet oasis away from the crowd of tourist. The beauty is both on the inside and the outside. Magnificent architecture and craftsmanship reflected in the building.

The real beauty here is at the top. Taking an old lift ride , you are presented with fantastic views over the city and of the bell tower and spires.

There are many small chapels inside of the church. Lots of statues and and stained glass windows. You enter the Cathedral Cloister (Claustro). It has more character than most. With pleaseant garden in the centre and many chapels around. Note the small fountain and Saint Jordi statue near the Cathedral entrance.

Exit by way of the main door and cross Placa de la Seu. Turn right to Avenida de la Catedral and left into Carrer del Dr. Joaquim Pou. Walk several hundreds of metres until you see on your left the Jefatura Superior de Policía de Cataluña. Turn to the right (diagonally) to Sant Pere Mes Alt road. Dine: Arabia, Sant Pere Mes Alt 18.

After the first turn to the left stands the Palau de la Musica. A modernist, Art-Deco masterpiece attributed to Domenech Montaner and built in 1908. It is a masterpiece of colorful tile and glass.

Go back (right) to Via Laietana and walk until Placa Urquinaona. Continue a while and turn left to Carrer de Fontanella. Walk until you arrive to our final (and first) destination of Placa de Catalunya.