Spain Trips

Barcelona - Gràcia Barrio

Brenda Furley

Spain

Gràcia - Barcelona's village-like district (1/2 day):   

Main Attractions: Palau Robert, El Palauet Living, El Jardins de Salvador Espriu, Carrer Gran de Gràcia, Mercat de Llibertat, Casa Vicens, Casa Ramos,  Plaça de Lesseps, Cines Verdi, Plaça del Diamant, Plaça de la Virreina, Casa Joan Baptista Rubinat, Plaça de Sol, La Vermu,  Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia. 

Duration: 1/2 day. Public Transport: Metro: Fontana (Green line, L3). Start: Palau Robert. End: Palau Robert, Passeig de Gràcia, 107 x Avinguda Diagonal (FGC Provença station). Distance: 6-7 km. Circular route.

Introduction: Gràcia is located in north-central Barcelona just north of Eixample. The area is perfect for those who want something a little bit different, those who perhaps have been to Barcelona before and want a different tourist experience. One of the best features of Gràcia is that there are not so many tourists so you feel like you've discovered something a bit new and diverse. The neighbourhood of Gràcia is just one stop up from the top of Passeig de Gràcia but it feels like a whole different world. Gràcia was an independent town until the late 19th century and even now the community is small and tight. The people are exceedingly proud of their roots, they don't say they come from Barcelona, they say Gràcia. The area is popular with artists and a generally bohemian crowd, it also has a high ethnic population and the highest concentration of foreign restaurants in Barcelona. However despite the trendy nature of Gràcia it is also a traditional barrio with a large elderly population which makes for an amusing and odd mix - and entertaining people-watching. Gràcia is totally self-sufficient. The area is quite safe and away from the main squares where people drink outside until the early hours it is also quiet. That is to say you could stay in Gràcia and never have to leave, there are good amenities of every sort, bars, cosy cafes, a real Mediterranean lifestyle. Whilst everything like the buildings, streets and plaças are in much smaller scale than those in the centre of town there is some striking art nouveau architecture to be seen.

Orientation: Gràcia has four major squares: Plaça del Diamant, Plaça Rius i Taulet, Plaça de la Revolució and Plaça de la Virreina. Every square in Gràcia has it´s own charme and around these squares you won´t find just small shops but also lots of bars and cafes. This is a great area. A maze of streets and small squares with small shops, bars and restaurants. There is the odd collection of market stalls, interesting architecture, colour and graffiti.
Note: take a map- it's easy to lose your bearings !

History: Its origins date back to centuries earlier, when settlements were established around a Franciscan convent (the convent of Jesus) and another housing a community of Barefoot Carmelites (Our Lady of Gracia). It was originally a separate city, which was founded in 1626 as the Our Lady of Gracia Convent. In the early 19th century, Gràcia was a village that spread northwards from just outside the old walled city of Barcelona towards the Collserola Massif.  It joined Barcelona only in the 20th Century and maintains an ambience of its own. In 1897, Barcelona, which was in the throes of large-scale expansion with the construction of its Eixample district, absorbed Gràcia and other surrounding villages and it became one of the city's new neighbourhoods. Gràcia went bohemian again in the 1960's and 70's. It's still common to see anarchist flags hanging from apartment buildings and other signs of political radicalism on the streets and in plazas, restaurants and bars. While undoubtedly more gentrified and subdued than during its rebellious past, Gràcia remains a one-of-a-kind, funky neighborhood.

Gràcia is also well-known for it's festival (Festa Major) which is held for 5 days in mid-August and sees the locals competing in street decoration (they take it quite seriously). It has become one of the city's landmark celebrations. The results are usually spectacular, and at night the festival comes alive with drinks stalls and stages of live music of every variety.

Our itinerary starts at Palau Robert, Passeig de Gràcia 107 or Avinguda Diagonal, 389 (in the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gràcia). Your best bet of public transport facilities are: Metro: lines 3 (Green) or  5 (Blue), Diagonal station. FGC: L6 and L7, and Metro del Vallès suburban metro lines S1, S2, S5 and S55 - Provença station. Bus lines stopping nearby are: 6, 7, 15, 16, 17, 22, 24, 28, 33 and 34. Opening hours: MON - SAT: 9.00 - 20.00, SUN and holidays: 9.00 - 14.30. Closed: 25-26 DEC, 1 and 6 JAN. A former private residence of Robert Robert i Surís, an influential aristocrat, politician and businessman at the turn of the 20th century. It's nowadays a Catalan government-run institution which hosts an exhibition centre with three halls, a concert hall, gardens as well as the Information Centre for Catalonia, including the city's tourism bureau. Yes, thhe building also houses a tourist office. In the 1936-1939 period it was the site of the Generalitat de Catalunya's Ministry of Culture. After the Spanish Civil War, Robert's family regained the Palau, until its second purchase by the Generalitat de Catalunya (the Catalan government) in 1981, when it became a public building. The Palau Robert was finished in 1903 under the direction of architects Henry Grandpierre and Joan Martorell i Montells. The garden was designed by Ramon Oliva, responsible for the design of Plaça Catalunya. Its palm trees were brought during the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition. Most of the exhibition inside - are photography ones and for FREE. Out side the building is a small garden where you can take a walk. We found this park or garden as a beautiful surprise and a peaceful oasis in the bustling city centre:

From Palau Robert we continue 110 m. northwest along Passeig de Gràcia toward Avinguda Diagonal. We see, on our left,  the boutique hotel of El Palauet Living Barcelona, Passeig de Gràcia, 113 in a wonderful Modernista building. The interior lobby is breathtaking and worth daring entrance into the hotel. DO NOT MISS THIS GEM !!!

On our right extend (starting from El Palauet) El Jardins de Salvador Espriu named after one of the most famous Catalan writers who helped revitalize Catalan literature during and after the dictatorship of Franco. Also known in Catalan as Jardinets de Gràcia or "Jardincillos de Gracia".  They were made in 1929 by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí:

El Ampurdán:

We continue directly (north-west) to walk up Carrer Gran de Gràcia (Gran de Gràcia street). Gran de Gràcia is the main shopping street in Gràcia. The buildings around the gardens are very impressive.

Once the main road between Barcelona and Sant Cugat, Gran de Gràcia is a mix of high street names and independent shops some of which are over 100 years old, such as the Camiseteria Pons. We walk north-west along Gran de Gràcia. We pass 5 roads on our left. The fifth one is Traverssere de Gràcia. The crossing of Gran de Gràcia and Travessera is the oldest area of ​​the neighborhood. The process of urbanization of Gràcia began precisely here, at the beginning of the 19th century. On the corner ( Gran de Gràcia, 77 ), another elegant house by Francesc Berenguer:

Gran de Gràcia is also home to one of the best seafood restaurants in Barcelona; the Botafumeiro (Gran de Gràcia, 81). Just past the Botafumeiro, in the 6th road to the left,  we turn left onto Carrer del Cinge and enter, turning LEFT on the first road, onto Plaça de Llibertat. Here stands Mercat de Llibertat. Mercat de Llibertat, a market which was built in 1888 by a contemporary of Gaudí, Francesc Berenguer i Mestres. Completely refurbished in 2009. This cozy market sells all manner of Catalan produce and without the crowds of La Boqueria. Nice, Clean neighborhood market - but, nothing special.... Try the Joan Noi cafe/counter inside the market for seafood delicious portions:

El Tast de Joan Noi, Mercat de la Llibertat:

Our next destination is Casa Vicens - 600 m. from the market. From Plaça de la Llibertat we head, still,  northwest on Plaça de la Llibertat back toward Carrer del Cigne, 35 m. Turn right onto Carrer del Cigne, 100 m. Turn left onto Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 260 m. Before turning left to Carrer de Bretón de los Herrero - on your right is the Fontana metro station. Fontana was one of the first metro stops opened on the first metro line from Placa Catalunya to Placa Lesseps and still maintains its original tiled decoration. 

Turn left onto Carrer de Bretón de los Herreros, 85 m.

Turn right onto Carrer d'Aulèstia i Pijoan, 150 m and Casa Vicens is opposite. Casa Vicens: This house on Carrer de les Caroline, at the western side of the Gràcia neighbourhood, is one of Gaudi's early creations. There's a hint of Mudejar in its modernism. It has clear Arabesque inspiration and shows the efforts of Gaudí to create a style of his own. It is an exceptional work of Gaudi due to its obvious Moorish influence (in contrast to Gaudí’s later work). it is a private house, very beautiful from the outside BUT unfortunately NOT OPEN to the public:

We shall continue walking north-west and we'll arrive to Plaça de Lesseps. From Casa Vicens head northeast on Carrer de les Carolines toward Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 120 m. Turn left onto Carrer Gran de Gràcia, 290 m. Continue onto Pl. de Lesseps, 70 m. On your left Casa Ramos. An impressive Modernista style building built in 1906 by the architect Jaume Torres i Grau with a spectacular facade decorated with floral motifs:

Turn right to stay on Plaça de Lesseps. Named after a French diplomat, Plaça Lesseps is home to several interesting buildings. On its west side is Casa Ramos (see above). Another historical building is the Church of Josepets. The church of Our Lady of Gracia and San José, popularly known as the Josepets de Gràcia, is the church of the old convent of the barefoot Carmelites de Gràcia:

The third interesting building on Plaça Lesseps is the Jaume Fuster Library built in 2005. A strikingly modern building and extremely different to most building in Gràcia, it was designed by Josep Llinás i Carmona and won the FAD architecture prize in 2006:


Here we change direction and strive for the south-east direction.From Plaça de Lesseps we head northeast on Pl. de Lesseps toward Avinguda de Vallcarca, 150 m. Turn right to stay on Pl. de Lesseps, 60 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Santa Perpètua, 140 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Verdi. Verdi Street connects Plaça de la Revolució to Plaça del Diamant in Gràcia. This is the most famous street in in Gràcia and in which most of the business and cultural focus is. We loved this pretty tree lined street. Verdi street is full with small, middle-eastern restaurants. Walk along Verdi Street southward until #32 - where, on your left is the famous Verdi Cinema. Cines Verdi  shows movies in their original version, with subtitles – unusual in Spain as all movies are dubbed. Verdi Cinema also shows, usually, independent movies (as well as the occasional commercial ones), so it gives you the chance to watch things that are a bit different. The history of Cine Verdi dates back to its opening in 1934. Since then the place was re-equipped and refurbished several times, and now it is a five screen cinema with a laid back vibe and relaxed audience. The standard ticket costs €8, from Monday to Friday for the matinee showing it is €6 аnd on Mondays, €4.90:

We loved this quaint, pastoral, rather simple road:

Head northwest on Carrer de Verdi toward Carrer de l'Or, 35 m. Turn left onto Carrer de l'Or, 30 m. and turn right onto Plaça del Diamant (Plaza del Diamante) for further 20 m. On the surface this doesn’t seem a particularly interesting plaça, it’s not the biggest or the prettiest, but underneath the paving stones there is a secret… Under Plaça Diamant there is a Civil War bomb shelter built so the residents had a safe place during the air raids that ravaged the city during the 3 years of civil war. Wait, a few seconds, and, we'll more elaborate on that and on the world-reputation of this square...

 Plaça del Diamant makes reference to the Civil War through the VERY FAMOUS novel with the same name by Mercè Rodoreda (and its subsequent adaptation as a film by Francesc Betriu in 1980), features that give this square plenty of symbolism. This novel, which was initially called Colometa , focuses on the character of Natalia Colometa, a young woman who represents many others to whom did she live a period of particularly cruel history.  ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS WE HAVE EVER READ. A MASTERPIECE - YOU CAN'T FORGET FOR YEARS. The book had been translated into English in 3 versions: In The Pigeon Girl. Translation by Eda O'Shiel. London: André Deutsch, 1967. The Time Of The Doves. Translation by David Rosenthal. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1980. In Diamond Square. Translation by Peter Bush. London: Virago Press Ltd, 2013.

The Plaça del Diamant is located in what was formerly known as the jewellers neighbourhood. Plaça del Diamant owes its name to the Gràcia town councillor, Josep Rosell i Imbert, who engaged in the trade of precious stones. When he designed this plot in 1850, he came up with the idea of giving the streets and squares that still exist the names of precious stones: Carrer de la Perla (Pearl), Gold Street, Ruby Street, Topaci (Topaz) Street, among others. The symbology of the square took an unexpected turn in 1992, when the air-raid shelter beneath the square was discovered during the execution of road works. Built twelve metres below ground level by the residents of the neighbourhood during the Spanish Civil War, it gave shelter to more than two hundred people during the many air-raid attacks launched on the industrial district of Gràcia of that time, with its many factories that were the main target of the attacking aircraft. This shelter was one of the more than 90 in the neighbourhood, and it is one of the largest of the 1,300 that were built in Barcelona, one of the first cities bombarded systematically from the air in a war. Today, with the objective of recovering the area's historical memory, the History Workshop of Gràcia arranges guided tours to explore the site and it is well worth visiting the shelter and seeing its tunnels which saved the lives of so many people.

Statue of La Colometa - sculpture by Xavier Medina-Campeny:

From Plaça del Diamant we shall take a short detour of 200 m. to Plaça de la Virreina. Head northwest on Plaça del Diamant toward Carrer d'Astúries, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer d'Astúries, 150 m.

Turn right onto Plaça de la Virreina, 25 m.  Many people say that Plaça de la Virreina is their favourite square in Gràcia. It’s a little quieter than Plaça del sol and Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia and is flanked on one side by an imposing 19th Century church and on the others by some beautifully designed buildings. Upon returning from Peru, Viceroy Amat, in addition to a mansion on the Rambla de Barcelona, ​​had a luxurious summer villa built in what is now the Plaza de la Virreina (1773). The place was then incomparable, since it had a splendid view over the plain of Barcelona. When the viceroy died, the palace was inherited by his wife, Maria Francesca Fivaller, the viceroy who gives the square its name. After passing through different hands and uses, the village was demolished in 1878. it’s a place out of the rest of the world, stunning and beautiful to live. A marvelous square !!! Barcelona at its best !!!

The church of Sant Joan was built in 1894, again by the incombustible Francesc Berenguer. During the Tragic Week (1909) it was set on fire, like so many convents and churches in Barcelona, ​​and it had to be restored. Berenguer himself participated in the reconstruction of the church and the rectory, and, in addition, built a beautiful house nearby (Or street, 44) (see below). In 1936 the church burned again and, after the civil war, resurfaced again from the ashes:

 Tapas i Lopez in Carrer de Torrijos near Plaça de la Virreina:

It is 550 m. walk from Plaça de la Virreina to our next destination - Plaça del Sol. From Plaça de la Virreina head southeast on Plaça de la Virreina toward Carrer de l'Or, 25 m. Turn right onto Carrer de l'Or, 220 m. Note Casa Joan Baptista Rubinat, with curved balconies and white/brown faces with vegetation/leafy motives, at Carrer de l'Or #44. The façade is adorned with sgraffito and the balconies, with forged railings and trencadís (that kind of mosaic made with cut tiles):

Turn left onto Carrer del Torrent de l'Olla, 210 m. In the crossing of  Torrent de l'Olla and Montseny we will find a Modernista angel who a century ago pointed out the presence of a pharmacy (eye to the cup and the snake that holds in the hand). The building on whose facade is the Mas de Can Pardal (1875):

Turn right onto Carrer del Planeta, 45 m. Continue straight onto Plaça del Sol, 50 m. Turn left to stay on Plaça del Sol, 20 m. Plaça de Sol is the most renowned area of the Gracia neighbourhood. it's lined with terraced cafes and at night this is where the people convene to drink and be merry.

One of the best places to soak up the vibrant nightlife in Gracia. This is a meeting point for young people and an important site for botellón, which means to drink in the street. Of course, this is probably why it has now become one of the most hopping evening squares in all of Barcelona any given night of the week. Have a beer on one of the many cafe terraces or dinner at a great tapas bar like Sol Soler. If you’re up for it, you can check out the bar scene afterwards. Plaça del Sol is a good bet for lively bars any night of the week (except perhaps Mondays). Another great place to get your groove on is Mirasol, one of Gràcia's jolliest music-bars, a bar that plays great dancing music all night long.  For a low-key jazzy vibe try Woody's. Be careful with the restaurants around. Most of them are touristic traps. The restaurant in the north-east corner of the square - tried to cheat us by handling us a fake (not ours) bill. Plaça del Sol also has beautiful Modernista buildings:

El astrolabi in Plaça de Sol:

From Plaça de Sol - we send you (250 m.) to a small place, a bar of Tapas, La Vermu.  Head southeast on Plaça del Sol toward Carrer de Maspons, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Maspons, 65 m.  Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Joaquim, 65 m. Turn right onto Travessera de Gràcia, 25 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Pere Màrtir, 60 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Domènec and the La Vermu bar, Carrer de Sant Domènec, 1 is on your left. Come to La Vermu and enjoy delicious food and tapas with local drinks (like Vermut). In the busy hours - you might wait for your turn. English speaking staff.

We continue walking to the east. 110 m. further from the bar will bring us to Place de la Ville de Gràcia. Head northeast on Carrer de Sant Domènec toward Carrer de Matilde, 40 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, 45 m. Turn right to stay on Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, 30 m. Soak up the history of Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia or Plaça Rius i Taulet as it is also known.  Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia deserves a visit because of the former city council building and the Clock Tower, designed by the same architect who was commissioned for the original Eixample design, Antoni Rovira. At the end, Ildefons Cerdà designed the plan for the urban expansion of Barcelona and Rovira became famous for some of the markets in Barcelona. The original town square, back when Gracia was just a village, was the Plaça de la Vila de Gracia. The Plaza de la Vila de Gracia is always full of terraces, children, tourists and graceful of life. Castellers, big heads, giants, Sardanas (Catalan monotonic dance), weddings, concerts and events are held throughout the year and encourage a place that is the heart and essence of the neighborhood.Home to the infamous clock tower, a sight of bombings and rebellions, as well as the baby-blue town hall, this history-filled square is definitely worth visiting:

The tower , 33 meters high, is the work of Antoni Rovira i Trias (1864), a  municipal architect of Gracia. It is decorated with the shields of Gracia, Barcelona, ​​Catalonia and Spain, and with the signs of the zodiac. The clock was conceived with four spheres so that it could be seen from all parts of Gracia.

The seat of the district (‘Casa de la Vila’), designed by Francesc Berenguer i Mestres in 1905 is a building of Francesc Berenguer, of course. It is worth remembering that this square was the seat of the town hall during the years when Gracia constituted an independent municipality (from 1821 to 1823 and from 1850 to 1897). And that Francesc de Paula Rius i Taulet was the mayor of Barcelona under whose mandate Gràcia was incorporated into the metropolis of Barcelona:

In case you decided to complete your busy half-a-day in Gràcia - it is 650 m. back to Palau Robert and Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona city centre). From Place de la Ville de Gràcia - head southeast on Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia toward Carrer del Diluvi, 30 m. Turn right to stay on Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, 40 m. Continue onto Carrer de Goya, 50 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Pere Màrtir, 160 m. Continue onto Carrer d'Apel·les Fenosa, 90 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Bonavista, 90 m. Turn left onto Passeig de Gràcia and beyond 170 m. Palau Robert, Passeig de Gràcia, 107 is on the right.

Barcelona - Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

Brenda Furley

Spain

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista Hospital, Guinardó, Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167. 10-20 minutes walk from the Sagrada Familia (if you are not tired or overflowing with emotions after the Basilica). This is an excellent sight to visit while in Barcelona and easily done in the same day as Sagrada Familia, which is visible from the southwest corner of the hospital, down Avenue Gaudi.

Duration: allow 3 hours for the visit. Queuing up will take 30-45 minutes in the busy summer mornings. Not overcrowded. 

Public transport: Metro: L5 (Blue Line) Sant Pau / Dos de Maig. Buses: H8, 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 92, 117, 192. Opening hours:  for for self-guided visit: November – March: MON - SAT: 09.30 - 16.30, SUN and holidays: 09.30 - 14.30. April – October: MON - SAT: 09.30 - 18.30, SUN and holidays: 09.30 - 14.30. Guided visits in English: MON - FRI: 10.30, SAT - SUN: 10.30, French: 11.00. Closing days: 1st and 6th January, 25th December. Prices: adult - Self-guided visit: 13 €, Guided visit: 19 €, Audio guide: 3 €. Guided tours start at the main Administration Pavilion and include visits to the network of underground tunnels connecting pavilions and to the gardens. Concessions: ages 12 to 29, over 65, Targeta Rosa Reduïda cardholders, people with a degree of disability: Self-guided visit: 9,10 €, Guided visit: 13,3 €. FREE admission: children under 12 (accompanied by an adult), unemployed, teachers, Targeta Rosa Gratuïta cardholders, people with a degree of disability and their companion. FREE entrance dates: 12th February, 23rd April, 24th September, first Sunday of the month (only self-guided visits). 20% off: BCN Card, Bus Turístic, City Tours, Carnet BCN Cultural. 50% off: Ruta del Modernisme / Barcelona Modernisme Route, Carnet Jove (only self-guided visit).

Introduction: The largest display of Art Nouveau anywhere on earth. It is organized as a "village" or collective group of buildings - each carrying out specialist medical responsibility, discipline and activities. Art Nouveau (known in Barcelona as Modernista or Modernisme) is characterized by the revival of Gothic forms with modern materials and the addition of natural/organic shapes. The buildings themselves are very colorful and built to be light and airy reflecting positive energy on the treated patients and the personnel and lifting their spirits. It is so far from the rather bland interiors of regular, modern hospital facilities. Very impressive Modernista buildings designed by the genius Lluis Domenech i Montaner (who designed also the Palau de la Musica) with lots of Art Nouveau details in the tiles, the sculptured figures, along the exteriors, the detailed ceilings, archways,  flower-beds, grass spaces and trees. The gardens and brilliant decor were meant to be therapeutic for the hospital patients. You can take your picnic among the buildings. Only a handful of buildings are open for viewing the interior. There are interesting exhibits in a few of the buildings and tunnel areas. One exhibit shows old medical instruments. Another exhibit shows old photos of the area before it was developed. Exceptional, unique and amazing place. You will be blown away by the architecture. Like the Sagrada Familia - it leaves you breathless and astonished. In the SF the architecture goes hand-in-hand with the religion. Here, it goes hand-in-hand with the humanity and rehabilitation.

As practical information it is worth to indicate that the visitor has toilets in more than one pavilion, and various drinking fountains and benches in the courtyard of the Art Nouveau Site of Sant Pau.

History: The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau came into being in 1401 with the merging of six hospitals in the city of Barcelona at that time. Santa Creu, the Hospital of the Holy Cross, as it was called in those days, was right in the centre of the city, in what is now the Raval district, in one of the most important examples of Catalan Civil Gothic architecture. By the late 19th century, the old Hospital de la Santa Creu in Barcelona's Raval neighbourhood needed to be relocated because it had become obsolete and too small. Thanks to the bequest of the Catalan banker Pau Gil, the first stone of the new hospital, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, was laid on 15 January 1902. The last part of the hospital's name, "Sant Pau", was added in honour of the banker, Pau Gil. The new hospital had been built between 1910 (another version: 1905) and 1930. 

An excellent designer, a devoted political leader and a respected teacher among other activities he carried during his life, Lluis Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923) merged his values and convictions based on solid historical knowledge together all kinds of disciplines and a deep commitment with society during his career as an architect in his unique buildings.

Sant Pau is a hospital complex opened in 1910. It was a hospital from 1910 to 2009. Alfonso XIII, the king of Spain, opened the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in January 1930. The compound housed the ‘garden city Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (one of Europe's oldest healthcare centres) for more than eight decades. This ambitious project was, always, inspired by breakthroughs in health and hygiene at the time. It is important to remember that this institution had always been associated with charitable work, advanced inspiration, welfare and the latest discoveries in healthcare. In 2003, a new hospital building was established to the north of the Domènech i Montaner's Modernista site. Almost all the pavilions and departments were moved out. It was closed in 2009 and over the last few year was restored to it's full glory. It was opened as a museum and cultural center in late 2014. This is also Unesco World Heritage site from 1997.

The main building is dedicated to the hospital administration and the 27 pavilions are dedicated to the serve as clinics. All the different buildings are connected by underground galleries, prepared for transporting the patients.

The main entrance to the complex is made by the Administration Pavilion. The main entrance building has the most decorative and ornate works so make sure you have your camera ready while queuing-up or, immediately after entrance. The interior of the main building is stunning - ornate ceilings with beautiful windows and tile work. Make sure you check out the view of the Sagrada Familia from the stained glass windows upstairs.

The exterior of the building is adorned with statues depicting significant figures in the history of the hospital and Barcelona, including Isabel and Count Ramon Berenguer I, Saint Margaret, and Saint Eulàlia, patron saint of Barcelona.

Upon entering, we find a small room with panels explaining each of the buildings that make up the whole hospital. To better understand the space, we can see a small model right next to the panels that shows all buildings, towers and gardens in great detail. Before starting the visit, also take the time to stand a few minutes and watch the short video that is projected on one of the room's walls. The video helps understand the importance of the hospital for both Barcelona and for universal medical evolution:

Entrance Hall in Hospital de Sant Pau Administration Building:

Hallway in Administration Building:

Dome over the main staircase in the administration pavilion:

Lluís Domènech i Montaner Room – located in the Administration Building, this impressive chamber is decorated with large stained glass windows, ceramic tiles, mosaics, sculptures, stone balusters in the shape of Gothic letters, and a painting by Moderniste artist Aleix Clapés depicting the transfer of the remains of Saint Eulàlia:

Pau Gil Room – this room, also located in the Administration Building, features ornate columns and colorful ceramic-tiled vaulted ceilings:

There are six buildings and underground tunnels that are open to the public are certainly worth a visit. Each pavilion bearing the name of a saint or holy, includes his sculpture guarding the main facade. Very close to the Administration Pavilion doors there is map like a small model of the site, where you can see how the pavilions on the left are named after female saints while those on the right are male.

Sant Jordi Pavilion – this small pavilion adjacent to the Administration building, served as the hospital’s examination and observation ward; the tiled walls aided with disinfection efforts. The pavilion is now used for exhibitions. This is really worth exploring to understand each of the elements of ornamentation and the process of construction and rehabilitation during this period. Right at the end, we can also read a little more about the work and character of the architect to understand his great contribution to Catalan modernist heritage:

The Sant Salvador Pavilion takes you on a journey through the history of medicine in Barcelona and one of Europe's oldest healthcare institutions.  With Sant Salvador Pavilion you start the recommended route around the outdoor spaces of this magnificent  Art Nouveau site, that reproduces the garden city model, designed in the early 20th century.

You can also enter the Sant Rafael Pavilion and see its interior exactly as it was designed at the start of the 20th century.  Sant Rafael Pavilion, built between 1914 and 1918 and designed as a space for traumatology, it retains its original essence today as it has not been renovated or redesigned.  This originally had a row of beds for in-patients. Since this was funded by Rafael Rubel, there's an R denoted in the ceramic designs atop the windows. The walls of this room is fitted with ceramic tiles which is easy to clean, so hygiene is at a good standard. Its limited decor includes mosaics found on the walls and ceiling, as well as an original photograph of the building in its years of operation with more than forty beds inside:

Facade of the Operations Pavilion, built 1902-12, behind a Gothic style cross:

Surgery Pavilion of Hospital de Sant Pau:

Pavilion of Sant Manuel:

The Theatre Hall - Sala d'Actes. Its circular in shape and the observation deck for the interns was along the edge. It has no walls at all, just pillars & glass. So the whole place gets all the light from the nature!

The Hypostyle Hall provides access to the tunnel system, this chamber features stout columns and ceramic-tiled vaulted ceilings:

You can take the underground tunnels linking the various buildings and visit the most representative heritage spaces of the Administration Pavilion.

Patients Pavilllion: In the pavilion, you see a lot of green mosaics and tiles being used. We were told that since the hospital was a Catholic hospital and green colour in the wards symbolises ‘green for hope’ in Catholic, it was used to bring hope to the patients:

Other Pavilions: 

After or during your visit, relaxing in the courtyard is beautiful and peaceful. It seems far removed from busy Barcelona. The gardens behind the Hospital are beautiful and a nice place to sit on a sunny afternoon.

During SEP 2016 a temporary exhibition of INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS took place in Sant Rafael Pavilion:

Slovenia:

New-Zealand:

Israel:

Sant Pau at Night:

Barcelona - along the beach - from Torre Telefonica to Hotel Arts

Brenda Furley

Spain

Along the eastern seafront from Sant Marti to Barceloneta:

Main Attractions: Torre Telefonica, Museu Blau, 

Start: El Maresme | Fòrum Metro station. End: Barceloneta Metro station. Both are serving the Line 4 (Yellow) line. You can take Tram line T4 as well. Duration: 2-3 hours. Weather and time: Bright afternoon. Orientation: Quaint and relaxed walk along several of the most splendid beaches of Barcelona, far from the bustling streets.

The Itinerary: we wak 400 m. from the Fòrum metro station to our first destination the Museu Blau.  We are at Sant Marti district. From El Maresme | Fòrum station we head southeast on Rambla de Prim, 140 m. At the roundabout, continue straight, 210 m. On your left - the Torre Telefonica or Torre Diagonal Zero Zero. Torre Telefonica is located at the most eastern end (the origin) of Diagonal, Barcelona's main avenue. Exceptional building - sharp and stylized, a clean and serene form, whitish and light. Very impressive architectural complex. The building is 110 metres tall with 24 floors. The tower hosts the corporate headquarters in Catalonia of Telefónica Group. The monumental building was erected in eight months, working in three shifts a day, seven days a week. Unbelievable.

Turn left, 35 m. You face the Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona, Carrer de Leonardo da Vinci, 4-6. On your left is the Museu Blau or Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona. Opening hours: From October to February: TUE - FRI 10.00 - 18.00, SAT 10.00 - 19.00, SUN, holidays and open days 10.00 - 20.00. From March to September: TUE - SAT 10.00 - 19.00, SUN, holidays and open days  10.00 - 20.00. Closed: MON  (except public holidays), January 1, May 1, June 24, and December 25. FREE: The first Sunday of every month, all day; and Sundays throughout the year, from 15.00, February 12 (Saint Eulàlia); May 18 (International Museum Day), and September 24 (La Mercè). Prices: Museu de Ciències Naturals: € 6, Temporary exhibition: € 6,50, Combined admission fee,Museu de Ciències Naturals – Jardí Botànic: € 7, Combined admission fee, permanent exhibition Planet Life – temporary exhibition: € 10,50. Concessions (Peopled aged from 16 to 29 years, Peopled aged 65 and over, Families with a maximum of two accompanying adults, providing one is the father, the mother or the legal guardian. There must be at least one member under 16 years): Museu de Ciències Naturals: € 2.70, Temporary exhibition: € 4,50, Combined admission, Museu de Ciències Naturals – Jardí Botànic: € 3.50, Combined admission fee, permanent exhibition Planet Life – temporary exhibition: € 6,50. For holders of a valid bus Turístic , a 20% discount on the normal admission price. The Museu Blau is located at the Parc del Fòrum. It was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron - a Swiss architects company. It is an iconic triangular blue building (hence its name). Before being converted into a museum in 2011, the structure was popularly known as Forum Building. It was originally conceived as the main venue of the Forum Universal de les Cultures. Hosted in Barcelona in 2004, the Forum event somewhat initiated the urban renovation of an area comprised between the eastern end of the Avinguda Diagonal avenue, the city waterfront, and the Ronda del Litoral (see below); previously, this 40-hectare site was a sort of neglected land, occupied by old industrial buildings and disused technical infrastructures. It occupies 9,000 square meters distributed on two floors with modern facilities and services for all audiences. All exhibitions and activities are structured around an immense free access hall, which is the starting point and the arrival point of all the programs and Museum services: the reference exhibition "Planet Life", the spaces for temporary exhibitions, the Media Library, the Science Nest for children 0-6 years, the classrooms, the auditorium, the workshops and the shop. A beautiful, but quite small, museum. The exhibits are mostly of stuffed animals, fossils, rocks and crystals. A big part of the building is dedicated to educational groups. One of the main advantages of this museum - is being an introduction for the eastern promenade of BCN. A great fall back in case of weather change. Well worth a visit on a rainy day. STUNNING ARCHITECTURE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE !!! The building is a piece of art in itself !!! Photography allowed - but WITHOUT flash.



Snowboarding near Museu Blau - Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona:

From the Museu Blau we'll head to a chain of beaches - skipping the Parc de Forum (seeing it from distance). From the Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Barcelona, Carrer de Leonardo da Vinci, 4-6 we head southwest, 35 m. Turn left toward Av. del Litoral, 35 m. Turn right toward Av. del Litoral, 210 m. Turn left toward Av. del Litoral, 35 m. Take the pedestrian overpass, 190 m. Turn left onto Av. del Litoral, 240 m. Turn right toward Moll de la Vela, 15m. Turn right onto Moll de la Vela. The beach of  Banys  Fòrum  ((Forum pools)) is on your right after 500 m. We see the Parc de Forum on our back :

We continue walking southward along the beach and the next beach (1.2 km further south) is Platja de Llevant:  

1.1 km. further south and we arrive to the Nova Mar Bella beach and Skate Park mar Bella:

500 m. furtherb south and we arrive to Platja del Bogatell. 600 m. more to the south we pass Platja de la Nova Icària. Locals say that this is the BEST beach:

700 m. further south-west and we arrive to Torre MAPFRE and Hotel Arts. You see two skycrapers. The more northern one (black and white) is Torre MAPFRE and the more southern (distant) one (all white) is Hotel Arts:

The beach opposite Torre MAPFRE and Hotel Arts:

In front of the Hotel Arts stands El Peix: Frank Gehry’s Golden Fish Sculpture. The fish statue was built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The 52 m. long golden fish sculpture El Peix is one of the best known and most striking landmarks on Barcelona’s seafront. It’s gold coloured stainless steel surface shines under the sun and changes colors depending on the angle of the sun and the current weather conditions:

We turned noth-west to Placa Villa Olimpics and approached Hotel Arts. A stunning hotel. Everything concerned with this establishment is classy, aristocratic and breathtaking. The hotel is utterly guarded. Good chances you'll see a celebrity coming in or getting out through the hotel's doors:

We tried to get a panoramic view from one of the upper fllors of Hotel Arts. After severeral efforts we sneaked into the hotel and took photos:

The closest Metro station is Ciutadella | Vila Olímpica.  From Hotel Arts, 
Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, we head northwest on Carrer de la Marina, 75 m. At the roundabout, we take the 1st exit, 85 m. and turn left onto Carrer de Salvador Espriu, 200 m. We enter the Parc de les Cascades. It is, actually,  an open avenue, a gateway to what was then the Olympic Village. The park, under which passes a section of the Ronda del Litoral ring road, is named after a cascade, or waterfall, that descends from a pool towards its namesake avenue. An ensemble that can be see from the small, round, raised square at the side of the water.

From Parc de les Cascades we head west toward Carrer de Moscou, 20 m. We continue onto Carrer de Moscou, 130 m. We turn left onto Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas, 15 m. Slight left to stay on Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas and 55 m. further you see the Ciutadella | Vila Olímpica Metro station. It's served by L4 (yellow line), and tram route T4, of which it is a terminus.

From Montjuic Castle to Plaça Espanya

Brenda Furley

Spain

Main Attraction: Montjuic Castle, CaixaForum, Las Arenas, Parc de Joan Miró, , Font Màgica.

Duration: 1/2 day.

Public Transport: Take Metro lines 2 (Purple Line) and 3 (Green Line) to Parallel. From there, pick up the Funicular train to Castell de Montjuic. The Funicular is a smaller train running every 10 mins or so from Parallel to Montjuic and back. The ride itself only takes 2 minutes and the journey is included as part of a Metro ride. Remember: you do not need a special ticket for the Funicular. You can use a regular metro card. Another way is by Cable Car (the fun one!). Right next to the funicular Station, lies the Montjuic’s Cable Car. This ride takes you directly to the castle of Montjuic with photogenic views of Barcelona. Changing to the cable car - you do not have to exit the metro station - it connects directly to the cable car. This will leave you quite near the highest point too. The funicular of Barcelona (FM metro line) operates like a metro with two stops: Paral·lel, which links up with metro lines L2 and L3, and Parc de Montjuïc, located on the mountain, which links up with the cable car to reach the top of Montjuïc and access the castle. The funicular is part of the integrated fare system and the ticket is the same price as a trip by metro or bus. Montjuïc funicular operating hours: Autumn-Winter: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 20.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 20.00. Spring-Summer: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 22.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 22.00. 

Option number three, is taking regular bus #150  (we took it from) which also stops at the castle. Buy your ticket to Montjuic’s cable car stop. During holidays, weekends and the busy summer months - expect long queues for the bus:

Fourth option: Barcelona’s Port Cable Car located in Barceloneta (Transbordador Aeri del Port). The journey lasts around ten minutes and it’s the fastest way to get to the mountain from Barceloneta Beach. The view of the seaport and Barceloneta from 70 meters high is priceless (see Tipter blog "Barcelona - Port Vell").

Views to Barcelona City:

Option number 5: you can take the Metro or bus to Plaça Espanya, walk Av. Maria Cristina and climb the stairs or take the automatic stairs to the MNAC museum, and keep walking up. It will be quite a long walk, but scenic and not difficult. It takes about 40 minutes from the Metro stop at Plaça Espanya to walk up to the castle. Option number 6: you can also get to Avenida Miramar (on the Montjuic) by #50 bus which runs along Gran Via to Plaça Espanya. It passes Caixaforum, Poble Espanyol, Olympic Stadium and Miró Foundation on the way. Option number 7: there is a Hop on Hop off bus (22€-24€) that link all places of interest in the mountain, it may be a good option.

The Montjuic Castle itself is very beautiful and the views are incredible. From outside the castle is very beautiful. Especially about its shape, very well kept outdoor gardens and the entrance bridge. The garden around the castle  is gorgeous. We would say it’s worth a visit if you’re in Barcelona for a week or so. You have a 360 degree view of the city of Barcelona and over the Mediterranean. There are some superb views from here to the Port Olympic and the city’s southern docks:

View of the Port Vell from the Montjuic Castle:

Views to the commercial port:

All that is worth the entrance ticket. Up until March 2014 this pleasant piece of Barcelona was free to visit to anyone who wanted, unfortunately that soon changed and visitors can now be expected to pay a fee to set foot within the fort. So, is it actually worth it now that the price of Montjuic Castle is €5 per person for a standard ticket and €3 per person for a discounted ticket. Free entrance on Sundays. It's likely to have more of a crowd during this time, but is certainly worth doing if you fancy experiencing this 17th century gem and the vistas that it offers. Note: It is definitely worth bringing food with you to eat either at the castle or around the grounds while enjoying the views around. Another note: almost no signage. It's not to say that the attraction is bad, because that's far from the truth, it's merely that the value offered by the city council just isn't there for a tourist who is visiting to learn more about the castle. Once you enter the castle practically nothing about the history of this wonderful complex is explained. The website says there is "general guidance" provided, however it isn't apparent exactly where that is or in what form it comes in. Without the history, the only attraction for tourists are the views... But there are other more impressive and free to access locations in the city to snap landscape photos or share a romantic moment with someone. You could even just walk around the castle without entering for some equally good views and shots of the castle. There is a snack bar service as well as restrooms. Opening hours: 1st October - 31st March: MON - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00, 1st April - 30th September: MON-SUN: 10.00 - 20.00:

History: The castle was originally constructed during the 17th century war between Spain and Catalonia (War of the Reaper).  The star-shaped fortress dates back to 1640 has served as a defensive fort, a prison, a military museum (which was inaugurated in 1963 under Francisco Franco) and now a municipal facility. It was destroyed by Bourbon troops in 1714. The Castle was rebuilt between 1751 and 1779 with improved defences that included large moats and impenetrable ramparts. Montjuic castle is one of the oldest constructions on Montjuïc hill. It is mostly from the 18th century and has been used both for the defense of Barcelona, and to keep the Catalans control using the threat of attack from Montjuic during times of oppression of the Catalans. In 1919, during the revolutionary anarchy that invaded Barcelona, over 3000 workers were made prisoners here. Also, during Spanish civil war, 173 people were executed in the Castle, mainly Catalan politicians. Today the castle holds limited appeal for many of the city’s citizens as it is seen as a symbol of Spanish repression (Catalan leader Lluis Companys was executed here by General Franco’s Nationalists in 1940). The castle was a military prison until 1960, and was inaugurated by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in June 1963 as a military museum, which it remained until 2009 for more than 30 years after the Spanish transition to democracy. It was only in 2008-9 after the castle was returned to the city of Barcelona, that a rare (for post-regimen Barcelona) statue of General Franco was finally removed. Now Montjuic fort is only used for cultural events and festivals, like outdoor cinema in the summer, concerts and festivals. 

In front of the entry is a nice colorful garden parterre filled in from the original moat. Bright spring annuals to add more visual color and frame some nice photos of the fortress. It’s worth spending a little time here to take a few photos of the fortress or some magnificent views of Barcelona. Once you reach the castle, taking a break on its wide expanse of lush green lawns is a good plan. Just be sure to bring a beverage to slurp and something to snack on:

Post-rest, take a self-guided tour of the Castle gardens and search out famous sculptures like the snowy curves of “La Fertilitat” by Josep Clarà and strangely challenging stance of Pau Gargallo’s “La Pomona”, clutching apples in her skirts. Along the way, pose with cannons and snap shots of Barcelona’s busy port at the Alcalde look-out point and the Explanada de Miramar. At the look-out point, the floor, an elaborate mosaic of ceramic and glass, warrants a few moments of your undivided attention.

After a nice stroll about the grounds, cross the drawbridge and follow stone steps to the wide expanse of the castle’s roof-top terraces for sweeping views of Barcelona and beyond.

BTW, Montjuic has many lovely green parks and gardens including the Barcelona botanical gardens. 

Montjuïc Castle hosts many temporary exhibitions throughout the year as well as those that are permanent, including installations on the development of the castle and the story of Montjuïc Hill at the Montjuïc Interpretation Centre. The castle is also the venue for the highly popular Sala Montjuïc with its open-air film festival during summer. The festival screens popular movies as well as the classics and makes for a wonderful summer night under the open sky. The Montjuïc Castle was the stage for a big circus fiesta, during  La Mercè 2016. During several performances of "Circus at the Montjuïc Castle" - thousands of spectators, everyday, could discover the high level of contemporary Barcelona circus, as well as the extraordinary skills of the circus artists from Paris, the guest city of La Mercè in year 2016. In total, between Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th, there were some 20 shows, on stage 1 Fossat de Santa Eulàlia, all presented by the clow Morc Fant (Marcs Font): acrobats, clowns, air dancers and daring jugglers were out to surprise all who made the journey up to the Castle:

The Montjuic hill is a very green area, and several gardens are present there. The most famous is the Botanical Garden with more than 2000 plants speciesbut, there are other great gardens in Montjuic Hill (all north-east to Montjuic castle) :

o Hortes de Sant Bertran y escaleras de Forestier

o Jardines de Mossèn Costa i Llobera

o Jardines de Miramar y camino dels Cims

o Jardines de Joan Brossa

o Jardines de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer

The only hotel on Montjuic hill is the luxury 5 star Miramar hotel, pretty close to Jardines de Joan Bross. The Miramar hotel occupies an old mansion which was previously used in the early days of Spanish television. This historic building was renovated a few years ago and hotel guests at the Miramar can now enjoy stunning scenery and views. From the Miramar hotel you are just a few steps from the thrilling Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car, which takes you across the Port Vell marina of Barcelona to the first of the Barcelona beaches. This exciting transportation facility is described at our "Barcelona Port Vell" blog.

But, we head down to the north to our next destination - the CaixaForum, near Plaça Espanya. Taking bus #150 would be the easist and fastest way to arrive to the famous square. From Montjuïc Castle walk about 3 min , 160 m to the Castell bus stop. Take Bus 150 to Pl. Espanya and drop off after 11 stops at Pl. de Carles Buïgas. Walk about 170 m. to arrive to CaixaForum Barcelona: Head southwest on Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia toward Carrer de Montfar. Turn right onto Carrer de Montfar. Continue onto Carrer dels Morabos. Turn left onto Carrer del Nord and the CaixaForum, Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8 will be will be on the left. If you want to get away from the hectic crowd for an hour or so this is the place.   A unique gallery offering a wide range of exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary art. Near Plaça Espanya is Mies van der Rohe Pavillion / CaixaForum, an exhibition space in a Modernista, renovated textile factory building. The renovated building makes a good impression. The museum is good for taking pictures, as the outside is very nice white marble. The rooftop terrace (viewed for FREE) is a very nice example of Catalan Modernista architecture. Excellent exhibitions on very wide range of subjects; 4€ entry and open daily: 10.00 - 20.00. Mies van Rohe established in 1929 the Barcelona Pavillion (which held the German Exhibition), as part of the International Exhibition held in the city in such date. It can be understood as a futuristic Art Deco building, as it is still nowadays considered a pioneer in design (although it’s 83 years old!). The Mies van der Rohe design museum is inside. CosmoCaixa is a restored modernist building that is nowadays Barcelona’s largest free admission museum. It is worth a visit even if it is 4€ admission fee. With this descent fee you can,sometimes, hit sensational temporary exhibitions (photography, Salvador Dali portraits etc'). Check their web site (their website is not available in English): https://caixaforum.es/barcelona/home. There are always at least 4-5 exhibitions going at any one time .They have a restaurant inside (exceptional Menu de Dia) and a gift shop in the lobby area. Together with an evening visit to the Font Magica, this can round out a fun weekend night in Barcelona.

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385

From CaixaForum we head to the Las Arenas more southward.  From CaixaForum, Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, we walk southeast. Turn left toward Carrer de Mèxic, 35 m. Turn right toward Carrer de Mèxic, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Mèxic, 25 m. Turn left onto Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 100 m. Turn left onto Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, 350 m. At Plaça Espanya, take the 5th exit, 150 m. Turn left, 20 m. Walk for 50 m. Take the elevator down to -1 or to the rooftop (FREE) of Las Arenas, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385. 

 Las Arenas de Barcelona is a commercial shopping complex located in Plaça d'Espanya. The structure was first used as a bullfighting arena but was reconstructed and designed into a commercial centre in March 2011 by Richard Rogers. Arenas de Barcelona is now a shopping, sports and music centre with a 360 rooftop view of the city. Take the lift (1 euro, hang on to your receipt, you'll need it to go back down) to the top of Las Arenas de Barcelona and you have a wonderful bird's eye view of Barcelona. The top floor also has several (posh) restaurants that go all the way around the building. A floor down from the restaurants you have the Arenas cinemas, however all the films are in Spanish only. The rest of the floors in Arenas are dedicated to shops and eateries.

Las Arenas at Night:

From the Las Arenas rooftop - we can see, perfectly, the the Parc de Joan Miró. This large park is also known as the Parc l'Escorxador (it stands on the site of the old municipal slaughterhouse: escorxador in Catalan) and is situated south-west of Barcelona's Eixample quarter or neighbourhood. This great urban, green "lung", is your best bet  before or after you  explore the monumental Plaça Espanya. Starting at 1979, a group of young architects, headed by Beth Galí, designed a park, in place of the demolished slaughterhouse, that occupied four blocks of the Eixample, which Ildefons Cerdà – the architect behind the Eixample district – had originally envisaged for this part of Barcelona. The park, known locally as the Parc de l'Escorxador, emerged, at last, as a jigsaw puzzle of different elements set out around a cement plaza designed to host all kinds of events and activities. Around the plaza, there are platforms on different levels, pathways, pergolas and landscaped areas with palms, pines and evergreen oaks, which are the ideal place to take a stroll in hot days. An artificial water channel runs parallel to Carrer Tarragona, lending coolness to this side of the Parc de Joan Miró. This is the site of Joan Miró's 22-metre-high monumental sculpture Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). Like the park, it was dedicated in 1983, shortly before the artist's death. There is a public library on the other side of the park, which is named after Joan Miró. To walk from Las Arenas to Parc Joan Miro - it is 280 m.walk. From Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385 take the elevator up to 0.  Head northwest toward Carrer de la Diputació, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Diputació, 50 m. Turn left, take the stairs and the Parque de Joan Miró, Carrer d'Aragó, 2,  is on your right 130 m. further. The park might be under reconstruction during end-2017 and 2018...:

We shall return to Plaça d'Espanya - taking, a bit, longer way. From Parque de Joan Miró, Carrer d'Aragó, 2 we head southeast toward Carrer de la Diputació. Take the stairs, 130 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Diputació, 25 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Llança, 140 m. Turn right toward Plaça Espanya, 150 m. Plaça Espanya is a famous and lovely plaza in the south side of Barcelona centre. It is, formally, in the Sants-Montjuïc district. Many main roads of Barcelona intersect in this square like: Gran Via, Carrer de la Creu Coberta, Carrer de Tarragona and Paral.lel. It is also home to Barcelona's old bull-fighting ring which has been converted into the Las Arenas commercial centre. South to the square stands the Palau Nacional Art de Catalunya, (MNAC), which is the Museum of Catalan art, regally up on the side of Montjuïc. The fountain at the centre of the square was designed by Josep Maria Jujol, a collaborator of Antoni Gaudí, while Miquel Blay designed the statues. The buildings were designed by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí. The Venetian Towers (which are similar to the famous tower of S. Marco square in Venice) are 47 m tall and lead the way to the MNAC via Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, an avenue commonly used to host trade fairs. Amazing architecture with beautiful surroundings. It's stunning, especially, during dark hours, when it is lit up with the Magic Fountain (Font Majic) in front. Also, departure and arrival point for the Aerobuses.

Plaça d'Espanya with the adjacent Plaza de Toros de las Arenas:

When work on the Great Universal Exhibition of 1929 was well under way, the organizers felt that it needed that “something” special to make it a cut above the rest. That was when Carles Buigas submitted his project of the Magic Fountain for a “colossal, daring and costly piece of work”. Font Màgica, Barcelona’s largest ornamental water fountain situated at the bottom of the Palau Nacional, near the Plaça d’Espanya and Poble Espanyol. The fountain delivers a spectacular display of colour, light and water acrobatics with musical accompaniment every Thursday to Sunday in the summer months and every Friday and Saturday during winter. The Magic Fountain is a free show that is not to be missed. a fantastic display of water, light and music brings Montjuïc alive at night. Thousands of people go to enjoy the Magic Fountain performances and if you decide to go it will be one of the highlights of your visit to Barcelona. Around 2,600 litres of water, a second flow through the fountain's three concentric pools, driven by a water-recycling system. Music selections include 1980’s mix, cartoon soundtracks, Spanish classical, swing, current hits and more. In all the show lasts about 20 minutes and it’s completely FREE. To get the best view of the Barcelona Magic Fountain show make sure you arrive early. There 30-60 minutes before desired show times to get the best spots. A good way to ensure the best view is taking in the first show. Get there an hour in advance. In general the best place to sit is on the steps leading up to the MNAC museum behind. Another great spot is the pedestrian bridge on the Plaza de España side. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money you could also grab a drink on the 8th floor terrace of Hotel Catalonia Plaza or for a dinner at the Las Arenas rooftop for a view without crowds. Tip: if you’re close up, gauge the wind before the show because if not you might get soaked! There are 8 public toilets in a small building near the fountain. Keep bags in front of you - because the crowds attract pickpockets.

Please note that the Magic Fountain only has performances on certain evenings. Performance times for the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc: Schedule  2017: 06 January - 16 February Closed, 01 January - 31 March Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20.00 - 21.00, 01 April - 31 May Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21.00 - 22.00, 01 June - 30 August Wednesday - Sunday 21.30 - 22.30, 01 September - 31 October Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21.00 - 22.00, 01 November - 31 December Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20.00 - 21.00.

Barcelona - Montjuic - “Jewish Mountain”

Brenda Furley

Spain

Tip 1 Main Attractions: Miró Foundation, Jardins de Laribal, Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport Joan Antoni Samaranch, Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Jardins de Joan Maragall, Jardín de Aclimatacion, Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring), Open Camp, Palau Sant Jordi, Torre Calatrava, Ferrer i Guardia Monument.

See Tip 2 below for: Poble Espanyol and Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Introduction: Montjuic is a prominent hill overlooking the Barcelona harbour. For ages, it played a strategic part in the defense of the city and it’s one of the city’s natural elevations. Nowadays, there are so many things to do in Montjuic you just can’t miss it  on your trip to Barcelona. Many of the attractions here were constructed in order to celebrate the 1929 International Exhibition, however it is believed that before it was turned into the big park of today, there was a Jewish cemetery somewhere around the mountain, therefore earning the name of Montjuic, meaning “jew mountain” in Catalan.

Whole day (Tip 1 + Tip 2) Distance: 7 km. Note: our daily itinerary DOES NOT include the Montjuic Castle !

Public Transport:  Take Metro lines 2 (Purple Line) and 3 (Green Line) to Parallel. From there, pick up the Funicular train to Castell de Montjuic. The Funicular is a smaller train running every 10 mins or so from Parallel to Montjuic and back. The ride itself only takes 2 minutes and the journey is included as part of a Metro ride. Another way is by Cable Car (the fun one!)
Right next to the funicular Station, lies the Montjuic’s Cable Car. This ride takes you directly to the castle of Montjuic with photogenic views of Barcelona. Changing to the cable car - you do not have to exit the metro station - it connects directly to the cable car. This will leave you quite near the highest point too. The funicular of Barcelona (FM metro line) operates like a metro with two stops: Paral·lel, which links up with metro lines L2 and L3, and Parc de Montjuïc, located on the mountain, which links up with the cable car to reach the top of Montjuïc and access the castle. The funicular is part of the integrated fare system and the ticket is the same price as a trip by metro or bus. Montjuïc funicular operating hours: Autumn-Winter: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 20.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 20.00. Spring-Summer: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 22.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 22.00:

Option number three, is taking regular bus #150 which also stops at the castle. Buy your ticket to Montjuic’s cable car stop. Fourth option: Barcelona’s Port Cable Car located in Barceloneta (Transbordador Aeri del Port). The journey lasts around ten minutes and it’s the fastest way to get to the mountain from Barceloneta Beach. The view of the seaport and Barceloneta from 70 meters high is priceless (see Tipter blog "Barcelona - Port Vell"). Option number 5:  you can take the Metro or bus to Plaça Espanya, walk Av. Maria Cristina and climb the stairs or take the automatic stairs to the MNAC museum, and keep walking up. It will be quite a long walk, but scenic and not difficult. Option number 6: you can also get to Avenida Miramar (on the Montjuic) by #50 bus which runs along Gran Via to Plaça Espanya. It passes Caixaforum, Poble Espanyol, Olympic Stadium and Miró Foundation on the way. Option number 7: there is a Hop on Hop off bus (22€-24€) that link all places of interest in the mountain, it may be a good option.

Our daily itinerary:  We turn LEFT as we exit the funicular station. Turning right as you leave the funicular station you walk along to Miramar.  There, from the extensive gardens of Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Garden (these gardens located right next the funicular, are the perfect setting for enjoying a picnic or a stroll) and Jardins de Joan Brossa you can have the same sort of view as from the castle but from less altitude (and less of the commercial port is visible):

...and, even, a distant view of the Sagrada Familia:

The mountain opposite us, in the north is the Tibidabo. We walk along Avenida Miramar WESTWARD. On our right is the Gardi des Escultures  - a small garden with no views over Barcelona:

After 350 m. walking westward along Avenida Miramar - we arrive to Joan Miró Foundation. Joan Miró museum is located just facing the Greek Theatre. The Fundació opened to the public on 10 June 1975. The Fundació Joan Miró was created by Miró himself, at first principally, with works from his own private collection. Other works are presents from his wife Pilar Juncosa, Joan Prats and Kazumasa Katsutas. The Fundació offers an overview of Joan Miró’s (a long-standing friend and contemporary of Picasso) art and life, and on the same time, creating an enriching dialogue with other artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Fundació organizes temporary exhibitions of 20th and 21st century artists, side by side, with Miró's creations. Miro is an artist who broke all the rules and developed a style uniquely his. So, the museum won't be every one's cup of tea. So, if you feel like visiting one of the world’s one of the most known abstract painters' paintings, you just have to cross the street. The museum is very well laid out. It is dedicated to the one and only Catalan artist Joan Miró, featuring works from every stage of his career. The Fundació Miró is any art lover’s paradise, however even if art 'isn’t your thing’ you may find that this surrealist museum / gallery is. We love the brightly coloured,naivety, minimalism of Joan Miro's work in his paintings and sculptures. Even the building itself has been designed to fit the surrealist environment. Miró’s works (paintings and and an amazing tapestry) are fun, bright and colourful and despite not being one for galleries, we personally enjoyed every minute of our visit – even when we got to witness Miró’s infamous paintings (or, better, 'anti paintings') and sculptures. Miró uses fantastic and distinctive colours in most of his coloured paintings. A real wander. One of the BEST museums in BCN. Allow, at least, 2-3 hours. Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday - from November to March: 10.00 - 18.00, from April to October: 10.00 - 20.00. Thursday: 10.00 - 21.00, Saturday: 10.00 - 20.00. Sunday: 10.00 - 15.00. Monday: except public holidays - closed. Prices: adult - €12, concessions: €7. Temporary exhibitions: adult - €7, concessions: €5. If you get the Barcelona card it is included. Children up to 15 enter for free. Note: during the busy mid-summer weeks - you may wait about 30-50 minutes in the queue to get in -  so probably better to book in advance:

Morning Star:

Woman Dreaming Escape:

Woman and Bird in Night:

Woman and Bird in Sunrise:

Barcelona Series:

Diamond Smiles at Twilight:

The Smile of the Tear:

The Gold of the Azure:

Figures in Burnt Forest - a picture Joan Miro devoted to his wife Pilar Juncosa le Miro:

Young Girl:

Mont Roig Village:

Chapel of Sant Joan d'Horta:

Tapestries:

Lovers Playing with Almond Blossom:

Self Portrait:

Woman and Bird:

:

Summer 1278 Figure

Mercury Fountain by Alexander Calder:

The Fundació is located in a building designed by Josep Lluís Sert, Miró's good friend and Le Corbusier's student. The Miró Museum is perched on a hill overlooking the city and housed in a beautiful building with a wonderful outdoor rooftop space with great views of the city with the bonus of wonderfully peaceful setting, The roof top has a few Miro's sculptures.  Josep Lluís Sert and Joan Miró were close friends. You can, easily, recognize the synergy of them. Both tended to harmonic forms and were playing with light, space and colours; besides that they combined their love to nature and Catalonia, which explains the architectural distinctiveness of the inner courtyard in the middle of the building, which all the rooms are  arranged around to. The clear and cubist shapes all in white make the museum building look light and flowing and make the rooms look larger. The bright patios and terraces create dynamic, transparency and a lot of natural light in the inside of the building. The building got the "Twenty-Five Year Award“ of the American Institute of Architects in 2002:

Moon, Sun and Star:

Sculptures in the Museum Terrace:

view to Plaça Espanya:

Anthony Tapier - Wall Coat Rack:

Max Ernst - Fishing at Down:

Alexander Calder - El Corcoradro:

Continuing approx. 40-50 m. further west along Avenida Miramar will bring us (on our right) to the Jardins de Laribal. These gardens extend from Miró Foundation to the Jardins del Teatre Grec. They cover a very steep area of the Montjuic. The gardens' designers used waterfalls and steps to cover these slopes. Charming and refreshing gardens. Wonderful, calm place, with lots of greenery, water ponds, stairs and porcelain accents, which all together create a really calm, unique atmosphere:

Cascada del Font del Gat:

Font del Gat:

Noia de la Trena - Josep Viladomat, 1928:

MNAC from the gardens:

Placa Espanya from the gardens:

We ascend the stairs (avoid hot days !) from Jardins de Laribal leading to Passeig de Santa Madrona. As we get out from the gardens we continue west along Avenida Miramar which changes to Avinguda de l'Estadi. On our left is the Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport Joan Antoni Samaranch, Stadium Avenue, 60 (Next to the Olympic Stadium). The Museum will introduce the different facets of the sport, the Olympic spirit and values associated with its practice. Visitors can also see a permanent exhibition commemorating Olympic cities, from Barcelona 1992 to London 2012, and the first televised Olympic Games. Opening hours: From October to March: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 18.00. SUN and public holidays: 10.00 -14.30. From April to October: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 20.00, SUN and public holidays: 10.00 - 14.30. Closed: 1/1, 1/5, 25/12 and 26/12. Guided tours, café, restaurant and shop:

Adjacent to the museum is the Olympic Stadium or Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys. Originally built in 1927 and designed by architect Pere Domènech i Rourafor for the 1929 International Exposition in the city. It was meant to host the People's Olympiad in 1936, a protest event against the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, but the event had to be cancelled due the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. It was renovated in 1989 to be the main stadium for the 1992 Summer Olympics. When the International Olympic Committee chose Barcelona to host the 1992 Olympic Games, a team of architects made up of Vittorio Gregotti, Frederic Correa, Alfons Milà, Joan Margarit and Carles Buxadé, was commissioned to completely refurbish the stadium. The stadium was partially demolished, preserving only the original facades, and new grandstands were built. In 1989 the venue was re-inaugurated for the World Cup in Athletics, and three years later it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competitions of the Olympic Games.The stadium has a capacity of 56,000 spectators.   In 2001 the stadium was renamed after the former president of the Generalitat de Catalunya Lluís Companys, who was executed at the nearby Montjuïc Castle in 1940 by the Franco regime. In 2010, the stadium hosted the 20th European Athletics Championships. The IAAF World Junior Championships took place in 2012. It is now rated as a five-star venue by UEFA, which entitles it to host top-level European matches. The Olympic Stadium is open in the summer, daily from 10.00 to 20.00 and in the winter, daily from 10.00 to 18.00. Admission to the Olympic Stadium is FREE:

Opposite the stadium, on the north side of Avinguda de l'Estadi stands a monument devoted to  Hwang Young-cho a former South Korean athlete, winner of the marathon race at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics and 1994 Asian Games:

From this monument, still on the north side of Avinguda de l'Estadi, extend the Jardins de Joan Maragall. These magnificent gardens are very rarely visited by the tourists and they are very aristocratic, well maintained and superbly laid-out. The Jardins de Joan Maragall are extremely elegant, with tree-lined avenues, broad expanses of grass, flowerbeds, ornamental fountains, numerous outdoor sculptures and the small Albeniz Palace that was, and still is, a royal residence. The gardens are open ONLY SAT-SUN: 10.00 - 15.00:

Either side of this classical, French-style gardening are avenues of low  trimmed lime trees that highlight the delicate nature of the small hedges marking out spaces full of flowers:

The old royal pavilion inside the gardens, known as the Palauet Albéniz and built in 1929, is a Neoclassical structure designed by the architect Joan Moya:

A bit further west along Avinguda de l'Estadi, on the southern side of Avinguda de l'Estadi, we arrive to a very extensive area - the Anella Olímpica or the Olympic Ring, a large hilly space to the southwest of the city which overlooks Barcelona harbor. We start exploring this wonderful area from north to south. First, we hit the Jardín de Aclimatacion.  It is located between the Olympic Stadium and the Bernat Picornell Swimming Pools , and was created in 1930 by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí director of Parks and Gardens of Barcelona between 1917 and 1937. This garden houses around 230 species of plants, some of them unique or of scarce presence in the city:

The Anti-Aids Campaign Tree in the garden:

The Entrance to the Jardin d'Aclimatacion:

It is free to walk around the highly-cemented Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) outside and admire the columns and the ‘river pathway’. Very relaxing atmosphere around. Great views, free to enter. Very clean and tidy.  This beautiful, huge court yard with fountains, yellow pillars, waterfalls, trees and flower-beds is simply stunning on a sunny day and well worth the walk up to and around it:

Open Camp the first theme park in the world dedicated to sports, with carefully designed spaces that offer an unforgettable experience where sport and fun are guaranteed. You can participate in sporting events like archery, open jump, open hurdles and more, imagining that you were a part of the Olympic Games. This unique theme park offers the possibility of facing the simulator of your favorite sport. 25 sports are offered, each time a technology is simulating an action and then analyzes your performance. Opening hours: 11.00 to 18.00 (winter) or 20:00 (summer). Prices: 15€ to 20€:

The Palau Sant Jordi which was design by the Japanese architect Arata Isozak. It was the venue for the gymnastics and volleyball competitions of the 1992 Games. Today, it hosts huge music concerts and other large-scale events. The maximum seating capacity of the arena is 16,670 for basketball, and 24,000 for musical events. It is the largest indoor arena in Spain:

Alongside the Palau Sant Jordi is one of the city's two telecommunications towers, the Torre Calatrava, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. 136 metres high, it was built between 1989 and 1992 and, according to its creator, depicts the body of an athlete bending down to receive a medal.  Its base is covered in broken mosaic trencadís tiles, in clear reference to one of the techniques used by Gaudí. The orientation of the tower means that the shadow of the central needle projected on to the adjacent Plaça d'Europe acts as a sundial:

The other major facilities consist of: the National Physical Education Institute (INEFC) (Institut Nacional d'Educació Física de Catalunya) which includes a library with 26,000 titles and various sports facilities covered and outdoors. During the Olympic Games of Barcelona 92 it hosted the competitions of free fight and Greco-Roman:

Another facility is the Picornell swimming pools (Piscines Bernat Picornel):

Here we choose either walking to the Poble Espanyol (900 m. and returning to the MNAC - another 1100 m.) or continuing direct to the MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Palau Nacional).

To the Poble Espanyol: We return (northward) to and head west along Avinguda de l'Estadi toward Carrer Jocs del 92, 550 m. Slight right to stay on Avinguda de l'Estadi, 70 m. At the intersection of Avinguda de l'Estadi and Av. dels Montanyans you see the Ferrer i Guardia Monument. This figure is a tribute to Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia (Alella, 1859 - Barcelona, ​​1909) founder of the Modern School. The sculpture symbolizes a naked man carrying a lit torch, a replica of the monument in Brussels, also dedicated to Ferrer i Guàrdia:

At Plaça de Sant Jordi, take the 3rd exit onto Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and walk 350 m. along Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia until you arrive to the Poble Espanyol. Here, we skip to Tip 2 below.

To the MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya Palau Nacional): We return (northward) to and head EAST along Avinguda de l'Estad, 85 m. Turn left toward Carrer del Mirador del Palau Nacional. Take the stairs, 160 m. Slight right at Av. dels Montanyans, 85 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Mirador del Palau Nacional, 15 m.

Barcelona - Eixample and Sagrada Familia - "The temple as a whole, as well being a place for divine worship, will artistically represent the truths of religion and the glorification of God and his Saints"

Brenda Furley

Spain

Tip 1 - From Passeig de Gràcia to Sagrada Familia:
Main Attractions: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Museu del Modernisme Barcelona (MMBCN), Fundacion Francisco Godia, Casa Milà, Fundació Suñol, Palau Baró de Quadras, Casa de les Punxes, Palau Ramon Montaner, Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer.
Start: Passeig de Gràcia (lines: L2-Purple, L3-Green, L4-Yellow). Buses:
7, 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 28, 39, 43, 44, 45, 47, 63, 67, 68, 544. End: Sagrada Familia Metro station. Distance: (including the SF Basilica) 7.6 km.

Introduction and Tips:
This daily route is a natural continuation to Steve Fulham's Tipter blog "Barcelona - Modernista Architecture - Part II". Steve's blog ends in Passeig de Gràcia and Placa Catalunya. This blog starts at Passeig de Gràcia Metro station. This blog, by far, covers more extensively, the visit at the Sagrada Familia church. This blog assumes that you have, already, visited most of Gaudi's heritage Modernista sites along Passeig de Gràcia. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies, for example, is NOT included in Steve Fulham's two blogs.

Eixample: Passing through the glorious Plaça Catalunya, you enter the newer city district of Eixample, literally translated as “extension,” which immediately becomes recognizable by its more spacious streets and elegant atmosphere. The main artery of this sizable district, Passeig de Gracia, is lined with high-end international designer stores. Not to be outdone, the glitz and glamour of this zone is perhaps best exemplified by the comfortable and lavish five-star hotels that flank the divine and modernistic buildings from some of the world’s most recognized architects such as Gaudi and Montaner.

Our itinerary: From Passeig de Gràcia Metro Station head northwest on Passeig de Gràcia toward Carrer d'Aragó. Turn left onto Carrer d'Aragó and after 100 m. you see, on the right, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Carrer d'Aragó, 255. Opening hours: Museum: TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 19.00. Mondays, 25 December, 1 and 6 January - closed. Prices: adult - 7 €, Students and Senior Citizens (over 65): 5.60 €. The Fundació building was designed by the Modernista architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It was constructed between 1880 and 1881 or 1882, at an early stage of the evolution of the Catalan Modernista trend. The building was the first in the Eixample district to integrate industrial style and technology - combining exposed brick, iron and glass, into the fabric of the city centre. The Montaner i Simon publishing house along with Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Vicens, are the only few remaining examples of a way of buildings exemplifing an eclectic architectural style popular in the 19th century and the emergence of a new Catalan Modernista (Art Nouveau) style. Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Antoni Gaudí established the architectural bases defining two different forms of development: Gaudí embodied an "expressionist" current, whilst Domènech i Montaner was more inclined towards rationalism.The Tapies Foundation was opened in year 1990. The building was of the former Editorial Montaner i Simon publishing house and it was restored and refurbished by the architects Roser Amadó and Lluís Domènech Girbau. The Antoni Tapies Fundació’s building is “sandwiched” between two side walls of the adjacent buildings. To elevate its height - Antoni Tàpies created the sculpture crowning the building entitled Núvol i cadira (Cloud and Chair, 1990). This sculpture represents a chair jutting out of a large cloud. The chair is a recurring motif in Tàpies’ works. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies was declared a historical monument in 1997. The museum is dedicated entirely to the artist Antoni Tàpies. He and his wife donated many works to the museum – among them paintings, sculptures, books, engravings, and sketches, adding one work every year:

The "Sunday" spectacle of Oriol Vilanova:

From the Fundació Antoni Tàpies we continue south-west along Carrer d'Aragó, passing Rambla de Catalunya:

In the next intersection - we turn LEFT (south) to Carrer de Balmes. With our face to the south-east we walk along Carrer de Balmes, passing Carrer del Consell de Cent. Immediately after crossing this intersection - we see the Museu del Modernisme Barcelona (MMBCN), Carrer de Balmes, 48 on our left. The small permanent exhibition includes furniture, sculptures, paintings, stained-glasses, posters and decorative arts, dedicated to the Catalan Modernista movement (designers like Antoni Gaudí and Gaspar Homar and Mezquida) during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Exquisite, modest exhibition, that extends over 2 floors with EXPENSIVE entry rates. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.30 -. 19.00, SUN and holidays: 10.30 - 14.00. Mondays: Closed. Also closed: January 1st and 6th, 1st of May, 25th and 26th of December. Prices (permanent exhibition + temporary exhibition): adult - € 10, concessions - € 7 (more than 65, less than 25, teachers, unemployed, one-parent family), Children 6-16 years: € 5, FREE: children up to 6 years old, Groups: € 8 / person:

Four seasons by Gaspar Camps (1907):

Continue walking along Carrer de Balmes with your face to the south-east. Turn LEFT (north-east) to Carrer de la Diputació. Note the house at #246:

At #250 you find the Fundacion marvelous Fundacion Francisco Godia. Recently, it has changed its name to Fundacio Mapfre. This Garriga i Nogués house was built by  the architect Enric Sagnier in the transition from the 19th century to the 20th century for the banker Rupert Garriga Miranda. A small and high quality museum. It exhibits a permanent collection of paintings, medieval sculpture and ceramics collected by Francisco Godia - a businessman, racing driver and pilot of Formula 1 (when this sport was not yet professionalized and was driven by entrepreneurs) and art collector. There are approximately 1,500 pieces on display including paintings, sculpture, glasswork and pottery.  The collection includes works from the 12th to the 21st centuries of artists such as: Karel Appel, Miquel Barceló, Pedro Berruguete, Felipe de Bigarny, Lluís Borrassé, Ramon Casas, Eduardo Chillida, Juan van der Hamen, Julio González, Juan Gris, Jaume Huguet, Cristina Iglesias, Fernand Léger, René Magritte, Joaquim Mir, Joan Miró, Isidre Nonell, Pablo Picasso, Santiago Rusiñol, Llorenç Saragossa, Martín de Soria, Joaquín Sorolla, Antoni Tépies, Alejo de Vahía, Francisco de Zurbarán. The Francisco Godia Foundation is housed in a wonderful house called the Casa Garriga i Nogués and that was built by architect Enric Sagnier who was one of the most outstanding architects in the Eixample. Opening times: MON - SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed on Tuesdays. Guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 12.00. General admissions: €3 per person. FREE entry: Mondays 14.00 - 20.00. Opening hours: MON: 14.00 - 20.00, TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 20.00, SUN and holidays: 11.00 - 19.00. Stunning interiors (ground floor). The interiors, only, are worth a visit. 

DO NOT MISS THE WONDERFUL STAINED-GLASS HUGE WINDOWS in room 8:

We continue walking eastward along Carrer de la Diputació. After passing Rambla de Catalunya (on your left and right) - we arrive to Passeig de Gràcia:

We turn LEFT (north-west) to Passeig de Gràcia and walk northward along Passeig de Gràcia: the main avenue of the city that linked, in the past,  the old Barcelona, which by then had demolished its walls, with the town of Gràcia. We shall pass 5-6 streets on our left and right towards the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia and the Diagonal. After passing Carrer de Mallorca - we see, on our left the modern building at Passeig de Gràcia #83:

At the intersection of Carrer de Provença and Passeig de Gràcia stands Casa Milà, Provença, 261-265. The house's cliff-like walls immediately earned it the nickname La Pedrera, or 'The Quarry', amongst locals. The building was built between 1906 and 1912 by Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). In 1984 was titled as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was declared Monument of National Interest by the Spanish government in 1969. Nowadays it is the headquarters of Catalunya "La Pedrera Foundation". It houses a cultural centre and displays various exhibitions and other public events. It is probably one of the most famous buildings of the Catalan Modernista or Catalan Art Nouveau period and one of the architect Antoni Gaudí’s most famous and ambitious works. The idea was to erect an exceptional building by the industrialist Pere Milà i Camps and his wife, Rosario Segimon i Artells, on an empty space on the boundary of Barcelona and Gràcia, as a family home. It was commissioned to  Antoni Gaudí in 1906. It was a time when the Barcelona Eixample quarter had gained driving force behind the expansion of the city, which turned Passeig de Gràcia into a new, posh and modern residential area. Casa Milà is the fourth and final work Gaudí did on Passeig de Gràcia. Gaudí planned Casa Milà (1906–1912) at the age of fifty-three. At this time Gaudi found a style of his own and this creation turned out to be one of the most innovatory in its functional and ornamental aspects. La Pedrera is considered as a world-global breakthrough work, outside the concepts of continent and time: an exceptional achievement in the Modernista history and, especially, a work that anticipated the architecture of the 20th century. The official name of the building is Casa Milà but, it was soon given the nickname "La Pedrera" due to the appearance of the exterior, reminiscent of an open quarry. Public transportation: Buses: 7,16,17, 22, 24 and V17. Metro: lines 3 (Green) and 5 (Blue), Diagonal station, FGC: Provença-La Pedrera, RENFE: Passeig de Gràcia. Opening hours: MON - SUN: 9.00 - 18.30, 19.00 - 21.00. Hefty Ticket Prices: adult - 22,00 €, student - 16,50 €, children (under 7 years old) FREE, children (7-12 years) - 11,00 €, seniors (+65 years) - 16,50 €. Audio guides in : Catalan, Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Korean. Note: You can do additional visit by night the same day or up to 3 days before or after your visit to La Pedrera by day. Prices for the combined ticket of day and night: adult: €41, children (7-12 years): €20,50:

The interiors include two painted courtyards, columns and a range of rooms. There are large windows and iron balconies set into the undulating façade. On the roof there are chimneys and sculptures which are works of art in themselves, as well as a splendid view of the Passeig de Gràcia avenue. The exhibition contained in the attic space of the building is called the Gaudi Space and is really interesting. On the 4th floor is the Flat of La Pedrera, which is a replica of an apartment of Gaudi’s time, and this apartment occupies a space of 600 square meters and has household utensils, furniture, and decorative objects. This apartment shows how well-to-do people lived during that time and is also very interesting. The roof terrace has chimney stacks that are called scare-witches, and these have very unusual shapes, and really are abstract sculptures. You'll admire how Gaudi transformed functional chimneys into a sculpture garden of swirling mosaic forms and ominous hooded warriors. Gaudí intended that the roof be used as an open-air terrace, and during the summer, jazz musicians hold forth several evenings each week. Amid the chimneys Gaudí built a lovely parabolic arch to frame what would become the towering steeples of his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia:

As we said before, La Pedrera offers special night visits called “The Secret Pedrera” with a very limited number of admissions. La Pedrera by night:

Between Carrer de Provença and Carrer del Rosselló - at Passeig de Gràcia # 98 resides Fundació Suñol. A contemporary art museum. The Josep Suñol Collection comprises works by Warhol, Dalí, Picasso, Miró or Man Ray, among others. Predominant Catalan and Spanish artists works from the 1950s through the 1990s. For contemporary art lovers. Opening hours: MON - FRI: 11.00 - 14.00, 16.00 - 20.00. SAT: 16.00 - 20.00. Closed on Sunday and public holidays. Prices: adult - 4€, concessions - 3€:

We turn right (east) to Carrer del Rosselló. At Carrer de Roselló, # 279 stands Palau Baró de Quadras. The façade on Carrer Rosselló is decorated in the "Modernista" style, with elements of the "Viennese Jugenstil". The entrance is from the Diagonal street #373:

When viewed from the Avinguda Diagonal, the Palau Baró de Quadras building is a noble Renaissance European palace. The long, ornate balcony, with its busts of medieval and Renaissance figures, sculptures by Eusebi Arnau and Alfons Juyol and floral motifs - the building is fully in keeping with the medieval European style:

   

In 1900, the Baron de Quadras commissioned Josep Puig i Cadafalch to refurbish the residential block on Carrer Rosselló. The architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch transformed the building completely, between 1902 and 1903 - providing it with two distinct façades which make it so interesting from every side we see it.

Inside the palace, which has been home to the Institut Ramon Llull, since 2013, the most eclectic "Modernista" decorations predominate, with the clear influence of the neo-Gothic style on the main staircase and the wrought-iron entrance and also dominated by oriental, Middle Eastern and East Asian themes. Open ONLY on Wednesdays (the English language guided tour starts at 11.00).

The Entrance to Palau Baró de Quadras:

We continue further EAST along Avinguda Diagonal and 280 m. further east we see (on the northern side of the Diagonal), on our left, the Casa de les Punxes,  Avinguda Diagonal 416–420. Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes) or Casa Terrades is a building constructed in 1905, commissioned by the Terrades sisters. It is, actually, a residential block BUT, it looks like a medieval castle which is one of the most recognizable Modernista landmarks on the Barcelona skyline. It all started when the Terradas sisters owned three buildings standing between the Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer Rosselló and Carrer Bruc. The architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was commissioned to reconstruct and refurbish the buildings. Cadafalch linked them together behind a vast brick façade. His magnificent building 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 all end with spikes. Other artists joined forces with Cadafalch. The wrought-irons on the balconies, were designed by Manuel Ballarín. The sculptural reliefs by Alfons Juyol, and the stained-glass windows by Eduard Amigó. The ceramic panels surmounting the façade refer to the patriotic symbols of Catalonia. 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"). Public transportaion: 
L4 (Yellow Line)/L5 (Blue line)-Verdaguer, Buses: 6, 20, 33, 34, 39, 45, 47, H8. Opening hours: Daily, 9.00 - 20.00. Closed: December 25th. Prices (including audio-guided tour - English, Catalan, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Chinese and Russian): adult - 12,50 €, concessions - 11.25 €:

Immediately behind Casa de les Punxes - turn RIGHT (south) to Carrer del Bruc. In the first intersection - turn, again, RIGHT (south-west) to the Carrer de Mallorca. With your face to the south-west - pass Carrer de Roger de Llúria on your left and right - and, immediately, on your LEFT is the Palau Ramon Montaner, Carrer de Mallorca, 278. Public transport: buses: 20, 45, 47, H10, V17. In 1889, the year after the Barcelona Universal Exhibition, the architect Josep Domènech i Estapà received the commission to design two luxury homes for the two owners of the publishing house Montaner i Simón. The project for Ramon de Montaner's mansion was begun by Domènech i Estapà but the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (the owner’s nephew) took over from him at a later date. A mosaic at the top of the façade bears the completion date, 1893, surrounded by ornamental and symbolic motifs which give an idea of the sumptuous decorative elements inside. The most notable part is the top of the building which is decorated with large mosaics presenting the invention of the printing press. The building has been the seat of the Spanish Government in Barcelona since 1980. Usually CLOSED. Only open on Saturdays' mornings for a guided English tour. We saw this building ONLY from the outside and found it to be FANTASTIC and VERY IMPRESSIVE:

From Palau Ramon Montaner we change direction and walk back NORTHEAST along Carrer de Mallorca toward Carrer de Roger de Llúria. W pas through: Carrer del Bruc, Carrer de Girona and Carrer de Bailèn (approx. 600 m.). The intersection of Passeig de Sant Joan and Carrer de Mallorca is Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer. We are quite close, not far from the Sagrada Família. Jacint Verdaguer (Jacinto Verdaguer in Spanish) was a 19th century Catalan poet. The monument, in the centre of the square, is devoted to Verdaguer and was made in 1912 by Joan Borrell of Verdaguer on top of a column and monumental construction designed by the architect Josep Maria Pericàs. The bas-reliefs around the monument, featuring scenes from Verdaguer's works, particularly L'Atlàntida, were sculpted by the brothers Llucià and Miquel Oslé. The Metro station Verdaguer is immediately next to the square, and is served by lines L4 and L5:

We continue further 210 m. eastward along Carrer de Mallorca. On our left is the Eglesia Mare del Deu del Roser, Carrer de Mallorca 349:

Continuing walking eastward along Carrer del mallorca - we pass Carrer de Nàpols. In the next intersection of Carrer de Mallorca and Carrer de Sicília (on our right - south-east) we see the La Sagrada Família - Antoni Gaudí's renowned unfinished church in front of us:

Here, we skip to Tip 2 - La Sagrada Família.

Girona

Brenda Furley

Spain

Girona:

Tip 1: from Girona railway station to Girona Cathedral.

Tip 2: from Basilica de Sant Feliu back to Girona railway station.

Tip 3: walking over Girona Walls (approx. 3 km.).

Tip 1 Main Attractions: Pont de Pedra, Rambla de la Llibertat, Pont de les Peixateries Velles, Pont de Sant Agustí, Plaça de la Independència, Pont d'en Gomes (Pont de la Princesa), Culo de la Lleona, Carrer de les Mosques, Pujada del Rei Martí, Plaça de la Catedral, Girona Cathedral.

Start and End: Girona railway station. Weather: Bright days only. Distance: approx. 11 km. Duration: 1 day.

Practical Hints: You need to wear good walking shoes as there are many steps and cobble stones in the old quarters and around the walls.

Never walk on the walls in: very hot day, rainy / windy or stormy day.

Girona Itinerary: From Girona railway station walk east, cross Plaça Espanya from west to east, turn left onto Carrer Barcelona, 180 m. Look, on your right the decorated houses. In the end of Carrer Barcelona you take the RIGHT (east) leg of the narrow and pedestrian road of Carrer Nou (crossing cross-lights and following the signs of "Barri i/Vel". WE continue eastward along Carrer Nou - crossing Carrer de Santa Clara on our left and right. We cross the Riu (river) Onyar on the pedestrians-only bridge Pont de Pedra. Your (almost) first sight of Girona - is no less than spectacular. The river Onyar and the bridges that connect the Barri Vell with the neighbourhood of Mercadal are just marvelous. If you cross these bridges, you can enjoy the sight of the colored houses that overlook the river. Their colours change, during the day, and, especially, as the sun sets. The Pont de Pedra, is made of Girona stone, and is supported on three lowered arches that rest on two pillars. An inscription in the centre notes that it was inaugurated in 1856. YOU MUST move from side to side of the bridge, making stunning photographs of the multi-colored houses built on both sides of the Onyar river, painted in bright colors. Completing the wonderful sights are the towers of the Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of San Felix - icons and attractions of the city. The current stone bridge was part of the road from Madrid to France. It is called, also, Pont d'Isabel II (Bridge of Isabel II, during whose reign it was built), but more popularly known as Pont de Pedra (Bridge of Stone). It replaced a previous bridge of the fourteenth century, which was also of stone and was known as San Francisco. 

In the eastern end of the bridge - you see the local Tourist Information office with plenty of maps and aids for your daily excursion in this wonderful city:

We turn left (north) onto Rambla de la Llibertat. On your right (east) the ancient walls of Old Girona. This magnificent long stretch along the River Onyar was developed in the 13th century to hold the market and is characterized by its low-ceilinged arcades and unequal arches. Today, the Rambla de la Llibertat continues to be a popular place for locals to walk and meet. It is lined by a number of buildings of cultural interest, such as the Casa Norat, Rambla Llibertat, 25 with its Modernista façade (1912). Created in the 18th century to host a market, its name comes from l'Arbre de la Llibertat (The Tree of Freedom), which was planted in 1869 during the Sexenio Democrático, a period of Spanish history that followed the success of a revolution in September 1868 and lasted until the restoration of the Bourbons in 1874:

Casa Norat:

You walk 250 m. northward along Rambla de la Llibertat until you arrive (on your left) to another bridge on the Onyar river: Pont de les Peixateries Velles (also known as Pont de les Pescateries Vella) with its red cage ironwork on both sides and above. It affords great views of the Cathedral and the river side houses. Great place to cross into the Old town shopping areas. Plenty of shops and places to eat right on the other side of the bridge in both directions. Unbelievable scenery from the whole stretch of this bridge. Does this bridge reminds you of Eiffel Tower ? Does it look like an horizontal Tour Eiffel ? Right ! it was designed by Gustav Eiffel. It was built before he started the tower in Paris. This is our 2nd bridge along the Onyar river and there are, actually, 11 of them ! There are four foot bridges over the Onyar river into the old town area (as well as a couple of road bridges). From this particular bridge you have the most striking view of the Onyar river and the colourful houses and apartments that line it.

More distant, more northward, along the river - Girona Cathedral:

Return to Rambla de la Llibertat and continue 200 m. further north onto Carrer de l'Argenteria. On your left (taking the stairs) our 3d bridge on the Onyar river - the Pont de Sant Agustí. This bridge, which connects Carrer de l'Argenteria with Placa de la Independencia, owes its name to the old convent of San Agustín that was in this Independence Square from 1608 until the French occupation in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The convent was abandoned in 1815 and probably destroyed.
In the same place, over time, three bridges have been built: a wooden lever, an iron bridge and, finally, the current reinforced concrete walkway:

In the western end of this bridge is the Plaça de la Independència. The name refers to the War of Spanish Independence against Napoleon Bonaparte. It is surrounded by nice neoclassical buildings with porches on all sides displaying some interesting architecture. Great food and people watching. Great for breakfast, good for lunch and drinks anytime but really comes to life at night. Another walk through to the Jewish Quarter.

In the square's center stands, since 1894, the monument "Girona" dedicated to the 1808-9 defenders (of Napoleon siege) of the city and the work of the sculptor Antoni Parera:

From Plaça de la Independència ontinue 200 m. further north along the Onyar river (now along its western bank) until you arrive to the 4th bridge of Pont d'en Gomes or Pont de la Princesa. It joins Passeig Canalejas with C/Ballesteries. Reinforced concrete bridg, pedestrian bridge (footbridge) completed in 1916 by the company "Construcciones y Pavimentos". If you stand right in the middle of the bridge and jump up and down, you'll feel the bridge move slightly...:

Return to the eastern bank of the river along Pont d'en Gómez. Take the stairs, 30 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Calderers and walk northward, 130 m (the stairs to Sant Feliu or St. Felix Church / basilica are on your right)

until you arrive to Plaça de Sant Feliu. This square is located just at the foot of the tower of the Cathedral of Sant Feliu , and limits one of its bands with the spectacular stairway leading down the west side. In the summer of 1986, a team of archaeologists found here very well preserved medieval houses , with complex overlays of walls, pavements, and a very important collection of utensils of everyday use, especially ceramics. Further below, there were found remains of Roman monumental tombs and burial tombs. These findings helped in the identification of the northern necropolis of the city, which had a very long use - in this square. Another Roman necropolis, with about twenty tombs of all kinds was located in 1890 in Plaça del Mercadal , in front of the church of Santa Susanna of Girona. Culo de la Lleona is a stone sculpture that we find in Calderers street, at the foot of the staircase of the Church of Sant Feliu , in the old part of the city. The figure is voluminous in relief, and has a part of the face and tail deteriorated. It consists of long and large claws and has the head turned to the side. It is one of the tourist icons of Girona:

Our fifth bridge (on river Onyar) is 70 m. west to Plaça de Sant Feliu: Pont de Sant Felieu. The newest bridge in Girona, which was built in 1995-Designed by the architects Antoni Blazquez, Lluís Guanter and Pere Solà. Connects the Paseo de Canalejas with Placa Sant Feliu , Carrer de Calderers and carrer de la Barca , crossing the Onyar. The bridge main span is 58.4 m. The structural system is a weathering steel frame with only one span, embedded on both ends into the concrete abutments:

From Pont de Sant Feliu - we head east on Pont de Sant Feliu toward Plaça de Sant Feliu and pass through Plaça de Sant Feliu to continue onto Carrer de la Barca, 45 m. Turn right onto Carrer de les Mosques (Flies Street). Says the legend that the French army entered Catalunya and started burning and destroying whatever they find on their way. But in Girona, the whole town was waiting for them locked inside the walls, ready to fight for their piece of land. The Army started occupying the neighbourhoods that were outside the city walls, including the Church of Sant Feliu, where laid the tomb of Sant Narcís. Trying to discourage the citizens, the French opened the tomb of the Saint and started spreading its remains over the streets. A carpenter who saw what happened, picked all the remains and put them into a wooden tomb that he himself made. That same day, thousands of flies came out from that wooden tomb and went straight to the French campsite, attacking soldiers and horses, causing their departure from the surroundings of Girona. The Army of Sant Narcís saved the city ! Relating to this legend we can also find another idiom ” Les mosques, per Sant Narcís, a cada picada en maten sis“, (the flies for Sant Narcís, for each sting they kill six):

In the most eastern end of Carrer de les Mosques, through hole in the walls, we turn LEFT (Carrer del Pou Rodó on our right) and, then, RIGHT onto Carrer del Portal de la Barca. Then, we turn RIGHT to the narrow, cobbled-stone Pujada del Rei Martí - a VERY ATMOSPHERIC and MARVELOUS ROAD with mighty walls on both sides:

Walking southward along Pujada del Rei Martí ends in the Plaça de la Catedral. It is a small space, rectangular, delimited from north to south by the Portal de Sobreportes and Carrer de la Força , and from east to west on the stairs of the Cathedral of Girona and the Palace of Justice. The pavement is made up of cobblestones. All the buildings that surround the square have historical background. The Cathedral Square was a long road that allowed traffic of people from the mountains around Girona to the Augusta road in the time of the Romans. In the 5th century, a chapel, called Sant Genís, was at the west side of the stairway in front of the house where today is the Arc bar. The chapel was in a possession of the monastery of Sant Pere de Roda according to a bull from Pope Benedict VI. In 1604 he was demolished and his tiles were taken for the construction of the Cathedral. However, there was another chapel built during the Romanesque period. It was the temple of Santa Maria de les Puelles, mentioned in a document of the year 1083 and that was placed on the other side of the square, in the old Palace of Justice of Girona or Casa Pastors , near the wall of the Ballesteries. In the year 1245 the chapel was established as a brotherhood. In 1401 the existence of two altars is known, one dedicated to Santa Maria and the other to Sant Martí. Its demolition took place in 1724:

Girona cathedral sits a top a hill surrounded by buildings, foot bridges, lane ways, buttresses and gardens left over from medieval times. It is very impressive If you come in at the bottom of the square and look up to the Cathedral:

REMEMBER - YOU HAVE TO PAY €10 (concessions - €8) to go inside. you get audio guide included. It is a TRIPLE TICKET: to the Cathedral, to the Museu d'Art and to the Colegiata de Sant Feliu. The ticket is valid for 48 hours for all the three sites. The audio guide takes you on a tour of the cathedral, cloisters and treasury. There is a toilet in the bottom floor , in the cloisters. Opening hours: July & august: 10.00 - 19.30, November to March: 10.00 - 17.30, Rest of the year: 10.00 - 18.30. Prices: ticket includes the Nave, Treasury and cloister, as well as the Basilica of Sant Feliu. Adult: 7 € (includes audio guide), Concessions: 5 € pensioners and students with ID (includes audio guide), FREE entrance: children under 7. To enter the Cathedral - you must climb its grandiose flight of 89 stairs. Fitness enthusiasts race up and down the steps in the early morning. Remember the magic scene from "Games of Throne" with the horse striding, slowly along the stairs to the Girona mighty Cathedral main entrance ? Parts of series 6 of "Games of Throne" had been filmed around this cathedral. Quite a demanding climb through these non-ending stairs. Standing atop the steep hill gives great views to get your breath back, Lovely looking around the outside:

The Cathedral Main Entrance:

Note: the Girona Cathedral and the Sant Feliu Church are two distinct, adjacent buildings. The Sat Felieu is a nice small church. Most of the time it is neglected by the visitors to Girona. It is just on the way to the Cathedral and most of the time people by it without visiting this nice small church.
The Girona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona (in Catalan: Catedral de Santa Maria de Girona). Its construction was begun in the 11th century in the Romanesque architectural style, and continued in the 13th century in the Gothic style. Of the original Romanesque edifice only the 12th-century cloister and a bell tower remain.
Above all looms high the bell tower (14th-16th centuries). Actually, the church has two bell towers. The oldest one, named after Charlemagne, is the surviving one of the two originally flanking the first Romanesque church (the other ceased to exist in the 14th century). Begun in the early 11th century, it has a square plan with six levels separated by friezes with Lombard bands and double windows. The new bell tower, begun in 1590 and completed (with a modified design) in the 18th century, has an octagonal plan. It houses six bells, the oldest one dating to 1574.

The Basilica Sant Feliu from the Cathedral:

The castle-like appearance Cathedral is equipped with Gothic naves and a Baroque façade (13th-18th centuries) begun in 1606, with the upper part finished in 1961. The sculptures decorating the three orders of the façade were executed by local sculptors in the 1960s. Other exterior features include the Gothic portal of St. Michael, on the northern façade, and the southern portico of the Apostles, from the 14th century. The latter originally featured sculptures of the Twelve Apostles, executed by Antoni Claperós in the 1460s, which have mostly been lost, aside from two depicting St. Peter and St. Paul, now in the church's chapter house:

The interior's single nave is surmounted by cross vaults, supported by Gothic buttresses. It is the widest Gothic nave in the world, with a width of 22 metres, and the second widest of any church after that of Rome St. Peter's Basilica (for comparison, the width of the nave of Reims Cathedral is 14.65 m, Saint-Étienne de Sens, 15.25 m and 12 m, in Notre Dame de Paris):

Spectacular architecture inside the Cathedral and you can see the wealth of the church reflected in the building and its decorations and artefacts. It houses also the Christ recumbent (1958), by Domènec Fita i Molat, and Tapestry of the Resurrection (1560):

More sights of the Girona Cathedral Interiors:

The high altar, in white marble, dates to the 11th century:

DO NOT MISS the Sean Scully stained-glass MODERN window:

and older stained-glass windows:

The Cathedral's Romanesque cloister is notable, featuring a series of columns with sculpted capitals: they depict fantastic figures and animals, and vegetable motifs. The cloister's galleries are home to numerous tombs of rich members of the monastery, dating to the 14th-18th centuries, one also by Master Bartomeu (1273). The frieze has scenes from the New Testament:

DO NOT MISS the Cathedral Treasury and Museum - the main highlight of the Girona Cathedral. Most of the cathedral’s extensive art collection is displayed in its treasury.

The most famous artefact  is the Tapestry of the Creation, a Romanesque panel of needlework from the 11th century that depicts humans and animals in the Garden of Eden along with portraits of Girona citizens, including members of the city’s prominent Jewish population:

Sant Felip Neri sculpture:

Thomas Aquinas Sculpture:

Tabernacle of the Altar:

Scenes of the Altarpiece:

Tapestry of the Pentecost:

The Blessed Virgin with the Child:

Altarpiece of St. Helen:

Lamentation over the Christ:

The Anunciation:

Chapel of Hope - a spectacular chapel with magnificent tapestries and exit / entrance to the Cloister:

From the Cathedral we shall continue to the Basilca de Sant Feliu and Carrer de la Forca - skip to Tip 2:

Barcelona - Les Corts, Sarrià-Pedralbes

Brenda Furley

Spain

Les Corts and Sarrià-Pedralbes:

Main Attractions: Pedrables Gardens, Palau Reial de Pedralbes, Pavellons Guell, Parròquia de Sant Ot, Statue of Antoni Gaudi, Carrer Major de Sarrià, Plaça de Sarrià, Monasterio de Pedralbes.

Duration: 1/2 day Distance: 9 km. (most of them in ascent) Public transport: L3 (the yellow line) to Palau Reial Metro station Start: Palau Reial Metro station. End: GFC Sarrià station or Monastery of Pedralbes.

Introduction: Les Corts is a district of the small town of Sarrià (now part of Barcelona).

Our itinerary: The Palau Reial Metro station is almost opposite the Pedrables Park. But, you have to cross the bustling Diagonal street ONLY through crossing lights. Head west on Avinguda Diagonal toward Carrer de Martí i Franquès, 140 m. Turn right onto carrer de John Maynard , Keynes, 25 m. Turn right onto Avinguda Diagonal. Find the main entrance to the Pedrables Gardens Park:

Some history: The whole grounds of the palace and the gardens were acquired by the count Eusebi Güell towards the end of the 19th century forming the Finca Güell. The pst existing building was remodeled by the architect Joan Martorell i Montells, who built a Caribbean-style small palace, together with a Gothic-style chapel and surrounded by magnificent gardens. Later the building remodeling was given to Antoni Gaudí. Gaudi designed and constructed the surrounding perimeter wall and the side entry pavilions. Gaudí also partially re-designed the gardens surrounding the palace, placing two fountains and a pergola and planted many Mediterranean plants like palm trees, cypress trees, magnolias, pine trees and eucalyptus. Eusebi Güell gave the house and garden to the Royal family, as a thank you for his noble title of Count given to him, in 1918. The house was then remodeled to become a royal palace. The work was done from 1919 to 1924 by the architects Eusebi Bona and Francesc Nebot. During Francisco Franco's regime it was used as a residence for Franco during his visits to the city.

Pedrables Gardens
The gardens at the palace, which are highly acclaimed for their beauty are one of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Barcelona. When you pass through the magnificent forged-iron entry door, a large space will welcome you. There is an elegant oval pond in the middle with the sculpture of a woman in its centre. In front, flower beds and, behind, a slight slope covered with grass and well-tended bay trees and orange trees, replete with a small waterfall - created by Carles Buigas,

the gardens feature palm trees, cypress, cedars, lime trees, fragrant eucalyptus, magnolias, acacias, and flowering plants. The highlight of the gardens is an ensemble of 23 Himalaya cedars (Cedrus deodara), and also pine trees (Pinuspea) located in the esplanade in front of the palace, and a white cedar (Tetraclinisarticulata) very close to the pond in the entrance. You'll discover four exceptionally rare ash trees (Fraxinusornus) and also a savin (Juniperusphoenicea). Other species that we can find strolling through the paths of the gardens: Atlas cedars (Cedrusatlantica), Japanese cedars (Cryptomeriajaponica), incense cedar Calocedrusdecurrens), several pine trees among which are: Pinushalepensis, cypress (Cupressusmacrocarpa), Arizona cypress (Cupressus glabra), white cedar (Thujaorientalis), lime tree (Tilia tomentosa), eucalyptus (Eucalyptusglobulus) and a little forest of bamboo (Phyllostachyssp.). As far as bushes are concerned: big laurels (Laurusnobilis), boxes (Buxussempervirens) and some strawberry trees (Arbutusunedo):

The most interesting sight in the palace gardens is the Font d'Hércules (Hercules Fountain), a fountain designed by Antoni Gaudí (1884). The fountain was rediscovered in the 1980s and was once completely hidden by dense vegetation. It has a bust of Hercules on top of a pillar with Catalonia's shield and a spout in the shape of a Chinese dragon. The dragon head is a spout from which the water bubbles and under is a stone spout with four bars on its front. There is a bench carved from stone on both sides and a marble bust on the pedestal from which the dragon head emerges:

Opening hours: from Nov 01 to Mar 31: 10.00 - 19.00, from Apr 01 to Oct 31: 10.00 - 21.00. Prices: FREE.

Palau Reial: If you continue up the path, the shady lanes will take you to the Royal Palace, located at the back of the park. The path opens up onto a semicircular square in front of the palace, surrounded on both sides by a large balustrade decorated with busts sculpted from white marble. Since the railing is located under the shade of the trees, this is a perfect place to sit for a moment and gaze upon the building:

The semicircular square, in front of the palace, is sunny and presided over by a white marble sculpture of Isabel II holding her son Alfons XII in her arms and a pond in the middle surrounded by flowerpots filled with geraniums:

The Royal Palace of Pedralbes served from 1919 until 1931 as the Barcelona residence of the royal family of Spain. It was the residence for the Spanish royal family when they visited Barcelona. The palace is formed by a central building four stories high, with a chapel on the back side and two three stories high side wings that form a curve with the front facade towards the front. The outside facade is done with Tuscan order columns forming two porches, with round arches and medallions and jars on the top. The interior of the building is of many styles both in decoration as in furniture, going from Louis XIV style to contemporary styles. The Palace own gardens were designed by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí, from a design that included, in a geometrically decorative area, lots of the trees already present, a pond with many decorative elements, Gaudi's fountain, bamboo benches, three lighted fountains by Carles Buïgas, the same designer of the Magic Fountain in Montjuïc and many statues such is the one of Queen Isabella II with her son Alfonso XII on the front of the palace, a work of Agapit Vallmitjana.

Today two museums are housed here: a ceramics museum (the Museu de la Ceramica) and a museum of decorative arts (Museu de les Arts Decoratives). The building resides in the middle of Pedrables Gardens in the district of Les Corts. The built complex houses also the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean.  It houses the famous Tinell room (14th century) which was used by the Reyes Católicos (Catholic King and Queen) to welcome Christopher Columbus following his return from America. The main access to the building from Diagonal Avenue is presided by a beautiful sculpture designed by Eulàlia Fàbregas de Sentmenat, and that bears the meaningful name of Mediterrània.

Museu de les Arts Decoratives: Since 1937 Palau Reial de Pedralbes serves as the Museu de les Arts Decoratives, a museum of decorative arts. The museum has a collection of Catalan and Arabic pottery , Catalan glassware, porcelain, wrought iron, furniture and many utensils from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Thereare, also, works by Miró and Picasso. Opening hours: Monday closed. Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 - 14.00. 

Museu de Ceramica: Palau Reial de Pedralbes is also home to the Museu de Ceramica, a ceramics museum. Founded in 1966. In 1990 the Museu de Ceramica was placed at the palace. This museum owns an impressive permanent collection of Spanish ceramic art spanning several centuries, from medieval pieces to contemporary works.

We exit the the Palau Reial de Pedralbes and Pedrables Gardens from the most eastern exit point. We head east, approx, 180 m. Turn left toward Carrer de Pere Duran Farell, 35 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Pere Duran Farell further 150 m. Turn right onto Carrer George R Collins and Pavellons Guell will be on the right after 40 m. Behind the estate's walls - you can't miss the beauty and colour of the giant mythological dragon from the Garden of the Hesperides, a synthesis of Gaudí's symbolism and craftsmanship. During the years 1884 - 1887 Antoni Gaudí landscaped the building and the garden of his patron Eusebi Güell's estate (Finca). From these years Eusebi Güell became Gaudi's main sponsor and patron. Gaudí proposed a fantastic-oriental design, somewhat reminiscent of Mudejar art. Gaudi designed and constructed is caretaker's house, stables and gatehouses. But, the main highlight is the wrought-iron gate in the shape of a dragon, that connects the house and the stables. Finca Güell's gatehouses have a stone base and brick parabolic arches with bright ceramic decorations in geometric shapes. On one side of the gate, a turret, crowned by plant motifs, features a medallion bearing the initials of the owner of the estate and the flower pot on top with an iron plant and flowers. In the centre, the dragon on the gate spreads its wings and its forked tongue. It represents the mythical never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon from the Garden of the Hesperides (the nymphs or daughters of evening), which commemorates Hercules' brilliant plot of stealing apples from the garden. The shape of the dragon corresponds with the position of the stars in the Serpens constellation, because Ladon was turned into a snake as a punishment for Hercules' stealing the oranges. This story was commemorated by the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer in his famous poem L'Atlàntida. Over the dragon there is an antimony orange-tree, another allusion to the Hesperides. the gatehouses consist of three small buildings, the central one being polygonal in plan and the others cuboidal. All three are surmounted by ventilators in the form of chimneys, faced with ceramics.

Opening hours: daily - 10.00 - 16.00. January 1st and 6th, December 25th and 26th: closed. Prices: adult - 5 euros, concessions - 2 euros. Guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays: 10:15 and 12:15, in English, 11:15, in Catalan, 13:15, in Spanish. Public transport: buses: 7, 33, 63, 67, 75, 78, H6, L14, L79, L97, Trams: T1/T2/T3-Pius XII direction: Palau Reial-Pavellons Güell. Overpriced site. A bit neglected. Allow no more than 15-20 minutes. Web site: www.rutadelmodernisme.com

Pavellons Guell external walls:

Pavellons Guell dome of the longeing ring:

The Stables: 

We continue climbing north-west along Av. de Pedrables. In the first intersection (on your right) with Passeig de Manuel Girona - we find the Dunosti Junior Bar: with 9.60 euros/person you get a full lunch: veggies salad + egg, burger with pommes frites or cow lever and dessert (ice-cream, fruit flan and soft drink. We continue eastward, deep into the Sarriá district, along Passeig de Manuel Girona.

Sarriá is a pretty neighbourhood in Barcelona's and was the last of the independent villages annexed by Barcelona in 1921. It was gobbled up by Barcelona and became the city's new uptown area, not only for its geographical location but also for its more posh homes, shops and restaurants. This former rural village became the place where Barcelona's well-based classes chose to live from the second half of the 19th century, due to its proximity to Collserola woodlands and its unique natural conditions, comprising green areas and springs. This could explain why it retains much of the original flavour and personality of its streets, buildings and local community. It is one of the city's most prosperous districts.  Sarriá still retains its own traditional architecture, with its typical food market and century-old shops. They have been joined by the typical summer villas of the Catalan Art-Nouveau, or Modernista period. The most important example is the Torre Bellesguard and its viaduct (Carrer de Bellesguard, 16), which were designed by Gaudí. Sarriá hardly has any tourism, as it houses virtually no hotels or grand tourist sights.

In the 2nd turn to the left of Passeig de Manuel Girona (intersection with Carrer d'Eduardo Conde) - you see on your left the Parròquia de Sant Ot, Passeig Manuel Girona, 25. Entrance by carrer Eduardo Conde, 1. An architectural attraction:

We continue walking EASTWARD along Passeig de Manuel Girona crossing Carrer del Dr. Ferran (on your left). On our left (north) we pass through the Institut Marquès - a private Spanish medical institution specialized in gynecology. Continuing eastward we cross Carrer del Capità Arenas. In the next intersection of Passeig de Manuel Girona with Carrer de Benet Mateu (under the Porta de la Finca Miralles) - we find the famous Statue of Antoni Gaudi (1999) by Joaquim Camps:

WE RETURN BACK WEST along Passeig de Manuel Girona (crossing, again,  Passeig de Manuel Girona on our right) and we turn RIGHT (north) to Carrer del Capità Arenas. Further, north, Carrer del Capità Arenas changes its name to Carrer de Fontcoberta. We turn right (east) to Passatge de Senillosa and continue climbing LEFT (north) to Carrer Major de Sarrià. Major de Sarrià is the main street in the Sarrià neighborhood in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district of Barcelona. Part of the street is pedestrian-only and is fluent with shops and restaurants:

THe ASCENT along Major de Sarrià brings us to the Plaça de Sarrià. On the square is the patisserie Foix, which is considered one of the best in Barcelona. In the square there are several cafes, where you can leisurely drink a cup of coffee. Also, there is the ancient church of Saint Vincent, built in the 10th century:

In the Plaça de Sarrià, Emili Armengol's sculpture, "Portal de Sarrià" (Gateway to Sarrià) (1993), expresses the union between the different villages that make up the district:

In this square you find the sign commemorating the founding of Sarria in year 1886:

With our face to the north - on our left is the Placa Consell de la Villa:

You'll find, also, in Plaça de Sarrià the Santamasa cultural centre and restaurant, Carrer Major de Sarrià 97. Their privileged locationis in a Gothic building from the 18th century in the main square, next to the beautiful church of St. Vincent of Sarrià, adds to the restaurant’s enchanting character. Santamasa offers a delightful menu, combining traditional ingredients with surprising elements; choose a coque topped with smoked salmon with mascarpone or perhaps a Japanese style burger with oriental flavors of teriyaki and sesame. The restaurant also prepares three different sorts of tartars and delicious entrées from hummus to mexican quesadillas:

Also found in the square - an old bakery founded in year 1903:

From the Plaça de Sarrià - you have two options. The first, completing your route, for today, and walking to the closest GFC Sarrià station. From Plaça de Sarrià head northwest on Plaça de Sarrià toward Passeig de la Bonanova, 20 m. Turn right onto Passeig de la Bonanova, 120 m. Turn right onto Via Augusta, 350 m and the GFC Sarrià station is on your right. Another option is extending your day and visiting the Monasterio de Pedralbes (if it is still open.... It CLOSES EARLY in the afternoon). It is 1.1 km. walk to the monastery. From Plaça de Sarrià head northwest on Plaça de Sarrià toward Passeig de la Bonanova, 15 m. Turn left onto Passeig de la Bonanova, 45 m. Continue onto Passeig de la Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 550 m and pass through Placa de la Reina Elisenda as well. Continue onto Carrer del Bisbe Català, 300 m. Slight right onto Baixada del Monestir, 35 m. Turn right to stay on Baixada del Monestir, 60 m. Turn left, take the stairs, 10 m. Walk for 100 m. and head southeast for 45 m. The Monasterio de Pedralbes, Baixada del Monestir, 9, is on your right. Opening hours: TUE - FRI: 10.00 - 14.00 (last admission at 13.30), SAT - SUN: 10.00 - 17.00 (last admission at 16.30), Holidays: 10.00 - 14.00 (last admission at 13.30). Closed on the following days:
1 Jan., Good Friday, 1 May, 24 June, 25 and 26 Dec. Prices: adult - €5.00, concessions - €3.50, children until 15 years (an adult companion required) - FREE, disabled persons: €3.50. Free admissions: 12 February (Santa Eulàlia), 18 May (International museum day), 24 September (Mare de Déu de la Mercè). Free admission with the Barcelona Card. The Monastery of Pedralbes (in Catalan: Monestir de Pedralbes), is one of the most beautiful buildings of the Catalan Gothic in Barcelona. The building from the early 14th century shows the everyday life of nuns. Religious art from the 14th to the 20th century is displayed in the monastery museum. The most famous highlights are: the three-storey cloister and the park inside the monastery. The monastery was founded by Queen Elisenda de Montcada and her husband, King Jaume II. The construction work of the monastery started in March 1326. On May 3, 1327 the nuns moved into the monastery. The monastery was built within just one year. Queen Elisenda chose its location in the village of Sarrià, which back then was far out of the city of Barcelona. The name "Pedralbes" derives from the Latin Petras Albas (white stones), a white stone which is the cornerstone of the apsis. It was not before the 15th century that the third and lowest storey was added to the cloister.
Monastery of Pedrables is a fine example of particularly homogeneous Gothic architecture in Catalonia. The Pedrables church, Cloister and garden are among the coolest sites in Barcelona - during the hot summer days.
On the eastern side of the Pedrables complex stands the church:

It has one nave. Inside the church, on the right side next to a presbytery - a choir:

Inside the church you find the Queen Elisenda's tomb: the sarcophagus is double-sided. On the cloister side Elisenda is figured as a mourning widow, on the church side as a queen:

The first interesting sight is the small St. Michael's chapel on the right-hand side by the church wall. It might be closed due to restorations. Its frescoes from 1343 depict scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary. Note the three-dimensional quality of the frescoes that remind of the Italian painter Giotto, who was considered the first modern painter in 3D:

There is no direct entry to the interior of the monastery from the church. The entrance is located only a few steps away from the church. You can enter the cloister from there. It is recommended to follow the route that leads through the monastery in an anticlockwise direction:

The cloister is the central structure around which the monastery is organized. Considered the world’s largest Gothic cloister, it has two galleries with twenty-six columns on each side made of limestone from Girona containing fossil remains:

On the north side of the cloister, there are several utility rooms, the nuns' day cells and the staircase to the second floor, half of those can be visited. The refectory, where the nuns had their meals, in silence, is located in the cloister, facing the Fountain of the Angel, where the nuns used to wash their hands. The antechamber, called De Profundis, still conserves the original wall cabinets, covered with tiles from Valencia dating from the 16th and 18th centuries, where the individual eating utensils were kept. This intermediate space was where the first prayer was said, addressed to the departed nuns and benefactors of the community:

The third floor is closed to the public.

The museum is housed in the former dormitory of the monastery. In a tour you can marvel at pieces of religious art as well as everyday objects of the monastery dating from the 14th to the 20th century. In the middle cloister there are several tiny cells in which the nuns used to pray.

Walking downstairs from the museum, you can continue the monastery tour through the lower cloister. On the west side, there are utility rooms, such as the dining hall and the kitchen, and in the basement the monastery's store rooms are located.

One of the store rooms contains a series of dioramas of religious scenes which depict the life history of Jesus.


The monastery certainly wouldn't be as beautiful and impressive without its park in the courtyard. You won't find a quieter place in all Barcelona - except for the birds singing in the trees and the gurgling of the Renaissance fountain in the centre of the courtyard you won't hear a sound:

The simplest way to return to Barcelona centre is via Sarrià GFC subway station. You have to walk 20 minutes to the Sarrià station. From Monasterio de Pedralbes head southeast on Baixada del Monestir. Turn left to stay on Baixada del Monestir. Baixada del Monestir turns slightly left and becomes Carrer del Bisbe Català. Continue onto Passeig de la Reina Elisenda de Montcada. Continue onto Passeig de la Bonanova. Turn right onto Via Augusta and the Sarrià station is on your right. Take Train S1 to Pl. Catalunya  (4 stops).

Barcelona - Tibidabo

Brenda Furley

Spain

1/2 day in Tibidabo Mountain:

Weather: ONLY clear day. Duartion: 1/2 day. The Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart is spectacular and is worth visiting at a leisurely pace because it is loaded with details, symbolism and history, that one can only perceive if one looks at it carefully. Distance: 1/2 km.

Introduction: Tibidabo is a 500 m. and the tallest mountain overlooking Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It provides spectacular views over the city and the surrounding coastline. On the summit of the mountain reside the Sagrat Cor church and adjacent Tibidabo Amusement Park. The Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower is also a short walk away. The church is topped by an impressive sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Josep Miret Llopart and designed by Enric Sagnier,

Public transport

The most conservative way of transport is the Tibibus, which runs every 20 minutes from Plaça de Catalunya to Tibidabo. The bus T2A operates, on days on which the Tibidabo Amusement Park is open, from 10.15 every 20 minutes.

Tibidabo can be reached via the Tibidabo Funicular, which was the first of its kind in Spain, and by the Tramvia Blau or road. The Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona minibus service 111 connects it to Vallvidrera village and the upper station of the Vallvidrera funicular. From Placa Catalunya Metro stations follow the L3 signs and then follow the signs of orange FGC  (or: train wagon symbol) . On the electronic board search locations and times of FGC S1 and S2 lines to Terrassa. The 8th stop in these lines is the Peu Tibidabo or Peu del funicular (train station). From there you take the cable car or elevator until Vallvidrera Superior. You just need one normal metro ticket for the whole combination of vehicles !

From there bus 111 ((ordinary ticket)) until the Basilica located on the summit of Mount Tibidabo:

The bus stops opposite the Basilica located on the summit of Mount Tibidabo: Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor or Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (in Spanish: Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús).

The building was designed by the Spanish architect Enric Sagnier and was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. The construction of the church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, lasted from 1902 to 1961 !!! The crypt was built between 1903 and 1911, and the main church was built between 1915 and 1951. The towers were completed afterward, with work officially ending in 1961. On 29 October 1961 the church received the title of minor basilica from Pope John Paul XXIII.

Even if you are walking up Rambla Catalunya or Passeig de Gracia, you always see the Tibidabo Basilica far on the horizon. The external appearance of the whole church looks like a Romanesque fortress of stone (from Montjuïc) The monumental neo-Gothic church is accessed by two grand outdoor stairways. The upper church has a central floor with an octagonal dome on eight columns. To many people it shows similarity to the Basilica de Sacre-Coeur in Paris or the Sacro Cuore di Gesu in Rome (see our Tipter blogs in France and Italy). Opening hours: 11.00 - 20.00 (winter: 18.00) for the cathedral. Remember: the elevator to the top and the funicular to the mountain close, both,  earlier: so make sure to be here before 19.00. Prices: the Basilica itself is FREE. The elevator to the top is 3.00 Euros:

The façade of the lower Crypt has a richly decorated tympanum with sculptures by Alfons Juyol i Bach following the design of Eusebi Arnau. The sculptures represent the Virgin of Mercy, Saint George, and Saint James, the patron saints of Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain, respectively. The crypt facade consists of three semicircular arches on columns, inserted under a larger semicircular arch, originally decorated with a mosaic of the Holy Trinity by Daniel Zuloaga (destroyed in 1936). In 1955 it was redecorated by the Bru Workshop of Barcelona; the work depicts an allegory of the devotion of Spain, represented by its patron saints:

The Lower Crypt  Interior:

The crypt was designed in a neo-Byzantine style, combining Gothic and classical elements, and decoration close to Modernisme. The space of the crypt consists of five naves separated by columns, the central one being wider, all with semicircular apses. The walls and vaults are lined with alabaster or decorated with mosaics, with scenes relating to the dedications of the altars: Mary Help of Christians, Saint Anthony of Padua, the Blessed Sacrament, Saint Joseph, and the Virgin of Montserrat. Polychrome alabaster is also used for the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) sculpted by Josep Miret:

The windows that bring natural light inside are complemented by stained glass windows with the following topics: the largest in the arch, in the corners, represent the appearance of the Our Lady of the Pillar and the conversion of King Reccared I to Catholicism; Saint Ferdinand and Saint Hermenegild are represented in the two large vertical windows; and the small ones located above the door are dedicated to Joachim, Isidore the Farmer, Saint Anthony and Saint Elizabeth of Portugal:

On both sides of the main door of the crypt there are two wide and winding staircases that lead to the top patio (there is also an elevator). The right hand staircase leads to the tiny primitive chapel (built 1886), financed by the Barcelona aristocrat Dorotea de Chopitea, which is situated on the highest point of the mountain, and contains an image of the Sacred Heart.

The upper church (last stop of the elevator) is square with three apses, a large central tower, and four lower towers marking the four corners of the square, and statues of the Twelve Apostles sculpted by Josep Miret. The main facade has three sections, the central wider, chaired by the figure of the Archangel Michael in the arch of the main entrance, and John Bosco in the pediment above. Over the left door is the statue of Teresa of Ávila and over the right, Marguerite Marie Alacoque. Above the door is an open gallery of arches with tracery.

The upper Basilica towers from the upper viewing terrace of the Basilica:

The last stop the elevator makes is the second terrace. This allows visitors also to go around the temples, and see the backs of the 12 apostles:

and gain access to the viewpoint at the top of the temple, first by an outside staircase, then via an interior one. The staircase also leads to the main terrace (518 m2), with beautiful views of Barcelona, the sea, the main entrance of the crypt, and Tibidabo's theme park:

The Tibidabo Amusement Park from the upper viewing terrace of the Basilica:

The upper Temple Interior: The interior is divided into a nave and two aisles with semicircular apses, with stained glasses and four rose windows on the facades. In the main altar stands the great crucifix, a work by Joan Puigdollers:

The eight stained glasses of the dome depict scenes from the life of Jesus:

The church is crowned by the enormous bronze statue of the Sacred Heart made by Josep Miret in 1950, replacing the original made by Frederic Marès in 1935, and destroyed the following year. The ascent from the Crypt, passing through the church and ending at the sculpture, reflects the rise and the purification of the human condition by means of sacrifice and devotion. The Jesus Christ bronze statue above your head resembles of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ statue of Corcovado:

The approximately 520-meter-high Tibidabo is the highest mountain in the Collserola mountain range and shields the city from the weather of the hinterland. The Tibidabo is worth it alone because of its breathtaking view. On a clear day, you have a vision to Montserrat:

From the distance - you see from Tibidabo mountain the Collserola TV tower is like a needle pointing towards the sky. It has been an iconic part of the Barcelona skyline since the year of the Olympics, 1992. its observation deck is the highest in the city and provides spectacular views of Barcelona and its surrounding area. You can sometimes see as far as 70 kilometres. The Collserola communications Tower was designed by the British architect Norman Foster. The complex comprises a service and maintenance building and the 445-metre-high tower, which has stood since 1992 on the hill known as Turó de la Vilana located in the Sarrià Sant Gervasi district. The glassy observation deck, 560 metres above sea level, is located on the tenth platform which is reached from inside the tower by means of a lift taking the public to the deck in under two and a half minutes. The highest point of this tower is actually the highest place you could be in the city of Barcelona. Bus line 111 (see above)  connects the Tibidabo with the Conserolla Tower. Alternatively, if you first want to visit the tower, you can use the F.G.C. (Calatan transport companies, integrated in the metro network of Barcelona) line S1 or S1 to station "Peu de Funicular" and proceed with the funicular up to the mountain station. This is situated in the small village Vallvidrera. To the tower there are about 500 metres to go. Opening hours: WED – SUN: 11.30 – 14.30, 15.30 – 19.00. Prices: Adult: 5€, Child: FREE.

At the top station of Cablacarca which leads to the top of Tibidabo, is the Parque d'Atracccions. The amusement park offers a few good round-about, Ferris wheel and roller coaster with similarly grandiose views. Attractions also include the vending machine museum Museu d'Automates del Tibidabo on the grounds of the amusement park:

You can catch marvelous views of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor from the park's grounds:

View of the mountains in the west from the Amusement Park:

In Tibidabo Square, in front of the main entrance to the Basilica, you will find the Club del Aventures (The Adventurers Club) restaurant, which offers you a varied offer of salads, tapas and sandwiches. It has a terrace, heated indoor dining room and Wi-Fi service. Open: from 10.00 am to the closing time of the amusement park. From 10.30 to 11.30 you can enjoy a breakfast offer for only € 3.50: mixed sandwich + coffee or latte (available only on days that the amusement park is open):

We use the same means of public transport in our way back: catching bus #111 back to the Vallvidrera Superior stop. Going down with the elevator to the Peu del Funicular underground train station. Catching S1 or S2 trains  (from platform/Via 2) back to Placa de Catalunya.

Barcelona - Barceloneta

Brenda Furley

Spain

Barceloneta:

Main Attractions: Museu de la Xocolata, El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, Estació de França, Barceloneta Metro station, Plaça del Gas, Parc de la Barceloneta, Peix Olímpic sculpture of Frank Gehry, Mercat de Barceloneta, Barceloneta Metro station.

Start: Barceloneta Metro station (L4, the yellow line) or Museu de la Xocolata or Arc de Triomf. End: Barceloneta Metro station. Duration: 1/2 day. Weather: bright day please. Distance: 5 km.

Note: This 1/2 day route can be combined with the El Born itinerary. The El Born route ends in the Arc de Triomf (which is, formally, in Eixample district of Barcelona. This Barceloneta 1/2 route can be started in the Arc de Triomf (as extension/continuation of the El Born walk) or in any other place like: Museu de la Xocolata or in the Barceloneta Metro station.

You may start this itinerary in Barceloneta Metro station (see below).

In case you continue Tipter itinerary of El Born - ending at Arc de Triomf:

From the Arc de Triomf head southeast on Carrer de Roger de Flor toward Av. de Vilanova, 20 m. Turn right onto Av. de Vilanova, 100 m. Turn left toward Passeig de Lluís Companys, 120 m. Turn right onto Passeig de Lluís Companys, take the stairs, 140 m. Turn right onto Placeta del Comerç, 25 m. Continue onto Carrer del Comerç and after 280 m. - you'll see the Museu de la Xocolata,  Carrer del Comerç, 36 on your right (smelling the chocolate flavor far earlier...). The Carrer del Comerç is shady and pleasant, during the hot days, only from 14.00.

The Museu de la Xocolata is a small museum. More suitable for children and sweet-dent people. A good option for cold and/or rainy days. Nice sculptures of chocolate. We don't think it is worthwhile the full admission price. Opening hours: Summer (15 JUN - 15 SEP): MON - SAT: 10.00 - 20.00, SUN and Holidays (June 24, August 15, September 11, September 24, October 12, November 1, December 6 and December 8): 10.00 - 15.00. Rest of the year: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN and Holidays(June 24, August 15, September 11, September 24, October 12, November 1, December 6 and December 8): 10.00 - 15.00. The Chocolate Museum will be closed on 1 and 6 January, 25 and 26 December. Prices: Adult: €6, Students and Seniors: €5.10.

In case you continue your El Born itinerary and combine it with this Barceloneta route - you are, here, around the midday and looking for a good restaurant around. From the heavenly smelling Museu de la Xocolata - head south on Carrer del Comerç toward Plaça de Pons i Clerch, 60 m and turn left onto Carrer de la Princesa for 20 m. The Rincon de la Ciudadela restaurant, Carrer de la Princesa, 50 is on the right. With a menu of 10 euros/person - you'll get a hearty, filling, delicious and reasonably-priced lunch with quiet, pleasant atmosphere around.

250 m. from the Chocolate Museum - we return to our start point of the El Born itinerary - the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria. From the Museu de la Xocolata - we head south on Carrer del Comerç toward Plaça de Pons i Clerch, 150 m. We turn right onto Carrer de la Fusina, 20 m. and turn left onto Plaça Comercial. The El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, Plaça Comercial, 12 is 80 m. further on the left (see: Tipter El Born blog).

From the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria head southeast on Plaça Comercial toward Passeig del Born, 80 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Ribera, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer del Comerç, 90 m. Turn left onto Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera, 60 m. and Estació de França, with its ornate appearance, is on the right. Estació de França or in Spanish: Estación de Francia ("France Station") is one of the major railway stations in Barcelona. It is the second busiest railway station after Barcelona-Sants. It may lose this status, with the construction of Estació de la Sagrera, planned for completion at the end of 2017, that will concentrate most of the traffic. The railway station was first built in the 19th century as the main terminus for trains arriving from France (as its name still suggests), but also for services to North East Catalonia and the Costa Brava. In 1926, Barcelona was undergoing sweeping transformations and preparing itself for the 1929 International Exhibition. One of the projects was the Estació de França, designed by the engineer Andreu Muntaner and the architect Pedro Muguruza. The station was closed for renovation between from 1988 and 1992, reopening for the Olympic Games of 1992. The station's role as the terminus for international trains from and to France in 2013. The new high-speed daytime services to Paris, Toulouse, Lyons and Marseilles, all call at or terminate, nowadays, at Sants station. The station is often also used as backup terminal when parts of the railway network are undergoing maintenance. Despite its size and beauty, few trains run from the station today. The two monumental buildings that make up the station (the train shed and the lobby) were designed by the architect Pedro Muguruza and inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII. It is, undoubtly, the city's most beautiful station. It is worth seeing the Franca station with its decoration in marble, bronze and crystal, and Modernista and art déco (or Art Nouveau) motifs. There is a curved glass and metal canopy over the 12 tracks and seven platforms, a fine example of wrought-iron architecture, filling the train shed with natural light and creating a spacious area. An elegant clock keeps accurate time in the lobby. Part of the original building now belongs to Pompeu Fabra University, serving as its "França building":

Estació de França station cafeteria:

From Estació de França we head to the heart of Barceloneta quarter with a significant deal of walk (approx. 950 m.).  From the Estació de França we head southwest on Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera toward Carrer del Comerç, 250 m. Turn left onto Pla de Palau, 190 m. On our right the Barceloneta Metro station. This is a good starting point for whatever itinerary there may be to adventure through La Barceloneta. The yellow line, L4, which is the metro line that stops at La Barceloneta, is the most popular for pickpocketing. Slight left onto Carrer del Dr. Aiguader, 120 m. Turn right to stay (the southern side of the avenue) on Carrer del Dr. Aiguader, 40 m. Turn left to stay on Carrer del Dr. Aiguader, 280 m. The Gas Natural Fenosa building (Edificio sede de Gas Natural), Plaça del Gas (with the giant symbol of butterfly), is on the right. Gas Natural Fenosa is the biggest gas company in Barcelona:

A strange, Modernista, Art-Deco tower (Torre de aguas de la antigua fábrica de gas) stands opposite the headquarters of the Fenosa Gas company. This water tower was built in 1905 in Modernista style architecture, designed by the engineer Claudi Gil Serra in 1868 and resides, actually in Parc de la Barceloneta.

Parc de la Barceloneta lies on the site of the former Catalana de Gas factory, which was pulled down in 1989. Parts of the factory have been preserved as a reminder of one of the industries Barceloneta specialized in during the 19th century: gas. This broad, green space, with paved paths, fluent with pine trees and extensive spaces of grass, spreads out beneath the Ronda del Litoral at the end of Barceloneta and serves as a communication link between the ring road and the beach. The park is organised into three large areas. The first, built around the remains of an old gas tank, is an open space that links Passeig Marítim to C/ Doctor Aiguader:

The second part consists of large slopes, separated by paved paths, and the third is the football pitch. We cross the park heading to the sea front. Here, stands a monument of Simon Bolivar designed by Julio (July) Maragall:

With our face to the sea and our back to the park - the left side is the south and the right side is the north. Walking further SOUTH (left) will bring us (1.7 km.) to the W Barcelona hotel (see: Tipter "Port Vell" blog). We take to nort side and turn right - walking, consistently, along the beach northward. It is a 450 m. (7-8 minutes) walk to the giant Peix Olímpic sculpture of Frank Gehry, Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas, 2. The sculpture faces the Plaça Charles Darwin. The sculpture had been installed In 1992 for the Barcelona Olympic games. Barcelona was transforming its seafront. A new Olympic Marina was built and shaped, Frank Gehry placed his fish sculpture between two towers: on one side stood the MAPFRE Tower; on the other was the Hotel Arts. The animal sculpture is 56 metres long and 35 metres high and seems to be longing to jump into the blue waters of Barcelona eastern beachfront. It is made of stone, steel, and glass. Its copper-colored shiny metal plates sparkle in the sunshine and make the sculpture a real eye catcher. The sculpture can be seen from several of Barcelona's beaches. The Canadian architect Frank Gehry was born in Toronto in 1932 and currently lives in Los Angeles. His best known works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), the Dancing House in Prague, the NY By Gehry in New York City and The Experience Music Project in Seattle (USA). Gehry’s work is normally classed as “post modernist” or “Descronstructivism”:

We shall trace back our steps and RETURN SOUTHWARD along Passeig Maritim with our back to the Peix Olímpic sculpture. This picture has been taken from south to north:

We walk back from north to south approx. 850 m. - passing Carrer del Gas and Parc de la Barceloneta on our right and, the Mediterranean Sea waterfront on our left:

Then, turn right (south-west) onto Carrer d'Andrea Dòria (near the sign pointing to Mercat de Barceloneta). We enter, now, the heart of Barceloneta. Originally a fisherman’s quarter, this quaint area still ows a small village feel: laundry hanging over the narrow, dark streets, old ladies talking from their balconies and elder gentlemen playing
games on short wooden benches. This is the place to try some of the best and most authentic seafood. La Barceloneta is considered one of the best places to try fresh fish or Paella in Barcelona. A great selection of tapas are also offered off any menu. The most typical of the tapas of La Barceloneta would be called the "Bomba: a ball of potatoes filled with meat and the selection of spicy sauce.

We walk along  Carrer d'Andrea Dòria passing Carrer de Soria (the 5th road on our left)

and Carrer de la Vila Joiosa (the 11th on our left):

In the end of Carrer d'Andrea Dòria, on your right, is Mercat de Barceloneta. It is a bit crazy busy but that can add to the fun. Amazing photo-ops - despite the crowds and the discomfort.

Turn right (north) to Carrer de l'Atlàntida. In the end of this road - you arrive to Carrer de la Maquinista. Turn LEFT (west)  to this lovely road. Walk westward along Carrer de la Maquinista. The 3rd road on your right is Carrer de la Sal:

Walk along Carrer de la Maquinista until its wester end and turn RIGHT (north) to Passeig de Joan de Borbó (see: Tipter "Port Vell" blog). Walk northward 250 m. along Passeig de Joan de Borbó until it meets Carrer del Dr. Aiguader. In this intersection - you'll hit the Barceloneta Metro station.