Spain Trips

Seville - Day 4 - Barrio Santa Cruz, Casa de Pilato, Alfalfa, Plaza de la Encarnación and La Seta, Plaza Nueva

Hanna Ling

Spain

Seville - Day 4 - :  Barrio Santa Cruz, Casa de Pilato, Alfalfa,  Plaza de la Encarnación and La Seta, Plaza Nueva.


Main Attractions: Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, Plaza de Doña Elvira, Plaza Santa Maria la Blanca, Casa de Pilatos, Pl. de la Alfalfa, Plaza Pescaderia, Plaza del Salvador, Casa de la Memoria, Plaza de la Encarnación + Parasol, Plaza Jesús de la Pasión (Plaza del Pan), Plaza Nueva, Puerta de Jerez.

Start & End: Prado de San Sebastian. Distance: 13-14 km. Weather: Nice day only. We are staying in outdoor/urban spaces. Orientation: Busy day. Expect special experiences - different than the former 3 days. More off-the-beaten-path sites - but, still, wonderful attractions. The route includes several hidden gems of Seville. Very rewarding day ! Duration: full day.

4th day Itinerary: we start our 4th day in repeating a section from our 3rd day in Seville. We start at Pl. Don Juan de Austria - where Avenida Carlos V intersects Av. de Menéndez Pelayo. We enter Jardines Muriilos and cross the gardens from south to north. On our left - the Sant Cruz quarter walls:

In the middle section of the gardens - turn left onto Calle Antonio el Balarin, take the stairs, 110 m. Turn left onto Callejon de Agua, 80 m:

Turn right onto Calle Justino de Neve, 65 m. In the end of this road - stands the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes (Hospital of Venerable Priests) - a Baroque 17th-century building which served as a residence for priests. It currently houses the Velázquez Center, dedicated to the famous painter Diego Velázquez. It is located in the Plaza de los Venerables, in the center of the Barrio de Santa Cruz and close to the Murillo Gardens, the Seville Cathedral and the Alcázar. The hospital was founded by Justino de Neve in 1675, to be the residence of the venerable priests. Construction began that year, under the direction of the architect Juan Domínguez. In 1687, the project was taken over by the architect Leonardo de Figueroa who completed the building in 1697. The church was built in 1689, and is dedicated to San Fernando. The hospital was funded by the brotherhood, charity and the monarchy until 1805 when the it could no longer be adequately supported. In 1840, the hospital became a textile factory and the former residents were moved to the Charity Hospital. Complaints from the brotherhood led to a Royal Order in 1848, which returned their property and allowed the priests to return to their old home. The Plaza de the Venerables has been named after the priests since 1868:

The artistic highlights are the wonderful church and its ornate decoration and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation’s collection of 17th-century paintings in the Centro Velázquez. It’s not a big collection but each work is a masterpiece of its genre – highlights include Diego Velázquez’ Santa Rufina, his Inmaculada Concepción, and a sharply vivid portrait of Santa Catalina by Bartolomé Murillo. It is a gem. Unforgettable suprise in Santa Cruz quarter. An island of calmness, nobility and beauty. Do not miss ! Note the restricted opening hours (during half-a-week !): THU-SUN: 10.00 - 14.00. Prices: 10 euros (during summer 2018: 8 euros). FREE - 1st Thursday of every month. Online booking: https://fundacfocusabengoa.expertustech.com/#/landing

Church Hall Ceiling:

Hospital Cloister:

Santa Rufina:

Photos from the hospital TV presentation:

From Hospital los Venerables, Plaza Venerables - head southwest on Calle Gloria toward Calle Pimienta, 30 m. Continue onto Plaza de Doña Elvira, 20 m. Doña Elvira square is one of the most beautiful squares in Seville and Barrio Santa Cruz. This square arose in the neighborhood’s redevelopment between 1918 and 1922, led by the municipal architect Juan Talavera y Heredia. Popular Sevillian legend state that this was the site of the house of Don Gonzalo de Ulloa, father of Doña Elvira, for whom the Plaza is named, from “Don Juan Tenorio” de Zorrilla. This square is included in most classical tours of the city, which is why is mostly filled during the day with numerous groups of visitors, both from Spain and abroad. Adding to its charm is its exclusively pedestrian character, its layered accesses, and, as if by surprise, its carefully curated central flowerbeds, benches, fountain and orange trees. In addition, the square is surrounded by buildings with a marked Sevillian flavor, with restaurants, terraces and souvenir and crafts shops:

We leave this square with our face to the north along Calle Rodrigo Caro. In the beginning of thos road (the south end) resides La Cueva restaurant:


The windows of houses along Rodrigo Caro are-irin-railed and painted in Turquoise. Calle Rodrigo Caro ends with Pl. de la Alianza. Pl. de la Alianza turns left and becomes Calle Rodrigo Caro, 40 m. Turn right onto Pje. Andreu. Head east on Pje. Andreu toward Pje. de Vila, 50 m. Continue onto Calle Ximénez de Enciso, 120 m.

Note Calle Ximénez de Enciso #30:

Calle Ximénez de Enciso ends, in the north, in Plaza Santa Maria la Blanca.
The Church of Santa María de las Nieves in Seville, better known as Santa María la Blanca, is located in the historic area known as the “Judería”, where Calle San José meets Calle Santa María la Blanca. It is very famous for its ceilings. It was a synagogue built in the thirteenth century. The history is marvelous: the building used to be a synagogue before the Inquisition and many details remain. There is an original Murillo to be seen, quite a wonderful church and well worth stepping in from the street to its hushed interior. In 1391, after the massacre and forced conversion of the Jews, it was transformed into a Christian church, being rebuilt in the middle of the 17th century with funding from Justino de Neve y Yébenes. It is the seat of the Brotherhood of the Rosario de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. In addition to this remarkable historical evolution and the interesting artistic heritage it conserves, the temple stands out as one of the most dazzling examples of Andalusian architecture from the first Baroque period. It earns its dynamism and typically Baroque chromatic richness thanks to the plaster work and the paintings that decorate the interior of the church. Its floor plan is simple. The church has a rectangular floor plan, with the chancel and two naves, also rectangular, attached to the wall of the Epistle. Inside, it has three naves divided into six sections by 10 Tuscan columns of red marble. Above them, there are arches that support barrel vaults with false lunettes in the central nave and arched vaults in the lateral naves. In the last two sections of the central nave, before the presbytery, a dome is erected on pendentives, illuminated by two lateral oculi. The presbytery is covered by a barrel vault with lunettes. Entrance is FREE. Open: MON-SAT:

Impressive art work inside, glorious altar and unforgettable ceiling. The interior is very grand and the ceiling is stunning:

We leave the church - continuing north-west along calle san Jose. We pass, on our right (north-east) Calle Levies. Memorizing the Levy Jewish Family. Samuel Levy was the treasurer of several Spanish kings. In the end of San Jose, in the square, we turn right onto Calle Conde de Ibarra. We turn LEFT to Calle Vidria and, then, RIGHT to Calle Águilas. We walk eastward along Calle Águila and in the 2nd turn to the right (south) we enter Plaza de Pilatos. Here, we find the Casa de Pilatos. Casa de Pilatos means "Pilate's House," the nickname given to this prototypical Andalusian place because its owner in the 1520s visited Jerusalem, returned, then created for Lent a step-for-step replica of the Way of the Cross, tracing 1,321 steps from a chapel in his palace to a spot outside the city walls. Far from the beaten path of tourists. A wonderful mansion. Worth visiting for the tiles alone. Amazing decorative features. Unbelievably decorated rooms. It is Moorish architecture, but, full with Roman sculptures. Beautiful courtyard gardens. A place for Azulejos tiles fans. Opening hours:  daily, NOV-MAR: 9.00 to 18.00, APR-OCT: 9.00 to 19.00. Prices: Complete House ticket: 12€ (with a guided tour to the upper floor), Ground Floor ticket: 10€. Photos are NOT allowed in the 2nd floor. Both prices include an audio-guide per person, available in: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German and Japanese.

First we see the sculpture of Zurbaran:

Sweet Almonds in the entrance:

1st floor - you are free to wander with no guidance around:

Patios and Corridors around the main courtyard and gardens in the 1 st floor:

2nd floor:

Back to the 1st floor. Paintings of Bartholomeo Murillio(1617-1682):

Mudejar ornamentation in the 1st floor:

1st floor - Barouque ornamentation:

Roman Sculptures:

Casa de Pilatos - the Gardens:

From Casa de Pilatos - head southeast on Calle Caballerizas toward Calle Águilas (very narrow road), 10 m. Turn right onto Calle Águilas, 220 m. Continue onto Calle Alfalfa, 80 m. and enter Pl. de la Alfalfa with your face to the west. Plaza Alfalfa is full with bars, restaurants and history: Sal Gorda, Alcaicería de la Loza, 23; Bar Alfalfa, Calle Candilejo, 1; La Bodega, Plaza Alfalfa, 4; Habanita (Cuban cuisine), Calle Golfo, 3; Casa Antonio, Calle Perez Galdos, 13; Beodo Craft Beer, Calle Pérez Galdos, 22. Nightlife activity in the heart of the city center starts with the area around Plaza Alfalfa, most notably on Calle Perez Galdos and several surrounding streets. A collection of smaller bars attracts a lively mix of Spaniards and visitors with the activity beginning close to midnight. Popular spots include el Cabo Loco, Sopa de Ganso and Berlin, which stays open until the early morning hours. Just down the street on Calle Siete Revueltas is El Mundo, with live flamenco on Thursday nights, and a mixed crowd. The square is equipped with drinkable water facility. With our face to the west - we take the left "leg" (south) of Calle Jesús de las Tres Caídas. Next, we turn to the right (west) onto Cuesta del Rosario. On our right (north) is Plaza Pescaderia. In the 18th century it was called Costanilla. In 1815 the fish market was established here and it was called Pescadería. in 2006 when they discovered archaeological remains of a cistern and decided to integrate it into the environment by putting a glazed structure that allowed to see from the street, as well as a staircase to access them. But that was in theory because, although the structure is, the glass does not allow to see the interior Today, it is said that they are trying to recover it:

We continue walking westward along Cuesta del Rosario, 130 m. Continue onto Calle Villegas, 50 m.Continue onto Pl. del Salvador, 30 m. Turn right to stay on Pl. del Salvador, 40 . Plaza del Salvador, A STUNNING SQUARE, is an open space located in the quarter of Alfalfa and the district of the Old Town of Seville, which takes its name from the Salvador church: from the 17th century, that is the second biggest church in the city after the cathedral. In the past it was named the square of the Cemetery or the square of the Cemetery of the Salvador because it partly hosted the cemetery of the parish. In its origins it may have been a recreational place to socialize, since the Andalusian period because of its proximity to the Aljama mosque and maybe because it hosted the souk (market) described by Ibn Abdún in the 11th century. In the Middle Ages it hosted a water storage that came from the aqueduct Caños de Carmona in the southern point of the street and a stone cross which is now located in Calle Villegas was set up in 1608. In the middle of the 19th century this place was remodeled and it was created a tree-lined linear garden in the center of the place through a project of Balbino Marrón. As it was not much appreciated, it was removed and Isidoro Heredia created a new project for this place. A monument to Martínez Montañés was erected in 1923, in 1970 the orange trees were replanted and finally, the last remodeling was carried out in 1983 to make it walkable. The most meaningful buildings in the square are the Salvador church, which is the headquarter of the religious brotherhood of El Amor and La Pasión, and the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Paz. Salvador square is always a busy square, but, by the end of the day, it is almost packed. This square has a pleasant ambiance created by the large open space surrounded by the classic Spanish architecture of the multi-storied buildings. Many people go to one of the bars to have a sherry after work. A long queue for entering the church. Prices: adult - 8 euros, concessions: 4 euros.

Salvador church is the second largest church of Seville after the Cathedral. Construction works begun in 1674 with architect Esteban García and finished in 1712 with Leonardo de Figueroa. It was based on the remains of the Mezquita Mayor, which was then the main mosque of Seville. From this Arabic building of the 9th century, still remain its Patio de Abluciones and the basement of its tower.

Inside the temple, the major altarpiece should be highlighted, because it is considered to be one of the most monumental and representative works of the Baroque style in Seville as well as the colossal altarpiece of the façade of the sacramental chapel, which is dedicated to the Transfiguración (Transfiguration), both are works by Cayetano de Acosta (1770- 1779).
It is dominated by a marvelous silver altar which houses the famous sculpture of the Passion of Christ, by Martínez de Montañés, approximately carried out in 1619. Its procession takes place in the evening of Saint Jueves. The Retablo mayor from 1770-1779 by Cayetano de Acosta:

From the northern side of Salvador Square we continue walking NORTHWARD along Calle Cuna. In the the 1st intersection with Calle Cerrajeria - we see this house:

We arrive to the Sevilla - Centro Cultural Flamenco "Casa de la Memoria", Calle Cuna, 6. Flamenco cultural center in 16th-century courtyard house, with museum & nightly live performances. Opening hours: SUN-SAT: 11.00 - 22.00:

We walk northward along Calle Cuna until its end. In the end, we turn right (east) onto Calle Laraña. As we turn right, we see, on our left, in Calle Laraña, a famous ice-cream shop La casa Abuela (medio - 3.50 euros). On our right - the Seville University - Facultad de las Bellas Artes. When Calle Laraña changes (further east) to Calle Imagen - on your left (north) you see enormous square:  Plaza de la Encarnación with the architectural marvel of the Parasol. In the centre of the Plaza de la Encarnación stands a huge tree with band of players and musicians:

It used to be a car park but has been transformed by a new piece of architecture the Metropol Parasol

Metropol Parasol is a wooden structure located at La Encarnación square that was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011. It has dimensions of 150 by 70 metres and an approximate height of 26 metres  and claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Its appearance, location, delays and cost overruns in construction resulted in much public controversy. The building is popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnation's mushrooms). The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms ("Las setas" in Spanish), whose design is inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. Metropol Parasol is organized in four levels. The underground level (Level 0) houses the Antiquarium, where Roman and Moorish remains discovered on site are displayed in a museum. In Level 1 (street level) there is a market "Mercado de la Encarnacion" (on the basement). You can buy fruits and vegetables there. The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 are the two stages of the panoramic terraces (including a restaurant), offering one of the best views of the city centre. This space is called the Plaza mayor in Seville. What is called a square is, in fact the roof of the new Encarnacion market. Very different to other squares in Seville, this square houses the modern Metropol Parasol. AN ARCHITECTURAL WONDER ! Worth visiting to go to the top of the Metropol Parasol for great views of the city.You can climb the stairs to the upper levels or using an elevator from the ground floor (6 euros/2 persons). Note: There is a restaurant at the ground level which gives food or drink in exchange for your admission ticket, so the visit is essentially FREE. If you really want your refund - descend to street level, walk around the base of the mushrooms to the south west corner of the plaza, and you’ll find the bar that accepts the vouchers, facing the street. As we said, there are great views of the city from the top. only a small part of the view is particularly compelling. Mostly just staring at uniform rooftops. Probably best to go around sunset. Construction began on June 26, 2005, with an estimated cost of 50 million euros and a projected completion date in June 2007. However, unknown to the public, the project soon faced difficulties. By May 2007 engineering firm Arup informed the municipal authorities that the structure was technically unfeasible as designed, given that a number of structural assumptions had not been tested and the design appeared to violate the limitations of known materials. The wood used was birch, imported from Finland, because of its straight qualities. Much time was spent developing feasible alternative plans to buttress the structure, which themselves proved impractical because of the added weight. A feasible design using glue as reinforcement was finally settled on only at the beginning of 2009. By some estimates, due to delays, the total cost of the structure approached 100 million euros. AMAZING AREA:

Our Tip: Go just before sunset and you’ll get a fabulous view of the sun dipping behind the hills to the west of the city. It is probably best to go after dark, as the structure is beautifully lit and the night vistas of Seville are terrific:

From Las Setas De Sevilla, Pl. de la Encarnación - head SOUTH  toward Calle Imagen, 60 m. Turn right onto Calle Imagen, 5 m. Turn left onto Pl. de la Encarnación, 55 m. Turn right to stay on Pl. de la Encarnación, 35 m. Turn left onto Calle Puente y Pellón, 140 m. Slight left onto Calle Lineros, 65 m. Continue onto Plaza Jesús de la Pasión, 40 m. Plaza Jesús de la Pasión (Plaza del Pan) was, in the past, a square-market for bread and other necessities. The Plaza Jesus de la Pasión, better known as Plaza del Pan, is located in a busy area, in the heart of the city, between the squares of Alfalfa and El Salvador. This square, present throughout the history of the city and linked to its commercial life, has always been a meeting point, in the nineties it was a space where people stayed to drink outdoors before leaving, and during the day it has always been counted with watchmen. In the first decade of the twenty-first century after an intervention on the public spaces of the environment known as "the sensitive skin" this square has tried to consolidate its character as a room or lounge, eliminating traffic and complementing its urban furniture. The latter continues to be a public controversy, especially when talking about lampposts, too "modern" for the most conservative sector of the city. In any case, it is a very pleasant place, especially the European bar tables, which has small handicraft businesses on the facade of the church and others as picturesque as Cira brides.
A unique enclave and place to be. The Ice-cream shop, here, Bolas - is very famous. A long queue of clients is always waiting for its turn:

The El Divino Salvador Church (we've already browsed it) is adjacent, west to the Plaza del Pan. Head south on Plaza Jesús de la Pasión toward Calle Villegas, 40 m. Turn right onto Calle Villegas, 50 m. Continue onto Pl. del Salvador, 35 m. Turn left onto Calle Álvarez Quintero, 100 m. Turn right onto Calle Chicarreros, 60 m. Turn left onto Pl. de S. Francisco, 60 m. Turn right to stay on Pl. de S. Francisco, 40 m. Turn left toward Pl. de S. Francisco, 35 m. Turn right onto Pl. de S. Francisco, 40 m. Turn right to stay on Pl. de S. Francisco, 15 m. Turn LEFT (west) onto the extensive Plaza Nueva, 65 m. Very probable that you meet musical bands playing year under the huge plane trees:

From Plaza Nueva - we continue south on Calle Barcelona toward Calle Joaquín Guichot, 55 m. Turn right onto Calle Joaquín Guichot, 15 m. Turn left onto Calle Jimios, 35 m. Slight right onto Calle Harinas, 120 m. Continue onto Puerta del Arenal, 20 m. The Puerta del Arenal was one of the 19 gates of the wall of Seville , Andalusia , Spain . It was demolished in 1864, it was located on the current García de Vinuesa street. Our last destination (as every day) is Puerta de Jerez. We can walk from Puerta del Arenal to Puerta de Jerez via the Cathedral, via Paseo Cristobal Colon and Totte del Oro or via another urban way - not discovered yet during our previous 3 days in Seville. We shall make this intermediate way of 600 m. Head southwest on Puerta del Arenal toward Calle García de Vinuesa, 15 m. Turn left onto Calle Arfe, 150 m. Turn left onto Calle Almirantazgo, 55 m. Turn left to stay on Calle Almirantazgo, 60 m. Turn right onto Av. de la Constitución (formeerly visited), 270 m. Continue onto Puerta de Jerez, 50 m.:

Seville - Day 2 - From Catedral de Sevilla to Hotel Alfonso XIII (Puerta de Jerez)

Hanna Ling

Spain

Seville - Day 2 - From (Prado San Sebastian) Catedral de Sevilla to Hotel Alfonso XIII (Puerta de Jerez and Prado San Sebastian):

Tip 1 Main Attractions: Jardines de Murillo, Santa Cruz quarter / Zona Monumental,  The Giralda, Catedral de Sevilla. 

Tip 2 Main Attractions: Real Alcázar de Sevilla.

Tip 3 Main Attractions: Archivo de las Indias, Puerta de Jerez, Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Start: & End: Prado San Sebastian - circular route. Distance: 7-8 km. Weather: The beginning and end of our itinerary are in open spaces. 2/3 of the day is devoted to the Cathedral and the Alcázar. Keep in mind you should queue-in for these two site (at least, 1/2-1 hour/each). Indoor Times: allow 1 hour (min.) for the Cathedral and 2-3 hours for the Alcázar. Allow minimum 1-1.5 hours for queuing-up.

Day 2 Itinerrary: We took the #28 bus from our IBIS hotel in Seville (5 stops) to Santa Justa (one of Seville main bus stations). From there we continued with the EA bus to Prado San Sebastian (5 stops). North to the bus station of Prado San Sebastian extends Avenida Carlos V. We walk along Avenida Carlos V from east to west. On our right is the Placio de Justica (Sevilla Courts). We cross Mendez Pelayo (crosslights) and continue westward. On our right: the Jardines de Murillo which are the result of a 1911 gift from the Huerta del Retiro del Alcázar. Quite extensive gardens. Its final design is the work of architect Juan Talavera y Heredia. The gardens present a composition based on grid paths formed by hedges and sidewalks which create octagonal roundabouts where they meet, with fountains in the centres and benches covered with tiles. The flowerbeds are filled with dense masses of vegetation, giving the park an intimate atmosphere. The gardens end at the Plaza de Refinadores, presided over by a statue dedicated to Don Juan Tenorio. Recommended gardens. Nicely maintained, lots of orange trees and little fountains. Home of the Christopher Columbus monument. Haven for some quiet time when touring the city. Amazing trees with over century history. In the Medieval times was one of the biggest Jewish cemeteries in Seville. The gardens border the Alcázar:

A bit north to Columbus monuents (with our face to the north) we turn LEFT (north-west) and walk along Calle Antonio el Balarin.  On our left the Muslim Walls from the 12th-14th centuries:

 It is 10 minutes walking to the Santa Cruz quarter or Zona Monumental. Continue onto Plaza Alfaro, take the stairs, 256 m. Slight left onto Calle Lope de Rueda and continue 90 m. further. All around - marvelous antique doors and houses:

The Hotel Murillo Sevilla Center, Calle Lope de Rueda, 7 is on your left:

We turn left and right to arrive to Calle Jamerdana. Head northwest on Calle Jamerdana toward Calle Ximénez de Enciso, 35 m. Turn left onto Pje. de Vila, 10 m. Continue onto Pje. Andreu, 35 m and turn left onto Callejón Consuelo, 15 m. Head northwest on Callejón Consuelo toward Pje. Andreu, 15 m. Slight left onto Pje. Andreu, 10 m. Turn right onto Calle Rodrigo Caro, 50 m. We shall approach the Catedral de Sevilla from Santa Cruz quarter. 

Turn left onto Calle Mateos Gago, 130 m.

Turn left onto Pl. del Triunfo, 10 m.  The Giralda is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral. It was originally built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville in al-Andalus, Moorish Spain, during the reign of the Almohad dynasty, with a Renaissance-style top subsequently added by the Catholics after the expulsion of the Muslims from the area. The Giralda was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Alcázar and the General Archive of the Indies. The tower is 104 m in height and remains one of the most important symbols of the city, as it has been since the Middle Ages. We queue up quite a long time until we enter the Cathedral through the  Moorish entrance, which is defined by its ornate fountain, where worshippers could wash their hands and feet before their daily prayers. Preserved pieces of various religions contribute to the overall magnificence of this sight.

Seville’s main mosque was constructed between the years 1184-1198, though its conversion to a Cathedral in 1248 would later lead to major reconstruction. These changes gave the Cathedral a dramatic, Gothic appearance that was largely characterized by its massive size. Despite mass reconstruction, two parts of the original mosque were preserved: the Moorish entrance and the Giralda Bell Tower.

Bear in mind there is a long and exhausting queue for the cathedral. We spent 1/2 hour in the sun. Sometimes - not easy. Tickets available to buy online in advance to avoid the queue. Enter at the "door of the prince", take the left side with pre-booked tickets. You can purchase a combi ticket at Church of El Salvador, Seville’s second largest church which is about 5 mins walk from the Cathedral, for the same price (€9). With that same ticket, just walk right through the entrance to the gate near the ticketing counter to enter the cathedral. Do note that the entrance for Group and Individual tourist is different. Even after you entered the cathedral - it is busy. You cannot avoid the herds of visitors even in top of the Giralda tower. So many selfies and fuss around. We would recommend getting there early.

southwestern side of the Cathedral - Door of the Prince:

Door of the Baptism:

You cant visit Seville without taking a look at Seville Cathedral, one of the most famous Roman Catholic Cathedrals which is spectacular inside as well as outside. Take time to visit the many side chapels of this UNESCO World Heritage site and you will breathless with the incredible ceilings and art work. Many people state that this is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world ! It is the third-largest when compared to the Neoclassical Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. Allow 2 hours to visit the cathedral - including the Giralda tower.

A symbol of the Christian Reconquest over the Moors, the cathedral was constructed between 1402 and 1506 on the site of the town's 12th-century Great Mosque. The cathedral has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting its cultural and historic importance. The splendour of the Cathedral is furthered by the influence of the Renaissance, where work in the Royal Chapel, the Main Sacristy, and the Chapter House was carried out. Massive building with many very ornate features and rich catholic icons. The cathedral is beautiful and contains stunning art and religious objects. A magnificent building with superb architecture.

The interior extends 117 meters in length, 76 meters in width, and soars to 40 meters in height. The five-aisled interior is laid out on a rectangular floor plan, and the space is notable for its beautiful lines and overall sense of harmony:

The choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave:

Sacrisitia Mayor (the treasures and the gallery): The treasures of the temple can also be remarked, as a large number of paintings by Murillo, like the portraits of San Isidoro and San Leandro; pictures like Santa Teresa, of Zurbarán, and the sculpted head of San Juan Bautista.

Great sacristy ceiling:

The Cathedral keys:

Internal court of the the Main Sacristy:

Capilla del Pilar:

Altar de Plata - The so-called Silver Altar is an ephemeral monument that was mounted to celebrate the liturgical celebrations and for the greater glory of the Sacrament. Formerly it was erected before the High Altar during the octaves of the Corpus and the Immaculate.

Central area, with the large demonstrator shaped like the sun, under which the image of the Virgin of Granada is placed, with San Isidoro and San Leandro on either side:

Capilla de San Francisco - when we arrive before the Chapel of San Francisco we see, in the frontal wall, a showcase in whose interior is a bust of an Ecce Homo, anonymous Sevillian of the XVII century:

Ecce Homo . Anonymous Sevillian of the seventeenth century:

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is magnificent. The tomb houses some of his relics, and the font in the baptistery Chapel of Saint Anthony which contains the painting of The Vision of Saint Anthony (1656) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Incredible gold altar wall befitting the resting place of a world explorer. This monument created by Arturo Mélida in 1892 was originally built for the Cathedral of Havana in Cuba, but was brought to Seville after the loss of Cuba in the Spanish-American War of 1898:

The side chapels of the Seville Cathedral contain an abundance of art treasures, opulent tombs, and stunning altarpieces. Notable works include the Guardian Angel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, displayed to the right of the Puerta Mayor. The baptistery Chapel of Saint Anthony (in the second chapel in the North Aisle) contains another painting of The Vision of St. Anthony (1656) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. In November 1874, it was discovered that thieves had cut out the portion depicting Saint Anthony. The Saint Antonio Chapel also displays the Baptism of Christ and The Infant Christ appearing to Saint Anthony of Padua. Among the finest sarcophagi found in the side chapels are the Gothic monument of Juan de Cervantes in the Capilla de San Hermenegildo and the Plateresque-style tomb of Archbishop Mendoza in the Capilla de la Antigua:

Capilla de los Dolores:

Capilla de San Pablo:

Inside the cathedral is a spectacular golden altarpiece. This altarpiece and the Tomb of Columbus are the two main highlights of the cathedral. The most spectacular part of the interior is undoubtedly the golden Retablo Mayor (main altarpiece) in the main chapel of the Seville Cathedral. This magnificent masterpiece was designed by the Flemish craftsman Pierre Dancart who worked for forty-four years on the reliefs, starting in 1482. The altarpiece was finally finished in 1564 with help from other artists. Large iron grilles, forged between 1518 and 1532, separate visitors from the altarpiece. The Retablo Mayor, the largest altarpiece in the world, consists of thirty-six gilded relief panels depicting scenes from the old testament and the lives of saints. At the altar in front of the wall of gold sits a statue of Santa Maria de la Sede, the patron saint of the Cathedral:

Natural light in the cathedral is scarce, because the windows are small and bear beautiful stained glasses. Illuminating the interior are 75 stained-glass windows dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The oldest windows are the work of Cristóbal Alemán and Arnao de Flandes. A decorative 16th-century reja (grille) encloses the choir, which boats ornately carved Gothic stalls created from 1475 to 1479:

The tower (included in entrance price) provides spectacular views. Great view from top but it’s a long climb up. The top accessed by 34 ramps and one set of steps. The bells are quite loud if you happen to be up top when they strike! A warning though: there are a number of steep spiral stairways to navigate, so probably not suitable for those with mobility issues. This iconic Moorish tower is the most emblematic landmark in Seville. Formerly an Islamic Minaret, the Giralda Tower is one of the few remaining elements of the original Great Mosque that was replaced by the cathedral. The tower was built in the 12th century by Islamic rulers of the Almohad dynasty, who hailed from the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. Architect Alí de Gómara designed the brick section of the tower, which exemplifies Moorish design with its decorative arched niches and geometric patterns typical of buildings in Andalusia. The nearly 100-meter-high tower is now the cathedral's Bell Tower. At the top is the 16th-century El Giraldillo weather vane, an enormous bronze statue of a female figure bearing a cross to symbolize Faith. Tourists may climb to the top of the Tower for sensational views over the city. Admission to the tower is separate from the cathedral and opening times are also slightly different:

Bells of the Giralda tower:

The Organ of The Catedral de Sevilla:

Puerta del Lagarto (near the Patio de los Naranjos:

The Patio de los Naranjos large courtyard contained within the cathedral precinct is a beautiful way to leave the cathedral underneath the orange trees. This patio was the ablutions courtyard of the mosque and is entered through a fancifully decorated Moorish gate, the Puerta del Perdón, that was the main entrance to the mosque. In the center of the patio is an octagonal fountain, a relic of the Islamic midha used for ritual washing before entering the mosque, a custom in the Muslim faith. As the name suggests, the patio is planted with orange trees. During springtime when the flowers are in bloom, a heavenly fragrance of sweet citrus blossoms permeates the courtyard:

The Cathedral from Puerta del Perda:

The Giralda from the Door of Prince: 

Opening hours: MON: from 11.00 to 15:.30, TUE to SAT: from 11.00 to 17.00, SUN: from 14.30 to 18.00. July and August (except July 17 and 25): MON from 10.30 to 16.00,  TUE to SAT from 10.30  to 18.00, SUN from 14.00. to 19.00. Closed: January 1, January 6, December 25. Reduced hours (11.00 to 13.00): January 5, December 24 and 31. Prices: The entrance includes a visit to the Gothic Cathedral, the sacristies and the Renaissance chapter house, the treasury, the Giralda, the patio of the orange trees and the Church of El Salvador located in the Plaza del Salvador (600 meters from the Cathedral). Prices: General admission: € 9 (does NOT include audio guide, the price of which is € 3 if requested), reduced ticket : 4 € Pensioners / Students up to 25 years old (DOES NOT include audioguide, the price of which is € 3 if requested), FREE admission: children up to 14 years of age accompanied by an adult, handicapped, FREE - Mondays from 16.30  to 18.00. 

The Cathedral from Pl. del Trio(u)nfo during the afternoon hours:

From Pl. del Triunf we continue (200 m. walk) to the Puerta del Leon: the main entrance of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Skip to Tip 2 below.

Seville - Day 1 - Plaza de España

Hanna Ling

Spain

Seville - Day 1:

Main Attractions:  Parque de María Luisa, Plaza de España, 

Start: Prado de San Sebastian. End: Prado de San Sebastian. Distance: Circular Itinerary of 10 km. Weather: Sunny day only. Public Transport: in Prado San Sebastian we bought a plastic card of 24 rides in Seville for €16.90.

Day 1 Itinerary: we leave the main bus station of Seville in Prado San Sebastian and walk south, crossing Parque de María Luisa. The park is full with shade of its trees and provide you with its fountains for your feet. Here you can even swim, if you are not confused by such a reservoir. Pleasant rest for those who are tired and want to replenish the balance of power. The Parque de María Luisa is the most famous park in the city and one of its green lungs . It opened as a public park on April 18, 1914 with the name of Infanta María Luisa Fernanda Urban Park. These spaces, which in principle were part of the private gardens of the Palace of San Telmo , was donated in 1893 by the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Bourbon , Duchess of Montpensier , city. The park was built with the Plaza of Spain and America on the occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville in 1929, constituting one of its main attractions. Beautiful plants and trees with giant roots. There are fountains and statues. Also several banks to sit. It will be nice to be in the shade in the summer:

The park from Plaza America:

On the southern side of the park - is the consulate of Portugal  on Av. Portugal. If you walk along Av. Portugal (southern side of the Cosulate of Portugal) and continue eastward along Avenida Portugal, and, then, cross Av. Portugal from north to south - you arrive to the marvelous Plaza de España. You see a Building with the writing "Puerta de Aragon". Walking through the gate of this building - will bring you to the wonderful square of Plaza de España:

Enter this gate to see the marvelous ceramics inside (you'll see hundreds of them in Plaza de España - see below):

The Plaza de España ("Spain Square") is a plaza built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture. In 1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair, located in the celebrated Maria Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa). It was designed by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier. The entire southern end of the city was redeveloped into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards. The centre of it is Parque de María Luisa, a 'Moorish paradisical style' with a half mile of: tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches, and exhedras; lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds; and with vine hidden bowers. Numerous buildings were constructed in it for the exhibition (along with many of the pavilions you can see in and around the Parque Maria Luisa). The Plaza de España, designed by Aníbal González, was a principal complex built on the Maria Luisa Park's edge to showcase Spain's industry and technology exhibits. González combined a mix of 1920s Art Deco and 'mock Mudejar', and Neo-Mudéjar styles. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain:

Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building, with a tower at either end (tall enough to be visible around the city, these towers - north and south - are major landmarks). In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal - the Plaza is known as "the Venice of Seville". A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of horse-and-carriage rides. You can also rent boats to travel around the semicircle of water:

Plaza de Espana will take your breath away. This site will blow your mind and senses. It encapsulates whole of Spain and its glory. It is an heavenly place. We don't remember where we shot hundreds of photos - like in this majestic square. Plaza de Espana of Seville is a place you won't forget for years. We spent here more than 6 hours ! Sitting in an alcove on a sunny spring day was a real treat and an ideal way to rest our feet and watch people go by. Many people state that this is the most beautiful square in Europe (rivaling the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca). What a beautiful place to walk around and admire the amazing architecture. You can spend hours there to relax and soak in the wonderful atmosphere!!!

Measuring 50,000 square metres, the Plaza is the size of five football pitches. The building has a ground level portico and first-floor balustrade with balconies stretching along its length. For taking photos, the balconies are a prime spot, reached by staircases, as you can get the whole sweep of the building. The magnificent central balcony is especially impressive.

All along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colourful Azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). Spanish tourists have photographs taken of themselves with family and friends on their home province's bench.

In a further regional reference, the four bridges represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.

Today the Plaza de España mainly consists of Government buildings. The Seville Town Hall, with sensitive adaptive redesign, is located within it. The Plaza's tiled 'Alcoves of the Provinces' are backdrops for visitors portrait photographs, taken in their own home province's alcove. Towards the end of the park, the grandest mansions from the fair have been adapted as museums. The farthest contains the city's archaeology collections. The main exhibits are Roman mosaics and artifacts from nearby Italica:

The Plaza de España has been used as a filming location, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The building was used as a location in the Star Wars movie series — Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) — in which it featured in exterior shots of the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo. It also featured in the 2012 film The Dictator.

Madrid - from Puerta del Sol to Palacio Real de Madrid

Hanna Ling

Spain

Madrid - from Puerta del Sol to Palacio Real de Madrid:

Part 1 Main Attractions: Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, Calle Mayor, Plaza de la Villa, Catedral de la Almudena, Plaza de Oriente, Sabatini Gardens, Plaza de Isabel II, Calle de Arenal, Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés,  Chocolatería San Ginés, Perez the Mouse Museum, Puerta del Sol.

Part 2 Main Attractions: Puerta del Sol, Restaurante El Callejón, Plaza del Callao, Gran Vía, Grassy Edifice is in Gran Via #1, Edifico Metropolis, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza De España, Palacio Real, Opera Metro station.

Start: Sol Metro Station. End: Opera Metro Station. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 9 km. Weather: Bright or quiet day.

Our ItinraryWe start at the Puerta del Sol square and the adjacent Metro station. Puerta del Sol ("The Gate of the Sun") square is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. Originally it was the site of one of the city's gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square's name. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads, located in the very heart of the city, not far from Plaza Mayor. Outside the Casa de Correos is a stone slab on the pavement marking Kilometer Zero - the official starting point for Spain's 6 National Roads. The square is actually almost semi-circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation work carried out between 1854 and 1860. This is a vibrant part of the city - full of bars, restaurants and shops. Leading off the Puerta del Sol are several streets, amongst which we can name Arenal Street, Calle de Alcalá, Calle Mayor, and Calle Preciados, this last one a pedestrianised street on which large department stores such as El Corte Inglés and FNAC are located, together with international clothes shops such as Zara, H & M, Bershka and many more. Many old and historic shops selling traditional goods may be found close to this historic square.

The square is dominated by the monument to King Carlos III

and the famous bronze sculpture of "the bear and the strawberry tree" ("El Oso y El Madroño"). on 25th September 2009, this statue was returned to its original location at the East side of the square, below the famous "Tío Pepe" advert. This was the statue's location when it was placed here in 1967, so it has simply returned home. The Oso & Madroño is the official symbol of the city although with an unclear origin - it seems that there used to be many bears in the fields around Madrid although the original symbol was supposed to be a female bear (osa). And the strawberry tree seems to be have actually been a hackberry tree (almez), which was once in abundance around Madrid:

If you look to the "flat" south side of the semi circle you will see a clock tower, part of a building known as the "Real Casa de Correos". This clock tower with its bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes at a new year celebration that's been broadcast live on the Spanish national TV since 1962.

We exit the Puerta del Sol from its southern edge. Continue onto Calle Mayor, 230 m. Turn left onto Calle de Felipe III, 35 m. Plaza Mayor, originally known as "Plaza del Arrabal", was built during the Habsburg rule period and is a central square of Madrid, located only a few blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Rectangular in shape, the square measures 129 by 94 meters, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with a total of 237 balconies facing the Plaza, nine entryways and a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under their porticoes. Casa de la Panadería, a municipal building, dominates Plaza Mayor. In the course of history, the square has hosted many different things, including markets, bullfights, soccer games, and even public executions of condemned heretics back in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. The square was redesigned with gardens, but those were removed in 1936. At the center of the square is a bronze statue of King Philips III, constructed in 1616 by Juan Cristóbal González, Jean Boulogne and Pietro Tacca.  Plaza Mayor as we know it today is the work of the architect Juan de Villanueva who was entrusted with its reconstruction in 1790 after a spate of big fires. The statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the centre of the square until 1848. This place is excellent to hang out or start an interesting tour. The Plaza Mayor, a grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid is very popular with tourists and locals alike. The symmetrical rectangular square features a uniform architecture. The Plaza Mayor has been the scene of multitudinous events: markets (Christmas Market), bullfights, soccer games, public executions, etc. The Plaza Mayor also has a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under its porticoes. Celebrations for San Isidro (patron saint of Madrid) are also held here. The Plaza Mayor is now a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of tourists a year:

The Casa de la Panadería: It is a municipal and cultural building on the north side of the Plaza Mayor. It is four stories high, the ground floor comprising porticos and the top floor in the form of an attic, with its sides crowned by angular towers. At the top center of La Casa de la Panadería, there is a Spanish Coat of Arms. They are the royal Spanish arms from the reign of Carlos II.

From Plaza Mayor exit and walk north toward Calle Mayor, 35 m. Turn left onto Calle Mayor, 160 m. Turn left to stay on Calle Mayor, 40 m. Turn right onto Plaza de San Miguel and the Mercado de San Miguel is on your left, 25 m. further. No holiday in Madrid is complete without a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel in the heart of the Old Madrid. Established in 1916, Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest and most alluring markets in Madrid. With its stunning 20th-century glass walls, it could easily be considered among the finest examples of iron and glass architecture in the Spanish capital, alongside the city’s Crystal Palace in Parque del Buen Retiro. It really is a must for gourmets and gourmands alike. The market is housed in a glass fronted 20th century Art-Deco (Beaux Arts) building and is known as the Cultural Culinary Centre of Madrid. There are over 50 individual stalls, each run by a specialist in his chosen field, e.g. fresh fruit, vegetables, fish or meat. You can browse through the stands of locally grown fruit and vegetables where the odor of herbs and spices fill the air; nothing here has seen the inside of a freezer, none of the produce is ready-packed in plastic and the layout of the goods is an art in itself. The fish stalls display a vast range of rather ugly-looking seafood, fresh from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the produce on sale is Spanish, but you will also find charcuterie from France, Viennese Patisseries and a selection of fine European cheeses. The market also contains several cafes, restaurants and shops selling books on Spanish cuisine and kitchen utensils. The only thing a bit off-putting about this really great market is the number of signs forbidding potential clients from touching the produce, so you won’t be able to pick and choose your purchases. Mercado de San Miguel is not only the most popular market in town, but a genuine “culinary cultural center”. In 2000, it was declared Bien de Interés Cultural (Property of Cultural Interest), and nowadays, after a major restoration project, it has become a gastronomic temple with a vibrant, high-quality food scene:

From Mercado de San Miguel - head west on Plaza de San Miguel, 30 m. Turn right to stay on Plaza de San Miguel, 45 m. Turn left onto Calle Mayor and walk 50 m. to see, on your right the building at #66:

Calle Mayor, the name of which reflects its importance, runs from the Puerta del Sol to the Royal Palace. Back in the Middle Ages this was the main street of Madrid housing shops of silversmiths, coopers and fletchers who used to sell their wares to the rich merchants passing by to the city center. Today, Calle Mayor is renowned for its boutiques, cafes and restaurants, much as for excellent street musicians and a number of peculiar buildings associated with historic personalities and events. At N° 48 you will find the Cervantes House Museum, a place where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, #1 Spanish writer was born. N° 61 is the narrowest house in Madrid, measuring only 5 meters across. Pedro Calderón de la Barca lived in this narrow house at no 61, next to the Queen Mother's former pharmacy.

Continue west  on Calle Mayor toward Plaza de la Villa, 30 m. and turn left onto Plaza de la Villa (opposite Calle Mayor #72), 35 m. If you would like a bit of quiet in the heart of busy Madrid, the best place to go is Plaza de la Villa, not far from Plaza Major. This small, medieval square is surrounded by lovely buildings, each with its own story. Among them is Madrid’s old Town Hall (Casa Villa), built in 1696 and renowned for its graceful stained glass windows and frescoes by Antonio Palomino. Remarkably enough, at some point this building was used as a prison. Adjoining the town hall by an archway is Casa de Cisneros (see later, below), an early Spanish Renaissance castle built in 1537. It boasts a Plateresque façade, quite rare in Madrid, and an outstanding collection of fine tapestries. The nearby Casa and Torre de Los Lujanes are supposedly the oldest buildings in the city; the tower dating back as far as the early 15th century. According to a legend, King Charles 1st imprisoned King Francis 1st of France here after the battle of Pavia in 1525. The reason for that the French King's refusal to show respect to and bow his head to the captor, upon which King Charles ordered the tower door to be lowered, so that Francis would have to bow when entering and leaving the building. That gave people an impression that the French monarch was indeed bowing to their king. In the center of the square stands a statue of Alvaro de Bazen, the Spanish admiral who planned the Armada and, remarkably, never lost a battle in his entire 50-year-long career. The statue was sculpted in 1888 by Benlliure and was set in the plaza in 1980:

THe building in N° 88 went down in history in 1906 when the anarchist Mateo Moral attempted to kill King Alfonso XIII along with his bride on their wedding day by throwing a bomb from this house's top balcony. The royal couple was unhurt, but there were many innocent victims in memory of which a monument has been erected opposite the house:

From Calle Mayor, 88 - head west on Calle Mayor toward Calle de Bailén, 30 m. Turn right onto Calle de Bailén, 60 m and the mighty Catedral de la Almudena, Calle de Bailén, 10 is on your left. It stands opposite opposite the Royal Palace. A Baroque-style cathedral which is less than twenty years old. This lovely church was designed by the Marquis Francisco de Cubas. Construction of the church began in 1879 on the site of a medieval mosque. The original plans gave the church a Gothic Revival style with a Neo-Classical cupola. One unusual feature about the church is its orientation – North-South, instead of the traditional East-West. Construction of the church limped along for over 50 years and it was abandoned entirely during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Work started again in 1950 under the direction of Fernando Chueca Goitia who adapted the original plans and gave the church its present day Baroque style:

The cathedral was completed in 1993 and was consecrated by Pope Jean Paul II, a statue of whom is to be found in front of the building. Don’t miss the bronze doors by Sanguino which bear the legend of the discovery of the image of the Virgin in the 15th century.

The interior of the cathedral is modern Neo-Gothic, with many small chapels and statues of contemporary artists in diverse styles. The crypt is Neo-Romanesque with a 16th century image of the Virgin de la Almudena. In 2004 new paintings by Kiko Arguello were hung in the apse.

Capela del Confession:

Almudena Cathedral - Capella Santimisma:

Madrid - Almudena Cathedral - La cruz de Lampedusa:

The Virgin of Almudena (Virgen de la Almudena) is a medieval icon of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. It serves as a patroness of Madrid. One story is that in 712, prior to the capture of the town by the advancing Muslim forces, the inhabitants of the town secreted the image of the virgin, for its own protection, inside the walls surrounding the town. In the 11th century, when Madrid was reconquered by the King Alfonso VI of Castile, the Christian soldiers endeavored to find the statue. After days of prayer, the spot on the wall hiding the icon crumbled, revealing the statue. Another legend is that as Christian soldiers approached the town, they had a vision of Mary imploring them to allow her to lead them into the city. Again the miraculous crumbling of the wall occurred, with the icon showing an entry route through the walls. The original Virgin of Almudena statue is on display at Almudena Cathedral. The Cathedral of Madrid is dedicated to this advocation of the Virgin and her feast day, 9 November, is a major holiday in Madrid. La Virgen de la Almudena.

The original Virgin of Almudena statue is on display at Almudena Cathedral:

From Catedral de la Almudena we head north on Calle de Bailén and slight left onto Calle Requena for 190 m. Turn left toward Plaza de Oriente, 65 m. Turn right toward Plaza de Oriente for 35 m. further. Turn left toward Plaza de Oriente, again, for 35 m. and you see the Palacio Real on your left. Come closer for 120 m. to watch the guards:

Plaza de Oriente is a very beautiful plaza with many beautiful gardens. It resides between the Royal Palace (west) and the Royal Theater (east) in the heart of Madrid. The plaza is glowing with its brilliant white color all around. Nice place to have a stroll but it is very crowded during weekends or nice afternoons. Area is nice with statues, open spaces, cafe etc and of the course the amazing view of the royal palace in all its glory.

During our visit in Madrid in Spring 2018 - the main characters of Las Meninas, Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece that hangs in the Prado Museum, have wandered off the canvas and stepped forward into central Madrid sites.  Las Meninas is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, one of the Spanish Golden Age’s leading artists, who worked in the court of Philip IV. The painting, which is one of the star attractions of Madrid’s Prado Museum, depicts the young princess Margarita Teresa surrounded by several members of the court, including her ladies in waiting, dwarves and, in the background, Velázquez himself. 80 sculptures of Las Meninas (‘the ladies in waiting’) placed in iconic spots around the Spanish capital, from the bustling Puerta del Sol to the Plaza Mayor, its grand central square. The artwork is the brainchild of Spanish sculptor Antonio Azzato, who designed the sculpture and recruited a group of artists, fashion designers and singers to help decorate the Meninas. Each artist applied his/her own technique, so each Menina is a unique, one-off artwork. The sculptures remained on the streets of Madrid until July 2018, were made from fibreglass and were 1.8 metres tall and weighed 30 kilograms:

 

Plaza de Oriente - Statue of Reinando Isabel Segunda de Borbon, behind it is the Royal Palace:

If you walk from Plaza de Orient a bit to the north and cross Calle de Bailén from east to west - you enter the  Sabatini Gardens. These Classical-style gardens were built in the 1930s on the site of the former stables. Located in front of the north façade of the Royal Palace, the gardens, whose construction began during the Second Republic, were completed after the Civil War. Their architectural and ornamental styling as an extension of the Royal Palace were enhanced on account of the exhibition of several sculptures that were originally planned to decorate the cornice of the palace. Their geometric design and fortunate location make them some of the most beautiful gardens in Madrid. Although they look spectacular at any time of the day, at dusk they are truly magnificent, as it is one of the best sites in Madrid from which to watch the sunset. From the large rectangular pond in the centre of the garden, surrounded by fountains, trees, and white marble sculptures, your can contemplate how the yellow and red tones alter the colouring of the gray stones of the Palace, and watch the sunset from the perspective of the Casa de Campo:

 We leave the Sabatini Gardens from the south-east edge and head, again, eastward. We cross Calle de Bailén from west to east and continue eastward along  Calle de San Quintín for 140 m. Calle de San Quintín turns slightly right and becomes Calle de Arrieta, 170 m. Continue straight onto Plaza de Isabel II, 40 m. Opposite you see the Teatro Real. This squre is commonly called also the Opera Square. The square occupies part of the site where between 1738 and 1817 was the old Theater of Los Caños del Peral - due to the fountain with 7 piles and their corresponding pipes that were once used to drink and wash clothes, as well as an ornamental element. Under the surface of the square, entering through the entrance of the metro, you can access the Museum of the Caños del Peral where remains of the old fountain are preserved. On the surface a new fountain has been installed in memory of the old Fuente de los Caños del Peral , but with smaller dimensions. Between 2008 and 2011, the square underwent a new urbanization. 

Teatro Real in Plaza Isabel II:

Head south on Plaza de Isabel II toward Calle de Vergara, 30 m. Turn left to stay on Plaza de Isabel II, 55 m.

Continue onto Calle del Arenal, 220 m. The name of Calle de Arenal t is derived from the word "arena", meaning "sand", and refers to the sandy banks of a small stream which flowed along this route in medieval times. During the time when the Moors ruled this part of Spain, from the 8th to the 12th centuries, this was the district where the Christians lived, and it later because an area for wealthy residents. A pedestrian and traffic-free zone (zona peatonal) for most of its length, the Calle del Arenal is one of the 10 streets emanating from the Puerta del Sol Square. It is one of Madrid's busiest thoroughfares, with a variety of shops, including gifts and souvenirs. However, because it joins the Puerta del Sol with Plaza Isabel II, Plaza de Opera and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), you are still likely to encounter some traffic. This is one of the most centrally placed areas of Madrid:

Walking eastward along Calle de Arenal - we cross Calle de San Martin. On our right - we see the Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés. One of the oldest churches in Madrid. The church was one of the churches of the medieval Madrid, of Mozarab origin, from between the 12th and 13th centuries, and its name comes from the fact that it was dedicated to the patron saint of notaries and secretaries, Saint Genesius of Arles (San Ginés de Arlés):

We turn right (south) to a narrow alley, Pasadizo de San Ginés - to watch the Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5. A chocolate and history. Excellent churros with chocolate. Rich and generous portions. A classic of Madrid. This classic place exists from 1894. After you order your generous portion - you can choose to sit outside, in the ground floor or at the lower floor. The hot chocolate is served in Spanish style - thick, dark and strong - and the churros - deep fried batter, similar to a light, crispy, linear doughnut, cut to length by the staff - are served hot and freshly cooked, ready for dunking. The interior is decorated with mirrors and green wood panels, with green velvet seats and marble tables. In 2010, a San Ginés's branch was opened in Shibuya, Tokyo (Japan). It closed one year later, in 2011...:

Near the entrance to the Chocolatería - note the frescoes of Delicias de San Gines:

In Spain the Tooth Fairy is a Tooth Mouse – called Little Perez – who slips into children’s bedrooms at night to take the fallen tooth the child has put under his pillow and to leave a small gift or coin in its place. According to a legend, Perez the Mouse once lived at N° 8 Calle de Arenal in a sweet shop. There is a plaque at N°8 attesting to that and the children all over Madrid send cards and letters to this address. The building now houses a small shopping mall on the ground floor and the Perez the Mouse Museum on the first floor, featuring theme mugs, notebooks and other souvenirs. Next door, at N°9, is the Palacio de Graviria, which is a cocktail bar during a day and a cabaret/dance floor/night club at night. You can see this mouse opposite C. de Arenal # 11:

We continue to walk along C. de Arenal - until we arrive, again, to the Puerta del Sol. Skip to Tip 2 below.

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:

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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.