Spain Trips

Girona

Brenda Furley

Spain

Girona:

Tip 1: from Girona railway station to Girona Cathedral.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casa Norat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cathedral Main Entrance:

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

The Basilica Sant Feliu from the Cathedral:

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

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

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

More sights of the Girona Cathedral Interiors:

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

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

and older stained-glass windows:

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

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

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

Sant Felip Neri sculpture:

Thomas Aquinas Sculpture:

Tabernacle of the Altar:

Scenes of the Altarpiece:

Tapestry of the Pentecost:

The Blessed Virgin with the Child:

Altarpiece of St. Helen:

Lamentation over the Christ:

The Anunciation:

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

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

Barcelona - Les Corts, Sarrià-Pedralbes

Brenda Furley

Spain

Les Corts and Sarrià-Pedralbes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pavellons Guell external walls:

Pavellons Guell dome of the longeing ring:

The Stables: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third floor is closed to the public.

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

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

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


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

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

Barcelona - Tibidabo

Brenda Furley

Spain

1/2 day in Tibidabo Mountain:

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

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

Public transport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lower Crypt  Interior:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barcelona - Barceloneta

Brenda Furley

Spain

Barceloneta:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Estació de França station cafeteria:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barcelona - El Born

Brenda Furley

Spain

Note: La Ribera and El Born are names of districts in Barcelona which are used interchangeably. So, part of El Born attractions (Carrer de Montcada, Museu Picasso and Basilica Santa Maria del Mar) - you'll find in Tipter blog "Barcelona - La Ribera").

El Born (and a small bit of Eixample).

Main Attractions: Plaça de l'Angel, Passeig del Born, Centre de Cultura i Memòria del Born, Parc de la Ciutadella, Passeig de Lluís Companys, Arc de Triomf.

Start: Jaume I Metro station (yellow, L4 line). End: Arc de Triomf. Duration: 1/2 day. You can COMBINE this itinerary with the Barceloneta itinerary. The Barceloneta route starts (optionally) in the Arc de Triomf.  Distance: 5-6 km. Weather: NOT in a rainy day. Avoid very hot days.

Introduction: The El Born district of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic, with those characteristic like narrow streets and quaint cafe-covered squares. But it just far enough removed from the beaten track to maintain a bit of calm, charm and dignity. Despite the popular tourist attractions of Picasso Museum, Sant Maria del Mar, Ciutadella Park, Barcelona Zoo and the (recently opened) Mammoth Museum, the area has maintained a high degree of local life.

From Jaume I Metro station it is 455 m. walk to Passeig del Born. Plaça de l'Angel was Known in medieval times as the Plaça del Blat ("Square of Wheat"), since all grain sales were made here. This atmospheric square connects Jaume I and Laietana on the eastern edge of the Barri Gòtic. Head northeast on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Via Laietana, 30 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 15 m. Turn left onto Carrer de l'Argenteria, 230 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Sombrerers, 100 m. Turn right onto Placeta de Montcada, 35 m. Turn left onto Passeig del Born for 60 m.

Passeig del Born (Paseo del Born in Spanish) an oblong square, is the heart and soul of El Borne where events are often held. An area that is lined with bars and boutique shops. Its small central area is tree-lined and has benches to sit and watch the world go by. A perfect place to start the day. People, here,  can be found relaxing under the shade of the trees. People-watching and a delicious Italian ice cream from one of the many Gelaterias are irresistible. The benches on Passeig del Born are undoubtedly one of the best places in Barcelona to sit and enjoy some Gelato or a slice of pizza, It is a relatively exclusive area so prices can often be high, however this is usually reflected in the quality and originality of the merchandise. We recommend to select the right (east) side of the avenue. It is more shady and most of the eateries reside there. The avenue is bounded with the church of Santa Maria del Mar in the south side and Born Market at one end and the Centre de Cultura i Memòria at the other, north end. "Born" in Catalan is for jousting field. In the 16th century the victims of the Inquisition were executed here, and in 1714 it was occupied by Philip V's troops following the Siege of Barcelona. Pretty, fascinating, pleasant and photogenic boulevard. Amazing Barcelona vibe. For breakfast - wait, patiently, for the restaurant in the El Born CCM (see below). For more entertainment, during the day, try to sample these bars or eateries:

Creps al Born, Passeig del Born 12. For creps and cocktails. We'll hit this bar along our route from the Metro station.

Miramelindo, Passeig del Born 15 - a small bar, wooden interiors, Mojitos.

Gusto del Born, Passeig del Born 16 - Great Italian food, Pizzas,  Lasagnas, Focaccias, Pasta, Salads. Bargain prices(!). Great solution for lunch.

La Pizza del Born, Passeig del Born 22 - almost next door. Another masterpiece of fast Italian food. Also bargain prices. Wide selection of toppings.

Farggi Born, Passeig del Born 32 - Ice creams, Waffles, Crepes.

We cross the Passeig el Born from south-west to north-east on our way to the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, Plaça Comercial, 12. The avenue is 230-250 m. length and the CCM is in the most eastern end of the avenue. The Centre de Cultura i Memòria del Born was, formerly, the Antic Mercat del Born, the city's biggest wholesale markets. Opened in 1876, the Old Born market was the first large-scale cast-iron building to be erected in Barcelona. It fulfilled its role as a market for 95 years, which can be divided into two periods, first being the local market for the neighbourhood of La Ribera, and later, as of 1921, becoming Barcelona’s main wholesale market for fruit and vegetables. Closed since the 1970s, during renovations a number of excavations were discovered, which can be viewed through glass flooring. It was reopened in 2013 as a museum and cultural center. The old market building at the far north end has been renovated inside while maintaining the old and architecturally beautiful exterior,

The centre has been established to preserve the memory of El Born history in an entertaining, diverse and accessible way. It's free to go in, the building itself is nice to look at and the uncovered old town on display below ground level is worth a look even if history is not your thing. The main attractions here are the archaeological site known as the Ciutat del Born and the permanent exhibition on the Barcelona of the year 1700. First of all - it is an impressive 300 year old excavated town beneath the marketplace. You walk round the excavations. There are printed explanations commenting on the uncovered buildings, passageways and even the stream that flowed among them. There are: restaurant cafe' (good breakfast), souvenirs shop, bookstore and modern toilets, too. During the mornings the site is almost empty, but, during the afternoons it might be more crowded. FREE. Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Guided Tours: 60 minutes, daily at 16.30 (English), 17.30 (French),
price per person: €6.60, price per group (max. 15): €89.10, children under 8: free entry.

Barcelona 1700s:

From the El Born CCM we continue walking north-east, crossing the bustling street of Passeig del Picasso (through the cross-lights !) and arriving to the Parc de la Ciutdella. The Parc de la Ciutadella was built on the site of a much-hated 18th-century Bourbon citadel, which was destroyed in 1878. In 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona was laid siege for 13 months by the army of Philip V of Spain. The city fell, and in order to maintain control over it, and to prevent the Catalans from rebelling as they had in the previous century, Philip V built the citadel of Barcelona, at that time the largest fortress in Europe. To build this fortress, Felip V. pulled away a considerable part of the quarter Ribera, leaving its inhabitants homeless. Therewith, the Bourbon king wanted to put the people under his control. La Ciutadella represented everything that the Catalans hated: the Bourbons and the central government in Madrid. In 1841 the city's authorities decided to destroy the fortress, which was hated by Barcelona's citizens. Yet two years later, in 1843, under the regime of Maria Cristina, the citadel was restored. In 1848, after Maria Cristina's abdication and as the citadel lost its use, General Espartero razed most of the buildings within the fortress as well as its walls by bombarding it from the nearby mountain fortress Montjuic, which helped him gain political popularity. By 1869, as the political climate liberalized enough to permit it, General Prim decided to turn over what was left of the fortress to the city and some buildings were demolished under Catalan orders. Later, the Citadel (the part which was left intact) was converted into a prison - mostly for political prisoners. in 1888, Barcelona held the Exposición Universal de Barcelona extravaganza, inspired by Mayor Rius i Taulet, and the park was redesigned with the addition of sculptures and other complementary works of art. The park was designed under the command of Josep Fontsère, the young and then unknown architect Antoni Gaudí supported him with the design of the waterfall "Cascada". This marked the conclusion of the old provincial and unprogressive Barcelona and the establishment of a modern cosmopolitan city. From that point until 1892, half of the park's layout was enhanced again in order to obtain sufficient space for the zoo.

This oasis of relaxing greenery came about in the late 1890s after serving as the site for the Universal Exhibition. Its many highlights include statues, fountains (one designed by a young Gaudí), a boating lake, a waterfall (La Cascada) with a giant hairy mammoth sculpture, the Domènech i Muntaner-designed Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of Three Dragons), which houses the zoological museum, two arboretums, and a small botanical garden. There's also a science museum and -- last, but not least -- the Catalan Parliament, which is located in the former citadel's arsenal and can be visited ONLY by appointment. Stroll to the northern end of the park to view the Modernista / Mudéjar style Arc de Triomf, which served as the entrance to the Universal Exhibition. Probably, the most extensive and greenest oasis in Barcelona. 

Opening hours: 23 March to 22 September: daily 10.00 - 20.00, 23 September to 22 March: daily 10.00 - 18.00. FREE. Hire of the boats for 30 minutes: 2 persons: €6, 3 persons: €9, 4/5 persons: €10, Groups from 20 persons: €2.

Public Transport: take the Metro line L1 to station Arc de Trionf. Pass through the Arc de Trionf and head for the car-free Passeig de Lluis Companys directly to the main entrance of the Ciutadella.

As we enter through the southern entrance from Passeig del Picasso - we face a modern sculpture: 

and a group of water streams:

Main entrance of the Ciutadella in Passeig del Picasso:

Turn your head BACK to see the gorgeous Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera - the wide avenue opposite the entrance to the Ciutadella:

As you enter the park and walk straight on along Carrer Distllers or Passeig dels Til·lers you see this statue (General Prim) and frieze (the Zoo is on your right):

We've been in the park during the first two weeks of September. The La Merce festival takes place in Barcelona during the end of the 1st week of September every year:

The first outstanding building that we see in front of us is the Military Parish Church of Barcelona. :

Military Parish Church of Barcelona from the Catalan Parliament (see below):

The Parlament de Catalunya can be visited on the first Friday of the month with a guided tour (in Catalan). Similarly, the building is open to visitors on 11th September (the Catalan national holiday) and 12th of September. In the Parliament building, you can visit also the Museu d'Art Modern. Nearby, you can see a replica of Josep Llimona's beautiful sculpture "El desconsol" (Distress), which is one of the most important pieces of public art in the park. The Catalan Parliament is located in  a building with imposing architecture. The architecture of this parliament building still looks very much the same as it did when it was designed by the architect and military engineer Próspero de Verboom. Built between 1716 and 1748. It has two storeys and an attic space set out on a cross-shaped ground plan with a central dome and four inner courtyards. The building is made from stone quarried on Montjuïc and terracotta tiles, and is decorated with the busts of eminent figures associated with Catalan art. It is dating back to the 18th century, when it was built as a military arsenal for the mighty citadel. It has been the seat of Parliament since the reinstatement of democracy and civil liberties in year 1932, after over 40 years of dictatorship. Opening hours: SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN and public holidays: 10.00 - 14.00. Closed: January 1st, May 1st, December 25th & 26th, weekends & public holidays in August. On show to the public are the sweeping Escala d’Honor (Stairway of Honour) and the several solemn halls that lead to the Saló de Sessions, the semicircular auditorium where parliament sits:

Note the marvelous plane trees in front of the Catalan Parliament building:

In the lily pond at the centre of the garden in front of the Parliament building is a statue of a seemingly heartbroken woman, Desconsol (Distress; 1907), by Josep Llimona:

A monument of the painter Joaquim Vayreda opposite the Parliament:

This bronze sculpture by Josep Clàra -  Als Voluntaris Catalans is SO RELEVANT in these days of Autumn 2017. This sculpture of a nude of a young man with arms raised, dates back to 1918. It symbolizes the Catalan volunteers killed on the battlefield under the Allied forces. In 1923 the sculptor had already finished the monument, but then, the dictator Primo de Rivera came to power and abandoned the project. The dictatorship prohibited any public act of Catalan self-determination. The statue waited for thirteen years. Fnally it was located in the park of the Ciutadella where it has remained until today:

The sculpture was subject of violations during the Franco regime. On the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress, in 1952, the monument was hidden by a huge screen. In December 1952 it was cut off his arms so he was covered again with a box until his restoration. In 1954 the brass arms were restored and the young man's genitals got hidden with a vine leaf. The personal notes of the file of Clarà allow to follow in detail the displeasure of the sculptor about the treatment of his work.

On the 75th anniversary of its inauguration, the shameful vine leaf has been removed, thus recovering the original nude that allows us to enjoy the work of Clarà as it was sculpted, in a new location on the shallow bank of the lake.

Then, we arrive to a small lake where you can hire a rowing boat to paddle boat:

A giant Mammoth and a bandstand are among the other elements which surprise visitors to this vibrant central park in Barcelona:

The park's bandstand, Glorieta de la Transsexual Sònia, is dedicated to a transsexual, Sonia Rescalvo Zafra, who was murdered there on 6 October 1991 by right-wing extremists:

The monumental cascada (waterfall) (Gran Cascada) near the Passeig de Pujades park entrance, created between 1875 and 1881 by Josep Fontserè with the help of an enthusiastic young Gaudí, is a dramatic combination of statuary, rugged rocks, greenery and thundering water – all of it perfectly artificial. Antoni Gaudí immortalized himself on the fountain, which stands by the lake. The water basin in front of fountain is guarded by winged dragons, a figure quite commonly found in his work. But the key role of the design of the waterfall and lake is attributed to Josep Fontseré:

Walking further northward in the park, not far from the northern exit - you see the Sculpture ´World Expo 1888´ by Antoni Clave:

Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the three Dragon): the northernmost building, the Castell dels Tres Dragons houses the Zoological Museum. It occupies the original restaurant designed for the exhibition by Domènech i Montaner. The brick house is an example of early Modernista. The building was built in 1887 by architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner, one of the leading representatives of the Catalan Art Nouveau. 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. Since 1920 this building houses the Zoological Museum. The towers and battlements are reminiscent of the Moorish style. The art to decorate building facades with ceramics, was revived and became an important technique of the Modernista trend. The name was probably adopted from the 1865 play by Serafí Pitarra:

The following 3 sites are alltogether adjacent to the northern side of the park - opposite Passeig del Picasso.

Right next to the Castell dels Tres Dragons the winter garden "L'Hivernacle" is located (c/ Melcior de Palau, 32 – 36). The winter garden is a pavilion made of cast iron and glass. The architect was Josep Amargós. In the summer there is a particularly nice café. There are also several jazz concerts. The Hivernacle is still attributed to the Modernista. The building was inaugurated in 1888 for the World (Universal) Exposition. It’s quite a treat for plant enthusiasts and architecture lovers as the two worlds merge in one great experience. The glass, brick and steel construction was designed by Josep Amargós in 1884, it’s an excellent example of the iron and glass based architecture from the same period that saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Opening hours: Winter: MON- FRI: 10.00 – 14.00, 17.00 – 20.00, SAT: 10.00 – 14.00, SUN: 10.30 – 14.00. August: MON – FRI: 10.00 – 14.00, 17.00  – 20.30, SAT: 10.00 – 14.00, Sundays: closed: 

The Geological Museum is adjacent to the Hivernacle. Built in 1882 by Antoni Rovira i Trias in neo-classical style. The construction of the museum was made possible by a donation from Francesc Martorell Peña. It was the first museum in Barcelona and it has today a large collection of minerals.

Umbracle -  a tropical greenhouse for shade-loving plants. The Umbracle is a wood-brick construction. Although this building needs an urgent rehabilitation, it offers a very impressive atmosphere in its interiors. The architect was, again, Amargós. The Umbracle was completed for the World Exposition in 1888:

We leave the Parc de la Ciutadella from its north-west exit and walk north-west along the huge and wonderful Passeig de Lluís Companys. It is a promenade which belongs, formally, to the Eixample district of Barcelona. It starts (east) at the  Parc de la Ciutadella, on Carrer de Pujades, and ends (west) at the Arc de Triomf. It was named after President Lluís Companys, who was executed in 1940. The distance from the park to the Arc de Triomf is 450 m. THe promenade is quite bustling BUT very pretty with wonderful buildings and ornate lampposts along its northern side.

Passeig de Lluís Companys - Rius i Taulet monument in 2008:

Passeig de Lluís Companys - Rius i Taulet monument in 2016:

Tribunal Superior de Justícia de Catalunya - a monumental building in a highly ecelctic style, by Enric Sagnier on Passeig de Lluís Companys:

We could not stop admiring the stunning buildings on our right along the Passeig de Lluís Companys:

Passeig de Lluís Companys continues straight north-west beyond the Arc de Triomf and changes its name to Passeig de Sant Joan. Here, sdtands the Memorial Monument of  luís Companys (1882-1940):

Northwest of the park, Passeig de Lluís Companys is capped by the Modernista Arc de Triomf, designed by Josep Vilaseca. In 1888 Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition. The Arc de Triomf was built as the gateway to the fair which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. It has become one of the city's iconic landmarks. The architect Josep Vilaseca designed a monument of classical style and proportions as an allegory of Barcelona's respect for the nations and provinces taking part in the exhibition. As a counterpoint, Vilaseca chose to build the arch from brick and decorate it with sculptural motifs. The combination of red brick with the series of friezes around the arch, make it a singularly beautiful landmark. The frieze facing the park (east side) shows the Barcelona city presenting medals to the exhibition participants. The frieze overlooking the Passeig de Sant Joan (west side) depicts Barcelona welcoming the nations. Josep Llimona did the main reliefs. Just what the triumph was eludes us, especially since the exhibition itself was a commercial failure:

You can COMBINE this itinerary with the Barceloneta itinerary (which, also, extends for 1/2 day). The Barceloneta route starts (optionally) in the Arc de Triomf.

Barcelona - Port Vell

Brenda Furley

Spain

Port Vell: 

Main Attractions: El Cap de Barcelona or La cara de Barcelona, Plaça de Palau, Museo de Historia de Cataluña, Passeig de Joan de Borbó, Transbordador Aeri del Port, Platja de Sant Sebastià, W Barcelona hotel, Torre del Reloj, Moll de Bosch i Alsina (Moll de la Fusta), Maremagnum, Rambla de Mar.

Start: Jaume I Metro station (L4 - the yellow line). End: Colombus Monument. Distance: 9-10 km. Weather: mainly sea views. Only sunny day.

Note 1: you can extend your itinerary of La Ribera (See the Tipter "Barcelona - La Ribera" blog) onto this itinerary (or, at least, the Port Vell part of it). From Plaça de Jacint Reventós (the final point of the La Ribera route - it is 5 minutes (220 m.) walk to Jaume I Metro station:  from Plaça de Jacint Reventós - head west toward Carrer de l'Argenteria, 30 m. Turn BACK left onto Carrer de l'Argenteria, 150 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 15 m. Turn left onto Plaça de l'Àngel and the Jaume I Metro station (yellow line, line 4) is on the right - 30 m. further.

Note 2: this itinerary is involved with a significant deal of walking of long distances in Port Vell (and Barceloneta if you dare to). AVOID using this route during HOT, MOIST or WET days.

Introduction: both of these areas - the old port ("Port Vell") and Barceloneta reside at the eastern parts of Barcelona - east to the old harbour of the city. Both districts, like other areas along the seashore, have been degenerated areas before the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. In a huge urban restructure project Port Vell and neighbouring Barceloneta have been transformed to open the city up to the sea. From industrial wastelands emerged two huge marinas that encompass a peninsula with a large entertainment complex.

The most popular attractions in Port Vell are: the Barcelona’s Aquarium,  the IMAX cinema (adjacent to the Aquarium), the Maremagnum complex with its shops, bars and restaurants - leading to the Port Vell promenade over the wooden swing bridge along Rambla Mar. Port Vell’s promenade is on the site of the former city motorway. This motorway has been put under the ground so that you can now stroll along the old customs building (Aduana de Barcelona). On your right you have got the maritime museum (Museo maritime) and along the pier on your left you will reach Barcelona’s W (World Trade Center) - an hotel and convention center in the middle of Port Vell.

If you continue northward, along the (east) shores of Barcelona - you arrive to Barceloneta: an elongated district (from south to north) bounded by the sea (east), El Born (west and north-west) and La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou in the north. A neighbourhood, with narrow, but, still airy, streets, which was built on a military grid structure to provide accommodation for the former inhabitants of La Ribera who had lost their homes due to the construction of the Ciutadella. La Barceloneta was once the home of fishermen, people associated with the fishing trade and the metal industry, and is now one of the city's most visited and popular districts. The houses are low-rise and small in scale so as not to obstruct views of the city.  Before the 1988 Olympics, the decision was taken to demolish the old Barceloneta beachfront restaurants, known as "Xiringuitos" - opening the city up to the sea and leading to the modernization of an area which now offers first-class beaches as the main attraction for its visitors.

Our daily itinerary: from Jaume I Metro station we head east on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Via Laietana, 30 m. Turn right (south-east) onto Via Laietana for 90 m. The Exe Laietana Palace hotel, Via Laietana, 17 is on the right:

Continue walking southeast along Via Laietana toward Carrer de Salvador . After 300 m. you arrive to Plaça d'Antonio López. Until year 2017 there was a big statue of Antonio López standing in this square. It was planned to be removed after several unions and organizations claimed that Antonio López took active part in slaves trade. On our right is the Post office, Correos y Telegrafos Building in Plaça d'Antonio López:

Placa Antonio Lopez is a bustling square. In its centre - a modern sculpture: El Cap de Barcelona or La cara de Barcelona by American Roy Lichtenstein. (the Head) (1991–1992). The sculpture was Lichtenstein's first outdoor work using ceramic tile. It is said to acknowledge Antoni Gaudí and Barcelona's affinity for mosaics. Although it is very abstract, it is clear that the sculpture was made to resemble the head and face of a woman. It is made up of thick pieces of concrete completely covered in red, yellow, blue, black and white mosaic tiles, and from far away it looks like it could be a painting. The woman's eyes look like thick blue and black brush strokes; same with her nose, and her lips look like Lichtenstein could have used a quick stroke of bright red paint. The left third of her face, the side with the blue nose and eye, is covered with white tiles, while the right two thirds of her face is covered in a grid of red dots, typical of Lichtenstein's pop-art style. Lichtenstein added other artistic elements to this sculpture as well. Below her head, what would probably be considered the woman's neck, is a tall, flat stroke of blue and white that extends all the way up through her face and ends a few inches above her head. Perpendicular to the blue and white stroke is a stroke of yellow and black, beginning at the bottom and then reappearing at the top of her head.

It indicates the starting of the Port Vell district:

 

As we approach the Ronda Litoral and coming closer to the Port Vell - we look backward to the Placa Antonio Lopez - we see this picture:

We are, approximately in the most northern end of the Port Vell. It extends from the south from Barcelona's La Rambla, by the Columbus (Colon) monument, a major city landmark since 1886. We shall walk along the north border of Port Vell - heading to Plaça Pau Vila and Museo de Historia de Cataluña - skipping the Port Vell and its Marinas (in case you are, here, in the late afternoon hours) OR returning a bit later to the POrt Vell marinas and beachfront a bit later (if you are, here, in the morning hours). From the Plaça d'Antonio López - you continue eastward onto Passeig d'Isabel II, 160 m. Turn right onto Plaça de Palau, 150 m. The Plaça de Palau square is located in the triangular space between Palau de Mar and Barceloneta district, which is a busy crossroads for cars. The whole area around is NOT pedestrianized, so terrace space for cafes and bars is minimal. However, it is a beautiful area, with old buildings, distinctive porches under which the Hotel del Mar hides. The Hotel del Mar main entrance can be found behind Roman style pillars as part of an old building with ornate wrought iron balconies. The lobby's décor is simple but modern and new. There is a maritime theme running throughout, with lots of blue, nautical memorabilia and harbour front maps. Located underneath the arches on the Palau Square, the hotel is joined by one of Barcelona's most renowned paella restaurants - 7 Portes. This is a traditional Spanish restaurant, with beautiful old wooden doors, large open dining spaces and a distinctive chequered tiled floor. The food is reasonably expensive, but it is served with a sense of ceremony by suited Spanish waiters:

Continue onto Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 120 m. Turn right and the Museo de Historia de Cataluña (Palau de Mar,), Plaça de Pau Vila, 3, is in front of you. The permanent exhibition traces the history of Catalonia from its distant roots to the present day in an interactive and innovative way. The Museu d'Història de Catalunya layout is structured chronologically, in eight areas, set out on four floors, and includes authentic recreations of historical settings, as well as everyday items such as food and clothing. The exhibits range from prehistoric times to the development and expansion of the city of Barcelona and the Catalan hinterland. The exhibits are written in English too. No audio guides. Allow 1-1.5 hrs.

Public transport: Metro: L4-Barceloneta, buses: 14, 39, 45, 59, 64, 120, D20, V15, V17. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, WED: 10.00 - 20.00, SUN and public holidays: 10.00 - 14.00 Closed: Mondays, January 1st and 6th, December 25th and 26th. Prices: Permanent exhibition: adult 4.50 euros, concessions - 3.50 euros. Permanent Exhibition + current (temporary) exhibition(s): adult - 6.50 euros, concessions - 4.50 euros.

 

The museum itself is set on an attractive marina with plenty to see and do close by; boat trips, cable car, shopping. There are wonderful views from the outside upper terrace (good cafeteria !) over the port where the rich and famous moor their super yachts. This terrace is worth, in its own, the visit of this, surprisingly nice (under-rated) museum:

In case you complete your daily itinerary in this point - head to the Barceloneta Metro station (L4 - yellow line). It is 220 m. walk. From Museo de Historia de Cataluña - turn left onto Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 120 m.

Turn right onto Plaça de Pau Vila to follow Carrer del Dr. Aiguader, 100 m. Barceloneta Metro station is a bit hidden - but it will be on the left.

In case you have enough time - we head to the heart of the Port Vell (Old Port).  It is quite a long walk (1 km.) to our next estination: Transbordador Aeri del Port / Teleférico de Barcelona - a mountain cable car station - connecting the Port Vell area and the Montjuïc (Jews Mountain). From Museo de Historia de Cataluña we turn southeast toward Passeig de Joan de Borbó and continue SOUTHWARD along Passeig de Joan de Borbó FOR 1 km. The Transbordador Aeri del Port, Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 88 is on your right. Along this (quite boring) way we have the beachfront of Port Vell and on our left plenty of stalls selling every kind of merchandise on earth (most of them are items from South America). You will find real bargains here (sweaters from Peru, spices and fantastic colored rugs from Guatemala etc'). As you approach you will see the large tower of the cable car ahead of you. It is straight on the Passeig de Joan de Borbó that you are on, just keep walking. There are people who say that the Passeig Joan de Borbó is set in the Barceloneta district. Others swear it is in the Port Vell area.  It is an old fishermen's quarter, built in an area that was previously almost uninhabited: it was due to its proximity to the sea that the fisherfolk were the first to settle in this part of the city, in 1754, although their living conditions were truly appalling. A chain of restaurants are on your left along Passeig de Joan de Borbó: L'Arros,  the Fastnet Pub, Pizzeria Napoletana Reina Margherita, Can Solé, La Malandrina, El Rey de La Gamba I, Vioko Experiencia, La Mar Salada, Suquet De L'Almirall, FOC BCN, Restaurant Can Costa, Makamaka Beach Burger Cafe, Habana Barcelona, Restaurante Rangoli and Plaça del mar. 

The Transbordador Aeri del Port is past its glory days. Prices are high (11 euros one way, 16.50 euros return), staff can be, sometimes, rough, the stations (especially, the Port Vell one) are shabby. Despite all of this, on a sunny day, the cable ride is arguably the most stunning and exhilarating way to view Barcelona and links two of the city's prime locations - the beachfront / Port Vell  and Montjuïc. Even from just waiting for the next car, the views from the top of the platform and from the restaurant (on top of the tower) are amazing (do not expect much from their toilet...). Of course the Muntjuic itself is rewarding: lovely gardens and again stunning views of the city from Muntjuic mountain. Even if this station is far from the city centre - it does get busy going along the day (high season only) - especially, from the port to Muntjuic. The trip offers wonderful views with enough fear to keep you from relaxing. Before you make your final decision be warned, the Transbordador cable journey is not for the faint hearted. inside of the car it holds a maximum of twenty people. Usually (if it is a busy day) it hold around 10 passengers. it is fairly difficult to manoeuvre around the car and you face difficulties in making photos. There are no seats inside the car and people generally move around the space, giving you the opportunity to check out different views from different windows. You will be rewarded for your bravery with some stunning views of Barcelona. Take in the bird's eye views of the port and harbour as you glide along. The cable car provides an opportunity to see the whole city clearly, so it's a chance to observe Barcelona's highest monuments such as the Sagrada Familia and the Torre Agbar, from the cable car's (not so clean) windows. The entire journey lasts approximately 5-7 minutes and the car moves continuously throughout the trip. Mid-way through the journey the cable car travels through a central tower- the Torre de Jaume I - a swift sigh of relief before continuing on your journey. To your left you can view Barcelona's working port and a great expanse of sea. To your right - all Barcelona icons. As you near the end of the trip you can take in the views of Montjuïc mountain. You will see the iconic Montjuïc Communications Tower. If you choose to make the return journey, be sure to keep hold of your small cable car ticket. On returning to the port area you can reward yourself with a slap up dinner in the renowned Torre d'Alta Mar Restaurant at the top of the tower. That's if you're not desperate to get your feet back onto solid ground. AS we said - it takes 5-6 minutes and you may spend much longer in the queues. Expect to wait over half an hour (with little shade) for your cable car at busy times. Finally, it is worth pointing out that if you buy a return ticket, you will still have to get off the cable car at each end and join the back of the queue to return - so please don't think that you can spend a quick 15 minutes aerial sightseeing by staying in the car....you may be in a nasty surprise and long waits ! Operating Hours: 01 December - 28 February: 11.00 - 17.30, 01 March - 31 May: 10.30 - 19.00, 01 June - 10 September: 10.30 - 20.00, 11 September - 29 October: 10.30 - 19.00, 30 October - 31 December: 11.00 - 17.30, 25 December: Closed. During the winter months (approximately November to March) the cable car does not run between the following hours: 14.00 - 15.00

 

We continue to walk southward along Passeig de Joan de Borbó until we arrive to Platja de Sant Sebastià on our left. Sant Sebastià Beach is one of the oldest and most traditional beaches. The Barceloneta beaches were for the more poor peaople in Barcelona and Sant Sebastià Beach was more for the city's well-to-do classes at the time. The recent building of a hotel has created a small, peaceful cove where you'll find a number of restaurants. On your right the Nova Bocana Barcelona S.A.U company headquarters:

Head south on Passeig de Joan de Borbó toward Moll de Catalunya street (on your right - west), 260 m. Turn left toward Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 70 m. Turn right and keep walking along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 230 m. Slight LEFT along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 55 m. and you see the W Barcelona hotel. A new luxury hotel. If you get the chance - catch the elevator to the top floor for stunning views of ALL Barca. This hotel is one of the most iconic views of the the Port Vell:

The W hotel faces the Marina Vela: a new port and marina in Barcelona. Just opened in summer 2017. 

From W Barcelona hotel (Placa de la Rosa dels Vents, 1, Final Passeig de Joan de Borbó) - walk west on Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 55 m. Turn right and walk along Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 260 m. Turn left onto Passeig del Mare Nostrum, 550 m. Turn left toward Carrer de la Drassana, 85 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Drassana, 30 m. Kaiku restaurant on your right. Continue onto Carrer de l'Escar, 150 m. Slight left onto Moll de Pescadors, 100 m. (here, you'll might face restricted usage or block road(s).  You've arrived to another, relatively new, shopping center.

If you are hungry - try the Paella Moll del Rellotge (fish and sea food) in the Barceloneta restaurant here (20 euros for 2-persons portion):

we shall try to return to the Museo de Historia de Cataluña along the Marina (800 m.) - but, the road might be blocked or closed. Otherwise, we return along Passeig de Joan de Borbó (900 m. - 1 km.).

Behind the Moll stands the Torre del Reloj. The Clock Tower was a historical bastion of the Barceloneta port, erected in 1772 to serve as the lighthouse of the port. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the urbanization of the whole port area became more complex, eating land to the sea to give way to the enormous commercial traffic that was being generated and the lighthouse was lost between the docks. The whole area around might be blocked or under restricted usage. But it can be seen, easily from the Moll del Pescadors or from Barceloneta (see below).

From the museum there is a 800 m. walk along a pretty, pleasant, even grandiose promenade to MareMagnum. It is rather complicated to describe, in detail, your path. But, you'll see a decorative road lined with cones sculptures leading south to Moll d'Espanya, along Carrer de l'Ictíneo and ending at the huge patio or courtyard of Maremagnum, Edifici Maremàgnum, Moll d'Espanya, 5 shopping centre. On your left - stunning views of the Port Vell with the W Barcelona hotel and the Transbordador Aeri del Port in the background:

The last part of these 800 m. (between Museo de Historia de Cataluña and Maremagnum) is  The Boardwalk. The stretch between the Carrer de l’Ictíneo in the north and Rambla de Mar (see below) in the south is officially called the Moll de Bosch i Alsina or Moll de la Fusta and it was once the area where the ancient Romans set up their markets and stations along the fishing port of Barcino. It’s a wide, open space with cemented cones, wooden bike roads, relaxing palms and benches all wrapping around the Old Harbour that sailboats and yachts call home. The best time to arrive to this place is the afternoon. Below, you'll see that the afternoon hours are also the best time to get views to the east from the Maremagnum decked courtyard and terraces (see below). It is accessible to people with reduced mobility:

On or way along the "Boardwalk to the Maremagnum we see on our left the most important Mediterranean themed Aquariums. It’s not the biggest in the world, but its impact on oceanic study and marine biology is well known all over the world. Nothing special. You may skip this Aquarium. Opening hours : every day 10.00 - 19.30 (weekdays, JAN-MAR, NOV-DEC) or 20.00 (weekdays, APR-MAY, OCT, weekends and holidays JAN-MAR, NOV-DEC) or 20.30 (weekdays  APR-MAY, OCT) or 21.00 (Weekend and holidays, JUN, SEP) or 21.30 (weekends JUL-AUG). Prices: Adult (11+) 20,00€ (online purchase:18,00€), Children from 5 to 10 years old 15,00€ (online purchase: 13,00€), Children from 3 to 4 years old 7,00€ (online purchase: 6,5€). Ticket valid for 90 days after date of purchase:

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING THE WHOLE WAY TO THE MERAMAGNUM SHOPPING CENTRE - JUST FOR VIEWS FROM ITS COURTYARD AND TERRACES TO THE EAST DURING SUNNY AFTERNOON HOURS. The Maremagnum is one of Barcelona's most distinctive shopping malls. Located right at the heart of the port, it is a good place to bring the family to do some shopping, grab a bite to eat or simply sit and watch the boats go by. You can't miss the spectacular Meramagnum huge building. It sits jutting out into the water at the end of the wavy wooden pier of the Boardwalk. It's mirrored walls and arced roof reflect the water that surrounds it, giving it a glimmering blue glow. Around the building you will see people relaxing on the wooden Boardwalk, basking in the sunshine and watching the boats come in and out of the port area. Endless list of shops (fashion, home ware, electronics, toys), eateries and view points. From all directions the center there are terraces with a beautiful views of the Old Port and of Barcelona. How to get to Maremagnum Centre: Metro: Drassanes (Green Line, L3) 10 minutes walk, Barceloneta (Yellow Line, L4) 15 minutes walk. Hop on hop off sightseeing tourist bus - nearest stop for Maremagnum Centre is "Passeig de Colom" with the Barcelona City Tour "hop on hop off" sightseeing bus. Public bus: Maremagnum: V17, Passeig Colom / Via Laietana: 59, 120, D20, H14, V13.

Torre del Reloj near Moll del Pescadors from the Maremagnum:

The W Barcelona hotel from the Maremagnum:

The Aquarium from the Maremagnum:

Views of the Port Vell in the east from the Starbucks cafe' in the Maremagnum:

The western side of the Meramagnum:

Now, you have two options.

Option 1: completing your daily itinerary. With this option you walk (650 m.) from the Meramagnum to the Colombus Monument via the Rambla de Mar. From the Maremagnum turn right onto Rambla de Mar, 300 m. Turn left onto Moll de les Drassanes, 65 m. Turn right, 80 m. to the Columbus Monument, Plaça Portal de la pau. The Rambla de Mar is a wooden walkway which takes you across from the Port Vell around the Maremagnum Centre waterfront and shopping and dining areas to the Christopher Columbus monument. Designed in 1994 by the architects Albert Viaplana and Helio Piñón, the Rambla de Mar is an undulating wooden walkway over the water, with two openings. It's supported over the water by two iron arms. Every hour it opens up to allow recreational yachts to pass through. This walkway can be quite crowded, particularly when it opens and you wait for for a boat to go through. This bridge takes not long to cross and has great views of the Port Vell and boats around it. Lovely views of Montjuic in the background. You can consider the ambla de Mar as a new continuation of the La Rambla avenue - as it continues south, straight ahead from the famous La Rambla. The place is definitely packed with tourists. Like the La Rambla - be aware of pickpockets. 

 

Option 2: connecting or continuing with the Barceloneta Itinerary. This daily route of the Port Vell is quit demanding and involved with lengthy walks. The Barceloneta walk is concerned with a 7-8 additional kilometres of walk. We recommend leaving Barceloneta for today and connecting this quarter with the Ciutadella itinerary.

Barcelona - La Ribera

Brenda Furley

Spain

La Ribera:

Tip 1: from Mercat Santa Catarina to Museu Picasso.

Main Attractions: Mercat Santa Catarina, Palau de la Música Catalana, Plaça de Sant Pere, Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell, Plaça de la Puntual, Carrer de Montcada, Palau Dalmases, Palau dels Cervelló, Palau Aguilar, Museu Picasso.

Tip 2: From Basilica Santa Maria del Mar to Placa de Jacint Preventos.

Start: Mercat Santa Catarina. Duration: 1 day

Introduction: La Ribera is a culturally rich, historic area of old town Barcelona (Ciutat Vella). Centuries ago, it was a neighborhood inhabited by aristocrats, merchants, wealthy sailors, and Jewish money-lenders. By the 13th century, Barcelona needed to expand beyond its city walls and a separate borough was created, which soon became the district where merchants and the wealthiest Barcelona families came to live, supported by an important seafaring tradition. There are tiny streets with beautiful stores which epitomize the golden past of the borough. Many street names remind us of the ancient trades and skills: Mirallers (mirror makers), Sombrerers (hatters), Argenters (silversmiths), etc. Today, it is regarded as the Soho of Barcelona and offers trendy shops and cafes, a popular hangout place for tourists and locals alike. Many artists have set up their studios in La Ribera neighbourhood, inheriting the past of the neighbourhood where Barcelona city's artisans used to live. Follow this itinerary and explore the unique sights of La Ribera. The main attraction in La Ribera are: Montcada Street and the museums nearby,
Basilica Santa Maria del Mar, The Montcada Street shows reminders of this golden age of the Ribera. It’s full of palaces of that time and one of those is the actual Museo Picasso of Barcelona. Picasso used to live in this neighborhood and the atmosphere of La Ribera really touched him. If you want to know everything about Picasso and Barcelona you can take this walking tour. Other palaces along Carrer de Montcada: Museu Barbier-Mueller d'Art Precolombí, and part of the Textile Museum. The Basilica Santa Maria del Mar was built so that the locals could show off their wealth. In a way, it is a relic of a past age. After the war of succession, in 1714, half of the neighborhood was destroyed so as to build the Citadel’s fortress as well as the defensive esplanade surrounding it. Since then, the neighborhood has lost much of its power and influence over the city. The northernmost part of the La Ribera quarter and Sant Pere, is not frequented by tourists. It is between Arc de Triomf and Via Laietana, and actually constitutes a much poorer area with a larger number of emigrants.

Note: we dedicated a special Tipter blog to the lower section of the La Ribera district, just below Carrer de la Princesa, and leading to Barceloneta, which is referred to as El Born. This is one of the trendiest and most touristic districts in the old city. It is a popular place which contains many art boutiques, bars and cafés.

How to arrive to Mercat Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina market):

From Plaça de Catalunya walk eastward toward and along  Avinguda del Portal de l'Àngel, 130 m. Turn left onto Carrer Comtal, 220 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 120 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, 120 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Freixures, 90 m. Turn left onto Av. de Francesc Cambó and Mercat Santa Catarina is on the right.

From Sant Felip Neri Church (see: Barri Gotic Tipter blog): head east on Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe toward Plaça de Garriga i Bachs, 55 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de Garriga i Bachs, 15 m. Turn left onto Carrer del Bisbe, 25 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 40 m.
Carrer de Santa Llúcia turns slightly left and becomes Placita de la Seu,
45 m. Turn right to stay on Placita de la Seu, 10 m. Turn left onto Baixada de la Canonja, 40 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Tapineria, 75 m.
Carrer de la Tapineria turns left and becomes Plaça de Ramon Berenguer el Gran, 45 m. Continue onto Carrer del Pare Gallifa, 50 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Mercaders, 120 m. Turn right onto Av. de Francesc Cambó, 100 m and Santa Caterina Market, Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16 is on the right.

By Metro: L4-Jaume I, by Bus: 45, 120, V15, V17.

Opening hours: MON: 7.30 - 14.00, TUE, WED, SAT:7.30 - 15.30, THU - FRI: 7.30 - 20.30. The market closes down by mid afternoon or late evening with a few shops or restaurants on the exterior edge later open.

Mercat Santa Catarina was built in 1845 to provide the neighbourhood's blue-collar community with foodstuffs. During the post-Civil War period, Santa Caterina became the main food supplier to the towns on the outskirts of Barcelona. People from Sant Adrià, Santa Coloma and Mataró came on the tram to buy food in this market in times of shortage. The spacious, modern market building was constructed on the former site of the Convent of Santa Caterina, from which it takes its name. The refurbishment of Barcelona's first covered food market was completed in 2005. The original design of the building, the brightly coloured roof, attached to the building by a wooden structure, and a vast mosaic of coloured ceramic pieces, representing fruit and vegetables, all, boldly break with the traditional look of the refurbished market. It is a very pleasant and atmospheric market. Wandering around for half an hour or so is very pleasant. Far less frantic,less crowded and better produce than La Boqueria market and much cheaper ! Plenty of food ranging from fresh fish, meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, fruits, breads, candies and more.

All you see are Tomatoes...:

Our next stop in La Ribera is the Palace of Catalan Music - 400 m. walk from the Santa Catarina Market. We head southwest on Av. de Francesc Cambó toward Carrer de Freixures, 40 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Freixures, 90 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, 120 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 90 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt,
50 m. Turn left onto Plaça Lluís Millet, 15 m. Continue onto Carrer del Palau de la Música for 15 m. and the Palace of Catalan Music, Carrer del Palau de la Música, 4-6 will be on the right. Barcelona Palau de la Música Catalana is an UNFORGETTABLE jewel of the Modernista architecture, with, as a bonus, an exceptional music program. This architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s masterpiece, was built between 1905 and 1908 as the home of the Orfeó Català (a choral society founded in 1891 that was a leading force in the Catalan cultural movement that came to be known as the Renaixença  - Catalan Rebirth). It was inaugurated February 9, 1908. It is designed as an exceptional marvelous music box that combines all the Modernista (Catalan Art Deco or Art Nouveau) applied arts: sculpture, mosaic, stained glass, ironwork. The wealthy citizens of Barcelona, who were becoming ever more sympathetic to the Renaixença at the time the Palau was built, asked its architect for building materials and techniques that symbolized the Catalan character. In response, he commissioned and gave great creative freedom to a variety of local artisans and craftsmen to produce the fabulous ornamentation, sculpture, and decorative structural elements for which the Palau is famous. The Palau won the architect an award from the Barcelona City Council in 1909, given to the best building built during the previous year. In 1997, the Palau de la Música Catalana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Hospital de Sant Pau. How to get to Palau de la Musica: Metro: Lines 1 and 4, Urquinaona Station. Bus: #17, #19, #40 and #45. Address: C/ Sant Pere Més Alt 4-6.

Guided tour of Palau de la Música is a must for your stay in Barcelona to discover this fantastic concert hall. Prices: €18.00, duration: 55 minutes, languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan. Timetables and on-line booking: http://www.palaumusica.cat/en/all-guided-tours_531011.

The Palau is typical design of Catalan Modernista: curves dominate over straight lines, dynamic shapes are preferred over static forms, and ornamentation that is consisted of floral and small animals' motifs.The Palau design is functional and makes use of up-to-date materials and technologies available at the beginning of the 20th century. The exposed red brick and iron, the mosaics, the stained glass, and the glazed tiles were chosen and situated to give a feeling of openness and transparency. But, still, you get the impression that architecture, design and ornamentation lack any logic or control. The total impression is overwhelming.

The rich decoration of the façade of the Palau incorporates elements of traditional Spanish and Arabic architectures. The top of the main façade is graced by a large allegoric mosaic by Lluís Bru that depicts the contributing members / donators of the Orfeó Català, but it is impossible to see the detailed mosaic clearly from the narrow streets below (Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt and Carrer de Amadeu Vives). The palace is so beautiful but it's hard to really see and appreciate it as the building in front is just a few meters away.

The southern facade of Palau de la Música in Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt:

You can stand right in front of it and look straight up, and you'll see this:

If you have a decent zoom on your camera, with a little luck you'll be able to take in some details in the mosaics on the pillars :


We highly recommend a visit. Best be during a concert I would say, and the Palau offers more than 300 concerts a year so it should be quite easy to fit in on a trip. You enter the Palau from the street through two arches supported by thick pillars that opened into the vestibule:

The former ticket windows, which are located in the center pillar, are beautiful concentric arches adorned with floral mosaics of various materials created by Lluís Bru:

Former ticket box, in an entrance pillar:

The large allegoric mosaic by Lluís Bru that depicts the Orfeó Català key members (over the tickets counters):

We entered the place from the cafe' in the west facade of the palace. You are, actually, inside an exceptional setting of the Foyer of the Palau, which has room for a large number of people.  When there are performances - it is used as a separate restaurant-cafeteria. The wide arches built with bricks and green and floral-pattern glazed ceramics give this area a distinctive air or its very own. The foyer was created in the renovations of Tusquets and Díaz from what originally were the headquarters of the Orfeó Català. The large space of the foyer is more soberly decorated than the rest of the Palau, but the wide exposed brick arches with their marvelous glazed green, pink, and yellow ceramic flowers recapitulate the ornamentation of the rest of building. The foyer features a large counter where tapas and beverages can be served to concert-goers or visitors who are touring the building:

The bar is situated between massive pillars of brick and is illuminated from behind by expansive stained-glass panes that are suspended above it. A glass case in the foyer displays the Orfeó Català's banner, which bears its crest embroidered on fabric in the Modernista style:

just wait till you step inside. Starting with the stairs leading up to the concert hall, so beautifully embellished. The grand marble staircases ascend from between crowned lamps on columns to bring visitors to the second floor. The balustrades of the staircases, also marble, are supported by unusual transparent yellow glass balusters. The underside of the staircases is covered with tiles that form gleaming canopies on either side of the vestibule:

The largest and most well-known space in the Palau is the Concert Hall. This is a 2,146 seat venue with an ornate glass roof - the main setting for concerts and recitals. The architectural decoration in the concert hall is a masterpiece of creativity and imagination, yet everything has been carefully considered for its utility in the presentation of music. The main theme of decoration and sculpturing in the concert hall is choral music - something that might be expected in an auditorium commissioned by a choral society. A choir of young women surrounds the "sun" in the stained-glass skylight, and a bust of Anselm Clavé, a famous choir director who was instrumental in reviving Catalan folk songs, is situated on the left side of the stage, under a stone tree. Seated beneath this statue are sculpted girls singing the Catalan song Les Flors de Maig (The Flowers of May).

The whole arch over the front of the stage was sculpted by Dídac Masana and Pablo Gargallo. The arch represents folk music on the left and classical music on the right, both united at the top of the arch. On the right side is depicted the ride of the Valkyries in Wagner's opera Die Walküre (The Valkyries). Under the Valkyries and among two Doric columns there is a bust of Beethoven.

In a semicircle on the sides of the back of the stage are the figures of 18 young women / muses. Each of the women is playing a different musical instrument. The sculptures of winged horses in the symbolize Pegasus - the winged horse from the Greek mythology. Pegasus was ridden by the muses when called by their father Zeus to be by his side on Mount Olympus:

The concert hall of the Palau, which seats about 2,200 people, is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light. The walls on two sides consist primarily of stained-glass panes set in magnificent arches:

There is semi-circular arc of seats facing the half moon arch on the ceiling over the Concert hall stage:

sculpture of the rchitect Lluís Domènech i Montaner:

The most spectacular attraction into the concert hall is the incredible inverted stained-glass cupola with natural sun light:

One element that distinguishes the Palau is the pipe organ that rises above center stage.

Sal Lluís Millet: The Lluís Millet hall is a salon located on the second floor of the Palau that is named after one of the founders of the Orfeó Català. It is ornated by several bronze busts of musicians related to the Palau: Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vives (Orfeó Català founders), Pablo Casals, Eduard Toldrà (founder and first conductor of the Orquestra Municipal de Barcelona, Just Cabot (Orfeó Català president) and pianist Rosa Sabater. The hall is a popular gathering place for concert-goers and also serves as a teaching area for visitors touring the building. From floor to ceiling the hall is two stories high and affords views of the intricate mosaics on the two rows of columns outside its windows. You remember we had difficulties in viewing the mosaics from the streets around the palace:

Go out to the balcony overlooking the street outside and enjoy the WONDERFUL mosaics and other types of ornamentation on the palace facade walls and pillars:

view from the second floor of the palace to the monumental staircase:

The guided tour included a short visit of the upper gallery. A fantastic opportunity to catch stunning, panoramic views of the concert hall from upper viewpoint:

Along the stairs from the 2nd floor to the 1st floor you can see a metal pillar with names of all donators:

Exiting the Palau de la Musica in the west side (the cafe') in the corner of Carrer de Ramon Mas and Carrer del Palau de la Música - we observe the "musical" statue above the entrance to the cafe' and to the Palau:

Exit the Palau de la Musica from the souther side of Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt.  Turn RIGHT (north) to Via Laietana. walk northward along Via Laietana until it connects with Carrer de les Jonqueres. In this intersection stands a  2 x 1 x 1.12 meter bronze bust of Francesc Cambó, the founder and leader of the autonomist party Lliga Regionalista, which advocated autonomy for Catalonia. The rough surface sculpture depicts Francesc Cambó from the waist up with only the head and right arm shown with any detail. Francesc Cambó is looking up and to his right. His right arm is bent at the elbow and crosses his chest. His hand forms a fist. The sculpture was created by Víctor Ochoa Esuetor. During the Spanish Civil War, Cambò financed and supported the Franco faction against Republican forces. He died in Argentina on April 30, 1947:

Take Carrer de les Jonqueres and walk northward. Turn right to Carrer d'Ortigosa and walk along this road with your face to north-east. In the beginning of this road you'll see the back (west) side of the Palau de la Musica (the Music School). Pass Carrer d'Amadeu Vives on your right and 70 m. later, on your left you see this pretty Modernista building with its numerous metal balconies:

We continue walking north-east and Carrer d'Ortigosa continues as Carrer de Trafalgar. We pass Carrer del Bruc on our left and arrive to
Carrer de Méndez Núñez. Here we turn right (south-east). At #3 of Carrer de Méndez Núñez we find a nice restaurant: Obrador Sant Pere. 23 euros for two persons including dessert and light drinks. Delicious, filling and honest service. We head southeast on Carrer de Méndez Núñez toward Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 60 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 20 m. Continue onto Plaça de Sant Pere. Plaça de Sant Pere is a quaint square - the first in a series of atmospheric, pictorial and romantic squares in La Ribera. We are in Sant Pere - the name used to define the neighbourhood above Carrer de la Princesa (and El Born is usually used to describe the area below Carrer de la Princesa). The Plaça de Sant Pere of Barcelona, with the imposing presence of the ancient monastery (see below), is one of the most charming spots in the old town, the Ciutat Vella neighbourhood. Note: from Plaça de Sant Pere - you can see (on your left - north-east) the Arc de Trionf:

A few steps north to Plaça de Sant Pere resides the Parròquia de Sant Pere de les Puel·les: a10th-century Benedictine monastery, Romanesque / Gothic in style. The older style, Romanesque, dates to the 11th century while the later, Gothic style, was built circa 1322. At 945 AD, the year of its consecration, it became Barcelona's first convent of Benedictine nuns. A bell dating to 1752 is present in the octagonal bell tower, which has six bells total. Opening hours: MON-FRI:  9.00 - 13.00, 17.00 - 19.45, SAT:  9.00 - 13.00, 16.30 - 18.00, SUN: 11.00 - 13.15, holidays: 9.30 - 13.00: 

From Plaça de Sant Pere  we continue south-east along Carrer de les Basses de Sant Pere - leaving Candela restaurant on our right and Quillo Bar on our left. In the end of this road - another shady, charming square is waiting for us - Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell. Public transport: Arc de Triomf (line: L1), Jaume I (line: L4). As with other squares in Sant Pere district - you find, here, another couple of excellent and valuable restaurants - Santagustina and Joanet. Both of them are a good bet.
The Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell dferives its name from the monastery of the Augustinian friars established in 1309, which was demolished in large part in 1718. Since then, the square has been called Sant Agustí Vell. Later on, he became known as the Academy Square , a name from the Mathematical Academy specially designed for the training of military engineers here:

From the southern edge of Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell we continue along the right (west) "leg" southward along Carrer dels Carders. Turn LEFT (south-east) to Carrer de l'Allada-Vermell. The street is very close to the Picasso Museum, the church of Santa Maria del Mar and the old Mercado del Born. Not surprisingly, like most of La Riberand Sant Pere streets - this one is narrow and shady street, typical of the old part of the Ciutat Vella of Barcelona. THe street is fluent with eateries, cafe's, bars and colorful locals:

We arrive to Plaça de la Puntual. The name "La Puntual"is derived from a shop that appears in the novel written by the artist Santiago Rusiñol entitled "L'auca del Senyor Esteve", published 1907. His bust stands in Princesa Road 37, a few metres from here. In the square, you find the La Puntual, reputed puppets theatre in Allada Vermell 15 (Catalan & Spanish only): https://www.lapuntual.info/en/

WE turn RIGHT (south-west) to Carrer de la Princesa to see this bust:

On the 2nd turn to the left we turn south-east to Carrer del Flassaders. Actually, we are, now, in El Born. The area NORTH to Princesa street is La Ribera and south to La Princesa - El Born. We turn, immediately, RIGHT, to Plaça de Jaume Sabartés

and continue straight into a narrow road Carrer Cremat Gran that ends in Carrer de Montcada. In the intersection of these two roads - resides Museu Picasso:

The origins of Carrer Montcada can be traced back to the 12th century when the dynasty of nobles of Montcada were given the land by the  Kings of Catalonia as a gratitude for the support they had given to King Ramon Berenguer IV. During this time, Barcelona's noble and merchant classes, who had made their fortunes at sea, started building their magnificent homes here. These mansions were constructed in the Catalan Gothic style around a central courtyard which leads to the first floor via a beautiful staircase:

Carrer de Montcada is dotted with medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings or mansions.  They bear witness to the rich and glorious past of medieval Barcelona's main street which was home to the city's nobles, merchants and barons. The medieval houses are the: Palau Aguilar, Palau Meca and Palau Baró de Castellet (Montcada 15-23), which all house the Museu Picasso (which grew and expanded through the years - extending onto more and more noble buildings in Montcada). The Renaissance ones are the :Palau de Cervelló and the beautiful Baroque Palau Dalmases:

The Palau Dalmases is in Montcada 20. Small, intimate venue for Flamenco (maybe, the best stage in Barcelona. Not touristic), Opera (every Thursday) and other sparkling events. A palace from th 17th century. The façade follows the line of Catalan Gothic style. The most interesting is the Baroque courtyard and its staircase with Salomonic columns that support the rampant arches. The staircase has a frieze depicting the rapture of Europe and Neptune's chariot:

The Palau dels Cervelló, Carrer Montcada, 25 , also known as the Casa dels Giudice or the Cervelló-Giudice Palace, houses the Gaspar Foundation from year 2015. It was built basically during the 16th century , taking advantage of parts of a previous construction of the 15th century . It was the residence of the noble family of the Cervelló until the 18th century , when it became the residence of the Giudice, an important group of Italian, Genoese merchants. Its patio is a typical Renaissance courtyard. The facade, gothic, is one of the best in the street, made with stone slabs perfectly sewn. Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 20.00, SAT: 10.00 - 21.30. Closed: Mondays, January 1st and December 25th. Prices: Adults: 8€, Concessions - students and pensioners: 5€, Groups [10+]: 5€,
Children until 12 years of age: FREE. Fundació Gaspar, mainly, offers a space for promotion of contemporary artists to showcase their work in a formal and public environment. You can expect quality exhibitions of challenging artists, cafe' and shop. Do not let it down. A very good substitute for Museu Picasso:

Museu Picasso is one of the best hits of Barcelona. We, personally, DO NOT SHARE this enthusiasm. Palau Aguilar Montcada, 15 is the main (and first) house of Museu Picasso. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the palace belonged to several noble families from the court of Aragón. It was bought by the Coromines-Desplà dynasty in 1386, members of  Barcelona rich merchants who, in 1400, sold it to the merchant Berenguer d’Aguilar. Major renovations being undertaken between the 15th and 18th centuries. Successive generations of the Aguilar family refurbished the property. The palace passed to the Clerch and Pons families in 1837. Finally, on November 3rd 1953, Barcelona City Council bought it, carrying out extensive restoration work due to the building’s terrible state-of-repair. The central courtyard with the open-air stairway, the pointed arch gallery and the flamboyant Gothic sculptures - all date from the 15th century. Remains of a large late 13th century fresco depicting the conquest of Majorca by King Jaume I in 1229 were uncovered during restoration works in the 1960s. They were moved to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), where they are housed today. The museum is, now, housed in FIVE adjoining medieval palaces in Montcada Street. It opened to the public on 9 March 1963, becoming the first museum dedicated to Picasso's work and the only one created during the artist's life. In December 1970, the museum underwent its first expansion, adding the Palau del Baró de Castellet, which is attached to the original museum building, Palau Aguilar. In 1985, the museum's physical space expanded again with the addition of Palau Mecca. In 2005, The Government of Catalonia declared the institution a museum of national interest. In the late 1990s the museum expanded yet again with the acquisition of Casa Mauri and Palau Finestres (Windows Palace), both on the same street and adjacent to the museum. Opened in 1999, this new extension added 3,400 square meters to the museum, serving as a space for temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, and additional services. The extension was opened with the temporary exhibition Picasso: Interior and Exterior Landscape, with more than 200 works by the artist created between 1917 and 1970. More recently, the museum has built a new building in Sabartés square, behind Montcada Street. This expansion helped alleviate the overcrowding at the entry of the museum. The building was designed by the architect Jordi Garcés, who had completed the previous expansion of the museum.

Palau Aguilar:

Palau Meca:

Palau Finestres:

The permanent Collection: Picasso lived key apprenticeship years in Barcelona. He established and maintained strong links to the city throughout his life and it was here where he wanted his museum to be. His friend and personal secretary Jaume Sabartés proposed, in 1960, the creation of a museum dedicated to the artist’s work to the City Council of Barcelona. By 1963, the museum was a reality and opened its doors in the Gothic Palau Aguilar located at number 15 Carrer de Montcada. The museum opened under the name of the Sabartés Collection, because of Picasso’s strong opposition to Franco’s regime. In the end, Barcelona mayor Josep Porcioles went against the wishes of the central government in order to open the museum. The permanent collection is organized into three sections: painting and drawing, engraving, and ceramics. The collection is organized into areas that include the early years (Málaga, Corunna and Barcelona, 1890–97), the training period (Barcelona, Horta de San Juan and Madrid, 1897–1901), the Blue Period (1901–04), works in Barcelona from 1917, and the entire Las Meninas (1957) series. Most of the paintings on display at the museum are from the period between 1890 and 1917, an important collection in regard to that portion of Picasso's life. The museum has ONLY VERY FEW paintings after 1917 - the most known one is the Las Meninas, painted in 1957.  There are now more than 3,500 works making up the permanent collection of the museum:

The museum collection, at that time, comprised of Sabartés's personal collection and the Picasso works from the Barcelona Museums of Art (for example: Harlequin, donated by the artist in 1919:

Nowadays, Museu Picasso houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter. The museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of Picasso works. Several famous highlights in the permanent collection are:

The First Communion (1896). The painting was created by 15-year-old Picasso (!) on the advice of his father for the Exhibition of Fine Arts in Barcelona in 1896. During the years 1895-1896, Picasso still a student - his drawings contain quite a lot of scenes from the life of Jesus and images of saints. Many years later, the author of many articles and books about the master, Pierre Daix, who knew Picasso more than a quarter century, asked him whether he regretted that he created paintings like "First Communion". And Picasso answered: "No way, back then it was very important for me.":

Science and Charity (1897). Again, this picture was created, following the advice of his father. "The Science and Charity" is no more than a usual genre painting, the composition of which is surely thought-out by Pablo’s father; furthermore, it is evident that its theme and composition are inspired by the painting by Enrique Paternina, "Mother's Visit". It must be noted that this work continues to admire people, who are not into art, wondering how a 15-16 years old teenager managed to paint such a perfect picture:

After Sabartés death in 1968, in 1970 Picasso made his last personal donation to the museum. The donation was made up of 920 varied works, including items from his early work that his family had been keeping for him ever since the time he first settled in France. These included school books, academic pieces and paintings from Picasso's Blue Period. Sabartés himself bequested a number of works upon his death, including a series of 58 paintings on Las Meninas based on Velasquez's famous picture:

As years passed, the museum grew in importance as more substantial donations were made. During the early 1980s the collection was expanded with several donations from individuals and various art galleries, as well as through acquisitions. In 1982, Picasso's widow Jacqueline Roque donated 41 pieces to the museum. In 1983, the Louise Leiris Gallery made a donation of 117 engravings.

During the 1990s the museum acquired works such as Portrait of Jacqueline Roque (one of his wives) (1959), among others:

Practical hints: Allow TWO HOURS for the visit in Museu Picasso. While most people know Pablo Picasso for his distorted portraits, this museum displays his work on a timeline of sorts, allowing you to follow his progression from the more controlled works of his early years to the very whimsical paintings and sculptures from the end of his career. Travelers highly recommend a visit to the Picasso Museum, even if you aren't  Picasso fan or addicted  to art museums in general. Visitors appreciate the way the museum chronicled the art he created throughout his life. Not only that, but seeing his various styles on display make lots of travelers understand and further appreciate his talent after visiting the museum. The TWO main DRAWBACKS are: long queues for tickets and crowds into the museum. Book your tickets on line (especially in FREE DAYS - see below): http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en/

The least crowded time slot is in the morning: from 10 to 11. Try to come just before the opening time - thus your wait will be reduced to minimum. If late, you’ll find those famous queues (longest between 11:00 and 15:00). The biggest crowds gather during weekends, especially on Sundays: the entrance is free after 15:00. The first Sunday of each month you can visit the museum for free the whole day: imagine the waiting lines! It’s THE day to avoid. During high season waiting lines to the Picasso Museum can easily take 1,5 hours of your time, sometimes even more.

For estimation of your waiting time - see: https://www.waitamoment.co.uk/going-abroad/gb-picasso-museum-barcelona/picasso-museum-barcelona-crowds

Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 9.00 -19.00, THU - 9.00 - 21.30. FREE - on the first Sunday of each month. Closed: Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 24th June, 25th December.

FREE-of-charge times: Thursday afternoons 18.00 - 21.30, first Sunday of each month: 09.00 - 19.00, 12th February, 18th May and 24th September.

Prices: Permanent Collection: $11, Permanent Collection + Temporary Exhibition: $14. Concessions - Permanent Collection: $7, Permanent Collection + Temporary Exhibition: $7.5.

GUIDED TOURS (in English): Permanent Collection: Sundays - 1.00, Temporary Exhibition - Saturdays - 15.30.

AUDIO GUIDES (Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and South Korea): Collection: € 5, Temporary exhibition: € 4, Collection + temporary: € 7.

We continue our itinerary in La Ribera in Tip 2 below.

Barcelona - the Gothic Quarter

Brenda Furley

Spain

Barcelona - Barri Gòtic.

Tip 1: from La Rambla to Plaça del Rei.

Main Attractions of Tip 1 only: Placa de la Boqueria, Casa Bruno Cuadros, Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Plaça Sant Jaume, Palau de la Generalitat, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Plaça de Sant Miquel, Plaça de Sant Just, Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor, MUHBA Temple d'August, Plaça del Rei, Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA).

Tip 2: from Plaça del Rei and Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) to Plaça Nova.

Main Attractions of Tip 2: Museu Frederic Marès, Cathedral of Barcelona (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia), Pont del Bisbe, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Plaça Nova.

Tip 3: from Plaça del Pi to Plaza de San Felipe Neri.

Main Attractions of Tip 3: Plaça del Pi, Plaza de San Felipe Neri.

Start: Liceu Metro station, La Rambla. End: La Rambla - Liceu Metro station. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7-9 km.

Introduction: Do not miss the Barrio Gotico (Barri Gotic) With its iconic, old-Europe streets and alleys, this picturesque neighborhood is the very heart of Barcelona. It blends historic artifacts from its days under Roman dominion up through the Spanish Civil War with a vibrant modern-day culture of artisan shops and authentic culinary experiences. Avid explorers will be thrilled to discover quaint terraces and plazas
brought to life by the many small bars and local musicians lasting late into the night.The Barrio Gotico (Gotic Quarter) resides between La Rambla, Plaça Sant Jaume and the Barcelona Cathedral.

From the Liceu Metro station - we cross the Rambla avenue from west to east and walk a bit northward to connect with Placa de la Boqueria. The term Rambla used for this avenue, is due to Arabic, that means seasonal river. It is well tree-lined avenue with some kiosks selling handicrafts, with dining tables, with two parallel streets, which run from Placa Catalunya to the old port of Barcelona. Pla de la Boqueria is a bit north and adjacent to the mosaic by Joan Miró (created around 1976) in the Pla de l’Os. Placa de la Boqueria has many flower stalls. Note the impressive sculpture into one of the square's walls:

The Casa Bruno Cuadros or the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) stands in the beginning of Carrer de la Boqueria (on your left). Just make sure you look upwards at the buildings as you're walking in the la Boqueria square on the other side of Mercado La Boqueria. You might miss it without realizing it. It was 1883 when the architect Josep Vilaseca undertook the refurbishment of the Casa Bruno Cuadros and the umbrella shop on the ground floor. It was just a few years before the 1888 Universal Exhibition and Barcelona was in an hype of expansion, with interesting buildings being built all over the city. The Catalan home-grown art-nouveau movement, Modernista, was gaining momentum and, with it, the tendecy for oriental and exotic decorations. The Casa Bruno Cuadros of Barcelona, known by locals as the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) is an example. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s most opulent decorative element is the ornate Chinese dragon on the corner of the façade. It was used to advertise the shop, together with the umbrella below it. The building was refurbished in 1980, and the BBVA bank has, now, its premises in the stunning umbrellas shop of Barcelona.

Josep Vilaseca combined the former style of Modernista with more types of architectural elements inspired by other cultures into an eclectic building which amazes everyone who walks along La Rambla. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s balconies and the top-floor gallery are replete with Egyptian imagery. The façade features elaborate stained-glass windows as well as reliefs of umbrellas and fans made of cast-iron. Oriental motifs (people taken from Japanese prints) and enameled glasses decorate the outer walls.

Art Deco dragon at the Placa de la Boqueria:

We walk along Carrer de la Boqueria, for the whole road, from west to east. The road slights, a bit, left (to Carrer dels Banys Nous), and continues (immediately, RIGHT) as Carrer del Call. We enter labyrinth narrow streets in el Call - the Jewish Quarter. From Calle del Call turn left onto Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 35 m. In this narrow road you can can find many places of interest like the Centred Interpretació the Call (Arc de Sant Ramon). This place is in the House called the Alchemist - a very old building of 14th century. On your right, immediately as you enter this road - Hotel call. The Momo bar/restaurant is in Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 6. Japan's number one outlet in Barcelona. Authentic Japanese restaurant.

Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call - on the right: Centro de Interpretación del Call (MUHBA):

Turn right to Carrer de Marlet and after 30 m. you see the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Carrer de Marlet, 5 on your left.

Few people know however is that Barcelona is in fact home to a fascinating Jewish history, the echoes of which can still be found today in the fascinating quarter of El Call in Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic. It is said that Jewish people had lived in the region from as early as the Roman period and their culture had flourished up until the dawn of the horrendous Spanish Inquisition in 1391. They had resided in what was known as El Call (probably from the Hebrew ‘Kahal’ or ‘Kehilla’ meaning community), an area of the Barri Gòtic (Barrio Gotico). However, on August the 5th 1391 came the infamous massacre of the Jews in Barcelona causing, apart from the obvious huge loss of life, a vast fleeing from the city or at best the conversion to the Christian faith. Jewish public life virtually disappeared for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Jewish people started returning to the Catalan capital.

Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the history of the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona – the city’s once principal synagogue, located on Carrer de Marlet 5, (or at number 7, Sant Domènec del Call street), right in the heart of the old Jewish neighborhood. inside the block lying between the streets Sant Domènec, Marlet and Arc de Sant Ramon del Call and the current Manuel Ribé square. It had tree access doors: via Marlet street,

via an alley which has since disappeared which left number 8 of Arc de Sant Ramon del Call street and the entrance at number 9 of Sant Domènec street. At the start of the street there was the entrance portal, the doorkeeper´s house and the Jewish butcher's which, although not an institution, it was the place where kosher meat was sold. With Roman foundations, the building is thought to have existed in some shape or form since the 5th century, and along with Rome’s Ostia synagogue is said to be one of the oldest in Europe. It has been described as one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building re-opened as a synagogue and museum in year 2002. It is used ONLY during festive occasions. Archaeological excavations show that the original structure of the building was built in the third or fourth century; whether this structure was the synagogue is uncertain. The building was expanded during the 13th century. Medieval Barcelona is known to have had several synagogues, and the main synagogue was certainly in the immediate area. King Jaume I visited the synagogue in year 1263. Shlomo ben Aderet served as the Rabbi of the Barcelona Sinagoga Major for 50 years.

Ancient Hebrew street signs and engravings, secret Jewish baths and ancient Jewish ruins are hidden beneath and under existing cafés and shops in El Call. As we said before - the Sinagoga Major was restored and finally opened to the public in 2002. This captivating building is well worth the visit and the entrance is, especially, fascinating: a small door leading down flights of stairs to the original street level of the Roman foundations. In the left room of the synagogue you’ll notice two large windows. These windows face to the east, to the city of Jerusalem.

The building also has other interesting curiosities such as displays of Jewish items revealing a great deal about the culture and society of the community. Today no regular services are held in the synagogue however special ceremonies do occasionally take place. Tours of the building are available in both English and Hebrew. Opening hours: Summer: MON – FRI: 10.30 – 18.30, SAT - SUN: 10.30 – 14.30. Winter: MON – FRI: 11.00 – 18.00, SAT - SUN: 11.00 – 15.00.

The Menorah in the ancient Sinagoga Major:

Walk until the most northern end of Marlet street and turn right to Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call:

Do not miss the the Tinglado tapas bar in Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call, 10. This is a tiny, very low key restaurant in a lane way that you could easily walk past and miss - but don't. Very special experience and tastes - very high quality tapas with chocolate candies, salads , cakes etc'. If you do not like them, you do not have to pay for. English-speaking owner. Reasonable prices. Sweet and polite (not pushy) service.

From Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call - turn LEFT back to Carrer del Call. Walk north-east along Carrer del Call until you arrive to Plaça Sant Jaume.  We shall return to Plaça Sant Jaume, but, at the moment, turn left to Carrer de Sant Honorat. This road was the epic centre of the rich Jewish community in Barcelona.  On your right, in this road, is the Gothic, robust and austere facade of the Catalan Generalitat. It corresponds to the old houses of great Jewish families who left Barcelona when the Call was abolished in 1401 . At that time, the Jewish houses were confiscated and passed to private hands or public institutions. In the 17th century , the Generalitat palace was expanded under the direction of Pere Pau Ferrer, as we see it today.

In Calle Sant Honorat, 9 you see the first Catalan school opened in Catalonia:

We return southward to Plaça Sant Jaume. This is the administrative heart of both Barcelona the city and surrounding Catalonia. it derives its reputation and importance due the Palau de la Generalitat (Palace of the Generalitat) of Catalonia and the City Hall (Ayuntamento) which are located here across from one another. This square was the centre of the Roman city of Barcino. At this junction there were the forum and the Temple of Augustus, of which four columns are preserved on top of Mont Tàbor and found at the adjacent Paradís Street. The Square takes its modern name from the church of Church of Sant Jaume, The old church was demolished in 1823 when Ferran Street was being built. Its demolition also allowed for the Sant Jaume square to be rebuilt as it exists today. Prior to these demolitions, the square was limited to a small angular space, with the rest of the future plaza being occupied by the old church, its cemetery, and the houses of the Magistracy and the General Court of the Veguer. Here, in this square converged, the Cardus (now Carrer de la Llibreteria and Carrer Call), and the Decumanus (now Carrer Ciutat and Carrer del Bisbe) in the Roman era. This square has been witness to some of the most important events in recent Catalan history, such as the proclamation of the Catalan State in 1931 or the return of Josep Tarradelles from exile in 1977. On Sunday mornings, people come to dance the Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia. It is a very Catalan event and worth watching by foreigners and tourists (see Tip 2).

The Palau de la Generalitat was built to provide a permanent seat for the Corts Catalanes, the Catalan Assembly set up in 1283 which is referred to as "the first parliament in Europe". The Palau de la Generalitat is one the most historically rich places in Barcelona. It is bounded by the Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de Sant Sever and Carrer de Sant Honorat. As the name indicates, it is home to the offices of the Generalitat of Spain and houses governmental institutions. The building was built during the medieval era which makes it one of the very few structures in all of Europe from that time period. The building and its  façade were designed by Pere Blai in 1596. This façade faces the Placa de Sant Jaume and is unique in the fact that it is perhaps the only façade built based on this style in all of Barcelona. The Catalan parliament was abolished in 1714, when the city fell to Philip V's army, but it was reinstated in the 20th century during the Second Republic, only to be suppressed again by General Franco after he won the Civil War in 1939. In 1977, two years after Franco's death, Spain was moving towards democracy and the former President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Josep Tarradellas returned from exile to Barcelona and uttered the historic words: "Catalans, I am here!". He spoke from the main balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, in front of Andreu Aleu's sculpture of Saint George (1860). The gallery floor, and the inner courtyard, inside, are very beautiful. Inside the building there is a superb Gothic cloister, with a staircase designed by Marc Safont, who also created the façade on Carrer del Bisbe (the former main entrance) and the beautiful chapel on the first floor, built in the flamboyant Gothic style:

Upon prior arrangement (http://www.catalangovernment.eu/pres_gov/government/en/president/palau-generalitat/visites.html), the Palau de la Generalitat can be visited on the second and fourth weekend of every month (excluding August). Each guided visit is free, lasts approximately one hour and should be prearranged by filling out the application form below. Saint George's Day (23 April), La Mercè (24 September) and the National Day of Catalonia (11 September) are all open days at the Palau de la Generalitat. No appointment is necessary. On these dates - admission is FREE.

Opposite the Generalitat Palace stands Ajuntament de Barcelona or Barcelona City Hall or Casa de la Ciutat. The neoclassical façade was, designed by Pere Llobet and built in the 14th century. There is a tourist information office on the ground floor of the building:

South to Plaça Sant Jaume resides Plaça de Sant Miquel. A nice square with modern, attractive sculptures. The most impressive sculpture is Antoni Llena’s chicken wire tribute to "Castellers" - the human beings' tower building in festivities of Catalonia. This unusual 26.5m high stainless steel tower by Antoni Llena i Font was unveiled in 2012 during the Feast of Santa Eulalia. It is titled "Homenatge als Castellers". In the real human towers the lower layers are formed by men, the middle layers by women and teenagers and the upper levels by children. The unattached part(s) at the top of the sculpture bring to mind the outstretched arm of the "Enxaneta" or small child who tops the tower:

From Plaça de Sant Miquel head northwest, 20 m. Turn right toward Placa de Sant Jaume, 40 m. Turn right onto the square further for 45 m.
Turn right 35 m. Turn left, 70 m. We arrive to Plaça de Sant Just. Placa Sant Just lies deep in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It was once the burial place of the first local Christian martyrs. Back in the Middle Ages it was the only place of Barcelona where Jews and Christians were allowed to trade legally together. A testament to that period is the 14th century fountain (Font de San Just) said to be the oldest water source in the city. Made of Montjuïc stone, it was carved in 1367 (BUT it is now a 19th century version). The fountain is bearing an image of St. Justo along with a pair of falcons and the kings’ coat of arms. Freshen up your face or fill a water bottle for a free clean drink:

The 13th-century church on the plaza, the Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor is an ancient church, perhaps one of the oldest in the city of Barcelona. It stands on the site of the original 4th-century Christian basilica in Barcino (Roman Barcelona), and the predecessor to this Gothic church functioned as the seat of the archbishop until the city’s cathedral was constructed. The Church of the Martyred Saints Just & Pastor is said to contain remains of the two martyrs: Saint Justo and Pastor who lost their lives in the fourth century. Looking from the outside it is hard to imagine that a major part of the church represents the original Visigothic style of art and architecture and that later modifications were done on the structure. This plain stone edifice was ever used for anything as grand as a cathedral. Back in the eleventh century, this particular church was a cathedral during the time that the Romanesque cathedral was under construction:

The church boasts Gothic architecture. Some of the relics that once belonged to these two saints have been preserved in a chest and are present in this church. The entrance to the church is grand and there is a courtyard present at the left side. Looking up from the wooden benches, the magnificent stained glass windows come into sight. Walk forward and you'll find yourself in a chapel adorned with statues and chandeliers. If hungry and wish to soak up the atmosphere of the square, have a dinner outside at the famous Café de l'Academia:



From Plaça de Sant Just we zigzag towards MUHBA Temple d'August. Head southwest for 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza de San Jaime, 40 m. Now, turn left toward Plaza de San Jaime, 35 m. Turn right onto Plaza de San Jaime, 50 m, turn right 40 m and you'll see the sign of Temple Roma d'August, Carrer del Paradís,10. Temple d'August or the temple of Augustus was built during the Roman Imperial period as a temple for the Emperor Augustus. The Temple d’August is believed to have been constructed under Tiberius. The temple originally had 11 columns on every wing, one on each corner, 6 at the front and 6 on the posterior side. The original temple was destroyed at some point in history and archeologists failed to recover the remains till the 19th century. It was then that initially 3 columns of the temple, followed by the fourth one were found and are visible today near the Placa del Rei (see below) and the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya. Entry is FREE, and it's usually quite peaceful unless a passing tour pops in. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. MON: 10.00 - 14.00:

 

110 m. further north is the Plaza del Rey. From the Temple of Augustus we head northwest, 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza del Rey, 65 m. Turn a bit to the left and on your right is the Plaça del Rei ("King's Square"). The royal palace, the Palau Reial Major, and its surrounding buildings, enclose a noble, harmonious and peaceful square. No shops and no bars. This small square is just about history and architecture. 

The imposing royal building that we see in front of us (north side of the square) is the Palau Reial Major. The palace was the residence of the Catalan counts from the 13th to the early 15th centuries, and the history of the building can be traced back even to the Barcelona of the 11th century. Its current appearance is the result of alterations carried out in the 13th century. The building is Gothic in style, but the base of the building features Visigothic and Romanesque elements. It is equipped with the watchtower of King (Rei or Rey) Martí on one side. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Children: FREE. Free admission on the first Sunday of the month, and every Sunday from 15.00.

Palau Reial Major (centre of the picture):

Inside, the Great Hall, or Saló del Tinell, with its round arches, is the most representative and beautiful room in the Palau Reial Major:

On one side of the building (with your face tothe Royal Palace - on the right), on top of the old Roman wall of Barcelona. Santa Agata chapel is also known as the Royal Chapel. It was built in 1302 by order of Jaime II and his wife Blanca D'Anjou. Opening hours: TUE - SAT:10.00 - 19.00, WED: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Groups: €5, Children: FREE:

Inside, the Agatha chapel houses the 15th century reredos of the High Constable, by Jaume Huguet, one of the landmarks in Catalan painting. A staircase that leads to the sixteenth century tower by Martín el Humano is accessed from a small room to the right of the altar:

The building opposite is the 16th-century Palau del Lloctinent, or Lieutenant's Palace, which has a beautiful Renaissance courtyard. The Palau (palace) was built in the 1550s as the residence of the Spanish Lloctinent (viceroy) of Catalonia and later converted into a convent. From 1853 it housed the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragón, a unique archive with documents detailing the history of the Crown of Aragón and Catalonia, starting in the 12th century and reaching to the 21st. Entrance from Carrer dels Comtes de Barcelona 2:

From Placa del Rei walk eastward 30 m. along Carrer del Veguer to enter the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA). Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Price: 7 euros. FREE admission every first Wednesday of the month. DO NOT MISS THIS MUSEUM. Beautifully presented Roman and early Christian excavations. Excellent voice commentary and clear directions. Most of the museum exhibitions are underground. You actually go below the streets of medieval Barcelona to see the older Roman city of Barcino. You will be blown away by the Roman archeological ruins which are very interesting and have good explanations. You follow a walk way through the Roman ruins listening to an audio guide and It is really fascinating. The Roman ruins are displayed In the basement of the museum  You walk on top of the foundations and view them through a plexi-glass floor. Note: during the summer months the temperature downstairs in the MUHBA halls can be a bit too high. Expect the aircon system there to solve this problem entirely. 

After entering the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona - MUHBA we shall walk around (eastward) its walls. Head southeast on Plaça del Rei toward Baixada de Santa Clara, 20 m. Continue onto Carrer del Veguer, 60 m. Continue onto Carrer de les Trompetes de Jaume I, 25 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Jaume I, 35 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de l'Àngel, 20 m. From Plaça de l'Àngel - you can see the eastern wall of the Palau Reial Major:

Head BACK southwest on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Carrer del Sots - Tinent Navarro, 20 m. Turn right to stay on plaça de l'Àngel, 25 m. Turn left onto Baixada de la Llibreteria, 60 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Freneria
20 m and walk until you arrive to Plaça De Sant Iu and see, again, the towering Cathedral of Barcelona:

From Plaça De Sant Iu - there is an entrance to Museu Frederic Mares  (see Tip 2 below). We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our itinerary in the Barri Gotic. Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA). 

Barcelona - El Raval

Brenda Furley

Spain

El Ravel:

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

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

The daily El Raval tour is divided into two parts:

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

Tip 2: from La Boqueria to Palau Güell.

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

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

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

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

From Plaça de Catalunya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

Continue onto Plaça del Bonsuccés, 30 m.

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

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

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

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

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

Brenda Furley

Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poster of the festival from year 1933:

Poster from year 1933:

Poster from year 1936:

La Mareta - 1936:

Llaurradors Ballant, 1935:

Museo Fallero - El Vell del Violi - 1942:

Museo Fallero - Cantinflas i Don Manoliti - 1946:

El Dolcainer San Felieu - 1949:

Poster from year 1950:

Lladre de Coloms - 1954:

Familia de Turistes Indes - 1956:

Vespa Tipus Llonganisso a Missa - 1958:

Falla Plaza del Ayuntamento:

El Castic de - Ser - ne Massa - 1961:

Ambmala Fortuna - 1965:

Cabassada de Xiquets, 1969:

Praella de Hippis, 1971:

El Palleter - 1973:

Transeunts de POble - 1974:

Despertar a L'erotisme - 1976:

La Corda Fluixa - 1980:

Museo Fallero - Canvils Senda vella per Novella - 1981:

La Dama de L'engrunsadora - 1982:

Valencia, Mova i Christina - 1987:

Familia Japoneso - 1991:

emple Hindu - 1992:

Amb le Poli en els Talons - 1995:

Espantall - 1996:

L'embogador - 2000:

Es Xopa... i Fins LaIaia - 2001:

Per l'Horta - 2003:

Amor Incondicional - 2005:

Iain Valentin - 2011:

Quina Monada - 2012:

El Clasics mai moven - 2013:

Miguel Cervantes - 2014:

La Cochina d e las Abuela - 2015:

Grucho Marx:

Frederico Fellini:

Boris Karloff - MGM:

Queen of Fallas Festival in Valencia - 1998:

Queen of Fallas Festival in Valencia - 2010: