From Roman remains unearthed in a sprawling Gothic Quarter to fantastical creations born from the wilder mind of Antoni Gaudí, the buildings of Barcelona are as unique as they are unmissable.
For art historians and architectural scholars, Antoni Gaudí is like Marmite; either admired as a genius of 20th century Catalonian Modernism or considered a madman who ruined a city with his gaudy creations. Love him or hate him, the architect revolutionised the cityscape of Barcelona with his unmistakeable style. Like the Hansel and Gretel houses in the storybooks of our childhood, Gaudí’s fabulous facades demonstrate an imagination run wild, with curving walls, ceramic mosaics and colours so bright they make it impossible not to reach for your camera.
Parc Güell houses some of Gaudí’s most iconic works, whilst Casa Milà, known as La Pedrera, is instantly recognisable by the sculptured curves of its limestone front. Standing proud before La Rambla, the magical multi-coloured façade of Casa Batlló is one of the most photographed sights in the world, though it is the spectacular Sagrada Família that Gaudí himself considered to be his greatest work, an opinion shared by almost all who have ever visited.
Barcelona’s best architecture spreads itself across the city and you’ll find something new around each corner. Visit Montjuïc Hill, at the foot of which you’ll find the domed Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and the Carles Buïgas’ illuminated Magic Fountain. Experience the sights, sounds and street stalls of Barcelona’s most emblematic street, La Rambla, walking its entire length from Plaça Catalunya to the Passeig de Colóm promenade. Be sure to call into La Boqueria along the way, pulling up a stool at one of the world-famous market’s counters to eat fish freshly caught that morning.
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is the heart of the city’s Old Town, occupying the area immediately around the impressive Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia. A must-see when in Barcelona, the cathedral is famed for the 13 geese that occupy its 14th century cloister, each goose representing a year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulàlia.
The Gothic Quarter labyrinth of ancient streets radiates from the cathedral, housing attractions such as the Church of Santa Maria del Pi, the Jewish district of El Call and the 13th century Palau Aguilar, home of the Museu Picasso, within its boundaries. One of the districts most intriguing features was discovered as recently as the 1920s, when excavations unearthed 4,000 square metres of Roman streets, villas and storage tanks, many of which date back over a century BC. The findings were incorporated within the impressive Museu d’Història de Barcelona, which is accessed by the equally impressive Gothic palazzo of Casa Padellàs.