Pack your most comfortable walking shoes because the best way to get to know any city is on foot. A well-planned walking tour in Barcelona starting in the modern City taking in the wonders of modernista architecture and on in the afternoon to the Old City and its Gothic wonders and museums.
La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family Church) in the Calle Mallorca, was designed by Antoni Gaudi, who continued to oversee its construction until his death in 1926. Building began in 1882 and is still (would you believe?) ongoing. This great edifice has become the centre of controversy as many disagree with the interpretations of Gaudi’s ideas in the later sections, and it is thought that the newer sections have been built with materials that Gaudi would never have used. So this is a very interesting place to start as there is much to see and discover. If you don’t want to be caught in a queue to gain entrance it is a good idea to pre-book your entry ticket. Oh yes, because it is a church you are expected to dress in a respectful manner – no tank tops, low necklines, short shorts or sandals. Entry tickets
La Pedrera in the Passeig de Gràcia, is Antoni Gaudi’s avant-garde apartment building, a building you really must see. This amazing building appears to have been carved straight from nature with its curves, rather like the waves of the ocean, running from the Passeig de Gràcia around the corner into Provença Street. But the highlights of this amazing structure are its many chimneys that remind you a little of characters from ‘Star Wars’. Entry tickets
Casa Batllo in the Passeig de Gràcia. The façade was completed by Antoni Gaudi in 1906 and is thought to represent St George and the dragon. The roof of the building simulates a dragon’s back with blue-green scales and the balconies the jaws of monsters. Inside there are many items of Gaudi-designed furniture which are amazingly different and completely stunning. Entry tickets
Casa Amatller in the Passeig de Gràcia, the first building on the Manzan de la Disòrdia, was built in 1900 by a contemporary of Gaudi’s, Puig i Cadafalch. A ceramic covered façade with ironwork and carved stone themes related to the businesses and hobbies of the owners. Entry tickets
Casa Lleó Morera in the Passeig de Gràcia is the final in the Block of Discord. A beautifully ornate house completed in 1905 and designed by Domènech i Montaner who also designed El Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital Sant Pau. It is especially worth revisiting to see it illuminated at night. You cannot enter the building but it is a great end to your morning of modernista architectural discovery.
A bite of lunch – head for La Rambla with its many cafés and tapas bars.
La Rambla is subdivided into five separate Ramblas each with its own unique character and attractions. Lining La Rambla is flower sellers, newspaper stands, bird sellers, and street performers. Halfway down on the left is the Plaça Reial a glorious square of cafés, palm trees, arcades and the famed Gaudi lamp posts.
Mercat de La Boquería especially of interest to Foodies as it is Europe’s largest and most dynamic food market. Here you can wander among the more than 300 stalls and just take in all you see. The selling of fish, meats, local specialities, the wild mushrooms, enormous prawns and octopus, all just a taste of the Catalonian love of good food.
Catedral de Barcelona a wondrous example of Gothic architecture and the focal point of the Old City. Construction was begun in 1298 but not completed until well into the 15th The cloister affords a welcome moment of peace and tranquillity during your walk with pond magnolias, orange trees and gaggles of geese. Entry is with a donation
Museu Picasso houses the largest collection of Pablo Picasso paintings and sculptures in Spain and although he was born in the South of Spain he spent much of his creative time here in Barcelona. The highlight of the collection is Las Meninas a series of 59 paintings based on the masterpiece by Velázquez. The museum occupies a number of exquisite 15th-century palaces and is on a quiet pedestrian only street, Montacada 15 – 13: Entry tickets
Santa Maria del Mar in the Plaça de Santa Maria is a stunningly beautiful 14th-century Gothic church. Do not expect jewel-encrusted walls or opulence as it is simple and solemn but inside is a truly fabulous art collection. The glories of the architecture of the time are seen in the perfect proportions of the three naves which tower above you and its widely spaced columns. The stained-glass windows will give you many things to ponder.
Late afternoon or early evening refreshment can be found in the square across from Santa Maria del Mar where you will find several small and ambient wine bars.