No, this is not going to be a political report from our last week’s citytrip to Barcelona. Although you can’t really ignore it on the spot: Catalonia MUST become free and independent. Four years ago we were in Barcelona for the last time and back then we saw some Catalan flags and signs of protest here and there but today it is obvious and I do wish that the Catalans’ dream of centuries will come true, sooner or later.
Okay, Barcelona! A hip and trendy city, but also a city that has something for all ages. We have visited Barcelona before and therefore we decided to follow ‘our noses’, although I had some visits on the program. No Sagrada Familia, no Park Güell, no Casa Milà (La Pedrera), no Picasso museum and no hop-on hop-off bus (I hate it). We did want to see some more of designer/architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
On our first night we attended a concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana. For me, one of the most impressive buildings in Barcelona, by Montaner (on UNESCO’s WH List since 1997). Last time we took the guided tour during which we could sample the acoustics in the concert hall. Magical! That’s why we wanted to hear a full concert this time. On the program on 16th April was Trio Ludwig with chamber music by Beethoven for piano, violin and cello. We enjoyed it very much. If you ever want to do this ... book tickets well in advance
During one of our walks on Passeig de Gràcia, we passed Casa Batlló, one of Gaudí’s masterpieces. We had been before but we both wanted to visit again to admire the fantasy of the master. The ‘skip the line’ line was extremely long and there was nobody waiting at the ticket counter. Buying tickets at the counter costs 4 euros more than online but a big advantage is that you can enter the house directly. I also had a discount voucher from booking.com (discounts for almost all the sights when you book your hotelroom through them), so that compensated for the higher price. TIP: forget the ‘skip the line’ tickets if you don’t want to wait for a long time.
After Casa Batlló we walked all the way to Casa Vicens, Gaudí’s first private house and one of the first buildings in catalan modernist style (comparable to art nouveau) in Catalonia and in the world. Casa Vicens is on the WH list of UNESCO since 2005. Lots of colour, round shapes, domes, trompe-l’oeils, ceramics and mosaics. Really worth seeing and not (yet) very crowded after the recent long restoration.
Another building we wanted to see was the Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau, also by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It’s a huge complex and one of the most important exponents of catalan modernism. There’s a main building and 27 pavillons where the patients were cared for. The pavillons are connected with each other by wide underground corridors. We see the same characteristics than at the Palau de la Música Catalana: lots of colour, beautiful mosaics. UNESCO site since 1997. We found the old hospital a bit hard to find. We traveled there by metro and once you leave the metro you’re at the entrance of the new hospital. The entrance to the historical hospital is around the block, a 10 min. walk.
lagatta Yes, we found a small boutique hotel, Cami Bed & Gallery, very centrally located in a historical building of the year 1900 with an antique working elevator. Big rooms with high ceilings, very comfortable. Extremely nice staff and owner (a Mexican lady).
Oh my goodness gracious sakes alive! I know I'm showing what a rube I am, but ~ I had no idea!
Amboseli, these fantastical flights of beauty boggle the mind. I always wanted to visit Barcelona, but I think the hype put me off to the point I imagined it was mostly the well-known Gaudi sites and Las Ramblas.
It was almost hard to catch my breath after the Palau de la Música Catalana pictures, but the treats just keep on coming. You really take the most wonderful interior shots, too ~ the windows, the staircase, that hallway! I'm going to have to come back and look again and again to take it all in. Can't wait to see what else you have to show.
Most interesting that you led off with a hope for Catalan independence. Things seem peaceful at the moment, especially since it could have all gone sky-high after Spain's autocratic actions this past autumn.
I'm glad to see these lovely photographs mostly because I have no intention of returning to Barcelona. I have been 3 times, the last being in the mid-1990s when it was already full of tourists, even though you could still get into Parc Guell without having to pay or stand in line. Too much hype, too many tourists nowadays.
I know quite a few Spanish-descended people in Toulouse, some from Catalonia (from the Republicans who had to leave during the Spanish civil war), and none of them like the idea of Catalonian independence. We also had a "Spanish" teacher from Barcelona and he kept telling us how to say things in Catalan, which I don't care about and was not what I was paying for.
We burnt candles for our deceased parents in the Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia (La Seu) and admired the Basilica Santa María del Mar. Both are impressive gotic constructions with a lot of ornaments and beautiful stained glass windows.
We took a daytrip by train to Montserrat to see the monastery. Monserrat is 45 km inland from Barcelona in the mountains. The monastery itself is not really a marvel of architecture. The reason many people visit this monastery is the statue of the black madonna, 'la Moreneta', patron saint of Catalonia,in a shrine high above the altar in the monastic basilica. It’s a golden statue from the 12th century and a lot of miracles are awarded to the Madonna. I found it a bit disappointing, all rather commercial and nothing to see outside the basilica and the museum. Fortunately, the environment was very nice, but the train journey was long (one and a half hours one-way) and it is only after you have switched to the rack railway that you have a view of the special mountain peaks between which the monastery is 'hidden'.
We took a walk in the pretty Parc de la Ciutadella, on Las Ramblas and in the little streets of El Born. We visited Santa Caterina and La Boqueria markets and we spent time in chiringuitos at the beach in Barceloneta but most of all we walked, and walked, and walked. And we had a great time.
I assume the area was volcanic, absolutely too steep for me. The decor of the religious buildings is extremely ornate, par for the course I suppose. But I always marvel at the craftsmanship that has been devoted to those places.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
The architecture of Barcelona is totally spectacular. Unfortunately, I haven't been there for about 25 years, not counting driving through once without stopping. I know there is a lot more grafitti than you showed, but I am perfectly happy not to see it for once.
Amboseli, this has to be one of the richest, most varied and beautiful reports every posted on Anyport. What a feast! Your cathedral & basilica photos are magnificent and perfectly followed by the giant cathedral-like landscape of Montserrat. That view from up high is breath-taking.
The market is a treasure house. I think that last picture shows more tropical treats than I see all year, even in my climate. And before we pass out from all that color and exoticism, you take us out to the water's edge for some fresh air. That ending picture is a killer. Thanks so much for this!