Friday, 28 November 2008

Barcelona in February Well worth a visit

Barcelona is hip, vibrant, welcoming. The capital of Catalonia and one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, it's an eclectic mixture of Gothic, 'modernist' and contemporary architectural treasures.

Its most famous landmark is the Sagrada Familia cathedral, the fairy-tale like building in the northern part of the city centre. Its creator, Antoni Gaudi, commenced work on it in 1882 and concentrated all his energies on it until his untimely death in 1926, when he was run-over by a tram. The SAGRADA FAMILIA is still under construction and may take another 50 years to complete. You can visit its interior and take a lift to the top of the building.
Gaudi was born in Reus, in the province of Tarragona in 1852 and was the undoubted leader of the 'modernist' movement that began in the second half of the 19th century. If you want to see some of the most original buildings, which took the art nouveau concept to new heights, head for the L'EIXAMPLE area, to the north-west of the RAMBLAS in the BARRI GOTHIC area, a stone's throw from the port.
The Barri Gothic 'quartier' is the oldest part of the city; a mix of narrow streets and beautiful squares and for lovers of Tapas bars, a paradise. The TAVERNA DEL BISBE, close to the Gothic cathedral, serves wonderful grilled fish such as calamars, which you can wash down with excellent Rioja. Hotel Jardi is a 2-star hotel in this area, which is clean, welcoming and won't burn a hole in your pocket. It's located in . Plaça Sant Josep Oriol 1, Barri Gòtic.
Just off the Ramblas in Placa Reial, is the TAXIDERMISTA an excellent medium priced restaurant which serves a mix of Catalonian dishes and ones from other European countries. It's one of the few restaurants outside of northern Italy that prepares memorable risotto.

GUELL PARK (pictured top left)in the north ot the city has wonderful views of Barcelona and the sea beyond. Another Gaudi masterpiece appeals to kids of all ages and, importantly, includes the house where Gaudi lived for many years, replete with the original furniture - also created by the master architect / designer.
LA BARCELONETA at the sea was a shanty-beach before Barcelona was awarded the 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES. It was part of the Olympic Port area for the watersport activities of the Games and is close to the Olympic Village. There is a cluster of good, medium priced tapas bars and restaurants on the beach, including AGUA, a neat restaurant that serves delicious food.
L'ASCENSOR (You acually walk through an old lift to enter the bar) the middle of the Barri Gothic quarter is an intimate little bar, ideal for a nightcap to finish the day's visits.

L'EIXAMPLE, north of the Barrio Gothic and west of LAS RAMBLAS, is the district where most of the 'modernist' buildings of Gaudi and his contemporaries Puig and Domenech i Montaner created their original buildings for their clients in the second part of the 19th century. Definitely worth visiting.

TOUR AGBAR, designed by Jean Nouvel, is a dramatic cigar-shaped skyscraper 142 metres high. It's covered by 60,000 pieces of coloured glass.
CATALAN MUSIC MUSEUM (La Muisica) is another superb piece of modernist architecture, created in the early 20th century by Lluis Domenech i Montamer.
PLACA REIAL, close to the Ramblas, is elegant with its palm trees and elegant arcades.

CAMP NOU is home to the FC Barcelona club, currently the best in Spain and also in Europe.
Enjoy your visit to Barcelona, Spain

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