Barcelona – Cultural Metropolis at the Mediterranean Sea
Catalonia's capital is a cultural, artful and lively metropolis at the Mediterranean Sea. Its many sights and cultural sites as well as the influences of different eras make the city a unique piece of art.
Geography - Barcelona's seven hills
Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and lies at the Mediterranean coast, about 120 kilometres south of the Pyrenees. Almost 1.6 million people live in the second biggest Spanish city, which makes it the eleventh biggest metropolis in the whole of the European Union. The mountain range of the Serra de Collserola with the Tibidabo (512 Meter) as its highest mountain protrudes in the city's background. Its peak is decorated with the TV Tower Torre de Collserola, which is 288.4 metres high. The city, which is located on a plateau with a width of about five kilometres, is crossed by small hills, which name the corresponding city districts: Carmel, Monterols, Putxet, Rovira and Peira. Another mountain in Barcelona is the Montjuïc (173 m) with the Castell de Montjuïc on its peak. About 30 million tourists visit the seaside metropolis every year. Therefore, it is not surpsising that Barcelona ranks fourth among the most popular destinations for city trips in Europe. The climate of the Catalan capital is mostly Mediterranean, which is why the winters are rather humid and mild and the summers dry and hot.
Nature - Artful parks, a long sandy beach and the peak of Tibidabo
Barcelona has many parks and green oases, which are the perfect locations for taking time out from the noisy and hectic daily city life. The city administration has been investing into the parks since the 80s, not least to increase the number of green areas in the metropolis and create valuable retreats. Barcelona's green spaces are generally cared for with a lot of dedication and are true highlights. The most famous park and a must for every visitor is probably Park Güell, which was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí and constitutes a unique work of art. You see many impressive stone constructions, interesting buildings and skilful ceramic goods on your way through this park. A world-famous attraction is the bank construction, which is decorated with ceramics and was seen as a precursor of surrealism by Salvador Dalí. Other worthwhile parks are the Parc del Laberint with its labyrinths made of cypresses, the Parc de la Ciutadella - one of Barcelona's greatest parks, which also includes a zoo - the Botanical Garden, the Park Joan Miró and the Parc de l'Espanya Industrial. The sandy beach in the fishermen's district Barceloneta, which is about four kilometres long, and park of Cementiri de Montjuïc are other retreats from city life. Next to the Castle, you find a large cemetery (57 hectares), which has a singular atmosphere and is one of the few quiet places in the Catalan city. You have a great view from the peak of the Tibidabo, on which you can enjoy the city in the nature and tranquility of the high altitude. Travellers can reach the highest point of the Muntanya Màgica, which holds an amusement park, by rack railway (Tramvia Blau).
Culture - The city of modernism
Barcelona is one of the world's most significant cultural metropolises. The city's numerous cultural sites of the UNESCO alone speak for themselves. No other city on earth holds so many sights which are part of the World Cultural Heritage. Two examples are the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The city's buildings and sights show a 2,000-year-old past and reflect the different eras, for example the time of the Romans, the Goths or the Catalan Art Nouveau. Many buildings and cultural highlights were designed by Catalan architects and made them known far beyond Spain's borders. One of them is Antoni Gaudí, who was a famous exponent of modernism in the 19th century and lived in Barcelona. His best-known works in the Catalan capital are the Casa Milà, the Park Güell, the Casa Batlló, the Casa Vicens, the Casa Calvet and the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882 and is incomplete to the present day. The traffic junction Plaça de Catalunya constitutes the city's centre. You can reach many worthwhile attractions such as the Roman ruins or the well-known shopping street La Rambla from here. The latter is a wide alley lined by flower shops, kiosks, cafes and restaurant, which leads to the lively Plaça Reial on the one hand and to the harbour on the other. A popular place with tourists is the drinking fountain Font de Canaletes. It is said that everyone who drinks from it will return to Barcelona. Another famous and proverbially magical fountain of the city is the Font Màgica, which is lit up in colours at night in summer. The Torre Agbar is another attraction which is lit up in blue and red at night (at the weekends).
Experience - Party and shopping miles mixed with folklore
On a visit to Barcelona travellers receive many impressions, not least during a night of partying in the lively city. The great party life, which usually starts around 9 p.m. with dinner and a gathering in a bar, often ends with breakfast in one of the cafes on the Plaça Reial. Visitors who want to get to know several clubs in the Catalan capital should buy the Barcelona NightCard. This way, party-goers can try out 20 different clubs on seven consecutive days for only 20 euros. If you prefer to see the city's folklore and customs, numerous traditional festivities such as the Catalan national day, Easter week or the celebration of Sant Jordi (Catalonia's patron saint) make this possible. Furthermore, the metropolis at the Mediterranean Sea is popular for its shopping mile, which is almost five kilometres long. The Barcelona Shopping Line and La Rambla - the most popular shopping street in Barcelona - allure both locals and tourists with cultural sights, numerous shops, boutiques and department stores. If you prefer strolling through typical local markets, you should not miss out on the La Boqueria. It is the greatest and most beautiful market hall in Barcelona. The old town quarters Raval and Barri Gòtic offer traditional shops such as little shoe shops or boutiques, antiquarian bookshops and delicatessen shops.
Activities - Sightseeing, shopping and partying in the big city, bathing in the sea
Tourists are offered a cultural and lively city life at the seaside in Barcelona. What more could one want? Besides many opportunities for shopping and going out as well as the cultural sights, you can get to know the city on a cycling or tapas tour or a guided city walk. Furthermore, visitors can see Barcelona from a different perspective during a tour along the harbour or coast.
There are two official languages in Barcelona and the region Catalonia: Spanish and Catalan. Catalan is most commonly used in administrative offices and schools as well as at university. Many road signs and labellings, however, are bilingual. The inhabitants are glad about a greeting in Catalan, which is why it is useful to learn a few words of the local language. However, you also get along well by using Spanish and English. Especially people working in the tourism industry know English. Barcelona Airport is about 15 kilometres away from the city and can easily be reached by shuttle bus in half an hour. Tourists should generally beware of pickpockets, both on the lively squares, in the streets and at the beach. Holidaymakers who want to prosecute a theft should note that Spanish is spoken at most police stations.
Barcelona is the perfect destination for a city trip for travellers who want to experience parties, shopping, culture, art as well as the beach and the sea. Come to Barcelona and after a sip from the fountain Font de Canaletes, you will see that this was not your last visit to this unique metropolis.