Barcelona is one of the most prominent of cities in Europe, especially notable for its architecture, historic ancient monuments and art galleries and museums. This trendy Mediterranean port is also the capital of the Catalonia region of north east Spain.
Straddling the centre of Barcelona
, from the port to the Placa de Catalunya, is the famous tree lined Las Ramblas. This avenue is more often crowded with entertainers, visitors and shoppers. Just to the east of Las Ramblas is the wonderful medieval Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), home to a myriad of palaces, churches and the Cathedral la Seu which dates from the fourteenth century. Further west is the Eixample district, which was built during the 19th century and contains a few of the city's Modernista style buildings, most well known is Antoni Gaudi
's Sagrada Familia. The building of this neo-Gothic cathedral was started in 1882 and it is not thought it will be completed for at least another twenty years. Another of Gaudi's amazing creations, the Casa Mila (La Pedrera) with its curvy lines and surrealist chimnies, is also situated inside the Eixample.
To the south of Barcelona is Montjuic Hill, which translates to 'Jews Mountain'. This splendid expanse of greenery is also home to a couple of well known art museums, the Fundacion Miro and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, and also the old 1992 Olympic stadium. For those visitors that prefer a more exciting ascent to the peak of Montjuic, there is a cable car which goes up to the castle. From there you can enjoy the fine vistas of the port.
Another of Barcelona's Museums
is the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), situated within a large glass covered building designed by an American architect Richard Meier. The MACBA has modern art works by Spanish and Catalan artists. Pablo Picasso spent some of his early years in Barcelona and there is a museum dedicated to his work, with pieces on show that include 'The Harlequin' and a series called 'Las Meninas'.
The newly redeveloped Port Vell area contains an attractive yacht marina alongside boutiques, shops, restaurants, cafes, an IMAX cinema and a marine aquarium. Further north is the old fishing district of Barceloneta, which has also been much improved upon in recent years. As well as some excellent beaches and fine seafood restaurants, Barceloneta is also home to the Museu Maritim which follows the city's maritime history.
The Barcelona Card is available from tourist offices and is worth purchasing, if you want to save some money on your visit. This discount card entitles visitors to free travel on public transport, as well as worthwhile discounts at lots of museums, plus restaurants and nightclubs. Another cash saving option is the Articket, lasting for six months, which allows you free entry to a few art museums, including the Picasso Museum
and the MACBA. The Articket can be bought at the actual museums.
El Prat, Barcelona's main airport, is just over 8 miles (13 kilometres) from the centre. Reliable and regular train and bus services travel from the airport to Estacio Sants. Alternative airports can be found at Reus and Girona, both of which are used primarily by the charter and budget airlines.