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Barcelona Travel Guide

flights to Barcelona

Situated at the very heart of the city is Spain’s most famous street, La Rambla. Originally the site of a mountain stream it is around 2km long and actually consists of 5 separate boulevards and two squares. At the top there is Rambla de Canaletes a popular meeting place with plenty of places to eat and drink. Legend has it if you drink from the fountain you become a native of Barcelona. Next, we have the Rambla Dels Estudis, it's name derived from the University that was once there. Also known as Rambla dels Ocells (birds) because of it's small travelling bird market, the Poliorama Theatre and Capitol Cinema are both to be found there.

Rambla de Sant Joseph is better known as Rambla de les Flors due to the dozens of multicoloured florist stalls that line the street. Here too you’ll find Barcelona’s finest and most bustling food market, La Boqueria, with its impressive iron and glass canopy. Just beyond Rambla Sant Joseph is a small picturesque square known as Pla de la Boqueria. Once the centre of the city, it is here you get to walk on a genuine Miro as the pavement in front of the Mercat de Boqueria is actually a mosaic, signed by the artist himself.

The street’s most popular section is La Rambla del Centre. Filled with interesting bars and shops, it is here that the interactive circus really comes to life. The main attraction of ‘del Centre’ is the world famous El Liceu opera house, which boasts the debuts of such celebrated stars as Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras. The Liceu was recently reopened after a US$190 million restoration following a devastating fire in 1994 and remains a favourite nightspot amongst visitors and locals alike.

A little further on you enter the colourful Placa Reial, former stamping ground of 19th century Bourgeoisie, now a haunt for folk from all walks of life, in particular those from alternative subcultures. Placa del Teatre takes its name from the Principal Theatre, which stands in the square and is now a cinema and pelota court. Like many urban theatre and showbiz areas Placa del Theatre is also the gateway to the red light district of Barrio Chino and Escudeller. Finally Rambla Santa Monica is home to Barcelona’s seedier side with it's many bars and jazz clubs and popular market selling cheap goods and souvenirs. It is very popular with visitors looking for plenty of alternative thrills.

East of La Rambla is Barcelona’s most inspirational and atmospheric area, Barri Gotic. A labyrinth of narrow winding streets it holds enumerable treasures of Gothic architecture and has an otherworldly quality that’s hard to find anywhere else in Europe. Amongst the myriad bars, cafes, res taurants and budget hotels you’ll discover some of the finest Gothic buildings Spain has to offer, including Guadi’s extraordinary unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia.

No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to Museu Picasso. Occupying three medieval stone mansions on the Carrer de Montcada it is the city’s most popular museum. Here you will find one of the worlds most comprehensive exhibitions of the prolific artist’s work, from his early work painted in the city itself, through his blue and pink periods to later works done in Cannes during the fifties.

By the mid seventies Barcelona had a reputation for being the port that turned its back on the sea. In the 1980s public pressure lead to the redevelopment of Port Vell turning it into a popular tourist attraction with some excellent leisure facilites including cable car and Imax Theatre. The major attraction on the harbour is L’Aquarium, the largest of its kind in Europe and home to the biggest Mediterranean collection in the world, the highlight of which is the 80m long shark tunnel.

Probably the most famous modern structure in Barcelona is the soccer stadium, host to the 1998 World Cup it is the biggest football stadium in Europe and the second biggest in the world, playing host to 100,000 spectators every fortnight. Another ‘must see’ for sports fans, and well worth a visit for anyone with even a passing interest in athletics, is 65,000 capacity Anella Olimpica, setting for the 1992 Olympic games. As well as the stadium there is the Piscines Bernat Picornell, the venue where the swimming and diving events were held. This state of the art pool complex is now open to the public.

For night owls there is a lifetime of entertainment to be enjoyed after sundown. As you would expect from Spain’s principal city the nightlife is superb. Countless bars and restaurants line the streets, most of which stay open until the early hours. There is music and entertainment to suit all ages and tastes, with some more specialised doors making merry until 5 and 8am. You would be hard pushed to find another city in the world that can hold a candle to Barcelona’s rich vein of art, culture and entertainment. But it’s not the incredible range of what is on offer that makes Barcelona so special. It is the ambient warmth, friendliness and hospitality. In short it is a city with a heart.

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Barcelona Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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