Las Ramblas is 3/4 mile (1.2 km) of pure strolling joy. It’s the heart of Barcelona, a wide, tree-lined boulevard where tourists and locals alike go to promenade, to see and be seen. Sometimes people call it La Rambla but this is not quite correct as it’s a whole collection of connected short streets thus making up the plural name Las Ramblas. It leads from the square Placa de Catalunya to the port area, Port Vell.
The Spanish know how to live. They take such joy in life and one of the reasons, I think, is the food. Is it cause or effect? I don’t know. But when you head into a marketplace in Spain you understand why they take such joy in eating – because they have such wonderful and abundant foods with which to prepare meals.
Barcelona is a large city, the second largest in Spain, with a population of over 1.6 million people. While it’s got an historic heart containing many of the things any visitor to the city will want to see, there are other attractions dotted further afield that you’ll want to visit, such as Barcelona FC Stadium, Gaudi’s Parc Guell and Montjuic (which is accessed by funicular railway).
The history of Barcelona stretches way back to the ancient Romans and beyond, but most visitors to this Mediterranean port have just one name on their mind: Antoni Gaudi. The exuberant and eccentric architecture of this devout Modernista artist has become a signature byword for the city, from the spiky towers of La Sagrada Familia to the snaking roof line of Casa Batllo.
You don’t have to wait long after the snows melt for the wildflowers to begin appearing in the Pyrenees. These fabulous mountains divide Spain (Catalonia) from France, and they’re easily visited in a day trip from Barcelona, or on a longer hiking trip, either organised with a group or on your own staying in a hotel.
Gracia is a barrio (district) of Barcelona that you must not miss. It has a fantastic community spirit and seems to have endless street festivities throughout the year. March 3rd is one of the most fun especially for kids, because it’s all about candy.
The Spanish love a party so it’s not surprising that the lead up to Lent is a festive time in Barcelona. Carnaval literally means ‘farewell to meat’, and it’s a time of feasting in preparation for the 40-day fast period of Lent. This year Carnaval kicks off on February 16th with Dirty Thursday (Jueves Ladero or Dijous Gras) – let the eating begin!
If you want to find the latest in Barcelona art and culture, from a cabinet of curiosities to exhibitions of contemporary art and Impressionist works, there’s always plenty to see and explore. Here are some of the latest artsy goings-on:
Antoni Gaudí – visionary or madman? This Catalan architect – whose legacy in Barcelona is one of the city’s most important draws for tourists – designed buildings with virtually no straight lines to be found in them. He was all about the organics of life and the shapes of nature.
His apartment buildings, such as the La Pedrera, are all twisting shapes and curving walls; Parc Guell, perched on a hilltop with its great views, is full of colorful ceramic tiles and has two lovely little gatehouses; and his masterpiece, the basilica La Sagrada Familia, is famous for its beyond-Gothic spires and heavy ornamentation. And for being left incomplete.