We left the French part of the Basque Country a week ago to continue our journey through Basque Country. However, the weather forecast for the next two weeks in northern Spain (high rainfall) has a bit of a hindrance to our plans. So we decided to start a tour of Spain from its east coast … Barcelona!
However, to get to Catalonia first you have to beat up to 3,000 m above sea level peaks of the Pyrenees on the French-Spanish border. Fortunately, under the highest mountains are hollow tunnels, so we successfully crossed the border and continued our journey. A good eye will see on this picture a snail and we do not mean our car.
After over 500 km we reached (again) over the Mediterranean Sea. Golf has added another flag during this trip.
We started the tour of Barcelona from Camp Nou – a huge stadium FC Barcelona, which can accommodate almost 100 thousand spectators. Outside of its size, the stadium does not make much impression. It should be noted that outside the main stand in the photo below, the stadium is not covered. In Barcelona, however, very rarely falls so it is not a big problem for the fans.
Just a few kilometers from the center of Barcelona, it is clear that we are in a big city. Wide arteries are usually built with seven and eight floor houses surrounded by greenery. In the middle there are either wide walking routes or multi-lane roads. Pay attention to the bicycle infrastructure that is available practically on every street.
The first day of the tour was 16 degrees Celsius, which confirms this thermometer located on the building on the way to Barri Gotic, the medieval center of Barcelona, full of narrow streets, alleyways and monuments of sacred architecture.
We are going to Barri Gotic. Christmas decorations have been around for some time in the streets of central Barcelona.
The main church of medieval Barcelona was the 14th century Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, the architectural icon of the Catalan Gothic.
The Gothic Quarter is cramped and stuffy. There is not much light here because of the narrowness and the height of the street. The advantage is that it is definitely less touristy than other parts of the city so you can walk easily.
There are no shortage of Catalan flags flown by the inhabitants throughout the city, who declare their desire to create a republic in their region.
Two times, demonstrators blocked the main access roads to the center of Barcelona. The police were responsible for the detour by other streets.
We leave Barri Gotic and go to La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona. In fact, it is a series of streets (Las Ramblas) forming an overpass of the street, connecting the Catalan Square with the monument of Christopher Columbus on the waterfront.
We start from the northern part of the road, the Catalan Square. It is full of pigeons and black sellers offering passers-by from the street counterfeit shirts, mainly FC Barcelona.
La Rambla itself is not unique, but because of its popularity around the clock, it is a multicolored crowd, mainly tourists. The Catalans rather avoid this street.
At the southern end of the street stands the huge monument of Christopher Columbus. Built in 1888 on the occasion of the World Exposition of Barcelona, it is 60 meters high. Columbus shows where the New World is, which the discovery has changed the modern history. Also we will go in a direction that shows the famous sailor, just a little closer, on the hill Montjuic.
Montjuic (137 m) is a flat hill in the south of central Barcelona. Today, the main building located here is Palau Nacional, which houses a rich collection of Catalan art.
The hill has in the past performed various functions for example sports. Estadi Olimpic remembers the 30s of the 20th century and until 2009 was the stadium of the second most important football team of Barcelona – Espanyol. Some of the disciplines at the 1992 Olympics were also played here. Interestingly, the Formula One races took place around 1975 in the streets around the hills.
We went mainly to admire the Palau Nacional building and the beautiful panoramic view of Barcelona from the top.
View of the center of Barcelona. In the center is the huge cathedral of La Sagrada Familia by Antonio Gaudi, the famous architect who left his greatest work in Barcelona.
We look west. Only then can you see how large the area stretches the dense buildings of the center of Barcelona.
From the summit we return to the Barcelona streets. Two characteristic pictures from this city. First of all, all taxis are yellow-black. Secondly, there are lots of pigeons in the parks and in the streets, but also parrots. Both species live together in harmony.
Being in Barcelona we can not forget Antonio Gaudí, the great Art Nouveau architect, who left behind a dozen or so works in Barcelona, which are still awe-inspiring.
Even in smaller, custom-built burgher homes, he used unprecedented design and form. Pay attention to these details.
La Sagrada Familia, the Temple of the Holy Family, is the largest and most famous work of the Catalan architect. The construction of the basilica began in 1882 and continues today. Gaudi spent 40 years working on the church. After his death, during the civil war in Spain, the original designs were destroyed and Gaudi himself left behind only one of the three façades of the temple. These and other circumstances have led to the towering cranes towering over the basilica with at least the appearance of ongoing construction work.
Completion of the construction is planned for the years 2026-2028. However, this term is not certain. Perhaps the cathedral, almost a century and a half unfinished, attracts even more tourists and that is the main reason for the sluggish pace of work?
Within four days, we had traveled 65 km to Barcelona and it was just a drop in the sea of this huge city. It is impossible to visit and describe all the significant monuments of the capital of Catalonia in such a short time. It is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, overwhelming with its enormous, but stunning architecture and diversity. Full of life, both day and night.
A second week ahead in Spain. We are heading south along the east coast of the country. Where? You will find out this next Sunday.