The Catalan Capital of Barcelona has fast become a popular destination for visitors to Spain, many often choosing the city over Spain's capital, Madrid. It's easy to see why: sandy beaches, hills and mountains, some of the world's best architecture, parks and gardens and a heritage left behind from Roman times means that Barcelona is a feast for the eyes.
The city boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, seven of which have been forged by the hand of Catalan architect Antonin Gaudi and his distinctive Modernista style. Buildings such as Casa Mila in downtown Eixample neighbourhood cannot fail to impress any visitor; a building with no straight lines or right angles which mirrors the seas waves and other natural forms. This essence is carried throughout many of Gaudi's works, with an attempt to utilise natural forms such as shells, trees and animals in as much of his works as possible. Nearby Casa Batllo has a facade often compared to a lily pond painted by Monet, and its tiled roof represents the scaly dragon's back slain by Saint George - Catalonia's patron saint.
Perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia or holy family cathedral, again the hand of Gaudi was at work here until his untimely death - he was run over by a tram outside the Cathedral and is buried in its crypt. Each of these buildings is striking amongst their neighbouring buildings, but it is at night when they come alive. Casa Mila is eerily lit and makes heads turn on the corner of Passeig de Gracia boulevard. Casa Battlo is often lit from below in different colours, such as reds and greens. Sagrada Familia needs no colours to highlight its features and is bathed in white light, casting shadows and illuminating each façade the complete opposite way round from the daylight. The result is a photo opportunity not to be missed with the nativity façade resembling a melting candle, and the crucifixion façade highlighting the linier aspects of the arches and naves, with the figures depicting the stations of the cross almost robotic.
Another amazing building to view by night is the Torre Agbar - originally met with a mixed reception, the building has over 4000 individual LED devices which can be turned on to form different colours, in a wave of images or collages. This is the third highest building in Barcelona, and stands pretty much alone in the Plaça Glories in the new urban regeneration project of 22@.
What night visit could be complete without a visit to the musical, magical fountains at Montjüic? This showpiece from the 1992 Olympics has evening shows at varying times through the year, and is a great place to visit with young or old. The jets and streams of water dance to light and music - anything from classical to pop, and even the classic Barcelona theme song from the Olympics! So what's the best way to combine all of these night-light viewings? Well, you're in luck! From June to September, the city's Tourist Bus runs a night route, starting at the city's main square, Plaça Catalunya at 20:30 and ending at Plaça Espanya and the fountains at around midnight. Expect to be wowed by many of the city sights at night, not only those mentioned here, but a world more! It's highly recommended as an alternative night out in Barcelona, and still leaves time afterwards to sample some of the great Barcelona nightlife, too as everything doesn't really get going until way after midnight!