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Barcelona Travel Guide - Sights and Museums
Barcelona is Spain's most progressive and "European" city with a flair for eye-catching architecture. In 1888 and 1929 it hosted World Exhibitions and in 1992 the Olympic Games. Each event altered the face of the city. El Prat Airport is about 7 miles from city center. A train runs between the airport and Estacio Sants every 30 minutes... trip takes 15 minutes. There's also a bus between the airport and Placa de Catalunya every 15 minutes. Taxis from the airport would not be too expensive for two people.

Transportation: The Metro... 6 lines crossing the city. PLaca de Catalunya is the best connecting station. Buy a book of 10 tickets and save money. There is also a special one day pass.

Placa de Catalunya: A large square, which is the intersection of several of the city's most important streets. It is also the most walkable part of town and a good place to begin sightseeing.

The Ramblas: This is Barcelona's most lively promenade, lined with trees in a middle pedestrian area. It is one of the world's most colorful streets, lined with bookstands, flower stalls, and people selling absolutely anything one would want. The main activity takes place down the middle of the street. Caution: This area is swarming with pickpockets. Do be alert and protect your valuables.

La Seu (The Cathedral): (Metro: Jaume 1) Begun at the end of the 13th century and completed around the middle of the 15th, this Gothic cathedral largely reflects the splendor of medieval Barcelona. Its main points are the central choir, the crypt of Santa Eulalia, whose white alabaster sepulcher is of 14th century Italian craftsmanship, the Cristo de Lapanto, whose twisted torso allegedly dodged a bullet during the battle of the same name, and the unusual cloisters studded with palm trees, magnolias, a fountain erupting from a moss-covered rock, and a gaggle of geese. The Cathedral is illuminated on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Hours, daily 7:45 - 1:30, 4-7:45 PM.

Picasso Museum: (Metro: Jaume 1) Tu-Sa 10-8 PM. Sun 10-3 PM. 15 Moncada. This museum contains a sizable collection of Picasso's works. He lived in Barcelona during his formative years. In 1970 he donated some 2500 pieces to this museum... some dating back as far as 1895 when he was 9 years old. Especially interesting are some large paintings completed when he was 15 years old. His technical skill is amazing for one so young. This museum is Barcelona's most popular attraction and the collection is housed in three Gothic mansions.

Columbus Monument: (Metro: Drassanes) Placa Portal de la Pau. This municipal landmark commemorates Columbus's triumphant return after his first expedition to the New World. After sailing into Barcelona, he delivered news of his discoveries to Queen Isabella. The monument overlooks the harbor and alongside it is an exact replica of the "Santa Maria". Go to the top of the monument for a great view of Barcelona. Daily 9-9 PM.

Museu Maritim: (Metro: Drassanes) Installed in the Drassanes (medieval ship-yards of the 13th century), this museum's collection of seafaring paraphernalia is distinguished by a reconstruction of La Galeria Real of Don Juan of Austria, which took part in the Battle of Lepanto, and a map owned by Amerigo Vespucci. Hours: Tu-Sa 9:30-1, 4-7 PM. Su 10-2 PM.

La Sagrada Familia: (Metro: Sagrada Familia) This ornate building was designed by Spain's most famous architect, Gaudi, and represents "masts and spars in stone". It's an ambitions work in progress... a modernist rendition of a cathedral, that will, if finished, be Europe's largest. Work began in 1882. The dome is slated to be 525 feet high, but to date, it remains a shell of a cathedral and controversy swirls around its completion. Since Gaudi died in 1926, leaving no detailed plans, construction has continued by fits and starts. Within one of the towers an elevator ascends to a magnificent view. See this unusual building. It's unlike anything you've seen before. 9 AM-6 PM.

Placa del Rei: This plaza was originally within the walls of the Royal Palace. On the right is the Museo Historico de la Ciudad. Opposite is the Capilla de Santa Agueda, which is part of the Palacio Real Mayor, which dates from the 14th century. It was here that Columbus was presented to Ferdinand and Isabella upon his return from the first voyage. Nearby is the Calle del Paradis with a patio including some columns and old Roman ruins.

Plaza Real: (Metro: Liceo) Beautiful square with palms and fountains.

Barceloneta: (Metro: Barceloneta) This old residential and fisherman's quarter was originally built in 1755 and has good views of the seaport.

Museo de Artes Decorative: (Palacio del La Virreina) 9:30-1:30, 6-9. Closed Mon. Stop here to see the Cambo Collection on the 2nd floor. It's a small, very good collection of Raphael, El Greco, Velasquez, Titian, Rubens and Goya.

La Pedrera (Ametller y Batllo House): (Metro: Diagonal) This is a very famous building, designed in the Art Nouveau style. Flowing, curving balconies that are very strange. This designer was Gaudi, and it's considered a quick "must see".

Montjuic Park: (Metro: Pueblo Seco). This major park was laid out in 1929 for the International Exhibition. The Montjuic Funicular runs between the Parallel Metro Stop and the amusement park at the top from 10:45-8PM. The Teleferico de Montjuic (Cable Car) links the funicular with Montjuic Castle and runs from 11:30-9 PM. The following four attractions are located within the park:

Poble Espanyol: Bus 61 from Placa Espana or the free double-decker "Poble Espanyol". This architectural microcosm of Spain was conceived for the 1929 World's Fair. Today, it's an open-air museum, almost a village in its own right, with working artisans, lots of crafts shops, etc.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya: (Metro: Espanya) Wed-Mon 9-9PM. Within this building, built for the 1929 Fair, is a collection of Catalan art from the Romanesque, Gothic, and 16th-18th century, along with a few high caliber works by El Greco, Velasquez, Zurbaran, and Tintoretto.

Fundacio Joan Miro: Bus 61 from Placa Espanya. Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat 11-7. Thu 11-9:30. This private foundation houses a fine collection donated by Miro. It's well worth a visit if you like Miro.

The Castle: Built in 1640, this structure is now a military museum. There are excellent views of Barcelona. Take the cable car if it's running.

Museu d'Art Modern: (Metro: Arc de Trionf) Mon 3-7:30, Tue-Sat 9-7:30, Sun 10-3. Located in Parc de la Ciutadella, this museum primarily contains the work of 20th century Catalan painters, along with some fine examples of modernist furniture. Recommended, only if you're in the vicinity and have the time.

Guell Park: This park and all its structures were designed by Gaudi. The structures are fairy-tale-like and are decorated with tiles and shells. It is located off Carretera del Carmelo in the northern part of Barcelona in the village of Sarria. About 10 blocks from nearest bus stop. It is a fun visit, if you have time.

Gran Theatre del Liceu: (Metro: Liceu) Guided half-hour tours Mon-Fri 11:30 and 12:15. This is Barcelona's majestic opera house dating from the 19th century. It's a study in Victorian opulence, featuring blue silk walls in the entrance hall, a sweeping staircase leading to a salon of mirrors, and one of Europe's largest stages.

Museu Montestir de Pedralbes: Bus 22 or 64. Tue-Sun 10-2. This 14th century monastery was founded by Queen Elisenda de Monticada whose sepulcher is found in the church. The cloisters contain a museum featuring 14th century murals in St. Michael's Chapel, re-creations of an apothecary and several monk's cells, an impressive kitchen, and a 16th century sick-room.

Las Gonlondrimas: (Metro: Drassanes) Both children and adults enjoy this 30 minute round-trip boat ride from the Port Olimpic to the breakwater. Departures are every half hour 11-9 PM.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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