Recently I attended a workshop in Barcelona. Up to now, I only knew Barcelona from the transit by coach. At that time, however, as a young boy with my parents, I was on my way to Spain vacation to the Costa Dorada in Salou or Cambrils. Unfortunately we never stopped there, so I can only now explore the sights in Barcelona.
Finally I am in favour of a short city trip to Barcelona. After this visit, I am overwhelmed. The hit “Barcelona” from the 80s by Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury best describes my impressions. Just come with me.
List of my top attractions in Barcelona
- Las Ramblas with the legendary fountain
- Mercat de la Boqueria
- The Gothic Quarter – Barri Gòtic
- Church Santa Maria del Pi
- Cathedral of Barcelona: La Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia
- Plaça del Rei
- Port Vell – The old Harbour
- Parc de la Ciutadella
- Cases Rocamora and Casa Batlló
- Casa Gispert
After a long time I entered Spanish soil again at the airport Aeropuerto Barcelona-El Prat for the first time. After I have my suitcases, the first question in Barcelona is: How do I get from the airport to the city?
This works very well with the R2N line. It takes me to Pg De Gràcia station within 40 minutes. From there I can walk the rest of the way until I arrive at the CRAM Hotel. The hotel is located in Barcelona near the Plaça de Catalunya.
Place of interest: Las Ramblas
After less than 15 minutes I arrived at the Ramblas – Barcelona’s promenade – from the hotel. The perfect starting point for my sightseeing tour. I walk down the street towards the harbour and am impressed by the first buildings standing here on the street.
Right after the first few metres, the legendary fountain catches my eye. Here used to be a betting pub and the results of football matches were announced. If FC Barcelona won, then the team celebrated victory here at this fountain. This is still the case today, even if the betting pub no longer exists.
Place of Interest: Mercat de la Boqueria
Only a few steps further on I stand in front of the inconspicuous entrance of a market hall, where I stay for a long time despite the nice weather. You’ll soon see why.
The Mercat de la Boqueria is one of the sightseeing attractions in Barcelona that appeal to all the senses. Even before I enter the market hall, a wide variety of fragrances pour into the nose of fruits, vegetables, fish, herbs and spices… Freshness. With my first steps in the market hall my eyes are spoiled with wonderful impressions.
So, enough feasting. Let’s move on. Now there’s culture again. I’m going to the Gothic Quarter, one of the three Old Town districts in Barcelona.
Sights: Gothic Quarter – Barri Gòtic
For this purpose I leave the promenade and go into an inconspicuous side street. I’ll have to get used to it in the Gothic Quarter. Here, the streets are small and winding and circle through this cosy quarter. That’s why I’m not going through here without a road map.
For me, this quarter is one of the most fascinating in Barcelona. Not only because of the many narrow alleys that resemble a labyrinth, but also because of the high density of old Gothic-style buildings. Behind every corner there is something new to discover: beautiful squares, numerous churches and gothic houses, with many public courtyards. At each corner I see beautiful buildings, some of which look as if they had been wallpapered from the outside.
And always keep your eyes on the top. In many places in the Gothic Quarter there are wonderful lamps and street lanterns to see.
One of the first churches that catches my eye is the church of Santa Maria del Pi in the square of the same name.
Attraction: Santa Maria del Pi
It is a typical Catalan Gothic church with a single large nave without the usual side aisles. The magnificent twelve-sided rosette windows on the twelve sides of this church are particularly impressive. It is one of the largest in the world.
The name “Pi” comes from the pine tree on the square. Here I take a little break in one of the adjacent cafés. Enough resting. Let’s continue to another emblem of Barcelona.
Place of Interest: Cathedral of Barcelona
La Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia so the right and detailed name is for me the most imposing building in the Gothic Quarter. This not only from the outside. The interior in particular is impressive with beautiful stained glass windows and carved chairs.
Further it goes through the winding alleys, through which I let myself drift. I walk towards the Las Ramblas promenade to see more sights in Barcelona.
Attraction: Plaça del Rei
The square is full of cafés, bars and pubs hidden behind the arcades. Incidentally, the only square in Barcelona with arcades. Together with the tall palm trees, the squiggly lanterns and the “Three Graces Fountain” in the middle, a picturesque and quiet place directly at the Ramblas. The place invites you to take a break during the day. In the evening the post office is open here.
Now I’d like to see the sea at last. Such a tour through this beautiful quarter is quite exciting. But Barcelona has even more to offer: the sea. I’m going to Ramblas towards the harbour. Because here I would like to strengthen myself with a good meal.
Sightseeing Port Vell – the old harbour
But that deserves to be earned and that’s why I first look at the harbour district. The imposing monument a Colom is 60 metres high and can be seen from a distance. The Columbus Monument was erected in 1888 in honour of the discoverer of America.
I don’t want to ship out to America, though, but I want to stay for a while. Around the Columbus monument there are other sights in Barcelona. Exciting buildings from the past. One of the most remarkable buildings on Port Vell is the harbour master’s workshop.
You should also take a look at the Aduana building further south. The customs building was built in 1902.
Rambla del Mar and Palau de Mar
On the way to the restaurant I pass the Rambla del Mar and the harbour, where the small boats rock back and forth in the sunshine.
Barcelona offers so many nice places to stay that you can’t really decide where to sit. I choose a restaurant in the so-called Palau de Mar in Barcelona’s quarter Barcelonaeta. It’s the last remaining old warehouse in Port Vell. In the meantime, the entire quarter has become one of Barcelona’s trendy neighbourhoods.
These trendy neighborhoods always offer delicious restaurants. And one of these restaurants is my choice: the Cal Pinxo. It is situated directly at the harbour and I have a wonderful view while eating. However, this view must also be taken into account in the prices. The food is very tasty, especially these small starters. Again my warning: Whoever is hungry right now should eat a little something first and then read on and look at the pictures.
Do you know this atmosphere when you have eaten something good, a glass of wine is in front of you and the weather is wonderful? That’s the kind of moment I’m in right now. I still enjoy the great view into the blue around me and then I make my way to the hotel.
In the evening I stay in the hotel and enjoy the view over Barcelona’s houses from the hotel terrace. Tomorrow I will visit other sights in Barcelona.
After a quiet night in this metropolis I start to look at some more sights in Barcelona. Today my destination is the Parc de la Ciutadella. But first, breakfast.
Sightseeing Parc de la Ciutadella
I walk from the Placa de Catalunya on the Ronda de Sant Pere in west direction and then I stand directly in front of the Arc de Troimfe. This was already intended as the main gate when it was built in 1888: as a gateway to the World Expo. Somehow this triumphal arch with its red bricks looks so different from the triumphal arches I’ve seen so far.
The origins of this style lie in Moorish architecture. In spite of the colourful brick masonry, there are also filigree works that I discover little by little.
I walk through it and stand in the Parc de la Ciutadella. It is located on the grounds of a former citadel built in 1704 by King Philip V to defend the city. For this purpose, a whole residential area had to be replaced, which was rebuilt 30 years later as a Barcelonaeta quarter.
There are now only three buildings left of the citadel. Among other things, there is the arsenal in which the Catalan Parliament is today. The first building that gets into my field of vision is the Castell dels Tres Dragons. It was built in the medieval style for the World Expo and served as a restaurant. Today it houses the Zoological Museum.
I stroll through the park. With a blue sky, that’s something special. Gone are the bizarre works of art.
Finally I arrive at the Cascada Monumental and take a long break. This triumphal arch with its waterfall and fountain was also erected in 1888 for the World Fair. Architect Josep Fontsère was inspired by the Trevi fountain and supported by Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí? Yes, the Gaudí. At that time he was still a student.
At the Parc de la Ciutadella you can spend a whole day. In addition to the above-mentioned attractions, the park also includes a zoo, a small lake for rowing boats and several museums with a botanical garden.
For me, I return to the hotel and then to the airport. Perhaps you will ask yourself:”And nothing of Gaudí?” Yeah, that’s right. On my first visit to this city I tended to head for the sights in Barcelona, which have nothing to do with Gaudí. Cause I’m gonna check them out the next time I visit.
Attractions Cases Rocamora and Casa Batlló
But I cannot leave Barcelona without Gaudí. But first I pass the Rocamora Cases, a residential and commercial building built by the Bassegoda brothers in 1914 near Plaça de Catalunya.
On my way back to the hotel I also pass a famous Gaudí building: the Casa Batlló. It was built for the textile industrialist Josep Batlló i Casanovas in the style of modernism and belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antonio Gaudí”. Unfortunately, my time is not enough to look at it from the inside.
Barcelona – That’s what you should have seen!
I have a tip for you at the end. You should definitely visit Casa Gispert, which lies between the Gothic Quarter and the Parc de la Ciutadella in the Carrer dels Sombrerers 23. This department store offers spices, nuts, dried fruit, oils and much more and is worth a visit.
This shop has been in existence since 1851 and I also feel a little taken back to this time. In the rooms it smells of spices and roasted almonds. In the back part of the shop roasted according to old tradition. The prices here are favourable for quality. Here you can get high-quality souvenirs from Barcelona. In addition to the great products, you also get competent advice.
Since this shop is located in a narrow alley and the main attractions are not right in the neighbourhood, no tourist overcrowding is to be expected. I brought saffron and liquorice from here.
Summary of my Barcelona city trip
Barcelona is a fantastic city for which you have to take your time. One weekend I could only scratch the surface. I had a good time – but I will come back to see the impressive buildings of Antoni Gaudí. Especially his main work: the Sagrada Família.
You can also immerse yourself in the many culinary temptations during a longer stay. Museums, palaces and parks are here in such abundance and beauty that one should not overload oneself with the sightseeing program. You can combine such a stay with a nice visit to the beach.
I listen to the song by Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury again. I couldn’t describe my feelings more fittingly when I went down:
It was the first time that we met
How can I forget
The moment that you stepped in the room
You took my breath away
Book tip for the Barcelona city trip
The Anatomy of the Devil by Jordi Llobregat
The thriller’s plot takes place in Barcelona in 1888 – just a few weeks before the opening of the World Exhibition. The book is a mixture of thriller and historical novel.
The momentum of the plot never comes to a halt by means of long historical treatises. Llobregat understands how to weave them into the plot without getting bored.
Through the novel you get a vivid representation of the people and living conditions in Barcelona at that time. On the one hand, industrial progress – on the other, poverty, diseases, hunger.
You will accompany the protagonists of this thriller through the narrow and winding alleys of Barcelona and learn a lot about the Ramblas, the Gothic quarter, Barcelonaeta or the harbour during this time. Worth reading!