Today is the second week of Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.
The letter "B" is our topic and I have chosen one of my favorite cities in the world - Barcelona, a place I have visited about ten times if my memory serves me correctly. Most recently, I was there for four days in October 2008, as part of my 65th birthday celebration, along with four friends, and I also spent three days there in April 2007, with my dear friend, Sherry Arndt, at the end of our transatlantic crossing on the Navigator of the Seas.
picture courtesy of www.traveladventures.org
Panorama of the city with the spires of Gaudi's unfinished Sagrada Familia
Barcelona, with a metropolitan area of over four million people, is the capital of Catalonia, with its own language. Spanish, however, is the national language and is spoken and understood almost universally. The city lies on the northeast coast of the Iberian peninsula and faces the Mediterranean Sea.
It is a city both ancient and modern, tracing its history back to the time of the Romans in the 2nd century B. C. The Visigoths conquered the city in the 5th century and the Moors took it in the 8th century. Louis, the son of Charlemagne, reconquered Barcelona, in 801.
From the 12th through the 14th centuries, Catulunya was wealthy, with Barcelona ruling a small empire which included Sicily, Malta,Sardinia, parts of Greece, the Balearics, and the French regions of Rousillon and Cerdagne. The 15th century, however, saw a reversal of fortune, with the onset of the plague, bank failures and other traders taking over their markets. Opposition to the Spanish throne on several occasions, resulted in the defeat of Barcelona and even in the
banning of the Catalan language, in 1714.
Around the 1830's, the European Romantic Movement helped usher in the Catalan Renaissance, with a strong nationalist movement. The turn of the century, in Spain, was a period of great political unrest. However, with the death of Franco, Catalunya returned and Barcelona, as its capital, is a city to be treasured and enjoyed.
Barcelona has a warm Mediterranean climate so it is a year-round city to visit. It can be quite hot and humid in the summer - and very crowded, especially in August. Many Catalans
vacation themselves at that time so shops may be closed. Late spring or fall are nicer times to visit to avoid crowds and to maximize your time in Barcelona.
To really avail yourself of all that Barcelona has to offer, please refer to the websites at the end of this article. I will mention only a few. Of course, there are museums and arts to please every taste. Throughout the city, the work of Gaudi is evident - in lamp posts, buildings, parks.
Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, is a Gaudi work on the Paseo de Gracia in the stylish Ensanche district. It was completed in 1910 and was Gaudi's final civil work before he devoted himself to the Sagrada Familia temple on which he worked until his death. This building has few straight lines and, as you can see, has curves and undulating forms. La Pedrera was declared a World Heritage site in 1984.
Park Guell was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. It is home to the Casa
Museo Gaudi ( the Gaudi Museum ). Gaudi lived there in the Pink Tower from 1906 until 1925, a year before his death. Many of his personal objects and furnishings are there.
The Casa Batllo is also on the Paseo de Gracia and is one of the most famous of Gaudi's buildings. I never get tired of seeing it and no trip to Barcelona is complete until I have passed by there!
A Gaudi alligator at La Sagrada Familia
Crucifix at La Sagrada Familia
Eternal construction at La Sagrada Familia - estimated to be complete in 2020
Barcelona is a city of wonderful restaurants from the simple to the most elegant. With its proximity to the Mediterranean, there is never a shortage of excellent seafood and, of course, one may simply feast on assorted tapas rather than eat a whole meal. Outdoor dining abounds and prices range from reasonable to extreme. Spain is well known for its excellent wines.
Colon Square Restaurants by Gipsy Bokeh
Our nice waiters at Colon Square
Padron peppers and scrumptious octopus
The city is resplendent with stunning architecture - from ancient to modern. My first trip to Barcelona, I rode the hop on, hop off buses to the end of each route, just to get a feel for the city and I was overwhelmed with its incredible beauty. The lCatalans take much delight in their home and, on Sundays, people are out in huge numbers, strolling hand in hand, along the avenues, and at Placa Catalunya, walking down La Rambla, enjoying the fresh air and listening to street musicians. It is a remarkarkable place.
Another pretty building
The old and the new
Of course, the famous street, La Rambla, is a favorite of tourists, running from Placa Catalunya to the statue of Christopher Columbus at the port. It is lively from morning till late night, with its hotels, restaurants, shops of all sorts, mimes, entertainers and the like.
Flower stall on La Rambla
Entertainment on La Rambla
The fountain at Placa Catalunya
Beautiful light fixture
I have talked about La Boqueria in another post but I can't write about Barcelona without mentioning this incredible market on La Rambla. Whenever I travel about the world, I always visits markets but this one is my all time favorite. It is so beautifully organized and alluring. For the best prices, choose stalls that are further away from the street!
La Boqueria Vegetables
Eggs of every kind!
Goodness, do I ever wish I had some right now!!
The Agbar and the Diaganol Hotel by Gipsy Bokeh
The Statue of Christopher Columbus at the port end of La Rambla
Icari by Thor
Nothing I can write can do this city justice. You have to visit to experience Barcelona. It is fashionable, modern, exciting, but honors the old traditions and its history stretches back two thousand years. I never tire of visiting. When I arrive there, it feels like I am going home.
To learn more about Barcelona, check out the following websites, for a start: