Friday, January 29, 2010

B is for Barcelona

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
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

Apartment building

Barcelona turrets

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:

Also, thank you to the photographers ( names with their pictures ) who allowed their pictures to be shared.  At least, there was a little variety from mine!


  1. That was cool, Carmen, I'm bursting with pride! That crucifix is by J. Subirachs, they had to hire an sculptor to design some of the facades because the Sagrada Familia project was so complicated that Gaudí did not had time to complete it. Great to see the paella there, and La Rambla, La Boqueria... This post is a gift to us Catalans, thank you!!

  2. fullet - how lovely that you are the first to comment. I wish so much I had a month to stay in your part of the world so I could really absorb your Catalan culture and heritage. That would truly be the way to experience it, not so much as a tourist. I guess that will never happen now but I truly love Barcelona and treasure the time I have spent there.

  3. What a beautiful city, full with history, and the buildings are just fantastic with architectural details.

    Wonderful post, Carmen! Your love for traveling showed through these gorgeous pictures!

  4. Icy BC - Barcelona is a very special place. Each time I am there, it fills me with delight. I love the food and the spectacular architecture on every street. I wish I could live there for six months!!

  5. The architecture is just marvelous, especially the Gaudi! I would love to visit. Whenever I hear Barcelona I think of Fawlty Towers! ;^)

  6. Next time you visit - tell me! and we'll go together and I'll show you ...oh! The best delicatessem!

    I love this city -it's so full of everyting!

    Great post

  7. How I enjoyed this post Carmen, what a beautiful city full of everlasting history and rich foods, sites and smells. It would be a dream come true to visit there....:-) Hugs

  8. oh, that octopus is so inviting, the buildings are awesome and love your picture there with the flowers Carmen.

  9. What a great post with wonderful photos. I've always wanted to go there and I want to even more now! Thanks for the interesting history lesson, too.

  10. Anonymous5:17 PM

    Thank you for this small escape towards a city I do love as well. Being working as a fisherman in a small village north of Barca, called Blanes de Mar, it was a wonderful memory and walk through the town. Thank you for sharing.
    Please have a nice start into the weekend.

  11. enjoyed reading this post great idea
    just add
    B for Bombay,
    B for Banglore

  12. Anonymous5:33 PM

    Thank you for this much needed escape towards a city that I do love as well.
    Working as a fisherman north of it, in a small town called Blanes de Mar, I'd like to thank you very much for the nice memories.
    Please have a wonderful start into the weekend.

  13. What a lovely tour of Barcelona for us to enjoy and dream about. The paella looked amazing.

  14. There's an award for you on my blog! Take it and showcase it on your blog :)

    Beautiful Walls

  15. I just wish I could get a DAY off!!!HAhahaaa...
    Your trips are MY only way to take a vacation!!!

    Just hunting for The Brenda Photo Challenge pictures...Hahaa...Don't worry...Others forgot too!
    Happy Saturday!!

  16. every photo is a treat and the information so alluring..youre tempting me to get out of my cubbyhole, soon then.

  17. willow -
    Barcelona does have the most amazing and varied
    architecture. I hope I make it back again someday.

    Dulce -
    It would be such fun to be in Barcelona with
    you! Now a deli one place I haven't tried there!

    Bernie -
    I hope I was able to make Barcelona come alive a
    little bit for you. Just writing that post made
    me yearn to go back again!!

    betchai -
    So many people I know won't even touch octopus but I love it..and calamari fresh out of the water. I always order it grilled - not fried - when I am in the Mediterranean or that region of the world!

    Welchcakes Limoncello - you are much too close
    to Barcelona not to go and visit and I think
    there are some pretty reasonable inter-European

  18. ρομπερτ -
    I'm glad you enjoyed this brief visit to
    Barcelona! I'm just curious, what kind of fish
    did you catch in these Mediterranean waters?

    sm -
    believe me, I am still hoping to get back to Bombay/Mumbai - the frequent flyer miles are waiting, still, in my account...and I would love
    to see Banglore and Kerala and Jaipur and so much of thre rest of your great country!

    lakeviewer -
    I am sure you would love Barcelona..and I did eat paella quite often - plus so much other kinds of fresh seafood, especially grilled octopus and calamari.

    TongueTrip -
    get those bags packed and head for a superb Catalan experience!

  19. Bhavesh Chhatbar -
    Thank you so much for the lovely award - and also for your blog with its wonderful pictures that brighten my life!

    Donna - I guess it's too late for the photo challenge..I was in L. A. and just got back...girl, you must take a real vacation, not solely through my photos!

  20. I looked, and looked, and looked and once I have finished this comment, I am going back to the begininning to look again. Beautiful post on a beautiful city. Thank you.

  21. A human kind of human -
    I am glad you enjoyed your stop in Barcelona!

  22. Good morning. Didn't read it yet...just came to grab the link to see if I can fix it for you!

  23. Oooohhhhh Carmen!!!!! You have been to fairy-tale land and back!!!!! Ooooohhhhh!!!!! Just look at all the castles!!!!!!!!! Siiiigggghhhhh.....

    Thank you for that astounding amount of factual information you have provided to all of us, here! And for all of the time that you have put into it! :)

  24. Beautiful photos and such a beautiful place! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. I've enjoyed visiting you also!

    Linda @ A La Carte

  25. It looks beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  26. simply beautiful! The only thing I know about Barcelona is that the Cheetah Girls made a movie there. And I only know that because I live with a 10 yr old girl! LOL

  27. What an absolutely beautiful city. I had no idea. Your photos are wonderful. What incredible architecture, and the markets look fantastic. I used to have an employee whose family visits Barcelona often, and she always raved about it. Now I understand why. Thanks for stopping by and leading me to this wonderful post. (and yes, I still have my lashes and brows lol) Kathy

  28. My Sweet Hubby is also a fan of Barcelona, he has promised to take me some day. I am looking forward to it.

  29. The architecture and the detail in all their work is just fantastic! What an interesting city. I see why you like it so well. I would love to be able to visit different places around the world.

  30. This was a fabulous tour of the best of beautiful Barcelona, Carmen! I would love to see that market in person and taste the paella and pulpo,

  31. Wow! You did a wonderful job describing your visit and the great sites! Makes me want to go. Alas I will probably never be a world traveler, I do it through books. I read your bio on the way over to visit you have certainly traveled. I am envious. I see you have 3 grown sons. I have 3 grown daughers, 6 grandchildren. Thank you for your visit and sweet comment. It meant a lot to me. Have a great week!

  32. The guidance of your Barcelona was very wonderful. It is the feeling that I traveled.

    The fascinating encounter with the building.
    An encounter with appetizing food.
    They are douceur de vivre.

    You spend the substantial life.
    People demand it really. So. It is the property that time is the most valuable.

    Thank you for showing splendid scenery.

    From the Far East.
    Best regards.

  33. Gorgeous post for Alphabe-Thursday! Your pictures are beautiful.

  34. The Agbar is a stunning building when illiminated wow!

    The others buildings are stunning too. I just love the ancient look they have. you dont see anything like that being built these days.

    Tina from
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