What to visit in Barcelona?
What to see in Barcelona in 1-2 days or a week? Top attractions of the capital of Catalonia, route. Where to go in the vicinity of Barcelona, a brief history of the city.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid. And the first – in the tourist sense! It is the historical capital of the Catalonia region, located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean coast.
Barcelona is the largest port in the Mediterranean region. It itself is home to 1.8 million people, and if you count the suburbs, then even more than 5 million!
Barcelona, like no other city in Spain, is popular among foreign tourists. And mainly for this reason, Catalonia leads in the number of visitors from abroad. If you touch the history of Madrid and see its sights, up to 7-8 million foreigners come a year, then the Catalan capital sees them 1.5 times more.
They can be understood! After all, here, literally at the junction of the two once most powerful states: France and Spain, the spirit of history is felt more sharply than anywhere else!
At the same time, Barcelona is incredible, but at the same time diametrically opposed styles and eras are combined in such an organic way. From antique and medieval minimalism to artsy eclecticism. And from exuberant Spanish plateresco to Art Nouveau, the recognizable Catalan Art Nouveau.
Is it any wonder that literally every self-respecting traveler tries to see Barcelona. And on the city’s famous boulevard, La Rambla, hundreds of world languages can be heard during the season!
It is worth remembering that Barcelona, like the rest of Catalonia, does not rest on well-deserved laurels. But economically it is the most developed region of Spain.
Top Sights of Barcelona
It is clear that the locals are even just interesting places in this city of Spain: historical, architectural, folklore, sports, you can list an hour. At the same time, get very tired, but do not reach the end of the list. Here are just the most famous:
Sagrada Familia was designed by the architect Antonio Gaudí. According to most people, this is one of the most fantastic architectural creations in history. It is completely unnecessary to talk about how the Catalans themselves relate to their largest cathedral – they simply idolize it.
The attraction regularly becomes the most visited in Spain. And it is unlikely that it will lose ground in the future – the cathedral is an outstanding building in every sense.
Construction of the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral in an unusually reimagined Gothic style, began in 1882, work on the completion of one of the facades is still ongoing and is expected to be completed by 2026, the centenary of the death of Gaudí himself.
The La Boqueria market is also one of the most popular places among tourists in the Catalan capital. Still, because he is so original!
The Cathedral of Barcelona, the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is one of the remarkable examples of Catalan architecture, located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.
Its construction was carried out from the 13th to the 15th century. But it was completed only at 19, to which period the neo-Gothic facade belongs.
Towers, spire, as well as interiors, however, are examples of real mature Gothic. The cathedral arose on the site of the chapel of St. James, which existed under the Visigoths. Fans of ancient history will also find something to do – in front of the cathedral is the vast ruins of the Roman Forum.
Plaza Catalunya is the shopping center of the city and the most popular square for both tourists and Barcelona residents. The famous boulevard Las Ramblas or simply the Rambla originates from it. The busiest and most colorful street in Barcelona, a place of promenades for residents and guests of the Catalan capital, which does not completely fall silent even at night.
Hill of Montjuic and
It houses the largest museum in Catalonia, the National Art Museum of Catalonia. It attracts crowds of tourists and the famous Musical Fountain, as well as the Spanish Village and the Botanical Garden.
You should definitely visit the fortress of Montjuic, founded in 1640 and preserved in very good condition. Now it houses the Military Museum!
Tibidabo Hill, which is high enough (512 meters) for visitors to climb it on a special funicular. The first ski lift of its kind to open in Spain.
Tibidabo offers great views of Barcelona. Another attraction here is the Church of the Sacred Heart, built in the Art Nouveau style popular in Catalonia.
Casas and Museums
Park and Palace Güell, Casa Mila and Batlló are Antoni Gaudí’s great creations. Original Catalan talent, creator of new architecture. Naturally, you will want to see them with your own eyes when you are in Barcelona!
Museum of the local football club according to statistics is the most visited by tourists in the city! It’s amazing if so. Although it’s hard to believe!
Pablo Picasso Museum – the second largest number of works by the great Spanish artist in the world. The size of his collection is second only to the Picasso Museum in Paris.
We advise you to see at least from the outside another unusual building in terms of architecture – the Palace of Catalan Music. As well as evaluate the decision of the hospital of the Holy Cross and Paul.
Both of these masterpieces are by another great Catalan modernist, Luis Domenech i Montaner.
What to See Near Barcelona
The monastery of Poblet, northwest of Tarragona, was founded in the 12th century and is well preserved, which attracted the attention of UNESCO, which included Poblet in the World Heritage List of mankind.
The Montserrat monastery near Barcelona is also one of the most significant sights. After all, he is very old! In addition, it is located in an extremely picturesque mountainous area.
Not as well known as the aforementioned monasteries is the village of Siurana in the province of Tarragona. However, this place offers several options for spending time at once.
Firstly, the village has been perfectly preserved since the early Middle Ages and is a real open-air museum. And secondly, mountaineers and climbers will like the local rocks. And just lovers of hiking in the mountains.
A Brief History of Barcelona
According to one of the legends, it all started with a small settlement built by the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca around 230 BC, next to the Montjuic mountain. By the way, Hamilcar was the father of the notorious Hannibal, the Carthaginian commander.
The town was named Barcino in honor of its founder. In the 130s BC. it was taken over by the Romans. Renamed cities to Faventia.
For almost six centuries, the lands were under the control of the Roman Empire. The Apennine conquerors established their laws, customs, religion and culture here, contributing a lot to the progress of the area.
Later, in the 5th century, the Visigoths captured the city. In the 8th century they, in turn, were driven out by the Arabs. They came to Spain from Africa, but reached the spurs of the Pyrenees.
The conquerors did not stay in Catalonia for long, less than a century, and did not have time to create such architectural masterpieces as in the Andalusian Alhambra. But some of their innovations: freedom of religion and local self-government, engendered in the local population that love of freedom, which distinguishes it today.
In 801, the Christians recaptured the city. True, it was not the Spaniards themselves who did this, but their northern neighbor, the French king Louis the Pious. He made Barcelona the capital of the Spanish March, placing it under the control of his vassal, the Count of Barcelona. Marka was a border area with Arab possessions.
Therefore, the attacks of the Moors rolled regularly, like surf. The final happened in 985 and ended with the global sack of the city.
County and Spain
After the liberation of his capital, the then Count of Barcelona Borrell II, fed up with the sabotage and inaction of the French ally, took some steps that would later lead to the complete independence of Catalonia. In any case, Catalan historians have been counting sovereignty since that time (987).
In 1162, Catalonia, through a dynastic marriage, united with the kingdom of Aragon. And the first king of the state was Count Alphonse, who received as a result the royal title of Alphonse II of Aragon.
In 1469, Catalonia and Aragon, through another dynastic marriage, this time between Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, are united with Castile and León. Becoming part of the Kingdom of Spain.
At the very beginning of the 18th century, another shock awaited Barcelona. As a result of the “War of the Spanish Succession”, the province, which was for the Habsburgs, was punished. Depriving not only the ancient autonomy, but also most of the privileges: the use of the Catalan language was prohibited, and the University of Barcelona was closed.
At the very beginning of the 19th century, Barcelona, along with all of Catalonia, again changed citizenship: Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered Spain, directly annexed this northern region to the French Empire.
In 1813, after the expulsion of the Napoleonic army, Barcelona again returned to Spain and from that moment on forever. Today’s aspirations of the Catalans for state independence are ignored by the supreme power of the country.