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Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It combines modern and historic architecture like no other city. The modernist movement with Antoní Gaudi as its most prominent member left its mark on the city with magnificent buildings like the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.

Barcelona has several districts, each with its own distinctive character: the historic Barri Gòtic, the modernist Eixample district, the Montjuïc - site of the 1992 Olympics - and the modernized Port Vell are some of the areas you should explore during your visit to Barcelona.

The Plaça de Catalunya, a large plaza surrounded by monumental buildings, is Barcelona's busiest square. It is located between the old city (Ciutat Vella) and the 19th century Eixample district.

Barcelona's two most famous streets, theRambla (a wide promenade in the old city) and the Passeig de Gracia (a grand showcase of modernist architecture in Eixample) start at the Plaça de Catalunya.
Even though the square is enormous in size, it is constantly crowded with people walking to and from one of the nine streets emanating from the square.

Formerly an obsolete harbor, the Port Vell was turned into a modern yacht-basin and entertainment center.

Urban Renewal

Before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the Port Vell, the city's old obsolete harbor was only a run down area with empty warehouses, industrial buildings, refuse dumps and railroad yards. In one of the most drastic urban renewal projects, the area was transformed into a yacht basin and entertainment center, opening the city up to the sea. A coastal road was moved underground and a pedestrian street now stretches from the Columbus monument to the Barceloneta neighborhood

The Parc de la Ciutadella is Barcelona's most central park. The park includes a zoo, a lake, a large fountain and several museums. The Catalan Parliament is seated at a building in the center of the park.

Some Attractions

Besides museums, the 30ha / 74acre large park is home to the Parc Zoologic, the Barcelona Zoo. The most famous of its 7000 animals was the albino gorilla, 'Floret de Neu'. Unfortunately, he died in 2004.
The park also features a small lake, a popular spot where you can hire a rowing boat.
There are several statues in the park, the ones that stands out most are a large stone mammoth and a metallic cat. A more conventional statue commemorates General Prim, who made the demolition of the citadel possible.

The Christoffel Columbus was built in 1888 in honor of the renowned explorer and discoverer of America.

At the center of the Plaça de la Porta de Pau (Square of the Gate of Peace) stands a monumental column topped by a statue of Christoffel Columbus. The 60m / 197ft high monument, known as the Monument a Colom, was designed by Gaietà Buigas i Monravà for the Universal exhibition of 1888.

La Rambla or Les Rambles is the most famous street in Barcelona. The wide boulevard connects the Plaça de Catalunya, a busy square, to the Monument a Colom, a tall column erected in honor of Christoffel Columbus.


Plaça Catalunya


La Pedrera. Gaudi

La Rambla. Joan Miró

La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi

Maremágnum. Port Vell

Parc Güell. Gaudi.

Plaça Reial

Columbus Monument

The often crowded street is popular with tourists and locals alike. The middle part of the Rambla is pedestrianized and bordered by trees. Kiosks, flower stalls, animal stalls and street artists are in abundance here. Traffic passes on either side of the pedestrian area.

Rambla de Canaletes

The first Rambla, starting from the Plaça de Catalunya, is the Rambla de Canaletes. The name originates from the 19th century Canaleta fountain. The expression 'he drinks water from Canaletes' means that person comes from Barcelona. And according to local legend, once you drink from the fountain, you will keep coming back to Barcelona.

Rambla dels Estudis

The second Rambla is the Rambla dels Estudis. It is named after the 16th century university, the Estudis Generals. The building was demolished in 1843. Several important buildings are still in this area, among them the 18th century Reial Acadèmia de Ciènces i Arts, since 1910 a theater. The building contains the first public clock of the city.

Rambla de Sant Josep 

The next Rambla is the Rambla de Sant Josep, named after a convent which was demolished in the mid 1900s and replaced by the Mercat de Boqueria, a colorful market place. Since this part of the Rambla has many flower stalls, it is now better known as the Rambla de les Flors, or 'Flower Rambla'. At the end of this part of the Rambla is a small square, the Plaça de la Boqueria. It features a mosaic by Joan Miró and a shop decorated with an art-deco dragon.

Rambla dels Caputxins 

The fourth Rambla counting towards the Columbus Monument is the Rambla dels Caputxins, yet again named after a now demolished building: a Capuchin monastery.
The most interesting building on this rambla is the Gran Theatre del Liceu, a building decorated in modernista style. Fire destroyed Barcelona's Opera Theater twice, in 1861 and in 1994, but it was rebuilt each time, most recently reopening in 1999.
Further down the rambla on the left hand side is the entrance to the Plaça Reial, a 19th century lively square with tall palm trees and street lamps designed by Antoni Gaudí. Opposite the Plaça Reial, in the Carrer Nou de la Rambla is the Palau Guëll or Guëll Palace, one of Gaudí's first residential buildings. The parabolic shapes at the entrance and the rooftop chimneys are signs of things to come in his later works at the Guëll Park and the Casa Mila, just to name two of this catalan architect's most famous works.

Rambla de Santa Monica 

The last Rambla is the Rambla de Santa Monica, named after a convent, now converted into a museum, the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica. The rambla leads to a roundabout with a 60m large column, the Columbus Monument. It was built in 1888 for the Universal Exposition.

Rambla de Mar

If you continue to walk in the direction of the Port Vell, a wooden walkway, now known as the Rambla de Mar or Rambla of the Sea, leads you to Maremàgnum, a complex with shops, movie theaters - including an IMAX theater - and a large aquarium.

In the center of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic district), the heart of Barcelona, is the gothic cathedral, known as La Seu. The cathedral is officially named Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia, after Barcelona's patron saint Eulalia.


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