Barcelona is the most cosmopolitan and economically active city in Spain, and has always managed to stay ahead or abreast of the latest international trends. This is evident in the architecture, which so accurately reflects the zest for life of this city of vivid colors and boundless energy.
Barcelona is stretched out on a plain next to the Mediterranean sea in the very north of the Spanish coast, bordering France, between the rivers Llobregat and Besos and between two mountains, Collserola and Montjuïc.The result is scenic beauty beyond measure.
Barcelona is steeped in history, as witnessed by the grandeur of its architectural treasures from the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods. During the last century, Antoní Gaudí, led his contemporaries in adding new and exciting strokes to the pallatte as Modernist themes were blended with those of the past. Modernism is characterized by the predominance of curves over straight lines, the richness and detail of decoration, the frequent use of floral motifs, the taste for asymmetry, the use of a refined aestheticism and the dynamism of forms. Checking this list against any building designed or built by Gaudí will have the viewer nodding vigorously in agreement!
Barcelona is a progressive, commercially sophisticated, upper middle class European city, while at the same time being traditionalist and typically Mediterranean. This dichotomy between tradition and progress is a characteristic of the city and of its nearly two million inhabitants. In preparation for the 1992 Olympics 250 acres were cleared along the commercial waterfront, and a total transformation took place. The result was a spectacular five mile long beach and promenade that are now enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. As usual, this ultimate designer city, again reinvented itself.
Wherever you stay in Barcelona, the excellent public transportation system gives easy access to the entire city. A visitor might choose to stay in the old town near the bustling boulevard known as La Rambla within walking distance of centuries old, architecturally splendid buildings. Another choice would be the spacious Eixample district with its wealth of shopping opportunities and fine restaurants. Whatever the choice, Barcelonians will be delighted to have you sharing the beauty of their city.
English is not widely spoken and all signs are in Catalan and also in Spanish. However, there are many guided tours of the city and its sights that are available with English speaking guides. Barcelona has over 50 museums and galleries, many parks and a wide selection of waterfront noteworthy attractions. Modern art lovers shouldn't miss the Contemporary Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum. Barcelona hosts some of the world's greatest classical musicians including Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras. Many contemporary theater and dance companies perform year round. Modern music fans will enjoy the rock, jazz and salsa clubs. The tradition of dance halls also lives on in Barcelona.
Sports enthusiasts will find plenty of action in Barcelona. Sea fishing, hiking, water sports golf and cycling are some of the favorite forms of recreation. Soccer is the national sport and is almost elevated to a religion in Barcelona. Basketball, hockey and handball are also popular team sports that fill the local arenas.
Catalonia is a society, with deep-rooted relationships, in which great importance is given to the family. Children are loved and welcomed. When traveling with children, visitors may prefer a slower pace. One way to spend a relaxing and refreshing family day is to visit The Parc de la Ciutadella which is located near the Old Town and the waterfront. It has shade trees, acres of lawn, a boating lake and Spain's best zoo with over 7,000 animals. Beautiful beaches are within easy reach, and Barcelona also has many fine swimming pools. The weather is mild and sunny most of the year. Gaudí's fairy tale-like buildings, the 200 foot statue of Christopher Columbus pointing out to sea, much of what makes Barcelona so appealing to adults is also inherently appealing to children.
In the shopping districts, the windows display the latest fashions for the very slim, but extravagently delicious culinary delights are everywhere. Hundreds of restaurants and cafés in every price range are conveniently located in all parts of the city and surrounding area. Crafts, antiques, ceramics, art objects, fashions, books: there is no limit to the wide array of offerings at the shops, markets, and stalls throughout the city.
Festivals and carnivals brighten every season. There is always something to celebrate in Barcelona from the grape harvest in the Fall to the Feast of Santa Eulalia in the winter and the marvelous Terrassa Jazz Festival in the Spring, followed by the summer arts festival and many more.There is no question that Barcelona seems to have discovered the secret to eternal youth!