Barcelona is an ancient city, born of the Roman Empire. But like many great cities around the world, it flowered in the late Middle Ages and blossomed in the mid-19th century. Yet there are many exciting elements of the modern period there, as well. These periods are all evident in this northeastern Spanish city on the Mediterranean Sea coast.
Visitors can find a remnant of old Roman architecture here and there, in the form of part of an aqueduct in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and some of the streets. But unlike Rome itself, most of the older buildings are from the time that gives this area its name. The medieval years saw many of Barcelona’s famed churches born, including the world-famous La Seu.
The late 19th-early 20th century is alive and well in this artistic city, too, thanks to Antonio Gaudi and his patrons. Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia are two notable examples, but there are many others. The Casa Milà is still another. Even the lampposts outside the Pla de Palau show the distinctive touch of this unique artist.
But Gaudi has hardly been alone in forming the great buildings and monuments of Barcelona. The Arc de Triomf, built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition, is an outstanding example. Though not to well known as the Parisian structure of that name, it is no less a thing of beauty. The many sights of Ciutadella Park, Montjuic, and other areas of the city provide still more samples of the great things to see here.
The whole range of art throughout these centuries is on display at MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya). Here, visitors can find examples of objects from the Romanesque period (early 11th century) and continue through the turn of the century, works drawn from all over Catalonia.
The modern era has hardly been neglected in Barcelona, either.
The Poble Espanyol, like many other famed structures in the city, was built for the 1929 International Exhibition. This collection of over 100 buildings was drawn from every style in Spain. Apart from seeing the whole range of Spanish residential architecture in a single location, visitors can shop, dine and dance to their heart’s content.
For those after a fine combination of food and civic art, a tourist could do no better than a visit to La Boqueria, the Mercat de Sant Josep, or St. Joseph’s Market. Housed in a stellar 19th-century structure, dozens of produce stalls offering every kind of native fruit and vegetable greet wanderers. Then when it’s time for a rest, shoppers can sample one of the several superb tapas bars, such as Pinotxo.
Once refreshed, head out to the Barcelona Zoo or the Aquarium at Port Vell or to the top of Montjuic for an unforgettable view of the entire city of Barcelona. For, no matter where they go in this world-class city, visitors will be presented with some of the finest things to see and do anywhere in Europe.