Human statues and mime artists under the dappled plane trees of Las Ramblas. The eery lamplight along the medieval avenues of the Barri Gotic.
Barcelona conjures up so many unforgettable images.
In the old town I love the layers upon layers of history. The pillars of a Roman temple hiding in the patio of a renaissance palace. The spires of a Gothic church looming over a graffiti-painted square.
Barcelona is different. It’s Spanish, but it’s also Catalan. It’s rebellious. It always has been. Part of Spain, yet unique, defiant, unusual.
The yellow and red bars of Catalonia’s flag, La Senyera, hang proudly on balconies on every block. Street signs and menus are in Catalan.
This is the Mediterranean, the south of Europe, but it’s also the north of Spain – culturally very close to France – and Catalans are called polacos, or Poles, by the rest of Spain.
You can see Barcelona’s different spirit in Eixample. Not just on the famous ‘block of discord’ on Passeig de Gracia, but on any street corner you’ll discover modernista buildings unlike those anywhere else in the world.
This is the city of Gaudi, of the modernista architects of the late 19th Century, of a search for a too-long repressed Catalan identity through a playful architectural style.
It’s also the city of Picasso, Miro, Tapies, and Dali.
The Picasso Museum I would recommend to anyone. A definite highlight of any visit, on one of El Born’s rambling medieval backstreets.
The Miro Museum in housed in the figurative artist’s old house, opposite the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic, and is a spectacular monument to his work with impressive views over the city. The Tapies Foundation is housed in an Eixample industrial building topped with a barbed wire-like sculpture.
When I think of Barcelona, I also think of the heaped plates of paella or fried squid, the sunglasses and happy chatter on the terraces of the seafood restaurants of Barceloneta. The trendy souls, boutiques, cocktail bars and lazy living of El Born.
The hip clubs and spicy eateries of revamped (but still seedy) Raval, once known as Barri Xino, or Chinatown. The raucous street festivals of La Merce and Gracia, with fire-spitting dragons, giants and dancing in the squares.
Wherever you are, whatever’s going on, you’ll be pulled in somehow. This is a unique city, one that knows how to enjoy itself and prides itself on being different, but above all, knows how to include its visitors.
If you’d like to know more about what Barcelona or any of its districts offers or find out insider information, we’ll be happy to advise on a person-to-person basis and help you find whatever it is you’re looking for.