If your cruise embarks and disembarks in Barcelona, these are the prime picks for a pre and/or post cruise visit: aside from boasting amazingly beautiful and interesting vistas, this city has a mingling of art, culture, a the best mix of ancient and contemporary influences. Even the Amusement Park for the kids is quaint and magical (see below).
Barcelona, Spain is so very beautiful, visitors often come for a few days and stay for a month or longer. Even for a short stay, the city is jam packed with amazingly beautiful and interesting sights, most of them simple abd freely display the mind-boggling experience of the city. The architecture by the great Antoni Gaudi, with his unique unusual undulating lines, inspired by nature, appear all over the city. They are wonders of creation, beautiful and strange like La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and much more. Gaudi’s work must be seen as he is modernism’s king and his style is stunning and unique.
The architecture is part of what’s made Barcelona one of the design capitals of the world and a mecca for architects and students of major architectural influences. The buildings break all of the conventional rules and some compare them to melting ice cream but built with brilliant craftsmanship.
The most famous Gaudi building is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral which began construction in 1882, and after all these years is still under construction today. A grand overview of the city can be seen from Montjuic (the Jewish Hill) which has a sky tram to take you to the top. You can view the Mediterranean Sea and the stunning grand buildings from this vantage point.
La Pedrera (also known as Casa Mila) is well-known for its famous facade that has no corners at all. “La Pedrera” is the name the people gave the building, which literally translates as “the quarry.” It’s very cool and unique for a building conceived in the early 20th century, which was considered radical and unacceptable at the time. This house is worth visiting for 14 euros for the interior is declared a World Heritage site, with a gloriously furnished apartment from the early 1900s, the Gaudi Space, which explains the masterful work of the architect, how he learnt that nature has no straight lines, thus his undulating facades, curves that had strength. There are sculptures, elaborate wrought-iron railings and the rooftop has chimney stacks that are called witch scares and look like elaborate abstract sculptures.
Casa Batllo, a few blocks down the Passeig de Gracia from La Pedrera, is another Gaudi masterpiece. Here Gaudi covered the inner courtyard with tile which goes from dark blue at the top to lighter blue to white at the bottom. The facade is broken ceramic tile which goes from orange to greenish blue. The building has stained glass windows on top of the large windows. The first-floor apartment is open to the public.
Palau de la Musica Catalana – The Music Palace is one of the most exquisite buildings in Barcelona, built by Montanier, in 1908, it has breathtaking stained glass skylight and windows, sculptures of winged horses by the stage of the concert hall and busts of Beethoven Bach and more in front. (Note: the interior can only be seen with a guided tour during daytime hours)
If you have young children, a visit to the Tibidabo Amusement Park of Barcelona will make you all very happy. For 33 euros per person you will experience vintage rides in this 100-year-old famous amusement park. Carousels, train rides – all nostalgic and very different from the stuff at Disney.
For culture seekers there are great museums. In fact, this city offers some of the best:
The Picasso Museum – The artist was born here and this Catalan city was dear to him, though he moved to Paris following the art scene of the era.
At the Museu Picasso, inside adjoined medieval palaces you can see the artist’s early works, mainly those up until the end of his blue period. In 1970, the artist left further works to the museum, totaling over 3,000 pieces. A definite must see. Hours: 9:00am-7:00pm (extended until 9:30 pm on Thursday). Closed Monday. Admission: 11 euros Website: museupicasso.bcn.cat
Interesting tidbit: the museum has some works of the artist
from his early to late teens. These works were kept by the family and were donated to the museum.
The Miro Foundation focuses on the works of this daring innovator and it is a truly brilliant collection. The Joan Miró Foundation is located on the Montjuïc hill and shows the works of Joan Miró, one of Spain’s greatest modern painters. The museum was designed in 1975 and holds about 11,000 art pieces that the artist created, (the largest number any museum has anywhere,) including 240 paintings, 175 sculptures, and 8000 drawings. The building is very modern and has many salons, each with explanation for the paintings it contains. Visiting this museum is truly educational: one learns about all the phases of the artist’s life. Joan Miró was born on April 20, 1893, in Barcelona and died on Dec. 25, 1983. His work has been classified as Surrealism. He became one of Spain’s greatest modern painters and his works can be found in the most important museums of the world. His work is characterized by bright primary colors, such as red, yellow and blue and one can say that the works are happy in nature. Perhaps that is one reason that people immediately love his work when they first see it. Look for five designs that Miro kept using: woman, bird, sun, moon and star. One can decipher Miró’s paintings by looking for the symbols of each element. Admission: 8 Euros.
The Museum of Contemporary Art with its minimalist interior and serious modern works. The building sports natural light, is fascinating in its structure and is another must see.
The Great MNAC or The Museu d’art de Catalunya: MUST NOT MISS!
A celebration of Gothic to Modernist art, with Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Antoni Tapies, Giacometti and traveling exhibits by Salvador Dali and even Velazquez. It’s the Louvre of Barcelona showing the best of Catalan art.
Finally, The Museu Nacional has exhibited collections of Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol Salvador Dali. Dadaism and Surrealism, Pop art and more, can all be seen in this magnificent city.