Our first visit to Barcelona, Spain, after our ski trip to Chamonix, France, was such an amazing cultural and architecturally mind-blowing experience. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the center of the city with easy walking distance to all the sights. The first day we joined the ski group on a bus tour of Barcelona. After seeing the famous Sagrada Familia Basilica (described in a separate post) we drove up to the Parc de Montjuic for great views overlooking the city and the harbor. The park itself was nice to walk around as it offers a lovely green space in the heart of Barcelona. Then we walked the bustling central promenade, La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian mall for 1.2 kilometers. It is lined with cafes, shops, market, and breathtaking medieval architecture everywhere.
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Bus Tour Day 1
Today we walked the streets of Barcelona, enjoying the beautiful old architecture of the Gothic Quarter. We stopped at the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, or Barcelona Cathedral, constructed from the 13th to the 15th centuries, it is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals. Inside the cathedral the high altar is raised allowing a clear view into the crypt. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, who suffered martyrdom during the Roman times in the city.
Today we walked down La Rambla again and stopped at the market, La Boqueria. The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a large public market, and one of the city’s foremost tourist landmarks, because of the entrance from La Rambla. The market officially opened in 1840 housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. Today there are lots of fruits and vegetables for sale as well as candied fruit. From the market we we went back up the hill to the Parc Montjuic to get the Montjuic Cable Car down to the harbor. We had expansive views of Barcelona, an opportunity to admire the city from a bird’s-eye perspective. We walked along the beautiful sandy beach and stopped at the W Barcelona Hotel with panoramic views over the Mediterranean.
Today we walked the charming Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, narrow medieval streets filled with trendy bars, clubs and Catalan restaurants. The quarter encompasses the oldest part of the city of Barcelona, and includes remains of the city’s Roman wall and several notable medieval landmarks, including the Barcelona Cathedral. Artisans selling leather and jewelry line the streets, while flower stalls and street-food vendors line the busy avenue La Rambla. We passed the Torre Glories, formerly known as Torre Agbar, a symbol of Barcelona, it is a 38-story skyscraper/tower, which marks the gateway to the new technological district of Barcelona. It opened in June 2005, and was owned by the multinational group Agbar, which has its corporate headquarters in the building. By 2017 it was purchased by Merlin Properties real estate group and was renamed as Torre Glories after the name of the adjacent square. Finally we saw the beautiful Arc de Triomf,(91ft by 41ft), built by Josep Vilaseca, as the main gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. The arch is built in reddish brickwork in the Neo-Mudejar style. The front frieze contains the stone sculpture “Barcelona rep les nacions” meaning “Barcelona welcomes the nations”.