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The buzzing heart of Catalonia

Barcelona is the capital city and therefore also the largest city in Catalonia. We all recognize this buzzing city for its ramblas, Plaça Catalunya, la boquería and the Barceloneta beach. But the city has so much more to offer. In Barcelona you can grab a tasty bite to eat, enjoy fun shopping, go out and also relax on the beach. There is enough to do for the young and old. For the culture enthusiasts there is a lot to discover and see. Barcelona is the birthplace of many important painters including the famous painter Gaudi.

The beaches of Barcelona
Naturally, we all know the famous beach in Barcelona called Barceloneta. In the summertime, this beach is full of tourists. The local population often goes to beaches close by to this beach. By train from Passeig de Gràcia or Estacio Franca you can reach Platja Casteldefells (‘platja’ means beach in Catalan) within half an hour. It is located in the south of Barcelona. Platja Casteldefells is a vast, wide beach where families like to spend the day. Towards the north there is also a quiet beach called ‘Platja de Montgat'. By train this beach is located approximately half an hour from the centre of town.

Discover the different barrios of Barcelona
The barrios of Barcelona are in fact the neighbourhoods of Barcelona. One of the most fun and authentic districts of Barcelona is ‘Gràcia’. This neighbourhood has its own personality and is located outside the main tourist route. Lots of Barcelonians call Grácia their home. In the past Grácia was an independent borough, and halfway through the 19th century it became part of the city. It still feels like a small village within Barcelona. It is a trendy district where one can find biological supermarkets and restaurants, fun boutiques and yoga schools. Grácia is well known for its variety of squares where people can order a cafe con leche on a terrace with a newspaper; eat a sustainable lunch at midday; and enjoy a glass of wine during the evening buzz. There is a hidden pearl in this neighbourhood which is the first and most important piece by the artist Antoni Gaudí called Casa Vicens; a definite pit-stop! ‘El born’ is a buzzing district in Barcelona, situated in the old centre next to the ‘el gothico’ neighbourhood; close to the famous park Ciutadella and the Barceloneta beach. El born is an artistic quarter filled with authentic boutiques, cafés en restaurants that are often hidden away in the side streets. In this area visitors can find numerous touristic attractions, and one of the most impressive sights is without a doubt the church called Santa María de Mar. The inhabitants of the maritime area made the construction possible through generous donations in the 14th century. ??

Antoni Gaudí
When one thinks about Barcelona, one may come up with Gaudí. Without a doubt he is the most famous architect in history. His revolution of architecture and sculptures is the base of current and future art. Gaudí's work is a quest for artistic perfection, personal perfection and the perfection of human society. As Gaudí once said: "To do things well it is necessary: first, love; second, technique”. One of his most famous pieces, the Sagrada Familia cathedral, is still being worked on until today thanks to the gifts which visitors donate. Gaudí started working on the Sagrada Família in 1882 for professional reasons, exempt from religion. Gaudí died on June 7th 1926 after a tragic accident. He was buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia. Other famous landmarks include Parc Guëll, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló and his first masterpiece Casa Vicens, all located in Barcelona.

Spain’s archaeological pearl
Barcelona is an archaeological pearl and many art lovers visit the city for this very reason. Barcelona is obviously renown for the great architect Antoni Gaudi, but there is so much more architecture. Opinionated, cheeky and colourful are the right words to describe the style of architecture in the city. Let your fantasy lead the way through the streets and take in the architectural ambiance. Recently many architects visit Barcelona to admire the modern architecture. The Torre Agbar is one of the first buildings one can see when visiting Barcelona. The construction of this high tower has created rumors throughout town as many Barcelonians think the style does not fit in the city. Eventually the French architect Jean Nouvel became one of the architectural icons of Barcelona.

Barcelona’s city heart
In the heart of Barcelona lies the famous Plaza Catalunya square, which also serves a point of recognition for many. At this ‘plaza’ one can find the areas called l’Eixample, El Gótico and the somewhat alternative district El Raval all in one place. Here the Rambla starts, which is the largest street of the Eixample quarter and runs all the way down to the harbour of Barcelona. Most of the tourists hang out here and there are also many restaurants and international shops, but also theaters and cinemas. ‘La boqueria’ is the largest fresh product market in Spain, and is also located at the Rambla. A visit to Barcelona is not complete without a pit stop at this market. Many local products can be found here such as: olives, different fish types, Serrano ham, Manchego (Spanish cheese), vegetables and fruit. Tip: walk as much as you can to the back, as it is cheaper there and go early in the morning, when the products are still very fresh. One can enjoy good shopping in the three neighbourhoods mentioned earlier. A famous shopping street that starts at Plaza Catalunya is Portal del Angel; for the more luxury style boutiques such as Chanel, Gucci en Dior one can visit Passeig de Gràcia.

Barcelona’s gastronomy
There is a never-ending choice of restaurants but the most important remains the traditional Spanish cuisine. Barcelona is also very hip and plays with the new trends on an international level. This makes the city a culinary paradise! One insider’s tip is to avoid the restaurants at the Rambla, as they are pricey and of poor quality. It is best to go to the areas nearby the Rambla, such as El Gótico and El Raval; and sometimes some of the best restaurants are slightly hidden. Typical dishes from Catalonia are: Pan con tomate (bread with tomato, oil and salt), la paella parellada (rice with monk fish, mussels, calamari, pork sausage and rabbit) and also the famous dessert Crema Catalana.

Insider tips

Poble sec is a residential area in Barcelona and is well known amongst the local population for the pinchos, which are almost bite-size gourmet sandwiches originally from the Basque country. Carrer de Blai is a long street with a multitude of pincho restaurants. One of the most popular venues is La Tasqueta de Blai, also a good option for a cheap but tasty lunch. Try to go there on time as around 8pm people gather in the street to enjoy the typical pinchos.

Fiestas de Gràcia
Fiestas de Gràcia otherwise known as the Gràcia festival is very well known and loved by the Barcelonians. This is a neighbourhood party which takes place every year between the 15th and the 20th of August in the Gràcia district. The festival is regarded as the ultimate way of expressing the quarter’s identity. The local population organizes the event and is entirely responsible for their street or square; this results in almost a week of activities and decoration. Every year prizes are awarded for the best decorated streets, so there is a slight competitive side to this festival. Close by the decorated street there is entertainment organized such as live bands, food and beverage stands, and shows. It feels as if you are transported to another world when you see the beautifully decorated magical streets.

El bunker is really a hidden spot where one can enjoy a spectacular view over Barcelona. This spot is still relatively undiscovered and even local Barcelonians do not know this place yet. It is therefore pleasant to be there because it is not packed with tourists. Usually it gets busy around 6pm as many people go there for picnics, play guitar or take photographs. Take some food and drinks with you, as there are no restaurants in the vicinity. Would you like to know how to get there? Find more information through the following link: https://www.barcelonametmarta.nl/