Barcelona is one of Europe’s great cities. With something to appeal to fans of literature, architecture, sport, food and of course shopping, it’s pretty hard not to enjoy this lively Mediterranean port city. By far the best way to get to know Barcelona is on foot and depending on your interests you can take a number of themed walking tours that allow you to get under the city’s glitzy exterior. Here are just a few suggestions…
Everyone who comes to Barcelona will want to visit Gaudi’s famous unfinished masterpiece and the no.1 landmark of the city, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. If you’re a fan of his style of architecture there are other examples of his eccentric genius at work in the centre of Barcelona. The fairytale exterior of Casa Batilo and the strangely curved Casa Mila stand out on the busy streets of the city centre. Why not take a walk around the city with a knowledgeable local guide who will share with you tales of Gaudi’s life in Barcelona and the stories behind his famous creations? Several tour companies (including Context and Rubber Bean Tours) offer Gaudi-themed walks.
Barcelona’s links with chocolate go back a long way. It was adopted here as an Aztec import soon after Colombus returned from the Americas with the first cocoa beans on European soil. During the 19th century it was served as a luxury product in the cafes and bars of the city. These cafés now form a fascinating part of the city’s heritage. You can indulge your chocolate coated desires while sampling luxury bon-bons, churros from street vendors and delicious dark truffles from the 19th century modernista cafés of the city. Now doesn’t that sound like a good way to spend an afternoon?
Not so long ago the waterfront district of Barcelona was a no-go area for tourists. After many years of hard work and huge investment it is now one of the trendiest parts of the city. Perfect for a gentle stroll and a good place to enjoy a drink or a meal on a summer evening, it’s getting harder to imagine the gritty past of this historic naval port. Yet if you take your time and look beyond the modern glass facades you can still find clues that shed light on the Barcelona of the fishermen, the merchants and the sailors who made the city of the major European trading posts.
If you wander around the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) district of Barcelona you’ll be walking the same streets as Picasso walked a little over 100 years ago. He lived and worked in various places and visitors can wander from his first home at Passeig Isabel II to his favourite café Els Quatre Gats and his final Barcelona studio on Carrer de Comerç. Picasso Trail walking maps are available from the city tourist office.
‘Shadow of the Wind’ Tour
With over 15 million books sold, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Safon is one of the best-selling books of all time. His moody descriptions of 1930s Barcelona are credited for attracting many visitors to the city. They look for the old bookshop or the Aldayas’ home on Avenida Tibidaba, or perhaps stroll around Montjuic wondering where Daniel and Bea may have met. If you’re a fan of the book you can take a Literary Walking Tour (available from the Barcelona Tourist Office) and see for yourself the Barcelona described in The Shadow of the Wind.
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