High spirits and vitality govern in abundance when in Barcelona. This infectious capital of Catalonia, and second largest city in Spain, exudes soul and energy, living life to the full. Barcelona's verve is matched by its magnificent architecture, characterised by one man's signature, Antonio Gaudi. 1. Las Ramblas Running from seafront through to Placa de Catalunya, Las Ramblas is a fusion of market stalls and street entertainment.
Watch out for the mime artists, though keep a hand on your wallet. 2. Sagrada Familia Church In progress since 1882, La Sagrada Familia is perhaps Antonio Gaudi's most magnificent achievement. As yet unfinished, the ongoing construction of this gothic masterpiece is financed through tourism. 3. Picasso Museum Born in Malaga, Pablo Picasso moved to Barcelona during his teen years.
Though many of his greatest works are in private hands, the Picasso Museum on the Carrer Moncada is well worth a visit. 4. Casa-Museu Gaudi A pink, Alice-in-Wonderland house is the setting for the Gaudi museum. Gaudi lived in this surreal location between 1906 and 1926 with his niece. Exhibits in the museum include furniture, drawings and portraits designed by the great man himself.
5. The Poble Espanyol Completed in 1929, the 'Spanish Village' is a compilation of buildings representing the collective architectural characteristics of Spain. A celebration of all things Spanish, the village has become a gathering place to dine and be entertained. 6.
Bishop's Palace After being destroyed by fire, Bishop Juan Bautista Grau i Vallespinós commissioned Antonio Gaudi to design a new, more magnificent palace in 1887. Upon the bishop's death, and consequent interference from the diocese, Gaudi abandoned the project. It was not inhabited until 1961.
7. Gothic Quarter On the site of an ancient Roman village, the Gothic Quarter is a contrast of contemporary and medieval architecture, incorporating the magnificent 14th century cathedral. 8. Olympic Stadium During 1992, the eyes of the world focused on the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona as they hosted the Olympic Games. Today a popular athletics facility, the stadium was a redesigned version of the original built in 1929.
9. Passeig de Gracia As one of the major shopping areas of Barcelona, Passeig de Gracia caters for the modest, and also those who prefer the more sophisticated boutiques. Bars and restaurants also line the thoroughfare. 10. Lover's Day On behalf of those looking for romance, Barcelona obliges with its own version of St Valentines, known as Lover's Day, celebrated every April 23rd.
By: Steven Cronin