Barcelona Guide for Tourist
Barcelona is defined by its unique Modemisme architecture. The tourist areas are Las Ramblas, a bustling avenue smack in the city center, and the Barri Gotic, Barcelona’s “old city.” But don’t neglect vibrant La Ribera and El Raval, the upscale Modernist avenues of l’Eixample, the panoramic city views from Montjuic and Tibidabo, Gaudi’s Park Gttell, and the harborside Port Ollmpic. The Ruta del Mod-ernisme pass is the cheapest and most flexible option for those with a few days and an interest in seeing all the biggest sights. Passes (€3.60; students, over-65, and groups of 11 or more €2.60) are good for a month and give holders discounts on entrance to Palau Giiell, La Sagrada Familia, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Casa-Museu Gaudf, Fundacio Antoni Tapies, the Museu d’Art Modem, tours of El Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, tours of the facades of La Manzana de la Discordia, and other attractions. You can purchase passes at Casa Amatller, Pg. Gracia 41. ( 934 88 01 39; www.rutamodemisme.com. M: Pg. de Gracia.)
Las Ramblas, a pedestrian-only median strip, is a cosmopolitan cornucopia of street performers, fortune-tellers, human statues, vendors, and artists, all for the benefit of the visiting droves of tourists. A stroll along this bustling avenue can be an adventure at almost any hour, day or night. The wide, tree-lined thoroughfare dubbed Las Ramblas is actually composed of five (six if you count the small Ram-bla de Mar) distinct ramblas (promenades) that together form one boulevard, about lkm long, starting at PI. Catalunya and the Font de Canaletes (more a pump than a fountain) visitors who wish to eventually return to Barcelona are supposed to sample the water. Halfway down Las Ramblas, Joan Miro’s pavement mosaic brightens up the street. Pass the Monument a Colom on your way out to the Rambla de Mar and a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.
GRAN TEATRE DEL LICEU. Once one of Europe’s leading stages, the Liceu has been ravaged by anarchists, bombs, and fires. It is adorned with palatial ornamentation, gold facades, sculptures, and grand side rooms including a fantastic Spanish hall of mirrors. (Las Ramblas 51-59, by C. de Sant Pau. Office open M-F 2-8:30pm and lhr. before performances. 934 85 99 13. Tours M-F 10am, by reservation only. €5.)
CENTRE D’ART DE SANTA MONICA. One can only imagine what the nuns of this former convent would have thought of the edgy art installations (recently “How Difficult it is to Sleep Alone” and “Transsexual Express”) that rotate through this gallery, which is definitely worth a visit for modem art fans. (Las Ramblas 7. M: Drassanes. & 933 16 27 27. Open M-F 11 am-2pm and 5-8pm. Call for info on exhibitions. Free.)
No visit to Barcelona is complete (or even possible) without traversing the famous Las Ramblas. Translated as “The Promenades,” Las Ramblas is a series of five individual walkways strung together. Although they are generally referred to as one collective rambla, each has its own distinct character and plenty of built-in mtertainment.
GRAN TEATRE DEL LICEU. Get off the Metro at Liceu, you can’t miss it. Start your morning with the 10am guided tour of Barcelona’s premier stage, and bask in the history of one of Europe’s greatest opera houses (tours M-F; see 926)
LA BOQUERIA. Check out the famous market housed in an all-steel Modernist structure.
Choose a late-morning snack from this wondrous bounty of fresh food (see 928).
PALAU DE LA VIRREINA. Wander in the courtyard of this 18th-century Rococo palace and see if any exhibitions are going on. If not, visit the building’s Cultural Events Office or admire the upscale souvenirs in the giftshop (see 928).
PLAQA CATALUNYA. Now you’ve come to the city’s main hub. Every tourist wanders through at least once; can you tell by the crowds? The busy plaga makes a great place to people-watch or just relax. Check out the enormous El Corte Inlges and do some serious shopping. It is also where the old city meets the new; turn south to catch the rest of this walking tour, but if you continue farther north you can chart your own course through I’Eixample (see 931).
MUSEU DE L’EROTICA. Swing back around the plaga and head back down the left side of Las Ramblas. If you dare, check out Spain’s only erotica museum, (see 928).