Barcelona Vacations

Barcelona Vacations

LA RIBERA

This neighborhood has recently evolved into Barcelona’s bohemian nucleus, with art galleries, chic eateries, and exclusive bars.

MUSEU PICASSO. The most-visited museum in Barcelona traces the development of Picasso as an artist, with the world’s best collection of work from his formative Barcelona period. (C. Montcada 15-19. M: Jaume I. Open Tu-Sa 10am-8pm, Su 10am-3pm. ‚5, students and seniors ‚2.50. Under-16 free. First Su of each month free.)

PALAU DE LA MUSICA CATALANA. In 1891, the Orfeo Catalan choir society commissioned Modernist Luis Domenech i Montaner to design this must-see concert venue. The music hall glows with tall stained-glass windows, an ornate chandelier, marble reliefs, intricate woodwork, and ceramic mosaics. Concerts given at the Palau include symphonic and choral music in addition to more modern pop, rock, and jazz. (C. Sant Francese de Paula 2. s932 95 72 00;

www.palaumusica.org. M: Jaume I. Mandatory tours in English every hr. Reserve 1 day in advance. Open daily Aug. 10am-6pm; Sept.-July 10am-3:30pm. ‚5, students and seniors ‚4. Check the Guia del Ocio for concert listings. Concert tickets ‚6-150. MCV.)

H MUSEU DE LA XOCOLATA (CHOCOLATE MUSEUM). Arguably the most delectable museum in Spain, with gobs of information about the history, production, and ingestion of chocolate. Perhaps more interesting are the exquisite chocolate sculptures, particularly the edible version of La Sagrada Familia. A small cafe offers workshops on cake baking and chocolate tasting. (PI. Pons i Clerch. M: Jaume I. Open M and W-Sa 10am-7pm, Su 10am-3pm. ‚3.80, students and seniors ‚3.30. Reservations required. Workshops from ‚6.)

PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA. Host of the 1888 Universal Exposition, the park harbors several museums, well-labeled horticulture, the wacky Cascada fountains, a pond, and a zoo. Buildings of note include Domenech i Montaner’s Modemista Cas-teil dels Tres Dragons (now the Museu de Zoologia), the geological museum, and Josep Amergos’s Hivernacle. In the Parc Zoologlc (M: Ciutadella. Open May-Aug. 9:30am-7:30pm; Apr. and Sept. 10am-7pm; Mar. and Oct. 10am-6pm; Nov.-Feb. 10am-5pm. ‚12.) HFIoquet de Neu (a.k.a. Copito de Nieve; Little Snowflake), the world’s only known albino gorilla, lounges in the sun. The nearby Museu d’Art Modern houses a potpourri of works by 19th-century Catalan artists. (PI. D’Armes. Open Tu-Sa 10am-7pm, Su 10am-2:30pm. ‚3, students ‚2. First Th of every month free.)

SANTA MARIA DEL MAR. This 14th-century architectural wonder was built in a quick 55 years. Standing 13m apart, the supporting columns span a width greater than any other medieval building in the world. It’s a fascinating example of the limits of Gothic architecture were it 2ft. taller, the roof would collapse from structural instability. (PI. Santa Maria 1. M: Jaume 1. Open M-Sa 9am-l:30pm and 4:308pm, Su 9am-2pm and 5-8:30pm. Free.)

EL FOSSAR DE LES MORERES. The Catalans who resisted Felipe V’s conquering troops in 1714 were buried here in a mass grave, commemorated by mulberry trees (les moreres) and a plaque with a verse by the poet Sefari Pitarra: In the Mulberry Cemetery no traitors are buried. Even though we lose our flags, this will be the urn of honor. Demonstrators and patriots converge on Catalan National Day, September 11th, to commemorate the siege of Barcelona and the subsequent ban on displays of Catalan nationalism. (OffC. de Santa Maria and next to the church’s back entrance.)

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