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With its Mediterranean climate and rich culture and incredible beauty, Barcelona has become one of the world’s premiere tourism destinations. As the second largest city in Spain and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona’s architecture, neighborhoods, parks, shopping and nightlife deserve multiple visits.
Here are the city’s top three attractions.
FC Barcelona at Camp Nou
You shouldn’t miss the chance to see FC Barcelona play in their home stadium of Camp Nou. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 99,354. When you step into the stadium and see the supporters draped in the FC Barcelona colors of blue and red, the spirit in the air will be electrifying. FC Barcelona is the only team to have played in every season of European competitions since their 1955 commencement. Their sports records are staggering: They are the team with most European trophies, the team with most official Spanish titles and the team with most Spanish Cups, to name a few. They are the only team to have always played in the First Division, except for Athletic Bilbao and their rivals Real Madrid. If you want to truly see the passion that FC Barcelona evokes from its supporters, try to see them face Real Madrid.
Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Antoni Gaudí was a prominent figure in Catalan Modernism and his legacy permeates Barcelona. Home to much of Gaudí’s turn of the century architecture, Barcelona is a testament to his creativity and talent. Perhaps his masterpiece, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest. This church has become an icon of Barcelona, and was unfinished at the time of the architect’s death. Gaudí blended Gothic and Art Nouveau styles to create a landmark that is simultaneously overwhelming and comforting. Every façade was meticulously crafted and the sculptures were fundamental, rather than secondary, to Gaudí’s vision, historians explain. The Sagrada Família has always been an expiatory church, which means it has been funded by donations. It’s a church for the people and one of the best-known a symbols of Barcelona.
The open-air museum, the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village), is one of Barcelona’s most unique sites. It was built on Montjuïc Mountain for Barcelona’s International Exhibition in 1929. It is a collection of 117 full-size reproductions of buildings from all over Spain, enabling visitors to glimpse the astonishing depth and variety of Spanish architecture. This village represents an eclectic mix of Spanish buildings, resulting in an ideal village. Though the official site notes, “The intention was not to bring together a collection of masterpieces of Spanish architecture in the open-air museum. Instead, it was a matter of building a site that was a synthesis of monumental Spain. It was a way of having Spain in Catalonia.” As you walk through, be sure to visit some of the many arts workshops. These give you the opportunity to experience Spanish art in a way that is more fluid and relaxed than most other museums.
One of Barcelona’s most famous destinations, Las Ramblas is a tree-lined center for culture and tourism. The street is filled with locals, visitors and street performers. There are many options for any visitor along Las Ramblas. La Boqueria is one of the best markets in Barcelona with fresh vegetables and a bar where you can enjoy tapas and wine. While here, don’t forget to visit Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, a beautiful public museum dedicated to contemporary art.
The Gothic Quarter is one of the most fascinating and distinct districts in Barcelona. Comprised of narrow streets and alleyways, this district true charm is its layout. Enter the Gothic Quarter and simply wander around. You will find ample opportunity to appreciate it while maneuvering throughout its twists and turns. Before you emerge from its labyrinthine streets, you should visit the Plaça Reial (Royal Plaza), a square with great restaurants, nightclubs and beautiful lanterns.