38 Chapters
Medium 9781628871326

2 The Best Special-Interest Tours: Modernista Barcelona, Ciutat Vella-Ancient Barcelona, Barcelona for Modern Art Lovers, Design and Architecture, Gourmet Barcelona, Barcelona for Kids

Patricia Harris FrommerMedia ePub

The chimneys of La Pedrera.Modernista BarcelonaBarcelona is renowned for the wildly original modernisme, or Catalan Art Nouveau, style of architecture that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Best known are the stunning works of Antoni Gaudí, but so many talented architects left their mark on Barcelona that it’s a big task even to do a greatest hits tour in a single day. START: Metro to Lessep, then a taxi or 15-min. walk uphill to Parc Güell, the first stop on the itinerary. Parc Güell. In 1900 Gaudí’s lifelong patron, the Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell, envisioned a real-estate development in a garden setting. Although never completed, the project bears Gaudí’s visionary stamp and reflects the naturalism beginning to flower in his work. The architect set out to design every detail in the park, but much of the work was in fact completed by a disciple, Josep María Jujol, best known for the park’s colorful splashes of trencadis (designs of broken shards of ceramics). Yet the unique man-made landscape is all Gaudí. At the main entrance are fairy-tale-like gatehouses topped with chimneys resembling wild mushrooms. The covered marketplace, with an extraordinary tiled lizard fountain at the entrance, is supported by 86 Doric columns (not the 100 planned). But most famous are those sinuous, mosaic-covered benches that trace the perimeter of the plaza above.  45 min. See p 54,

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Medium 9781628870046

1. THE BEST OF MADRID & BARCELONA

Patricia Harris FrommerMedia ePub

1

THE BEST OF MADRID & BARCELONA

Madrid and Barcelona are the yin and yang of Iberian identity. Madrid sits on an arid high plateau in the center of the peninsula, while Barcelona clings to the Mediterranean shore. The two metropolises are great rivals in politics, sports, culture, and even language. This book brings them together to highlight two different—and equally fascinating—faces of Spain. For a trip that you will never forget, plan on seeing them both.

Although Madrid is paradoxically one of the youngest cities in Spain, it represents the culmination of the sweep of Spanish history. Felipe II moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid in 1561 just as the Spanish empire came into its own. Even today, Madrid remains the imperial heart of Spain, with the monumental architecture, royal palace, and regal art collection to prove it.

Barcelona, by contrast, is an ancient city with a mythic past. Founded by Romans, it has been a crossroads of Mediterranean cultures for 2,000 years. It rose to grandeur in the Middle Ages under the banner of the great warrior king Jaume I and became the capital of a far-flung Mediterranean empire. Nearly 8 centuries later, Barcelona’s pride in its independent Catalan heritage and language remains undiminished.

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Medium 9781628871326

1 The Best Full-Day Tours: The Best in One-Day, Two-Days or Three-Days

Patricia Harris FrommerMedia ePub

La Sagrada Família.The Best in One DayThis very full day, a “greatest hits” tour, begins with the best of Barcelona’s modernista architecture in the morning, is followed by a stroll down the epic Rambla, and ends with the highlights of the Ciutat Vella, or Old City. You’ll need your walking shoes. The tour is excellent any day of the week, though La Boquería, Barcelona’s famed food market, is closed on Sundays. START: Metro to Sagrada Família. La Sagrada Família. Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished legacy, the soaring “Holy Family” church, is a testament to his singular vision: the art of the impossible. This mind-altering creation—the best-known, if not necessarily the best example, of modernisme—has become Barcelona’s calling card. Begun in 1882, its eight bejeweled spires drip like melting candlesticks, and virtually every square inch of the surface explodes with intricate spiritual symbols. Gaudí was run over by a tram long before it could be finished, although it is now consecrated and functions as a house of worship. A private foundation works furiously to finish the building—now projected for 2026, the centennial of Gaudí’s death. For the foreseeable future, the church will remain under a forest of cranes.  1 hr. c/ Mallorca, 401.

 93-207-30-31. www.sagradafamilia.org . Admission 15€ adults; 4.50€ audio or print guide. Buy tickets in advance to avoid long lines. Daily Oct–Mar 9am–6pm; Apr–Sept 9am–8pm. Metro: Sagrada Família.

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Medium 9781628870725

7 SIDE TRIPS FROM BARCELONA

Patricia Harris FrommerMedia ePub

7

Side Trips from Barcelona

B arcelona may be the center of Catalunya’s galaxy, but three bright stars shine nearby. Tarragona to the south was the Roman capital of eastern Iberia, and its ruins have been respectfully assimilated into the modern city, creating a sense of timelessness that, in its own provincial way, rivals eternal Rome. Sitges , also to the south, is a beach resort that has grown into a genuine city that offers art and culture to round out your stay when you’ve had enough sea, sand, and sun. Girona is perhaps the most intriguing of all—a Roman, Moorish, and medieval Catalan city of multilayered cultural complexity accompanied by good hotels and a few great restaurants. Although it’s only a short train ride from Barcelona to any of the three, don’t be tempted to relegate them to day trips. Each is compelling enough to seduce you into an overnight stay, and you might find any one of them so simpatico that you will want to stretch your visit longer.

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Medium 9781628870725

6 BARCELONA

Patricia Harris FrommerMedia ePub

6

Barcelona

The Catalan language has a verb that must have been invented for Barcelona. “Badar” translates (more or less) as to walk around with your mouth wide open in astonishment. You’ll be doing a lot of that in Barcelona. The city’s artists have always had a fantastical vision—from the gargoyles along the roofline of the cathedral, to Antoni Gaudí’s armored warrior chimneys on La Pedrera, to the surreal amoeboid sculptures of Joan Miró. (They’re on a roof, too.)

Barcelona really is an original, with a unique history, language, gastronomy, and sense of style. When Madrid was still a dusty fortress village on the Río Manzanares, Barcelona was a force to be reckoned with on the Mediterranean. It has been at the intersection of cultures—Iberian, Roman, Visigothic, Moorish, French, and Aragonese—for 2,000 years. Today it is the capital of the autonomous region of Catalunya, forever chafing to leave the federal fold of Spain but enjoying near-country status within the European Union.

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