Of all the places I’ve ever traveled (which is quite a lot), Barcelona has been my favorite by far. The locals are warm and genuine, the weather is a dramatic mix of sunshine, storms, and rainbows, the food is fantastic, and the sangria is superb. As someone who has an affinity for architecture and a love of late nights, Barcelona is my paradise. My stay there was only a handful of days but in that time I tried to soak up as much of the Spanish life as possible.
Here are a few of my recommendations:
Casa Milà was the last civic work designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. The unique Modernist building was built between 1906 and 1910 and features continuous stone curves, twisted wrought iron windows and balconies, and a stunning rooftop that overlooks the city. Natural, religious, and geometric aspects fuse together to create an eclectic mix of architectural elements.
Located in the center of the city, Casa Batlló was redesigned by Antoni Gaudí in 1904. Known locally as Casa dels Osso (House of Bones), this stunning architectural masterpiece features skeletal shapes, colorful broken tile mosaics, and a striking roof that resembles an animal’s spine. Casa Batlló is just as impressive inside with a fluid floorplan, spiral ceilings, vibrant stained glass, and lots of natural lighting.
This garden gem overlooks the city on Carmel Hill and was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1914. Park Güell is filled with lush gardens, undulating walls, and geometric designs; due to its sprawling size, I would recommend devoting several hours to explore this “garden-city”. Amidst the brilliant flora are the prominent mosaics that envelop many of the architectural features.
Creation of this colossal Roman Catholic church commenced in 1882 (Gaudí took over in 1883) and is still under construction to this day, over 130 years later. Gaudí dedicated the last years of his life to this architectural endeavor; at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the development was complete. 2010 marked the midpoint of La Sagrada Famíla’s construction, with a tentative completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death. Words fail to describe the magnitude and magnificence of this church; the spiraling steeples and kaleidoscopic stained glass must be seen to be appreciated fully.
Popular with tourists and locals alike, this tree-lined street carves through the center of Barcelona. Street vendors, shops, markets, and restaurants populate the area day and night. The entrance to La Boqueria (Mercat de Sant Josep), a large public market full of produce and products that has been dated back to 1217, can be found via Las Ramblas. Sculptures and citrus trees saturate this popular street.
I journeyed to this tapas bar at the suggestion of a local who claimed that Quimet & Quimet was the best place to experience authentic Spanish food and drink. This local gem was tucked away from the bustle of Las Ramblas, and was charming and congested. Slipping in seconds before they shut the doors to further patrons, I squeezed up to the bar and selected a sampling of tapas and a glass of sangria. Not only was the food authentic, the dining experience was as well. The owners who were siblings, were friendly, genuine, and offered recommendations off their extensive menu.