Breathtaking Barcelona

  • Anjan Karmakar

    March 13, 2017 | 01:51 PM
Park Guell in Barcelona

Park Guell in Barcelona (Getty Images)

The golden rays of the setting sun partially clothed the elegant buildings on the far end of the street with an unrealistic hue mostly seen in pictures with added filters.

Then, to top that, there was this gentle breeze from the sea blowing against our tired faces after a day’s exploring through the city’s Gothic Quarters. It was all worth it.

Welcome to Barcelona! Spain’s second city and the capital of the region of Catalunya, Barcelona is often considered as one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan places in the country.

The city, which received Christopher Columbus after his first trip to America, where giants like Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Gaudi, lived and worked at the same time.

We start exploring the city from PlacaCatalunya. Pedestrian paths leading to the Gothic Quarters, the Ramblas, the Columbus monument and other popular landmarks all start from PlacaCatalunya, which is the city’s main square.

PlacaCatalunya is often full of locals enjoying the sun or catching up with friends; you see kid’s playing all over the square and tourists taking photographs of the decorative fountains and the many statues of famous Catalans. It is a lively people scene all throughout the day, good for taking a quick break and for some people watching.

The Ramblas is Barcelona’s famed boulevard for leisurely strolls and instinctive shopping, enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike. It is a broad passageway for pedestrians lined on both sides by shady trees, and full of life and colour. You will see jugglers, magicians, dress-up statue artists, hawkers selling exotic items, small book and souvenir shops and of course restaurants.

At the end of the Ramblas stands the 60m tall Columbus monument that was constructed to honour Columbus’ maiden voyage to the Americas.

The Gothic Quarters, just north of the Ramblas, is the old centre of the city with beautiful squares, narrow lanes, and a maze of shops and galleries. It was in one of these lanes that Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol spent an afternoon looking for a gallery in the Bollywood movie Zindagi Na MilegiDobara.

The Gothic Centre is a delight to explore with churches and cathedrals from the Roman era at every corner, exquisite statues and street musicians vying for your attention, and among other things a must-visit for many - the Picasso museum. Perhaps the most popular landmark of Barcelona would be the Sagrada Familia, the yet unfinished Catholic Church designed by Gaudi.

The Nativity facade on the East of Sagrada Familia is dedicated to the birth of Jesus and bears most of Gaudi’s work. While the Passion facade on the West was constructed after Gaudi’s death, much of the work on Sagrada Familia still remains unfinished. Gaudi’s work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For architecture and design aficionados Barcelona will leave you wanting for more. Casa Mila, Case Battlo, and Park Guell are best known privately-commissioned works of Gaudi and in spite of the entry fees, you’d definitely want in. Barcelona’s Eixample district is where, back in the day, the wealthy residents of the city built their modernista-styled houses with a distinct and colourful fairytalelike design.

The sophisticated design with elaborate carvings and abundance of art nouveau frills everywhere will be enough to keep you gawking for an entire afternoon! Back into the city centre, you might want to browse through the streets and pick your favourites from the countless tapas bars, taste the local draft beer, or spend an evening or two appreciating flamenco performances, which are popular all over the country.

Locals usually head to bars with live music where they have flamenco performances every week. And while you are still in Barcelona, don’t miss a lazy day at the beach, the view of the entire city at sunrise from the Bunkers of Carmel, and (especially for the supporters of FC Barcelona) the Camp Nou experience.

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