Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain
By Clinton Maxwell

Triumphal Arch in BarcelonaBarcelona has a lot to be proud of. A city literally stuffed with spectacular architecture, historical and cultural places of interest, fantastic food and a vibrant nightlife. It is no wonder tourists flock to the area. There is more to Catalonia than Barcelona sightseeing however, including a glorious coastline, beautiful mountains and a fierce independent spirit that will be felt by even the least informed visitor.

Make sure you have a map detailing the places of interest when you arrive in Barcelona; it is surprisingly easy to get lost in Barcelona's bustling streets. A good place to start your tour is Gaudi's Park Guell, an open space filled with pieces of Gaudi's work including benches, archways, walls and balconies. It is a place where Gaudi's imagination really had free reign, and you feel almost that the works of art are more natural than the plants and trees.

Barcelona TramFrom here you can move easily on to Gaudi's iconic work, the Sagrada Familia. This church was started in 1882 but was not finished when Gaudi died in 1926. Various attempts have been made to complete the work to Gaudi's designs but the church is still not entirely finished and probably never will be. If you don't think you can capture the spirit of the church in your own photographs, you might want to check out the stunning images available in postcard stands that surround the building.

The Barcelona zoo was founded in 1892 and is located in the Ciutadella Park, next to the old town or Ciutat Vella. This is a great place to visit especially of you have children that are likely to lose interest in architecture and history. Some of the seven and a half thousand animals on display include pelicans, American buffalos and red kangaroo, as well as a specialist primate collection which the zoo is famous for.

Rambla de Mar in Port VellThere is an aquatic park within the zoo that provides a home to bottlenose dolphins among others. Dolphin shows can be seen throughout the warm summer months, and this can make a refreshing escape from the heat of the city. An acclaimed research program at Barcelona zoo is well known for sympathetic breeding of animals in captivity and protection of endangered species, which would otherwise become extinct.

The main avenue in Barcelona, La Rambla is a riot of colour and bustle with flower stalls and street performers at regular intervals along the promenade. The main hotels and restaurants center around La Rambla, but you may get a better deal and more authentic dishes if you explore a little further out. One place not be missed is the Boqueria, a fantastic food market to one side of La Rambla, with exotic delicacies you have never even imagined.

The port area received a face lift with the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992. The Olympic village was situated right on the coast and the area is marked by the dual towers of the Arts Hotel, Mapfre Towers and Nova Icaria Square. The main Olympic sites can be found on top of Montjuic, a hill overlooking the city, and can be reached by cable car.

About the Author
Clinton Maxwell writes for Barcelona-Information.com, a website with news and information about travelling in Barcelona, Spain.

Pictures
Triumphal Arch in Barcelona
Barcelona Tram
Rambla de Mar in Port Vell (Old Harbour)

Other European Destinations
France, Paris
Venice Travel Guide
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
London, England
Travel To Germany
A Traveller's Guide To Rome