Passionate, sophisticated and devoted to living the good life, Spain is at once a stereotype come to life and a country more diverse than you ever imagined.
Here, the passions of Europe’s most passionate country are the fabric of daily life, a country with music in its soul and an unshakeable spring in its step. And over time Spain's passions – for fine food, for wild landscapes, for a life lived to the full – have become very much the passion of all travellers going there.
Spain's diverse landscapes stir the soul. The Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa are as beautiful as any mountain range on the continent, while the snowcapped Sierra Nevada rises up improbably from the sun-baked plains of Andalucia; these are hiking destinations of the highest order. The wildly beautiful cliffs of Spain's Atlantic northwest are offset by the charming coves of the Mediterranean. And everywhere you go, villages of timeless beauty perch on hilltops, huddle in valleys and cling to coastal outcrops as tiny but resilient outposts of Old Spain.
Poignantly windswept Roman ruins, cathedrals of rare power and incomparable jewels of Islamic architecture speak of a country where the great civilisations of history have always risen, fallen and left behind their indelible mark. More recently, what other country could produce such rebellious and relentlessly creative spirits as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí and place them front and centre in public life? Here, grand monuments to the past coexist alongside architectural creations of such daring that it becomes clear that Spain's future will be every bit as original as its past.
For all such talk, this is a country that lives very much in the present and there's a reason why 'fiesta' is one of the best-known words in the Spanish language. It's because life is itself a fiesta here and everyone seems to be invited. Perhaps you'll sense it along a crowded post-midnight street when all the world has come out to play. Or maybe that moment will come when a flamenco performer touches something deep in your soul. Whenever it happens, you'll find yourself nodding in recognition: this is Spain.
Food and wine are national obsessions in Spain, and with good reason. The touchstones of Spanish cooking are deceptively simple: incalculable variety, traditional recipes handed down through the generations, and an innate willingness to experiment and see what comes out of the kitchen-laboratory. You may experience the best meal ever over tapas in an earthy bar where everyone's shouting, or over a meal prepared by a celebrity chef in the refined surrounds of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Either way, the breadth of gastronomic experience that awaits you is breathtaking.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is a Mediterranean and cosmopolitan city with Roman remains, medieval quarters and the most beautiful examples of 20th century Modernism and avant-garde. It is no surprise that emblematic constructions by the Catalan architects Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Doménech i Montaner have been declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
The city's origins are Roman, and its long history and economic dynamism have made Barcelona a cultural city, which can be seen in the historic-artistic heritage and the promotion of the most innovative artistic trends. A wide cultural programme will take visitors to museums, exhibitions, open-air sculptures… and many concerts, plays and dances.
Popular culture also has its manifestations in this city, which still conserves its most cherished traditions, like the fiestas of La Mercè or the festivities in the neighbourhoods of Gràcia, Sants and Poblenou. These are all exceptional opportunities for getting to know the city's more festive side.
Tradition and modernity can also be seen in its innovative and imaginative gastronomy, based on fresh garden produce, fresh fish, a wide variety of sausages and olive oil. Traditional handmade cakes and pastries and sparkling wines are some of the other highlights in this brief overview of Barcelona's gastronomic culture.
Strolling around the streets of Barcelona will bring surprises at every turn. Pedestrian streets in the old quarter, green spaces, and a splendid seafront with a range of modern facilities are a reflection of its multi-faceted character. Barcelona has cleverly succeeded in embracing its past without forgetting its commitment to the future. The city is endowed with some exceptional infrastructures which are in demand as venues for seminars, symposia and international events. Its exceptional transport connections, the Mediterranean climate and the multitude of attractions for visitors make Barcelona one of the world's leading business cities. Business parks and exhibition and conference centres host a wide range of initiatives.
Visitors coming to Barcelona for pleasure or on business can also enjoy the city's Mediterranean character, which can so clearly be seen on the Barcelona coast. The city also has lovely urban beaches, marine resorts, and golf courses on the seashore. Nature lovers will not have to go far to explore the mountains in the Cordillera Litoral range and the Catalan Pyrenees.
Et besøg værd !
The Sagrada Familia is the world wide symbol of Barcelona. The monumental church El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family) is Gaudi's most famous work and the finest example of his visionary genius. The architect undertook the task in 1883. Gaudi dedicated his life to carrying out this ambitious undertaking which due to his sudden death was left unfinished.
Gaudi became obsessed with the church to the point that not only did he focus all of his creative energies into it, but he set up residence in his on-site study as well. On June 7, 1926, Gaudi was hit by a street car while crossing the Gran Vía at Barcelona. Three days later not having regained consciousness, Gaudi died at the age of 74.
Today, the constructed part is open to visitors as well as the small Museu del Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família with scale models and drawings showing the construction process.
MACBA (Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum)
Combining straight lines and curves in a continuous dialogue between the interior spaces and the light outside, the building, inaugurated in 1995, is a work by Richard Meier. It's about what is more interesting in this museum.
MACBA is dedicated to works from the second half of the 20th century. There are few works in the permanent collection and once in a while interesting temporary exhibitions.
In1959 the art critic Alexandre Cirici Pellicer believed in the need to create a Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona.
In February 1963, the opening of the exhibition El arte y la paz, with a clear political commitment exposed the narrow limits of what was then permissible.
In 1986 Barcelona City Council, invited the North American architect Richard Meier to take charge of the project for the new museum. The MACBA was officially inaugurated on the 28th of November of 1995.
Market of la Boqueria
A visit to the Market of la Boqueria in Barcelona is advisable to enjoy an incredible contrast between colours and activity, ideal to discover why Mediterranean cuisine is internationally known due to its ingredients.
The best products from Catalonia in one place: fruit, vegetables, fish and seafood, tapas bars like El Quim and others... Just Perfect!!
The first mention of the Boqueria market of Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old door of the city to sell meat. At the beginning, the market was regarded as a simple extension of the market of Plaça Nova which then extended to the Plaça del Pi. Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla. Construction began March 19, 1840. The market officially opened the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The official inauguration of the structure was finally made in 1853. In 1911, the new fish market was opened and, in 1914, the metal roof that still exists today was constructed.
Gaudi's patron, Eusebi Güell, planned a suburban "city." His property was high above Barcelona, northwest and some distance from the city. More than 60 housing plots were allocated although only two homes were built on the property. The project was radical for its time and, as a real estate project, was a failure. The Barcelona City Council bought the property in 1922 and in the following year converted it to a municipal park.
Gaudí avoided levelling the grounds so that the Parc Güell has a network of twisting roads which follow the contours of the land.
The lowest point is the entrance, from which a double staircase leads to the hypostyle chamber, the ceiling of which serves as the floor of the huge public square.
Outlying areas have imaginative viaducts and colonnades, which in their design evoke natural forms.