3 days in the Catalan Capital

3 days in the Catalan Capital

Barcelona is another European city made hugely accessible by the rise of budget airlines, yet it's sometimes overlooked as a holiday or long weekend destination. Us Brits in particular chose the Balearic Islands or Costa del Sol (well some of us). So after an incredible trip to Catalonia (check out my 7 Secrets of Catalonia), I'm making it my mission to show my readers why you must make time to explore the whole region, starting with a weekend in Barcelona.Like most cities, Spain's second most populated city has so much to explore, this is merely a quick guide, a drop in the ocean of what's achievable. Put simply, if you want to see Barcelona properly, allow more than a weekend. And if you plan to visit Catalonia, you will need months to immerse yourself in this fascinating region of Spain, and discover the true Catalan culture, and maybe even learn some of the language.It's everywhere in Barcelona, and it's incredible. This Top Gaudi Buildings is a good start, you could spend a week just exploring each and every example of his stunning designs. He changed the rules of architecture, his work and techniques are instantly recognisable and if you visit Barcelona without seeing anything then you are either asleep or dead. This was a 1904 restoration of a conventional house. Let's just think about that, most of Gaudi's work was built between 1880 and 1920, that's just astounding! The façade of Casa Batllo is fantasy design of imagination and creativity, usually capturing people as they pass by. It's a little like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, how we would have designed our house as a child, fantastic. The inside is said to be the "House of Water" and the façade is supposed to represent the bones of the dead animals laying at the bottom of the sea.In many ways, it’s the interpretations of Gaudi’s work that intrigue me. Some say the house represents a carnival and the balconies are the people’s masks, and the colour is the confetti. Other say it’s the house of the dragon, and it represents the Legend of Saint George, the patron of Catalonia, who saved a princes from being eaten by a dragon. The balconies are the bones of the dragon’s victims, the ceiling is the backbone of the dragon and the cross represents the sword that Saint George used to slay the animal. Either way, go and see it for yourself and let your imagination decide.A building that quite simply needs no introduction. Construction on this UNESCO World Heritage Site began in 1882 and bizarrely has never been completed. It was the masterpiece of the Catalan architect. If you get the chance take the tour of this fantastic building and learn about its history and future, but be prepared for queues and book tickets in advance.Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Parc Güell was built between 1900 and 1904 and features a series of dynamically designed buildings, every one with unique Gaudi features. A great place to take a walk and admire some of his work.Barri Gotic (The Gothic Quarter) is a beautiful ‘old town‘ in the centre of Barcelona, it stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana and has remnants of the Roman heritage. You can spend a whole day just wandering and getting lost in the maze of narrow winding streets, and it’s fascinating to see historic buildings mixed with Barcelona’s modern structures. It’s also a great spot to eat and drink and popular for it’s shopping and nightlife.

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