BY JANET STEINBERG
The reign in Spain is not mainly on the plain…but in the city of Barcelona that reigns as my numero uno city in Spain. So, let me take you along to Barcelona. Ole!!!
|MIMES WELCOME VISITORS TO BARCELONA|
Catalonia’s capital city of Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, is surrounded by mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Montjuïc, the mountain situated between the city and the sea, is one of two mountains that give Barcelona its character.
Overlooking the harbor, the hill of Montjuic was the site of the 1929 World's Fair and the 1992 Olympic Games. In addition to the Miro´ Museum and the Olympic Ring and Stadium, Montjuic is also the location of Museu d'Art de Catalunya (The Catalonian Museum of Art) and El Poble Espanyol (The Spanish Village).
The Catalonian Museum, located in the Palau Nacional, is the home of medieval treasures. To the right of the steps below the Palau is the 1985 reconstruction of the Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe for Germany's exhibit at the 1929 World's Fair.
The Spanish Village is a complex of full-scale replicas of architectural structures from different regions of Spain. Built as the arts pavilion for the Barcelona World’s Fair in 1929, it is the fourth most visited attraction in Barcelona.
The Spanish Village is also home to a plethora of restaurants, shops, cafes, tapas bars and flamenco dancing. Flamenco fever, with internationally renowned flamenco dancers, can be caught in clubs or often in concert venues on Montjuic Hill.
|TAKE HOME A FLAMENCO DRESS|
Tapas bars, which started as down-home bars that covered their drinks with tapas (‘lids’ in Spanish) made of meat or cheese to keep the flies off the drinks, have evolved into a dining experience consisting of an entire meal made up of a variety of small dishes.
Christopher Columbus reigns supreme atop a towering monument at Placa del Portal de la Pau. The more than 150-foot tall Columbus monument (Monument a Colom) stands in the port at the foot of La Rambla, Barcelona’s lively esplanade.
|COLUMBUS MONUMENT IN THE PORT AT THE FOOT OF LA RAMBLA|
The twisted medieval streets of the ancient Bari Gothic, also known as the Gothic Quarter, was the location of the old Jewish Quarter known as the Call (derived from the Hebrew word kahal meaning community or synagogue). Medieval Barcelona had two Jewish Quarters: Call Mayor, inside the walls, and Call Menor, outside the walls.
In the Gothic Quarter, stroll around to the back of Barcelona's imposing Cathedral and you will find it was constructed with some interesting building blocks. Scattered throughout the walls are ancient burial stones with Hebrew inscriptions. Nearby, on the wall of the Frederic Mares Museum is the coat of arms of the Inquisition which expelled all Jews from Spain.
If museums are your thing, Barcelona also offers Museu Picasso and Fundacio´ Joan Miro´. The former, though not the most exciting of the world's Picasso Museums, is witness to the artist's connection with Barcelona where he competed his artistic apprenticeship and where he produced his early works.
The Joan Miro´ Foundation, set up in 1971 by Miro´ himself, is devoted to the artist's work and to the promotion of contemporary art in general. The collection is located in Parc de Montjuic (Montjuic Park).
Visitors from around the world come to Barcelona to follow the ‘Route Gaudi”, an architectural tour of the works of Antonio Gaudi. a pioneer in the Modernist Movement of Architecture.
La Pedrera, one of Gaudi's later works, exemplifies the inseparability of art and technique. Be sure and visit the roof terrace of the Pedrera where you can observe the skylights and chimneys as well as a grand overview of the city.
Nearby, the Casa Batlló is another Gaudi example of Modernism, the architectural trend of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designated as an historic monument in 1969
GAUDI’S CASA BATLLO'
Gaudi's Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is by not a Jewish Temple. However people of all faiths flock to Barcelona to visit this “Church of the Sacred Family”. With its surreal spires, said to resemble a melting wedding cake, it was initiated by Gaudi in 1882 and has not as yet been completed. However a group of architects, following Gaudi's design, have brought the west facade to an advanced stage of construction.
GAUDI’S SAGRADA FAMILIA
Between 1900 and 1904, Gaudi built the surrealistic Parc Guell, an architectural extravaganza that has been compared to Dorothy’s “Oz” and Alice’s “Wonderland”. The creative magic of this eccentric architect is exemplified in this park where visitors are greeted by a curvy pink house (Casa-Museu Gaudi), a grinning mosaic frog, and a pavilion that is supported by mushroom-like columns.
|ENTRY TO GAUDI’S SURREALISTIC PARC GUELL|
When it's time for a break from the rigors of touring, sip a soothing Priorato (local red wine) Sangria (red wine, brandy orange juice, fruit) or a bubbling Cava (sparkling wine) in a traditional bodega…or buy yourself a treat at the public market.
Eating is another pastime in Barcelona. Restaurants range from elegant to cozy traditional Catalonian restaurants in the Gothic Quarter. One of the most popular Catalan restaurants is Restaurant 7 Portes (7 Doors) that opened in 1836. 7 Doors is the place to taste classic paella, its signature dish and the national dish of Spain.
JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 40 national Travel Writer Awards and a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Mariemont, OH.