A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

Beautiful Barcelona

Christmas 2015.

Barcelona.

For Christmas 2015 we flew from Hong Kong to Dubai where we spent one night prior to flying on to Nice. We spent four nights in Nice, then travelled down via Montpellier to Barcelona. We stayed in Barcelona for three nights. This was only our second ever visit to Spain. We just had two and a half short winter days to see Barcelona. From my research I had learned that many sights in Barcelona have long queues. These I ruthlessly culled, as I had no intention of spending my limited time here standing in a queue.Thus Park Guell was not on our to do list and the Church of the Sagrada Familia was only visited from the outside.

On our first day we took the metro to the Church of the Sagrada Familia. After that we wandered around the L'Eixample district looking at the modernista architecture. Then we visited Catalonia Square, La Rambla, the port and Barceloneta. On day two we went to Ciutadella Park, explored the Ciutat Vella or old city of Barcelona and for the benefit of my football obsessed husband visited Camp Nou home to F.C. Barcelona. On day three we visited Montjuic to see its views, parks and castle. Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, Spain. It is Spain's second largest city, with a population of 1.6 million. It is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner. These have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are two legends about the origins of Barcelona. One claims the city was founded by Hercules. The other claims it was founded by Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal. For us Barcelona was a city full of surprises and quirky oddities. A very interesting place for a visit.

La Sagrada Familia.

What can I say? This church is one of the most famous sights in the world. I have wanted to see it for ages and at the risk of upsetting people and being called a philistine ......I hated it. It was a building site complete with lots of cranes and tarpaulin. I found it impossible to see beyond that - a huge disappointment. La Sagrada Família was the idea of bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella,the founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph. He visited the Vatican in 1872 and was inspired to build a church. Construction began on the 19th March 1882 the festival of St Joseph. On 18th March 1883 Antoni Gaudí took over the church's design. Gaudí devoted much of his life to the church, but when he died in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. It is hoped the church will be complete by 2026 the centenary of Gaudi's death. I can only hope it will look a lot better then. Address: Carrer de Mallorca 40. Directions: Metro: Line 2 or 5 Station: Sagrada Familia.

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

L'Eixample.

We wandered around the L'Eixample district viewing the modernista buildings from the outside only. I found the area interesting and loved many of the buildings, though not necessarily the famous ones. One of the famous buildings here is Casa Milà. This was commissioned by the industrialist Pere Milà i Camps and his wife, Rosario Segimon i Artells and was constructed between 1906 and 1912 by Antoni Gaudí. It is often called La Pedrera which means the stone quarry. This building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Font de la Granota Fountain

After visiting the outside of La Sagrada Familia Church, we decided to explore the Modernista architecture in the L'Eixample District. The Font de la Granota, or the Frog Fountain, is a beautiful and unusual fountain located at the intersection of Av. Diagonal and Carrer Corsega not far from the Diagonal metro stop. This fountain was designed by Catalan artist Josep Campeny in 1912. Water from the fountain comes out of the frog's mouth.

Font de la Granota Fountain. - Barcelona

Font de la Granota Fountain. - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller.

The house that is now Casa Batlló was first built in 1877 by Antoni Gaudi. It was commissioned by Lluís Sala Sánchez. Later in 1900 the house was bought by Josep Batlló who commissioned Gaudi to redesign it and make it more unusual. Barcelona locals call this building Casa dels ossos or House of Bones. The front of the building is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles. The roof is arched and looks like the back of the dragon from the Saint George and the dragon legend. A turret and cross on the building's roof represent a lance that has been plunged into the dragon's back. The modernista building next door to Casa Batllo is Casa Amatller. This building was originally designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller. It was constructed between 1898 and 1900. It was designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló - Barcelona

Casa Batlló - Barcelona

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

Round the corner from the Casa Batllo is the Fundació Antoni Tàpies. This was created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and contemporary art. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is housed in the building of the former Editorial Montaner i Simon publishing house, which was designed by the Modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner between 1880 and 1881.

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies. - Barcelona

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity.

While strolling around L'Eixample don't forget to note lamp-posts, lights and seats. There are modernista style benches around which are just screaming out photo opportunity so it would be a sin not to oblige them with a quick shot.

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Bull Statue.

The best thing about Barcelona was its weirdness. To experience that you don't need to visit every modernista structure. All you need to do is wander around with your eyes open. You'll see things like a contemplative bull statue by Josep Granyer. This can be found on the Rambla de Catalunya. The statue's real name is El Toro Assegut or “Sitting Bull”. It was created in 1972.

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

The Flirtatious Giraffe.

There is a second strange statue on the Rambla Catalonya created by the same sculptor who designed the sitting bull. This one is a statue of a flirtatious giraffe in Spanish-La girafa coqueta. It is by Josep Granyer Giralt who lived from 1899 to1983. It is quite funny and very cute.

La girafa coqueta. - Barcelona

La girafa coqueta. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square.

Catalunya Square is the heart of Barcelona. It is a transport hub and a crowded meeting spot. When we visited it was hosting a market and a weird futuristic hairstyling event which was very entertaining. This square is also filled with statues, fountains and works of art. An entertaining spot for a visit. Address: Parc de Catalunya, Sabadell, Gothic Quarter.

Fountain, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Fountain, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Sculpture, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Sculpture, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

La Rambla.

Street Statue on La Rambla. - Barcelona

Street Statue on La Rambla. - Barcelona

Casa Amatller. - Barcelona

Casa Amatller. - Barcelona

La Rambla connects Plaça de Catalunya in the centre of Barcelona with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. This street is 1.2KM long. Traffic runs down both sides of La Rambla, but the central area is pedestrianised and filled with stalls. The street is home to many beautiful buildings. The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said that La Rambla was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end."

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

The erotic museum, La Rambla. - Barcelona

The erotic museum, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - La Boqueria Market Mercat de Sant Josep.

Mercat de la Boquerìa also known as Mercat de Sant Josep is a large, bustling and colourful market just off La Rambla. It sells a wide range of products including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, chocolates. It also has several cafes and restaurants around its edges. Address: Las Ramblas, 95
Directions: Metro: Liceu, Mercat exit.

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep Bars.

The Mercat de Sants Josep is very busy especially in its centre aisles. Get a little further away and there is slightly more room to move. Around the edges there are lots of bars and cafes where people stop for a chat and some refreshments. Address: Las Ramblas, 95. Directions: Metro: Liceu, Mercat exit.

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros.

La Casa Bruno Cuadros is an extremely ornate building on La Rambla. It used to be an umbrella shop and is known by locals as the Casa dels Paraigües or House of Umbrellas. This building was refurbished in1883 by the architect Josep Vilaseca. Vilaseca combined modernisme with various architectural elements from other cultures such as Egypt, China and Japan. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s balconies and the top floor have Egyptian imagery. The façade features elaborate reliefs of umbrellas and fans. There is an ornate Chinese dragon on the corner of the façade. This and the umbrella below it were used to advertise the shop. The building was refurbished in 1980 and is now home to a bank.

Umbrella House, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Umbrella House, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Casa dels paraigües - Umbrella House. - Barcelona

Casa dels paraigües - Umbrella House. - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

Placa Reial.

About half way down the Rambla just off to the left hand side if you are facing towards the sea lies the Placa Reial. Plaça Reial means Royal Square. On the plaza there is an ornate fountain, many restaurants and some of the city's most famous nightclubs. The Plaça Reial was designed by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó in the nineteenth century. Its lanterns were designed by Antoni Gaudí. Address: Plaça Reial 08002 Barcelona, Directions: Barri Gotic east of La Rambla. Off Carrer Colon. Metro: Liceu.

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Palau Güell.

We did not really do justice to the modernista architecture of Barcelona as we only viewed it from the outside. This was because everything had a queue and everything was expensive. The Palau Güell is about half way down La Rambla and off to the right hand side if you are facing the sea. It is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. It was built between 1886 and 1888. It is located on the Carrer Nou de la Rambla. Long ago guests would enter this mansion in horse-drawn carriages through the front iron gates. They would then climb the stairs to the house's main receiving room with its extremely high ceiling. Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla 35.

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument.

Where La Rambla reaches the seafront, you will see the Columbus monument. Christopher Columbus stands pointing out to sea from the top of a high column. The base of the column is surrounded by lions which people like to climb onto to have their photos taken. The Columbus Monument is 197 feet tall. It was constructed in 1888 for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in honor of Columbus's first voyage to the Americas. Christopher Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona after his first trip to the new world. The Columbus statue was sculpted by Rafael Atché. It shows Columbus pointing towards the New World with his right hand, while holding a scroll in the left. Address: La Rambla Barcelona. Directions: Between Port Vell and Catalunya and Raval on onside an Barri Gòtic on the other.

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

Barceloneta.

Barceloneta is an almost triangular piece of land jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. The earliest inhabitants here were fishermen. Then in the eighteenth century this area provided homes for the residents of the Ribera neighborhood who had been displaced by the construction of the Ciudadela of Barcelona. Nowadays Barceloneta is home to the Museum of History, a long sandy beach, sculptures, lots of restaurants and the lovely Sant Miquel del Port Church. As you walk along the beach you will see sand sculptures and salesmen holding up huge billowing pieces of cloth as they try to sell their wares.

Cloth salesman, Barceloneta. - Barcelona

Cloth salesman, Barceloneta. - Barcelona

Square in front of the church. - Barcelona

Square in front of the church. - Barcelona

Sand sculpture, Barceloneta - Barcelona

Sand sculpture, Barceloneta - Barcelona

Barceloneta - Barcelona

Barceloneta - Barcelona

Homenatge a la Barceloneta by Rebecca Horn. - Barcelona

Homenatge a la Barceloneta by Rebecca Horn. - Barcelona

The Waterfront.

After wandering down La Rambla, a street I would certainly recommend that you visit, we walked along the waterfront on route to Barceloneta. We passed by the old port building, the wooden Rambla de Mar which leads the rambla out over the sea, Port Vell which was built as part of an urban renewal program prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, several sculptures and the marina. A pleasant area for a stroll.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

La Parella -The Couple, by Lautaro Díaz Silva,1998 - Barcelona

La Parella -The Couple, by Lautaro Díaz Silva,1998 - Barcelona

Sant Miquel del Port. - Barcelona

Sant Miquel del Port. - Barcelona

Barcelona Old Town.

Barcelona Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia.

The Cathedral of Barcelona is known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. It was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona. She is one of the patron saints of Barcelona. Eulalia was a young virgin who suffered martyrdom during Roman times. The Romans displayed her naked in the public square when, despite it being a warm spring day, it suddenly started snowing. The snow covered her nudity. We did not go inside as it was too busy. There was a very long queue for entry. Address: Plaça de la Seu. Directions: Barri Gotic. Metro: Lines 1 and 3 (Catalunya Station) and Lines 2 and 4 (Urquinaona Station.)

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Flea Market: Interesting market next to the cathedral.

There is an interesting and colourful flea market right next to the cathedral. It seemed to sell a bit of everything: ornaments, lights, records. It was quite interesting to have a look at and it took quite an attractive photo, too.

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume.

The site that is occupied by Plaça Sant Jaume was once at the heart of the ancient Roman city of Barcino. It was here that major streets converged and the ancient Roman forum was located. The modern name for this square comes from the church of San Jaume which used to be located here. Plaça Sant Jaume was remodelled in 1823. Nowadays this square is home to Barcelona's City Hall and the Palau de la Generalitat.

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei.

The Plaça del Rei was once home to the royal palace, the Palau Reial Major. This palace was home to the Catalan counts from the thirteenth to the early fifteenth centuries. The building opposite the palace is the sixteenth century Palau del Lloctinent, or Lieutenant's Palace. We wandered into the lovely courtyard of this building.

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is situated in the Ribera district of Barcelona. It was built between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile pre-eminence. The foundation stone of this building was laid by king Alfonso IV of Aragon in 1329. The architects in charge were Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despuig. This is a lovely church with beautiful stain glass windows. It is set next to a pretty square with several cafes and restaurants.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven?

On our walk from the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar to the cathedral we passed a strange sculpture. It is called Por qué me echaron del Cielo? or Why have they cast me from heaven? It was created by sculptor, Julio Nieto. The metal figure of an angel is deeply distressed with his head in his hands. In the place where his brain should be there are apples, perhaps symbolising original sin from the Adam and Eve story and implying he has done something very wrong. All very odd.

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Picasso Friezes.

Across from the cathedral there is a very modern building. It is the College of Architects of Catalonia. There are several simple, cartoonlike drawings depicted on the front of it. These are by Pablo Picasso. They are entitled El Fris de la Senyera or Flag Frieze, El fris dels Gegants or Giants Frieze and El Fris dels Nens or Children Frieze.

Children's frieze. - Barcelona

Children's frieze. - Barcelona

Giants frieze. - Barcelona

Giants frieze. - Barcelona

Flag frieze. - Barcelona

Flag frieze. - Barcelona

Flag Frieze. - Barcelona

Flag Frieze. - Barcelona

College of architects. - Barcelona

College of architects. - Barcelona

Tiles on a fountain.

Not far from the Cathedral of Barcelona we came upon an excellent choir who were singing Christmas songs. Nearby there was an attractive fountain surrounded by many pictures formed from ceramic tiles. I don't know anything about the fountain, but I took several photos of it.

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Citadella Park.

The Arc de Triomf Parc de la Ciutadella.

On our second full day we began by taking the metro to Arc de Triomf station. We walked through the archway into Ciutadella Park. The Arc de Triomf was built in 1888 when Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition. The Arc de Triomf was the gateway to the fair which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The Arc de Triomf was designed by architect Josep Vilaseca. The arch is made of red brick and is decorated with a series of friezes.

On the other side of the Arc de Triomf there was a rather strange protest going on. It was against domestic abuse and was being held in memory of victims of domestic violence that had not been believed. The road was covered with blood stained Tshirts. A woman in black stood in silent prayer. Every so often she picked up a T-shirt, took it to a basin and scrubbed out the blood.

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Ciutadella.

In 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona fell to the armies of King Philip V of Spain. King Philip V built the citadel of Barcelona, a huge fortress controlled by the Spanish to keep the rebellious Catalans under control. Construction of the fortress lasted for three years, and much of old Barcelona was destroyed to make room for it. In 1848 under a different political climate, demolition of this much hated fortress began.

In 1888, Barcelona held the Exposición Universal de Barcelona, the site of the citadel was turned into a beautiful park for this event. The Ciutadella Park is now home to a zoo, the Catalan parliament, the house of the three dragons, a cascade, a chapel and various sculptures, ponds and fountains. The cascade or waterfall is near the lake. It was built between 1881 and 1888 by Josep Fontsére and to some extent by Antoni Gaudí, who was then still an unknown student of architecture. As well as the cascade there are plenty of other sights in Ciutadella Park. The Castle of the Three Dragons is a modernist building built between 1887 and 1888 as a Café/Restaurant for the 1888 Universal Exposition. It was built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Parliament of Catalonia building is located in Ciutadella Park. Catalonia's most recent parliamentary elections were held on 27 September 2015. The statue outside the parliament building is ";El Desconsol"; by Josep Llimona. The bandstand in Ciutadella Park is dedicated to a transexual The park's bandstand, Sonia Rescalvo Zafra, who was murdered there on 6 October 1991 by right-wing extremists. There is also a lovely chapel in the park.

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

I liked the stork and the fox fountain in this park, too. It comes from an Aesop's fable where a fox invites a stork to eat in his home, but deliberately serves the food in a container the stork cannot access with its long beak. The upset stork plays a similar trick on the fox to teach him that it is wrong to play practical jokes on others.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

There were also many lovely sculptures in this park and now that I am researching it upon our return I realise there were plenty more we missed, too. Vase with children and flowers is a cheerful looking fountain dating from 1882. It was created by Josep Reynés. Als Voluntaris Catalans is a monument to the Catalan volunteers killed in France and around the world in defense of freedom. It is by Josep Clara. Even the gates into the park were pretty beautiful.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

El Born Cultural Centre.

This building used to house a market the Mercat del Born. The iron and glass structure that once housed the market was built by Josep Fontserè in 1876. Now the building houses archaeological remains dating from 1700 of the district of Vilanova de Mar. Address : Plaça Comercial, 12. Opening hours : Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6:45 pm ( Espai Gastronòmic Moritz. Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to midnight) Prices: Free and €5.5 for guided tour.

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

Montjuic.

Montjuic Views from the Miramar Mirador.

On our last day in Barcelona we decided to walk up Montjuic. Montjuic is a largely flat topped hill overlooking Barcelona's harbour. Montjuic means either Jewish Hill or the Hill of Jove. The hill has several lovely viewing points with excellent views over Barcelona.

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic Cactus Garden.

Montjuic has some beautiful gardens. I especially enjoyed wandering around the wonderful cactus garden. This was home to lots of stunning plants and some attractive sculptures. Entrance is free. It is located close to the Miramar Mirador.

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic Views from higher up.

We continued climbing up Montjuic all the way to the castle at the top. On the way up there are several more places from which to enjoy the views. A cable car comes all the way across the port from Barcelonetta to Montjuic. A second cable car goes all the way up to the castle.

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Cable car to Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Cable car to Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle.

Montjuic Castle is an old military fortress on the top on Montjuic Hill. It dates back to 1640. It has been used as a prison and as a place of torture. Nowadays it is a museum. During the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 39 both the republicans and the fascists imprisoned, tortured and shot political prisoners at Montjuïc.

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Montjuic.

On the walk up to Montjuic Castle we passed a lovely statue of people performing a Sardana dance. The Sardana s a traditional Spanish dance which is danced in a circle while holding hands. This dance is native to the Spanish region of Catalonia.

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

La Violetera.

I quite liked this fountain La Violetera. La Violetera is a young girl who sells violets in the street. There is a famous Spanish song called La Violetera which was composed by José Padilla in 1914. Its lyrics were written by Eduardo Montesinos. This song was popularized by the Spanish singer Raquel Meller. This fountain is located in Carrer Nou de la Rambla.

La Violetera. - Barcelona

La Violetera. - Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona.

We took the metro out to the home of F.C. Barcelona Camp Nou. We did not do the tour. We just had a look around the bits that are open to the general public. Actually it was well worth a visit as there were plenty of background posters to photo or be photoed with. There was also a club shop and it was perfectly acceptable to take photos in there, too.

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana: Mainly a good stay with one or two minus points.

To get to this hotel you can take the metro to Fabra i Puig Station or the train to Sant Andreu Arenal Station. The hotel is visible from the busy main road you are on when you exit either station if you look around you. We stayed here for three nights. Check in was the worst part of our stay. It took ages and the receptionist quoted a price higher than the one we had booked. This got sorted out eventually, but did not create an initial good impression. Our room was clean and comfortable. We slept well here except that I found the room a bit hot. We had free wifi here and it worked consistently well. Breakfast was quite good, but quite busy. There were coffee machines, tea, a machine for making freshly squeezed orange juice. There was bread, toast, croissant and pain au chocolate. There were cold meats and cheese. Replacing things that ran out could be a bit slow. We paid 15 Euros extra for a late check out. We found this very useful as we left on a late flight. Early check-ins are available at the same rate. There are two supermarkets near the hotel. We used the one in Heron City. There were also restaurants in this shopping centre. We liked the Salzburg Restaurant as you had your own draft beer tap on your table. The hotel is near transport so it is fine for getting to sights. For travel buy a T10 ticket. These are good value. Address: Paseo Andreu Nin 9, Heron City, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08016, Spain.

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana - Barcelona

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana - Barcelona

Our bathroom. - Barcelona

Our bathroom. - Barcelona

Chariot Statue.

Not far from our hotel near the Sant Andreu Arenal Station there was a statue located on a little grassy hill. The statue was of two horse drawn chariots with two riders one male; one female. The sign next to it mentioned the Barcelona Olympics, but I can find no more information about it. It was quite an attractive statue but rather hidden away among the trees.

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Restaurants.

We ate in the Salzburg Restaurant in Heron City Shopping Mall twice during our stay. The first time was simply because it was close to our hotel. What we loved about it was that each table had its own draft beer tap. You just ask for glasses and pour your own draft beer whenever you want it. It is metred and your consumption is displayed on the wall. We thought this was a great idea. and the food was not bad either. I had chicken. Peter had sausages. We returned here again. Why? Well, did I mention we had our own beer tap on our table?

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Posted by irenevt 07:20 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Madrid, Spain.

Goya in front of the Ritz Hotel. - Madrid

Goya in front of the Ritz Hotel. - Madrid

First visit to Spain.

This was our first visit to Spain. We spent an evening and one full day in Madrid before flying off to Lisbon for a few days. Then back to Madrid for three full days. Our original intention had been to spend two of those days on day trips to Toledo and either Segovia or Avilla, but when we returned to Madrid, I got really ill and while I refused to stay in bed, it took me all my time to look at Madrid never mind go anywhere else. Oh well, such is life. This gave us the opportunity to see more of Madrid and do our favourite bits again in a more relaxed manner.

Our holiday.

We started our holiday by staying in a hotel in Barajas and travelling in to the city. Although the journey in took a while, it was worth it for the relative peace and quiet at night. For the second part of our trip, we stayed in a hotel in Alsacia which also proved to be nice and quiet, plus it was on the red metro line number two which is the most useful line for sightseeing.

Favourites.

Among the things we enjoyed in Madrid I would highly rate the beautiful cathedral which can be seen from so many parts of the city. I loved Retriro Park. We had a great picnic in the rose garden there and even in December there were still some beautiful roses. It must be stunning in summer. I loved the views especially watching the sunset from Parque de la Montana (Mountain Park) and I loved the Cervantes sculptures in Plaza de Espana. Plus there was always just such a lot of street life and activity going on with crowds of locals, revellers, tourists thronging the streets, street entertainers and people in fancy dress everywhere. Madrid certainly had atmosphere.

Puerta del Sol.

The first place we visited was the Puerta del Sol in the evening. We returned a couple of times during our stay. This square is always crowded and has plenty going on. People in costumes pose for photos, there are buskers, celebrating students, excited children and just generally lots of activity. We had a look at the famous bear and strawberry tree statue which is the symbol of Madrid. On New Year's Eve apparently crowds stand around the clock tower on the Real Casa de Correos and eat a grape on each chime of midnight for good luck in the coming year. There are streets thronged with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars leading off this square in every direction. Metro station Sol.

Inside the Christmas tree, Puerta del Sol. - Madrid

Inside the Christmas tree, Puerta del Sol. - Madrid

Christmas lights on street just off Puerta Del Sol - Madrid

Christmas lights on street just off Puerta Del Sol - Madrid

the symbol of Madrid. - Madrid

the symbol of Madrid. - Madrid

The Plaza Mayor.

The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main square. It is lined with expensive restaurants. On our visit there was a Christmas market in the centre and lots of Christmas lights.

The Plaza Mayor. - Madrid

The Plaza Mayor. - Madrid

The Royal Palace.

We got to the Royal Palace by taking the metro to Opera Station. The palace is apparently the largest in Western Europe and occupies the site of the old Alcazar or Moorish castle which was burnt to the ground in 1734. In front of the palace is the very pleasant Plaza de Oriente with its statue lined gardens. Nearby are the Royal Theatre, the Cafe de Oriente and the cathedral. We did not visit the inside of the palace, but I found the following information about palace visits. Opening hours: October to March: Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm, Sundays and holidays, 9am to 2pm. April to September: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, Sundays and holidays, 9am to 3pm Closed 1st & 6th January, 1st & 15th May, 12th October, 9th November and 25th December. Entry to the Royal Palace depends on which part you'd like to visit, with prices ranging from 2€ to 11€. Free on Wednesdays.

The Royal Palace - Madrid

The Royal Palace - Madrid

Sentries on horseback outside the palace. - Madrid

Sentries on horseback outside the palace. - Madrid

My husband in the Plaza de Oriente. - Madrid

My husband in the Plaza de Oriente. - Madrid

Madrid's Cathedral.

Madrid's Cathedral is right next to the Royal Palace. It is a wonderful building and it is possible to take an excellent photo of it from so many different parts of Madrid. Entry is by optional donation for the upkeep of the building. The suggested amount is one euro. Inside the church had some wonderful frescoes and beautiful stained glass windows. Despite the many visitors to the cathedral, the building was very peaceful inside. Some chapels had been set aside for silent prayer and taking photographs was not allowed in these areas, though it was fine in the rest of the building. Outside the cathedral was a statue of Pope John Paul the second commemorating his visit to Spain.

The cathedral and viaduct. - Madrid

The cathedral and viaduct. - Madrid

The cathedral from the river. - Madrid

The cathedral from the river. - Madrid

Inside the cathedral. - Madrid

Inside the cathedral. - Madrid

The Basilica of Saint Francis.

The Basilica of Saint Francis is just a couple of minutes walk away from the cathedral across the viaduct bridge. Work on this beautiful church started in 1760 and was finalised by Francesco Sabatini in 1784. The building was restored in 1880. The church is situated on the site of a Franciscan convent which is supposed to have been founded by Saint Francis of Assisi himself in 1217. Entry is 3 Euros. There are views from outside the church.

Street sign outside the basilica. - Madrid

Street sign outside the basilica. - Madrid

The Basilica of St Francis. - Madrid

The Basilica of St Francis. - Madrid

Campo de Moro Gardens.

These were once the palace gardens and there is an excellent view of the palace from here. To enter the gardens from the palace you have to walk through the Sabatini Gardens, then down the road past Príncipe Pío Station and the Gate of the Virgen del Puerto. It will take about 10 minutes. It was really cold during our visit. There is an ornate fountain and several statues in the park. There were some nice plants even including some roses still going strong in the middle of winter. Worth a look for the views of the palace. This park had a free and clean toilet something rather hard to find in Madrid. Opening times: Oct to Mar, Mon to Sat 9am - 6pm, Sun 9am - 6pm; Apr to Sept 10am - 8pm, Sun 9am - 8pm. Nearest metro: Príncipe Pío. Admission free.

View across gardens towards palace. - Madrid

View across gardens towards palace. - Madrid

Winter berries. - Madrid

Winter berries. - Madrid

A survivor. - Madrid

A survivor. - Madrid

The Plaza de Espana.

I loved the monument to Cervantes located here. As well as a statue of Cervantes himself it consisted of statues of his main characters such as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. We were lucky to find the statue as during our visit it was obscured by a Christmas craft market. Metro: Plaza de Espana.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. - Madrid

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. - Madrid

Temple of Debod in the Parque de la Montana : Mountain Park.

Located just a short walk from the Plaza de Espana this beautiful park contains the Egyptian Temple of Depod. This temple was given to the people of Spain when they helped save it from being flooded by the building of the Aswan dam. There were fantastic views from behind the temple. This turned out to be a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunset from the park. - Madrid

Sunset from the park. - Madrid

The Temple of Debod. - Madrid

The Temple of Debod. - Madrid

Night view of the cathedral from the park. - Madrid

Night view of the cathedral from the park. - Madrid

Bullfighting ring.

It was not bullfighting season and to be honest I would not want to see a bullfight even if it was, but we did go to look at the bullfighting ring as I had heard there were some interesting statues there. There were three bull fighter statues and a wall sculpture of bulls being led to the ring. The bull fighting arena was a beautiful building with lovely tiles. It was possible to go inside the arena on a tour but we did not do this. There was also a bullfighting museum up the back. Metro: Ventas. Interesting even if you are not into bull fighting.

Bull fighting statue and stadium. - Madrid

Bull fighting statue and stadium. - Madrid

Leading in the bulls. - Madrid

Leading in the bulls. - Madrid

Outside the museum. - Madrid

Outside the museum. - Madrid

Tiles outside the museum. - Madrid

Tiles outside the museum. - Madrid

Retiro Park.

I loved this park. We visited twice, bringing a picnic with us on our second visit. We got here from Retiro metro station, though you could also visit from Atocha. We first walked past the lake with its spectacular colonnade containing a monument of King Alfonso XII on horseback. Around this area were buskers, a guy dressed as Edward Scissorhands, stalls and a puppet show. The kids loved the puppet show. What can be cuter than little kids sitting rapt in front of a show? We visited the lovely Crystal Palace and the beautiful Palace of Velazquez. Both are now owned by the Reina Sofia Museum. There was an exhibition of the work of Dutch artist Rene Daniels on in the Palace of Velazquez during our visit. We had our picnic lunch in the Rosadela Rose Garden which still contained a surprising number of blooms. The Prada Museum and Reina Sofia Museums are near this park. There is a clean public toilet near the Retiro metro station. Whatever you do, don't even think about using the portaloos in this park I've only just recovered from the shock of looking inside! The park had some fabulous fountains; when you look closely at their details, they are really very beautiful and imaginative.

Gateway into Retiro Park. - Madrid

Gateway into Retiro Park. - Madrid

The colonnade, Retiro Park. - Madrid

The colonnade, Retiro Park. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

Angel statue on angel fountain. - Madrid

Angel statue on angel fountain. - Madrid

The Rosadela. - Madrid

The Rosadela. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

Children watch the show, Retiro Park. - Madrid

Children watch the show, Retiro Park. - Madrid

Art Exhibition, Palace of Velasquez. - Madrid

Art Exhibition, Palace of Velasquez. - Madrid

Velazquez in front of the Prada. - Madrid

Velazquez in front of the Prada. - Madrid

The Crystal Palace. - Madrid

The Crystal Palace. - Madrid

Monsters on angel fountain. - Madrid

Monsters on angel fountain. - Madrid

Prado Museum.

This museum is world famous and we intended to visit until we saw the length of the queues outside!!! I was not waiting in that, not even for Goya and Velasquez. The area round about is well worth visiting. I liked the statues around the museum.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

This lovely church is just behind the Prado. It was tranquil inside despite the many visitors and had lovely stain glass windows. I loved its nativity scene. One of the pleasures of visiting Spain at Christmas for me is the beautiful nativity scenes.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

The Neptune Fountain: Fuente de Neptuno.

The area the fountain is in is great, but the fountain itself is inaccessible and surrounded by traffic. I had to use my powerful zoom on my super duper new camera to get a good shot of it.

The Fountain of Neptune. - Madrid

The Fountain of Neptune. - Madrid

Near Neptune Fountain.

There were some great sculptures above the door of a souvenir shop near Neptune's Fountain. These were great to take photos of very, very photogenic. There were also some interesting souvenir stalls.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Cibeles Fountain.

Again this fountain was surrounded by roaring traffic and I needed my zoom for a good shot of it. There were some lovely buildings round about including the Palace of Communications and the Bank of Spain. Address: Where Alcala street crosses Paseo del Prado.

The Cibeles Fountain. - Madrid

The Cibeles Fountain. - Madrid

Atocha Station.

I think we missed the interesting part of this station with the hothouses and the monument to the victims of the horrific terrorist attack that took place here, but we did find the night and day baby heads statues.

Night. - Madrid

Night. - Madrid

The Puerta de Alcala.

This gate was near Retiro Park metro station. I do not really know much about it other than it is rather large and rather ornate and that it looks quite attractive in a picture. It is worth having a look at if you happen to be in this area at any point.

The Alcala Gate. - Madrid

The Alcala Gate. - Madrid

The Casa de Campo.

The Casa de Campo is the biggest park in Madrid. It has a lake, rowing, tennis courts, a zoo, an aquarium, restaurants. The cable car departs from here.

View of the cathedral from Casa de Campo lake. - Madrid

View of the cathedral from Casa de Campo lake. - Madrid

Winter in Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Winter in Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Boats on Casa de Campo Lake. - Madrid

Boats on Casa de Campo Lake. - Madrid

Wildlife, Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Wildlife, Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Real Madrid

We took the metro to Santiago Bernabeu Station. Real Madrid's stadium is right next to the stop. You can tour the stadium for 16 Euros. We just walked round the outside of the stadium, took some photos and visited the club shop. There were a couple of restaurants, bars in the stadium, too.

Real Madrid - Madrid

Real Madrid - Madrid

River Walk.

We had a pleasant stroll along the river between the gardens of Moro and the Casa de Campo. To get here take the Metro to Principe de Pio. There were very good views of the palace and cathedral from here.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

Sculpture.

OK, it is not really off the beaten track. This sculpture is across the road from the Velasquez statue outside the Prada Museum. I liked it and wondered what it was. Anyone know? If you do please let me know I cannot track it down.

Sculpture

Sculpture

Fountain.

This fountain was near our hotel beside Alsacia metro station. It is not one of Madrid's famous fountains but I found it interesting and quite beautiful. We passed it every day as we went to the metro station or to the large Carrefour supermarket located nearby.

Fountain

Fountain

Fountain

Fountain

Restaurants.

We loved these beautiful tile motifs and decorations on the bars and restaurants on a side street off the Carrera de San Jeronimo near Puerta del Sol. Very very pretty!

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

The Museo del Jamon: A cheap but fascinating place to eat and drink.

We saw two of these Museo del Jamons near Puerta del Sol. They were always packed because they were doing a promotion where you could get a draft beer for a Euro and a filled roll for a Euro. The walls of this restaurant/shop were lined with hams. Address: Gran Via, 72; Alcalá, 155; Atocha.

- Madrid

- Madrid

Bars in Madrid: Great Place For A Drink.

This bar (we don't know the name) was located between the cathedral and the Plaza de la Villa. It specialised in beers of the world and sold lots of little tapas. We really loved the way it was decorated.

Great Place For A Drink

Great Place For A Drink

Passes on the metro.

You can get a day pass, 2 day pass, 3 day pass, 4 day pass etc. We purchased a three day pass for 13 Euros and found it great value as we could hop on and off the metro as often as we liked. Individual metro journeys are 1 Euro 50 cents. to the airport it is 2 Euros 50 cents. Tickets and passes can be bought from the machines in the metro station. Instructions can be found in English on the machines. Machines take notes and coins.

Posted by irenevt 03:35 Archived in Spain Comments (8)

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