The Romans founded Barcelona 2,000 years ago, dubbing the city Barcino, and the city was shot into the modern stage when the 1992 Summer Olympic Games were hosted there. With a long tradition of hosting ecclectic artists such as Picasso, Miro, and Dali, the city's premier son is the visionary Antoni Gaudi. His unique buildings breath new life into a city whose Gothic quarter remains largely unchanged. All considered, Barcelona is an especially diverse city in just about every possible way.
The city is nestled on the Mediterranean sea and surrounded by gently sloping green hills. Two of the main parks of the city, Parc Guell and Parc Montjuic, are situated on these hills. These elevated platforms not only provide beautiful places of solace when sightseeing in Barcelona, but offer beautiful panoramic views of the city and sea beyond.
By far the premier characteristic feature of Barcelona is its modernist architecture created by Antoni Gaudi. During my brief visit, I had the opportunity to see the Parc Guell, La Pedrera and La Sagrada Familia.
The Parc Guell, originally slated to be a housing site, took a far left turn in development and became a peculiar public space adorned with beautiful tile mosaics, bizarre sculpture, and innovative forms. With commanding views of the city and abundant street performers, you almost forget about the swarming tourists surrounding you. However, if someone offers you a carnation, pay attention - they probably have an accomplice waiting for you to be distracted so they can take your purse or wallet!
La Pedrera (otherwise known as La Casa Mila) is an apartment building that still holds private units, but the top floor and roof have been dedicated to recognizing the buildings creator. The flowing fašades are supposedly inspired by Mt. Montserrat, but some say they would be more at home in an episode of the Flintstones. Love it or hate it, the amazing forms on the roof, and the intriguing museum on the top floor, are definitely worth a visit.
La Sagrada Familia was Antoni Gaudi's masterwork, he spent over 40 years of his life working on it before being run over by a tram on June 7, 1926. The modernist chapel is completely unique and refreshing for the seasoned European traveler who is well versed in the large, Gothic cathedrals of western Europe; this structure is the antithesis to convention. Unfinished, a foundation still works feverishly on construction, which is estimated to be completed in 2030. The nature inspired architectural elements and mouth-dropping fašades make this a can't miss.
If I were to return to Spain and live in another city, Barcelona would be at the top of my list. I loved the relaxed and authentic people, peculiar architecture, and astounding location right on the mediterranean. It is a spectacular place that everyone needs to see at least once.
Although it has been almost a year, I figure I am better chronicalling my trip to Barcelona now better than never. Although some things have begun to slip into the abyss of my failing memory, I still retain something from my last destination before coming home from abroad. So, without further adeau, I present Barcelona.