Barcelona’s Treasures: its Art and Architecture
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Barcelona is home to some of the most stunning art and architecture in Spain. It seems that everywhere you look there’s another beautiful building and around every corner is another notable museum or gallery that you can attend no matter what the weather in Barcelona is. From the famous masterpieces of Picasso and Gaudi to the artistic expressions of shoes and chocolate, there’s a museum for every enthusiast. Some of the best hotels in Barcelona are just steps away from these destinations.
Right around the corner from some of the best hotels in Barcelona, the most famous buildings in Barcelona are those designed by Art Nouveau architect, Antoni Gaudi. The largest and most recognizable of Gaudi’s buildings is the Sagrada Familia, his unfinished masterpiece. Gaudi began work on the massive church in 1882 and worked on it until his death, 40 years later. Four of the towers have been completed, while work on the additional fourteen called for in Gaudi’s plan is ongoing. Private donations funded the original construction while admission tickets now finance the current work. The building’s magnitude and design are awe-inspiring from the outside, but visitors who enter and ride the lift to the top of one of the spires are in for an ever better sight – jaw-dropping views of the city, plus an up-close look at the monument’s intricate details.
Park Güell, a municipal park and garden complex is free to the public. If the weather in Barcelona is nice, this park can make for a wonderful day in the sun. In addition to fresh air and expansive city views, the park offers deeper insight into Gaudi’s creations. The focal point of the park is a large square lined with a serpentine bench decorated with beautiful colored mosaics. The park is also home to Gaudi’s house, which features furniture designed by the master himself.
Built in 1887, Casa Batlló is another famous Gaudi building open to the public. It is recognizable by the unconventional façade of wavy lines and irregularly shaped windows and the spiky arched roof that resembles the back of a dragon. Even guests of the best hotels in Barcelona will wish they were staying here.
One notable building of moderisme style that was not designed by Gaudi is the Palau de la Música Catalana. Art and music lovers alike will enjoy a trip to this ornately decorated concert hall. The hall holds about 2,200 people and has seen performances by such musical legends as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss and the New York Philharmonic. Come for a performance, or just a tour of this dazzling building.
The most famous museum in Barcelona is by far the Museu Picasso, home of the largest collection of Picasso’s art in the world. The collection features paintings that are arranged chronologically to allow visitors to see the development of his work over time and contains almost 4,000 pieces. It is a must-see for any Picasso fan.
If the weather in Barcelona is not great, head to two other prominent art museums located in Montjuïc Park, high on a mountain overlooking the city and its port. Take in more great views here while riding the aerial cable car, and then visit the Museu National d’ Art Catalunya (MNAC), the largest collection of Catalan art in Spain. The museum is fairly new (it opened in 1990) and combines Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art with Catalan art that ranges from the 19th century to present day. Fans of the quirky, colorful works of Joan Miró will also want to visit this area as it is home to the Fundació Joan Miró which contains a collection of his experimental and surreal paintings and sculptures.
If modern art is more your thing, check out the revolving exhibits at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). It houses works from Spanish and Catalan artists from 1940-present day. The museum also offers seminars and lectures in modern ort, independent film screenings, and live music performances.
For something a little more whimsical, head to the Museu de la Xocolata for a look at the origins and history of chocolate. Art here comes in the form of chocolate sculpted into well known Barcelona buildings and landmarks. Unfortunately, eating the art is discouraged.
If you think fashion is the highest form of art, there’s something for you too – the Museu del Calçat (shoe museum). One of only three like it in the world, the small shrine to shoes showcases this history of the cobbler’s art with displays ranging from Roman sandals and Arabic slippers to fancy footwear from the modern day. This little museum is located in a medieval house in the old part of town.
Plaça Sant Felip Neri, 5
Barcelona, Barcelona 08002
Written by Katie Hammel for EuropeUpClose.com