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The city of Barcelona is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, at the far northeast corner of Spain and just below Andorra and the French border. It is also the lively capital of this autonomous Spanish region of Catalunya (Catalonia), whose roots run deep in Catalan traditions both bourgeois and somewhat rebellious in nature for its spirited citizens.
Visitors find a colorful and busy city with interesting neighborhoods and over fifty museums to explore. Travelers can explore the often outrageous architecture of both Antoni Gaudi and Frank Gehry. Architect Gaudi’s vision of the world spans the exuberant late-19th-century Modernisme (Art Nouveau) style. The helpful Ruta del Modernisme brochure (rutadelmodernisme.com) helps guide visitors into the Art Nouveau world. Some say Gaudi’s vision resembles Disney gone over-the-top with not only gargoyles and dragons peering down from rooftops but buildings with all curved corners, edges, and surfaces.
There is a museum devoted to Picasso and the unusual home and workplace of famed artist Salvador Dali is often open for tours. You can see architect Frank Gehry’s enormous Fish sculpture on the waterfront near the Olympic marina.
The waterfront area, Port Vell (Old Port) was reclaimed when Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympic Games. This revitalized area offers many seafood restaurants, bars, and marinas as well as shops and scenic walking and biking areas. Miles of Mediterranean coastline here also provide lively city beaches for sunning, bathing, and boating. Cruises on the Mediterranean are also available.
Other interesting neighborhoods to explore include the raffish La Barceloneta area with a number of old fishermen’s houses and seafood eateries; the historic Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) with the impressive 15th century Catedral (cathedral) and public buildings; the tree-lined La Rambla; and L’Eixample with colorful mosaics, intricate wrought-iron railings, intriguing spiral staircases along with fine shops and eateries. Travelers will want to linger for several days in this colorful and cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean coastline