I was talking to a Barcelona native cousin this week and remembering that it has been a decade since my first and only visit to Barcelona. Back in 2002 I watched the artisans working patiently on the magnificent Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882. It is due to be completed in around 2026 but I don’t think I will wait that long to visit Barcelona again!
The rich cultural heritage of Barcelona is world renowned. Did you know that Barcelona is the first and only entire city to have won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for its architecture (in 1999). And it is home to no less than nine buildings that have been named in the Unesco World Heritage List, including the works of Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domenech I Montaner. From its Roman beginnings to its proud place as capital of Catalonia, Barcelona has it all – arts, culture, food and a vibrant street life.
In 2002 I was in my early years of discovering Europe and was particularly overwhelmed by the art in the Fundacio Joan Miro Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art up on the hill of Montjuic.
I actually just happened to wander up there through the magical gardens and walked into the museum quite randomly but I was so stimulated by the exhibits and excited about the whole concept of the museum that it remains one of my top art experiences ever. Many of the works were donated by Miro himself and it was created in the 1970s with the aim of connecting the people of Barcelona to their cultural heritage, as well as encouraging young artists to experiment.
And all that just makes me think Barcelona is calling me back. Because despite having spent the best part of a week in this splendid Mediterranean city there is still a long list of things I would like to see and do there. I would like to follow in Pablo Picasso’s early footsteps, take coffee at the Els QUatre Gats and enjoy the Museu Picasso.
This time I won’t stay in a tiny pension where I don’t get a wink of sleep because the building and the street outside was so noisy. I’ve got some tips on excellent hostels to stay at in Barcelona.
The city is famous for its food but I didn’t really manage to get away from the tourist trap restaurants when last I visited. I want to savour some of the best of new Catalan cooking, as well as tastes from around Spain.
So as you can see, from attending a football match at Camp Nou to visiting the beaches along Barcelona’s 4.5 kilometres of coastline, Barcelona and I have unfinished business!!
By Natasha von Geldern
What is your favourite thing about Barcelona?