Barcelona

One of the most varied cities in Europe, Barcelona is blessed with beautiful buildings both old and new, huge amounts of culture, and a lengthy beach downtown. Unfortunately word got out long ago and it is struggling with an influx of tourists, see Why Tourism Is Killing Barcelona.

I visited in October 2010 when the city already had 7 million visitors annually, it’s now around 9 million. I got to enjoy the city in unusual style thanks to visiting as part of a work celebration event, staying at the extremely flash Hotel W Barcelona, a landmark by the water, with great views over the city.

There were some entertaining sand sculptures on the beach, and nearby Frank Gehry’s stylish Golden Fish sculpture.

An unexpected highlight for me was a replica of the famous Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion, originally designed for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, a landmark of modern architecture.

On the hill above it was the huge and fascinating Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluna.

Nearby was the excellent Museo Etnológico de Barcelona.

Behind these were the impressive grounds of the Olympic Park built for the 1992 Games, the first I can remember if mainly for the spectacular diving board location.

On the other side of the hill is the huge Montjuïc Cemetery, across the road from one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean.

Barcelona Cathedral is a good example of Spanish Gothic architecture.

The most famous architecture in Barcelona though belongs to Antoni Gaudí, one of the most popular and well recognised architects ever. His work is wonderfully quirky and distinctive. I first visited Casa Milà, commissioned in 1906, an exquisite apartment block with an unforgettable roof.

Casa Batlló was even more elaborate, a family home redesigned in 1904, filled with magical details.

On a completely different scale Sagrada Família is an epic church that has been under construction since 1882, with an expected completion by 2032!

To end with more varied architecture from around the city.

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