It is not always easy to decide what to see in Barcelona as its attractions are constantly evolving. From its galleries to its museums, or even just preserved historical streets — cultural sights in Barcelona abounds. Luckily, this thousand-year-old city knows how to combine the old with the new, making for a visit full of contrasts as you venture into one of the great heartlands of European culture.
For most visitors, the signature landmark in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia. Some are drawn to its modern architecture, while others are in awe of the legacy of its architect, Antoni Gaudi. There are many other shining examples of his work throughout Barcelona, from the Parc Güell Park, the Pedrera ("Quarry") Building to the Casa Batlló (Batlló House) Building, as well as lesser-known buildings such as Casa Vicens and others in the Gràcia neighbourhood.
There is more to Barcelona's architecture than Gaudi, however, with Roman and medieval construction being another must-see attraction. Starting at the Plaça del Rei Square, you can pick up the exact route at the Museu d’història de Barcelona (Barcelona History Museum) and gaze upon the millennia of Roman history. You can similarly take the opportunity to marvel at the medieval architecture that also characterises the city. In the Barri Gòtic (Gothic neighbourhood), you can visit La Reial Acadèmia de Medicina (The Royal Academy of Medicine). It is a relatively unknown site, yet its architectural aesthetics are not the sole attraction: its history is equally fascinating. Dissections used to be performed here before an audience seated in wooden chairs.
We aren’t all history buffs, so for those with more modern tastes, you can enjoy exploring the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (European Museum of Modern Art). The 18th century building is an attraction in itself, and it houses a permanent collection of contemporary paintings and modern figurative sculptures.
There’s more to exploring Barcelona's culture than just museums and buildings: you can enjoy art while walking through the city. The Sant Josep Oriol and Pi Squares are home to a crowd of painters every weekend. There’s also a fine example of collaborative art by Spanish and American artists Roy Lichtenstein and Diego Delgado, the Cara de Barcelona ("Barcelona's Head") sculpture to be found at the Moll de la Fusta near the beach. Other nearby attractions include the unique El cometa herido ("Wounded Comet") sculpture by Rebecca Horn, a tribute to the Barceloneta Beach neighbourhood.
Art, culture, that which is everlasting and that which is fleeing, the old and the new – everything comes together and has its niche in Barcelona. Thus, any corner of any neighbourhood can give life to a work of art.
- Sagrada Familia is the first landmark to visit. Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, http://www.sagradafamilia.org
- La Casa Batlló is another fine example of the Antoni Gaudí legacy. Passeig de Gràcia, 43 08007 Barcelona +34 93 216 03 06 https://www.casabatllo.es/
- The Museu d’història de Barcelona houses a great collection of paintings. Baixada de la Llibreteria, 7 08002 Barcelona +34 932 562 100 http://museuhistoria.bcn.cat
- Parc Güell is the most famous park in Barcelona. 08024 Barcelona 902 200 302 http://www.parkguell.cat/es
- Las Ramblas is a popular street among tourists and locals alike. In between the restaurants and shops, street artists entertain you with their performances.