by Cole McGregor
La Sagrada Familia
Gaudí’s cathedral lives up to every bit of hype it receives. It is truly a one of a kind experience to behold. The exterior is ornately decorated with one side in the prototypical gothic style and the other with a modernized take on Gaudí’s original plans. Although construction continues on the exterior, the interior is complete and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Designed to look like a forest, the gargantuan pillars extend up into a geometrically complex canopy that cannot be described in words.
The mountain that peers over the metropolis of Barcelona, Montjuïc is home to a 17th century castle, the 1992 Olympic stadiums, and the National Art Museum of Catalonia. You can make a full day of seeing all there is to see atop the mountain while getting a panoramic view of the city. Descend the mountain in the evening via the museum’s stairs and take in the beautiful Font Mágica in Placa Catalunya.
Las Ramblas/La Boqueria
Las ramblas is the famous stretch of pavement that stretches from Placa Espanya to the famous statue of Cristopher Columbus by the sea. Although it is always filled with backpack-toting tourists, it is worth several jaunts and turning off in either direction leads to many equally charming and less busy side streets. However, don’t miss La Boqueria, Barcelona’s largest market where one can buy anything from cow eyeballs to cashews. The Market is a sensory feast where vibrant colors clash and interesting smells fill the air.
Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Parc Güell is another great place to get a bird’s eye view of the city. The park is beautifully decorated with ceramic mosaics and Gaudí’s unique fusion of architecture that is simultaneously natural and dreamlike. It is a necessary attraction to anyone seeking to realize the brilliance of Gaudí and his work.
Barcelona’s largest beach is a must to understand what makes the city so different from its neighboring European metropolises. The warm sun and beautiful people make it no surprise that the Spanish have a knack for staying up late and enjoying themselves. For a humbling experience, challenge some of the local volleyball players to a match.