Barcelona | An artist’s place of paradise

Barcelona street art (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Barcelona street art (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

One of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean, Barcelona is also the capital city of Catalonia and one of the most cultured and artistically vibrant cities in Europe. The Old Town or Ciutat Vella is packed with historic monuments and other parts of the city are famous for their associations with the Modernism explosion at the end of the nineteenth century.

Architectural riches

Towering over the alleyways of the Eixample district is Gaudi’s famous modernist cathedral of Sagrada Familia. This unfinished masterpiece was begun in 1882 and its sculptural forms and ceramic polychrome mosaics are typical of his work.

The Old Town, bisected by Las Ramblas, is one of Europe’s most harmonious medieval town centers and can easily be explored on foot in an afternoon. The exquisite Parc de la Ciutadella borders it, where you’ll find the Museu d’Art Modern as well as the city’s zoo.

The best place to hang out end enjoy a light lunch is Placa Reial, the liveliest square in the city. Built in the 1850s, there is an ebullient mix of architectural styles and Gaudi designed the Neo-Classical lampposts.

Home of Modernism

Barcelona became a major player in the birth of European Modernism near the end of the nineteenth century when it started reviving old Catalan values in the Renaixenca (Rebirth) movement. Driven largely by the 1888 First Spanish International Exhibition, the city underwent a massive rebuilding program that fused traditional and Modernist styles to produce masterpieces like Gaudi’s famous cathedral.  One of the best ways to explore the city modernist style is by riding around the city and Donkey Bike is a great choice.

Colorful accommodation

One of the many great things about a trip to Barcelona is the variety of unusual accommodations on offer. This ranges from boats in the harbor to castles on the city’s outskirts. There are apartments in Barcelona with rooftop baths and steam rooms with views of La Sagrada Familia, and the artistically inclined will love staying pretty much anywhere, and focusing on exploring the city. Booking an apartment in the middle of town and the best of Barcelona is literally on your doorstep and will allow you hook yourself up with bike rentals in Barcelona to get around faster.

World-class galleries

Barcelona has some of the best art galleries in Spain, from the Museu Picasso to the Fundacio Joan Miro. The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona is a magnet for lovers of modern art, and the Domenech i Montaner building was the first in the city to have an iron frame and is considered the prototype of the ‘Modernisme’ movement there.

One long fiesta

Life in Barcelona can seem like a never-ending fiesta, with every Barrio during the summer months celebrating patron saints’ days, and dance and rock festivals showcasing experimental music on the Costa de Azahar. Artists of all kinds are attracted to the city for its sheer creative energy and non-stop program of festivals and events.

From traditional museums and modern art galleries to year-round festivals and a vibrant and life-affirming café culture, Barcelona is a paradise for artists the world over. Some would agree that this incredibly rich and cultured city is one huge art gallery itself, a living museum to the fertile Modernista architectural movement.

Ian Yacobucci

Traveling the Trans-Siberian, mountaineering the Himalayas, or teaching in Tokyo, I'm always trying something new. As a someone who's worked, studied, and traveled to 40+ countries around the world, I'm here to share my experiences so you can do the same.

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