Anyone that has visited Spain falls in love with two cities: Madrid and Barcelona! I know, I did. Having lived in one and been a repeat visitor to the other, they are both must sees. However, although they are within a rapid train ride of each other, Barcelona and Madrid are certainly two different worlds. Madrid boasts the traditional Castilian; whereas, the official language of Barcelona and Catalonia is Catalan. Likewise their art, dance, music, and more are very distinct.
In this post, I wanted to give you a glimpse through a native’s eyes. I have asked Julio to describe an itinerary of must sees in four of Catalonia’s most precious cities. It pains me to say that I have only visited Barcelona. So with this post, I must add Girona, Lledia, and Tarragona. Enjoy/Disfruta this Journey to Catalonia!
Catalonia represents the Northeastern autonomous community of Spain and contains four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lledia, and Tarragona. It varies greatly in terrain from province to province with sandy coastal beaches in the South to the majestic Pyrenees Mountains in the North.
Barcelona is adorned with many beautiful structures. One of the most noteworthy is the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery constructed on Montserrat Mountain. At a height of 1,200 meters, the expansive site and museum are very popular. The museum has exhibits dating back to biblical times along with an array of gold artifacts. Plus, the museum also features paintings and sculptures by Dali, Picasso and others.
Additionally, Barcelona is known for its unique look much accredited to local architect Antonio Gaudi. The Sagrada Familia is his most famous building (featured at the beginning of the post). Its intricate stone carvings, both on the exterior and interior of the building, include the Nativity Façade on the east side of the church along with many animals and plants. Likewise, the expansive Placa Espanya features the ever-popular Magic Fountain of Montjuic, which dazzles spectators with an amazing light and musical show. Barcelona is such an incredible city. From the moment you step off the plane, don’t worry; it’s easy to get around. In fact, you can start to enjoy its beauty right from the airport with a Barcelona Airport transfer
Romans occupied Girona in the first century and constructed protective walls around the city that later civilizations maintained to the current day. Founded on the meeting of four rivers, the scenic city offers many activities and attractions. The Jewish Quarter represents one of the oldest parts of the city with cobblestone streets, narrow passageways and the popular Museum of Jewish History. Stroll through the 12th century Arab baths with all their Romanesque splendor. Visit the 12th century Sant Pere de Galligants with its majestic towers and cloisters. Follow the Sant Miquel Trail and view the remnants of the castle.
While in Lledia, tour the Gardeny Castle, constructed in the 12th century by the Knights of Templar, which later became a military fort. Structures on the site include the fortress towers, walls and the Church of Santa Maria. In the heart of the city, visitors find the Turo Seu Vella. The medieval castle and cathedral tell the history of the region while displaying amazing examples of stone and wood carvings.
Also established by the Romans, Tarragona features numerous examples of the ancient Italian architecture. Like other Roman strongholds, Tarragona has an aqueduct, which continued providing freshwater until the 19th century. While in town, see the ancient Roman amphitheater, the Necropolis, and the Roman Circus. Also, tour the Museu d’Histoira de les Arms or one of the many other museums or stretch out and relax on the beach. Take a leisurely stroll along the Rambla Nova and enjoy the parks and water features on one side and the scenic waterfront on the other.
****Guest post provided by Julio M., a travel writer for BCN.Travel, which provides travel accommodations and transportation in Barcelona.