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Top Barcelona Attractions
The Boqueria Market
The oldest mid-city, open-air market of its kind in Europe, the Boqueria market, a jumble of color and aromas just off the Rambla, is the heart, as well as the stomach, of the city. As Barcelona's culinary fortunes soar, the Boqueria is increasingly assuming its pivotal role as the prime supplier of the fish, fowl, meats, wild mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables.
Casa Batlló and the Manzana de la Discòrdia
The Manzana de la Discòrdia (Apple of Discord) on Passeig de Gràcia is so called for its row of eye-knocking buildings by the three most famous Moderniste architects—Domènech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch, and Gaudí. Of the three, Gaudí's Casa Batlló, with its undulating dragon-backed roof, multicolor facade, skull-and-bones balconies, and underwater interior, is the most remarkable and the only one open to the public.
Gaudí's Sagrada Família
The city's premier icon, Gaudí's gargantuan unfinished Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is entering its 125th year of construction. With the completion of the interior in fall of 2010, the lofty nave and transept have become the city's prime not-to-be-missed experience.
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
Barcelona's answer to Madrid's Prado hulks grandly atop the stairway leading up from Plaça Espanya. MNAC houses nearly all of Catalonia's art, from Pyrenean Romanesque altarpieces to Marià Fortuny and Art Nouveau masters such as Ramón Casas and Santiago Rusiñol.
Pablo Picasso's connection to Barcelona, where he spent key formative years and first showed his work in 1900, eventually bore fruit when his manager Jaume Sabartés donated his collection to the city in 1962. Nearly as stunning as the 3,500 Picasso works on display are the five Renaissance palaces that have been renovated and redesigned as an elegant and naturally lighted exhibit space.
Palau de la Música Catalana
Often described as the flagship of Barcelona's Modernisme, this dizzyingly ornate tour de force designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner is a catalog of Art Nouveau crafts and recourses, including ceramics, sculpture, stained glass, paintings, and a plethora of decorative techniques. Much criticized during the aesthetically somber 1939–75 Franco regime, the city's longtime prime concert venue is an exciting place to hear music.
Gaudí's light and playful park in the uppermost reaches of the village of Gràcia was originally developed as a garden community for Count Eusebi Güell and his closest friends. The flower-choked hillside contains a series of Moderniste gems ranging from the gingerbread gatehouses to the patchwork lizard on the stairs to the undulating ceramic bench around the central square.
Santa Maria del Mar Basilica
For peace, symmetry, and Mediterranean Gothic at its classical best, Santa Maria del Mar is the Sagrada Família's polar opposite. Burned back to its original bare-bones structure by a fire at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, it was restored by post-Bauhaus architects who saw the purity of stonemason Berenguer de Montagut's original 1329 design and maintained the elegant and economical lines of the seafarers' waterfront basilica.
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