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Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya Review
Barcelona's main transport hub, Plaça de Catalunya, is the frontier between the Old City and the post-1860 Eixample. Comparable in size to Paris's Place de l'Étoile or to Rome's St. Peter's Square, Plaça de Catalunya is generally an unavoidable place to scurry across at high speed on your way to somewhere quieter, shadier, and generally gentler on the senses. The only relief in sight is Café Zurich, at the head of the Rambla and the mouth of the metro, which remains the classic Barcelona rendezvous point. The block behind the Zurich, known as El Triangle, houses a strip of megastores, including FNAC and Habitat, among others. Corte Inglés, the monstrous ocean liner-esque department store on the northeast side of the square, offers Spanish goods at standard prices and in good quality.
The underground tourist office on the northeast corner is the place to pick up free maps of the city and check on walking tours, some in English, that originate there. The most interesting features in this large but mostly uncharming square are the sensual and exuberant sculptures. Starting from the corner nearest the head of the Rambla, have a close look at, first, the blocky Subirachs monument to Francesc Macià, president of the Generalitat (autonomous Catalan government) from 1934 to 1936. In the center of the reflecting pool is Clarà's stunning Déesse (Goddess), kneeling gracefully in the surface film. At the northwest corner is Gargallo's heroic bronze of men, women, and oxen hauling in the grape harvest, and at the northeast corner across from the Corte Inglés is the Federic Marès bronze of a buxom maiden on horseback holding a model of the ship Columbus used in his historic voyage.
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