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Ciutat Vella, Quintessential Barcelona
Stroll the Rambla and see the colorful Boqueria market before cutting over to the Catedral de la Seu in the city's hushed and resonant Gothic Quarter. Detour through stately Plaça Sant Jaume where the Palau de la Generalitat, Catalonia's seat of government, faces the town hall. The Gothic Plaça del Rei and the neoclassical Plaça Reial (not to be confused) are short walks from Plaça Sant Jaume. The Museu Picasso is five minutes from the loveliest example of Catalan Gothic architecture, the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. An evening concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana after a few tapas and before a late dinner is an unsurpassable way to end an epic day in Barcelona.
The Raval, behind the Boqueria, holds the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, the medieval Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, the Sant Pau del Camp church, and the medieval shipyards at Drassanes Reiales. Palau Güell, just off the lower Rambla, is a key Gaudí visit. A short hike away, the waterfront Barceloneta neighborhood is one of Barcelona's most characteristic and picturesque districts, as well as a prime place for a paella on the beach.
The post-1860 Checkerboard Eixample
A morning touring the Eixample begins at Gaudí's still-in-progress magnum opus, the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. On the way back to the Eixample's vertebral Passeig de Gràcia, swing past Moderniste architect Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Terrades as well as his Palau Baró de Quadras. Spend the afternoon in the Eixample touring the undulating facades and stunning interiors of Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. Other Eixample architecture includes Gaudí's Casa Calvet, not far from Plaça Catalunya, the Fundació Tàpies, and more far-flung Moderniste gems such as Casa Golferichs, or Casa de la Papallona out toward Plaça de Espanya. Rambla Catalunya's leafy tunnel is a cool and shaded promenade lined with shops and sidewalk cafés.
Upper Barcelona: Gràcia and Sarrià
For a more rustic and restful urban excursion, try the formerly outlying towns of Gràcia and Sarrià. Gràcia is home to Gaudí's first house, Casa Vicens, and his playful Parc Güell above Plaça Lesseps, while the tree-lined lower reaches of this intimate neighborhood are filled with houses by Gaudí's right-hand man, Francesc Berenguer. Sarrià is a village stranded in the ever-expanding metropolis, with diminutive streets, shops and restaurants, and the Monestir de Pedralbes, a venerable monastery with a superb Gothic cloister. Also in Sarrià are Gaudí's Torre Bellesguard and the Colegio de les Teresianas.
Art in Montjuïc
Montjuïc offers various art collections at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, while the nearby Fundació Miró features Catalan artist Joan Miró's colorful paintings and a stellar Calder mobile. Down the stairs toward Plaça Espanya are the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion and the restored Casaramona textile mill, now the Caixaforum cultural center and gallery.
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