Barcelona is a city that breathes history, art and culture in every corner. Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular cities among foreign tourists and this is largely due to the great historical and cultural value of its most emblematic monuments.
If you would like to visit this charming city, without missing the most important monuments, this article talks about 4 places that you can’t miss.
The Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia:
Popularly known as the ¨Sagrada Familia¨, this church is the second most visited in Europe, after the Vatican. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain, together with the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Alhambra in Granada.
Its construction began in 1882 and it is still not finished. According to estimates, it should be finished by 2026.
The Sagrada Familia is the ultimate work of the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí, the greatest exponent of Catalan modernist architecture. It is important to mention that, although Gaudí could not finish the work to which he dedicated the last years of his life, the famous architect’s design is being respected.
The temple stands majestically in the centre of Barcelona. One of its most striking characteristics are its three façades, including the main Glory façade, a true work of art representing Death, the Final Judgement, Hell and Glory.
Another distinctive feature of Gaudí’s design for the church are the towers that identify the Sagrada Familia from all over the city. There are 18 in total and, although they are not completely built yet, you should know that apart from the distinction they give the church, they are full of religious meaning. According to its creator’s design, 12 of them are dedicated to the Apostles, 4 to the Evangelists, 1 to Mary and 1 to Jesus. The height of the towers varies depending on the religious hierarchy they represent.
As I have already mentioned, the Sagrada Familia is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona, so you will probably be greeted by a huge queue to get in when you arrive. You can avoid queuing by buying your entrance ticket in advance online.
The Arc de Triomf:
One place you can’t miss when you go to Barcelona is the Arc de Triomf. This structure was built as the main entrance to the Barcelona International Exposition that took place between the 8th April and the 9th December, 1888.
It is 30 metres tall and, unlike other triumphal arches in the world, that are adorned in honour of military affairs, this arch is characterised by allegories of economic, scientific and social matters.
It is interesting that since the arch was built, until today, it has remained in the same place and has maintained a social purpose throughout history acting as the finishing line for many races, as well as being the location of various cultural activities.
Casa Batlló is another masterpiece of the architect, Antoni Gaudí. This building is located on Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona and is currently one of the city’s must-see attractions.
The construction of this marvellous building took place between the years 1904 and 1906. It was initially designed by Gaudí as the home of the Batlló family and, over time, the owners and the use of Casa Batlló changed until, in 2011, it opened to the public so people could enjoy Gaudí’s work first-hand.
Casa Batlló is considered as one of Barcelona’s most emblematic monuments due to its great cultural value as one of the most representative works of Gaudí’s naturalist period, reflecting his artistic plenitude. So much so that in 1964, Casa Batlló was declared a UNESCO National Heritage Site as part of the “Works of Antoni Gaudí”.
This old military fort is another popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. Its walls enclose a large part of the city’s history and was the site of many events that marked its evolution.
Its location on top of Montjuïc hill gave the fortress a strategic position for defending the city in times of war. Over time, the castle has been used as a prison and a war museum and it is currently owned by Barcelona Town Council.
You can visit the castle by booking a guided tour that will let you see places that are not normally open to the public, like the dungeons and the lookout tower. Moreover, if you visit, you will be able to enjoy the various exhibitions organised by the centre and to take part in workshops where you will receive a detailed explanation of the centre’s history and evolution.