Discover Barcelona’s architectural history online

Everyone who comes here to Barcelona knows about Las Ramblas, La Pedrera and the Sagrada Familia.

However, there are over 3,000 other sites of interest that are missed by tourists as well as locals. Now, thanks to interactive map Big Time BCN, you can discover 2,000 years of history of the city online.

The website, created by the group of architects http://www.300000kms.net includes a complete virtual map of Barcelona’s historical heritage. Everything from monuments to ancient walls to convents to residential and industrial buildings, street furniture and sculptural elements etc are located on the map of the city with dates, names of architects or builders and other background information. It creates a fascinating overview of Barcelona’s long and diverse history.

Architects and authors Santamaría Mar, Oriol Hostench and Pablo Martínez commented that “in a database this information is useless, we had to make it visible”. The tool was designed initially for historians, designers and students, but then also for locals and tourists who want to discover more about Barcelona’s architectural heritage.

On the map buildings and monuments are classified according to their level of protection: A (the maximum degree of protection that would include buildings such as the Palau de la Generalitat or La Pedrera) ; B (local interest located mostly in the Eixample and Ciutat Vella) and category C (urban interest, for example blocks of houses).

No wonder that the creators of the project teach a Masters in the ‘Restoration of Architectural Monuments’ at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona.
The tool is available both online and through a mobile application for Android.

Posted in Areas - Gracia, Areas - Las Ramblas, Areas - Poble Sec, Areas - Sagrada Familia, Areas - The Eixample, Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Art in Barcelona, design in barcelona, insiders barcelona | Leave a comment

5 very different but very nice bars in Barcelona

Barcelona has one of the most happening bar scenes in the world. Each month a new joint opens up in the city. Design bars, traditional locals, beach bars, bars in the park, bars with terraces… you never need be far from liquid refreshment in this city, the world’s coolest city!

4 Gats
Carrer Montsio 3

No Barcelona bar guide would be complete without Els 4 Gats in the old town. This bar was frequented by a young Picasso and it retains a slightly bohemian, artsy vibe, mixed with its wonderful art nouveau interior.

Boutique Bar at the Ohla Hotel
Via Laietana, 49

A completely different vibe to Els 4 Gats, the Ohla Hotel is a very fine slice of minimalist chic in the heart of Barcelona. Designed by Milan based Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, the premises are in a former department store that was originally designed as the palace of a local Prince. It houses a Michelin-starred restaurant, rooftop pool and of course a seriously hip cocktail bar.

Bar Calders
Carrer del Parlament, 25

A hidden gem for Pere Calders fans. The street named after the Catalan writer is one of the liveliest venues in Sant Antoni. Not only do they have beer, tapas and books by the eponymous writer to browse, they stock four brands of Vermouth..

7 Sins Lounge
Muntaner 7

Given the name of this bar, it is perhaps unsurprising that its signature colour is red. It oozes atmosphere, the walls are red, the light low, and you can recline on red leather chesterfields or chairs.

A bit of decadence in the cities Eixample district, 7 Sins has an upstairs lounge bar serving cocktails and , downstairs with sofas and a dance floor. A fun and lively mix.

El Bar de l’Antic Teatre
Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís, 12

This could not be further from the Boutique Bar at the Ohla Hotel above. Dressed in a worn at the ears look that bookish and cultural venues love, this place oozes relaxed and laid back charm.

Is if that wasn’t enough, L’Antic Teatre has one of the best indoor terraces you’ll ever see, with an enormous courtyard with vegetation and recycled furniture strewn around louchely / haphazardly, the perfect sport to take refuge from the heat and relax with a cold caña.

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Our top 5 tapas bars in Barcelona

Tapas and Barcelona are two words that seem to be made for one another. Surprisingly however, the tapas and pintxo traditions are not very Catalan but belong to the Basque country, Castillo and Andalucía.

In Catalunya there is a tradition of ordering ‘racions’, small portions of tapas style nibbles to your table. But a free tapa is not served with your drink as it might be in Madrid or the south, and bars with an array of nibbles to choose from are not a local tradition but an import from other parts of Spain. Since Barcelona became stratospherically popular with tourists in the 1990s, more and more tapas bars have opened to serve foreigners a taste of the “Spain” they expect.

Barcelona is now arguably one of the finest places to eat tapas in Spain, given its wonderful local cuisine and tradition of serving wonderful, exotic flavour combinations involving meat and fish (mar i montanya).

Here are out pick of the best tapas bars in Barcelona:

Maitea

The Basque country is the spiritual home of the pintxo and one of Spain’s finest tapas regions. There are dozens of Basque tapas bars across Barcelona and Maitea is probably the best. The main offering is pintxos –a delicious morsel of meat, cheese or seafood garnished with tapenades laid on chunks of bread and skewered with a wooden toothpick (lending the name pintxo, which means spike in Basque).

Remember to keep all your toothpicks as these will be used to create your bill at the end of the night. Pintxo start at €1.55.

Carrer de Casanova 157, +34 93 439 5107

Elisabets

Don’t let humble appearances deceive you here. Reserve judgement until you have tried specialities such as perennial classic tortilla de patatas or the patatas rabiatas (a hearty plate of fried potatoes drenched in a piquant bolognese sauce). Or be brave and try the morcilla amb confitada de cebollas (black pudding with braised onions) or the pimientos de Padrón (scotch bonnet peppers).

Carrer d’Elisabets 2-4, +34 93 317 5826.

Quimet i Quimet

We love this problem but it has one problem – too much of a good thing! Okay so that is not a real problem. This lively bodega style bar serves up exotic and delicious montaditos and is famed for combinations such as tuna with caviar and balsamic syrup, rabbit with figs and sausages with squid. If you find yourself bewildered with the choice, just ask for some help from the people behind the bar who will help you to create an unforgettable plate.

Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes 25, +34 93 442 3142.

Els Sortidors del Parlament

A more international affair this time and somewhere where wine lovers will be very happy. Els Sortidors offers a vast selection of wines from around the world (which is quite unusual in Spain), though naturally Catalan wines are very well represented here, especially from the prized Girona region. These are all sold at shop prices and with a corkage charge of 4€ – a very reasonable deal.

Carrer del Parlament 53, +34 934 41 16 02

Bar Roure

The identity of this old favourite is very unmistakably Catalan. This is quickly apparent on arrival, with walls bedecked with FC Barcelona shirts, photos and flags.

By evening this can be quite a rowdy place with a lively atmosphere, it is popular as a meeting place before a night on the town. Especially on a match night!
During the daytime bar Roure caters to an older clientele of locals, serving classic Catalan fare such as esqueixada (salt-cod, tomato and onion dressed with the eponymous sauce), escalivada (chargrilled aubergines, peppers and onions dressed with oil, parsely and salt) and fuet and llonganissa (Catalan Salami style cured sausages). This is also a great place for paella though it is only served on Thursday lunchtimes.

Carrer de Luís Antúnez 7, +34 93 218 7387.

Bon Profit!

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The best Picnic spots in Barcelona

Barcelona is the ideal city for picnicking outdoors. Year round sunshine makes any season ideal for a picnic in Barcelona, even the odd winter day! This is a city all about outdoor eating in all its forms, a city with many terraces overflowing onto sidewalks and plazas. Outdoors living is a part of the Catalan way of life!

For those travelling on a budget a picnic is always a fine option, and Barcelona is full of wonderful markets full of wonderful fresh baked breads, hams, cheeses, olives and fresh fruit (La Boqueria, el Mercat de San Antoni on Las Ramblas is a popular option). So why pay extra for a sandwich at an outdoor table among the seething crowds when you can relax under the shade of a tree in one of the cities beautiful parks?

Or if you are travelling with children and feeling the heat, a trip to the park is always a great way to let them burn off some steam. Last but not least, relaxing in a park with some nice food and wine is an enjoyable way to relax, see the city as locals see it, and idle away some hours people watching.

Once you’ve got your hamper nice and full, head to one of these local parks:

El Parc de la Cuitadella

This is one of Barcelona’s most attractive and central parks. Located on the site of the once feared Ciutadella fortress (which was built to keep the cities populace under control by the Madrid government in the 18th century) it is now a decidedly peaceful and unthreatening part of town. There is plenty of well kept grass to spread your picnic out on, and plenty of trees to shelter from the sun under. In the centre of the park is a boating lake. Points of interest include Barcelona’s Zoo and and the Catalonian Parliament.

Montjuic

Another centrally located picnic spot is the mountain of Montjuic. An unmistakable part of the Barcelona skyline, Montjuic offers a huge green space with views all over the city and out to sea. Look for El Font del Gat park, a truly magnificent park within the park.

Parc Guell

Parc Guell is one of Guadi’s, and Barcelona’s, many Barcelona masterpieces. Originally conceived as a housing project for the wealthy Guell family, Gaudi gave full flight to his vivid imagination in it’s landscaping.

Laberint d’Horta

Barcelona’s labyrinth park is a top insider’s tip for a picnic. If it seems familiar, the labyrinth was featured in the film of Patrick Susskind’s bestselling novel Perfume. The surrounding gardens are charming and one of the finest green spaces in the city.

There are picnic tables at the park’s entry, but if you aren’t picky try grabbing a seat somewhere inside the gardens – there are park benches and the superior views.

If you have the energy, climb to the highest part of the park and be rewarded with the reservoir where you can watch the fish swimming and enjoy the reflections of the trees and blue skies.

El Parc de Joan Miró

Parc Joan Miró is best known for Joan Miro’s 22-metre sculpture, “Dona I Ocell” (woman and bird), which Miro donated to the city he loved.
Built on the land once occupied by the city slaughterhouse (and still known to some locals by it’s old name – Parc de l’escorxador), the park offers a green space and refuge only a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Plaça Espanya and Las Arenas shopping mall.

Parc Miro also boast two Chiriguitos (informal outdoor bars) where you can enjoy a drink and a tapa, these are open 365 days a year barring any day when there is rain!

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The Barcelona Aquarium

The Barcelona Aquarium is located in the old port, next to the Mare Magnum shopping centre. Las Ramblas is just a stone’s throw away. This is one of Europe’s biggest marine leisure and education centres, with over 11,000 marine animals from 450 different species housed in over five million litres of water.

The main highlight for many is the vast Oceanarium, where you can see sharks, ocean sunfish and rays. A spectacular close-up view is assured thanks to an 80 metre long underwater glass tunnel passing under the Oceanarium. Aquariums are wonderful for children and provide a source of endless fascination. But at the Barcelona Aquarium there is an exhibit designed especially for children, called Explora. This hands-on exhibit features over 50 interactive activities to touch, look at, listen to, investigate and discover the undersea world from. The tour also features the Miniaquària where children can learn more in detail about marine flora and fauna.

The Planeta Aqua display features fascinating aquatic life that has adapted to the most diverse conditions under the sea such as icy cold, the darkness of the deep ocean floor or the warmth of tropical waters. As well as examining these diverse conditions and their effect on sea life, Planeta Aqua also looks at the important role aquatic life has played in human and planetary evolution, with species such as alligators, piranhas and penguins, as well as fossil exhibits.

The Barcelona Aquarium tour rounds off with two large aquariums, the Mediterranean and tropical aquariums.

Other activities which have to be pre-booked include “Diving with Sharks” (for divers, and only for the brave!), and “Sleeping with Sharks”, an activity for 8 to 12 year olds, offering them the chance to spend the night at the Aquarium attending a programme of educational activities.

Adults 18 euros, children 13.50.

http://www.aquariumbcn.com/

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Poblenou past and present

El Poblenou neighbourhood is full of surprises and is missed by most visitors to the city. Poblenou is technically part of the Eixample, its layout having been drafted by Ildefons Cerdà. However the historic centre of the neighbourhood (which was once a small village outside of Barcelona) predates the grid plan.

Only a mere 15 minutes by metro from the city centre, the area is full of pedestrian streets and is located right next to some of Barcelona’s finest beaches. This is why at Feelathomeinbarcelona have selected this area as a location for many of our best rental apartments.

Poblenou is full of nice surprises. Part village, part Eixample, and largely pedestrian, a stroll its streets reveals an architectural mix of village, interesting industrial architecture, and Catalan art nouveau (modernisme).

Poblenou’s Rambla stands tall with the best of Barcelona’s boulevards, including its more famous counterpart, Las Ramblas, in the city centre. It is lined with elegant buildings and pavement cafés where you can sit and enjoy the Barcelona sunshine. This street is the hub of the Poblenou’s cultural, social and retail life.

This is a typical Barcelona Rambla, stretching elegantly from the sea to the mountains, structured in rectangular and circular forms. Its origins date back to 1853, when the Cerdà Plan was laid out, around an industrial Poblenou which was starting to grow in the centre of the Sant Martí district. The Rambla gave locals an ideal place for a stroll where they could socialise.

Due to its position outside the city, Poblenou offered ideal conditions for setting up of factories and textile mills at the end of the 19th century. Once known as the ‘Manchester of the Mediterranean’, up until the 1940s Poblenou’s skyline was dominated with textile factories. These were surrounded by shanty settlements of Somorrostro and Pequín, with many living in appalling conditions.

Eventually the industrial decline of the 1960s brought about changes in the Poblenou with factories being pulled down and with areas of land being freed up for redevelopment. Poblenou’s regeneration culminated with the 22@ Plan in 1992 when all of Barcelona was given a very large makeover for the Olympics.

The 22@ project has transformed Poblenou’s identity, with its abandoned factories being used for design studios and fashionable loft apartments.

Alongside this modernity, the old Poblenou of narrow streets where fishermen and factory workers once lived still exists. The centre of the old Poblenou district is an area known as Taulat; this was the lowest part of the former village of Sant Martí de Provençals which stood close to the sea.

Its focus is the picturesque Plaça de Prim. Built in 1851, this forms the core of the residential area of Poblenou. This delightful spot features ombú trees and benches, set against the chimney of the old steam mill (these are listed buildings in Barcelona). The square is home to the famous restaurant ‘Els Pescadors’, which owns a sizeable terrace on the square. This is a great place to try some traditional Catalan cooking made with incredible fresh ingredients.

Nearby is Bogatell beach. Again this space was the result of the urban redevelopment before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Bogatell is one of Barcelona’s widest and least crowded beaches, and is not seen by most tourists. Only 5 minutes walk from Poblenou’s centre, this is a great place to relax all year round. In summer it offers unlimited swimming and sunbathing and in winter walks in the sun.

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The Casa Batlló makes steps into new dimensions

La Casa Batlló needs little introduction. Its sinuous and surreal art nouveau façade is one of the highlights of any trip to Barcelona. Designed by Antoni Gaudí for the wealthy Batlló family between 1905 and 1907 and is located on Passeig de Gràcia. No surprise that it is a Unesco world heritage site.

This spring the Casa Batlló is revealing some exciting new multimedia additions to the visit. La Casa Batlló has developed a series of augmented reality and virtual 3D environments to the visitor’s tour, allowing visitors to decipher the architect’s symbolism.

Also the museum has also built a virtual tour for those not fortunate enough to be able to visit this wonderful building in person, meaning if you cannot afford the air fare to Barcelona you can enjoy the Casa Batlló from your own home anywhere in the world.

The traditional tour audio guide has also been replaced with a new video guide, it operates on a tablet or Smartphone and allows visitors to delve further into the lifestyle of the Batlló family and learn more about the symbolism Gaudi used in his design.

If you are coming to Barcelona this spring be sure not to miss the Casa Batlló. If you arrive early you will have time to also visit another famous art nouveau townhouse by Gaudi situated close by on Passeig de Gracia, the Casa Milà. If you aren´t coming to Barcelona you can always check out the virtual tour!

http://www.casabatllo.es/en

Posted in Activities - Spring, Areas - The Eixample, Barcelona's Museums, Exhibitions in Barcelona, Gaudi architecture | Leave a comment

The Barcelona Marathon 2014

Officially known as Zurich Marató de Barcelona, the Barcelona Marathon takes place on 16th March this year. The route runs through Barcelona’s historical city centre and Art Nouveau Eixample District.

Traditionally the starting line is in front of the theatrical backdrop of Montjuïc.The start line of the marathon’s 42,195 km long circular course is Avenida Reina Cristina, the street running between Plaça Espanya and MNAC at the foot of Montjuic. Barcelona marathon starts at 8.30 and a maximum 6 hours is allowed to complete the course.

Participants will enjoy sites such as the Casa Milà, the Casa Batlló and La Seu, Barcelona´s medieval Cathedral. The route is circular and also takes in attractions such as Barça’s stadium the Camp Nou, Passeig de Grácia, the Sagrada Familia and the Hospital de Sant, the Torre Agbar, the Parc de Cuitdadella and Arc de Triomf before returning to the start point to finally approach the starting point via the Gothic District and the world famous Las Ramblas.
With scenery such as this it is no surprise that the participants come from all over the globe to take place, as well of course to enjoy the wonderful city of Barcelona itself.

Temperatures at this time of year are perfect for running. Averages range from are between 13-17 ° C and sunny spring weather is the norm at this time of year, though the heat has not yet begun to soar to its summer heights. Tens of thousands of spectators line the route to cheer on runners.
In 2012 some 15,000 people reached the finishing line. The winners both came from Ethiopia Gezahegn Abera Hunde (2:10:17) among men and Lemelem Berha Yachem, (2:34:38) among women. In 2014 some 18,000 runners are expected to take part.

To reach the marathon start line you can take metro lines 1 or 3 to Plaça Espanya, which is right next to the start line.You can apply for the marathon on the official website of the marathon. The registration fee is €61.50 for first 10,000 registrations, and then €73.00 up to 17,000 and thereafter the cost rises to €84, 00. The final deadline for registrations is March the12th, 2014.

Posted in Activities - Spring, Areas - Las Ramblas, Areas - Sagrada Familia, Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Barcelona a world city, Sporting activities in Barcelona | Leave a comment

Mutek 2014

Mutek is one of those international festivals that were just made for Barcelona. This incredibly hip international festival is a combined celebration of sound, music and visual art.

So no surprise that it sets up shop for its fifth edition in Barcelona this March from the 5th to the 8th, when another prestigious roster of International artists will play cutting-edge electronic nightly sets in four different clubs throughout the city.

While in recent years festivals have become big business, MUTEK bucks this trend, as it is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate is to provide a platform for the most original and visionary artists currently working in their fields, with a stated objective to build bridges between creativity and technology and thus support innovation in new electronic music and digital art.  The “MU” in Mutek refers to “mutation”, reflecting that music and technology are constantly evolving and changing.

Mutek was born in Montreal in 2000 and has grown to other hip cities, namely Mexico City, and of course Barcelona. The event grows apace, this year Mutek has set up its first electronic music event in China.

The 2014 Barcelona edition will host a variety of acts, from the UK (Andy Stott), Spain (Brunetto), the USA (Laurel Halo), Germany (Marcel Dettman) and France (1024 Architecture). Look out for performances at L’Institut Francais, Moog Club, Nitsa and Teatre Coliseum.

Tickets are available as daily passes starting from €5-€10 to€60 for all four nights.

Go to the Mutek website

 

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A guide to Sarrià-Sant Gervasi

Here we are going to take a look at one of Barcelona’s less known districts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. Most visitors to Barcelona visit the Gothic Old Town with Las Ramblas and the old port, or the Eixample and Gaudi’s famous modernista architecture. The first written document found about Sarrià dates from the year 987, and the origins of the village are a Roman colony. The old Monestir de Pedralbes belonged to the village of Sarrià and is now home to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is one of the biggest districts of Barcelona and situated on the north-west of the city, and surrounded by the city districts of Les Corts, Gràcia, Eixample i Horta-Guinardo, and by the villages of Sant Just, Sant Feliu, Molins de Rei and Sant Cugat. As you fly over Barcelona on your approach to the city (usually over the coast) you will notice Sarrià-Sant Gervasi perched on the edge of the mountains at the back of the city.

Due to its location at the back of the city on the higher ground, many people tend to pass by Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. However this is an interesting district with much to see, offering fantastic views over Barcelona. This is a very laid back part of town. Its character is primarily residential and very wealthy. The air here is much cleaner as it is higher up and above the pollution which clogs much of Barcelona.

The village of Sarrià was added to Barcelona in 1927 as the city expanded due to the industrial revolution, and luckily Sarrià still keeps its a village atmosphere, and its traditional narrow streets and small houses are perfectly preserved. The main street of Sarrià is Major de Sarrià and on Passeig Reina Elisenda is the Mercat de Sarrià, the market being the heart of any Barcelona neighbourhood.

Sarrià also borders on the stunning Collserola national park, the lungs of the city. This extends from Collserola Mountain at the back of Barcelona all the way to Sant Cugat. It is a wonderful place to explore on foot or on mountain bike and you would never know Barcelona city centre was only 20 minutes away.

Close by also is Tibidabo. The spires of the Temple de Sagrat Cor church on Tibidabo can seen from any point of the city. Right next to the church is an amusement park, the oldest in Barcelona and some of the original rides date to the turn of the 20th century. Part of the Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, was filmed here.

 

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