Barcelona’s bid for UNESCO 2014 City of Literature

Last week Jaume Ciurana, deputy mayor for culture for Barcelona, announced that Barcelona was making a bid for the 2014 City of Literature Title.

Barcelona has long been a city associated with literature. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Eduardo Mendoza Garriga, Juan Goytisolo and George Orwell have all been associated with Barcelona’s literary scene over the years. This is not a new phenomena, the oldest known book in Spain is a medieval cookery book written in Catalan.

UNESCO’s City of Literature program was launched in 2004 and is part of its Creative Cities Network whose aim is to promote cultural wealth. Previous cities to hold the title include Edinburgh, Norwich, Reykjavik, Dublin, Melbourne, Krakow and Iowa City.

The president of the Publishers Guild of Catalunya, Daniel Fernandez, has said: “There are many cities which are cities of the book, which have literature running through the core of their identity, and Barcelona has it. There are also several cities that are capitals of the publishing industry, but Barcelona has something special to it, being the capital publishing in both Catalan and Spanish. With the death of García Márquez so recent, we must remember that without Catalan publishers the Latin American boom would never have happened. So linking the identity of Barcelona as a city even more closely with the world of literature is a great idea .If in a few years time we have gone from being a ‘city of fairs and congresses’ to a ‘world capital of literature’, this is something that will make me proud. For our part we will do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

The Socialist candidate for mayor, Jaume Collboni, has expressed his interest in and support for the idea, adding that the proposal “had planted a very interesting seed.”

The application requires the submission of a formal letter from the mayor of the city, and a dossier of proposal, approved by the National Committee of the UNESCO and supported by professional associations linked to the publishing world.

At a time when all heads are turned towards economic issues, this award would act as a reminder that cultural issues still matter and that Barcelona has an enormous amount to offer and to be proud of culturally.

Posted in Art in Barcelona, Barcelona a world city, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plan your day at the beach with Infoplatges!

Before going to the beach in Barcelona this summer check your Smartphone. Thanks to the “Infoplatges” (beach info) app which the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) has just developed, you can access all the information you would need in order to plan a day of chilling at the beach. The Infoplatges App tool will tell you not only meteorological information such as the weather, the state of the sea and the local weather forecast, but also information on facilities and activities available at each beach, directions, emergency information and other recommendations.

All information is real-time and constantly updated. Infoplatges is the latest example of Barcelona’s local government’s efforts to use technology to connect with its citizens. Other examples include the AMBtemps Bus that lets you know the arrival time of any metropolitan bus and AMB Taxi Barcelona that allows you to calculate the cost amount of any taxi journey within the city.

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Barcelona’s Top Destination – La Roca Village

Ever wondered what the most visited tourist destination in Barcelona is? If you were to take a guess, you probably might say Las Ramblas, the Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum or perhaps the Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona.

All of these very sensible guesses would be wrong. In fact recent statistics from the Barcelona tourist board indicate that the most visited tourist attraction throughout the whole province of Barcelona (as opposed to just the city itself) is an out of town shopping centre!

La Roca Village shopping centre holds the title, after some 3.3 million people in 2013. La Roca is a factory outlet shopping mall located 30 minutes from both Barcelona and Girona by car or bus. La Roca Village offers big brands at prices reduced by up to 60%. It is near the village of Santa Agnès de Malanyanes, and actually located parallel to the motorway.

La Roca received more visitors than the Sagrada Família, which received a mere 3,176,970 people in comparison. The next most visited monument in the province of Barcelona was Montserrat Monastery, with nearly 2.4 million visits, followed by the Circuit de Catalunya (the veunue of the F1 racing) with just over 620,000 visits, followed by the Natural Park of Montseny which attracted 196,000 visitors.

Back in the capital, the top 5 attractions were headed by the Sagrada Família, followed by the Aquarium with 1,718,000 visitors, the Barça Museum with 1.5 million visitors, the Poble Espanyol with 1,258,000 visitors and the Montjuïc castle with 1,072,000 visitors.

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Museum Night 2014 in Barcelona

This Saturday May the 17th is Museum Night in Barcelona, with more than 70 venues participating and offering free events.

Museum Night is an initiative sponsored by the Council of Europe. Over 4,000 museums across 40 countries participate and this year the event celebrates its tenth edition. Museum Night will for the first time be followed by the International Museum Day on Sunday the 18th of May, with doors open for free admission in the great majority of the institutions participating in Museum Night.

Participating venues include the Hospital Sant Pau, the castle on Montjuïc, Born Cultural Centre, the Estudi Regomir (with work of Josep Maria Subirachs), and the gatehouse of Park Güell.

This year, as well as the regular participants above, the Santa Monica Arts Centre, the Francisco Godia Foundation, the Blueproject Foundation, the Can Riera Museum and L’ Hospitalet Fabra i Coats will also be open to the public for free. The event is expected to attract approximately 133,000 participants from the general public.

On Tuesday Jaume Ciurana, Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor of Culture, announced the different activities taking place on Museum Night. He was accompanied by the heads of the participating museums and cultural centres. The exciting program of events includes concerts, poetry readings, dance sessions, workshops and guided tours for all ages.

Josep Lluis Alay, the director of Heritage, Museums and Archives at the Institute of Culture of Barcelona, has stated that on Museum Night the Institute will present the exciting latest findings related to Barcelona’s Roman wall.

Museum Night in Barcelona is a great way for visitors to Barcelona to enjoy privileged access to many of the city’s finest cultural and historical sites, for free. If you are in Barcelona this weekend make sure you do not miss out on what could be the chance of a lifetime.

Posted in Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Barcelona nightlife, Barcelona's Museums, Exhibitions in Barcelona, Gaudi architecture, insiders barcelona, Montjuic | Leave a comment

Barcelona’s new luxury port development

Port Med Barcelona (Formentera Mar) us set to invest 30 million Euros in the construction and operation of a luxury marina on the north pier of the Old Port of Barcelona , which will be named Marina Vela and will berth some 339 luxury boats. This represents a very important development for Barcelona as a city.
The Port of Barcelona approved the works last Wednesday, and in the coming months Port Med Barcelona will presented further details of the construction to the Port Authority of Barcelona (APB) for approval.

Construction will start before the end of this 2014 and will last 24 months. The marina which occupy 2.5 acres of land and five acres of water, with a capacity for 134 boats between 10 and 40 meters in length. In addition a dry dock of 3,000 square meters is planned, which can accommodate 205 other pleasure craft up to nine meters in length. This brings the total capacity will be to 339 sailing boats.

To serve the Port and the public, the new marina will have a multifunctional building containing an outdoor shopping centre with a public plaza, expanding Rosa dels Vents Square next to the Hotel W. On the inside it will feature more space for the storage of boats. It will also feature the new harbour Master’s quarters, where the Harbour Master will house work directing and controlling the activities of the marina.

Other developments will include the Mirador Building, housing a restaurant with views over the water, while the dam building will feature a pedestrian walkway on its roof, as well as 51 parking spaces. The Rambla Building will connect the Joan de Borbo gardens ride and will have 71 parking spaces.
In addition to these developments there will many new public outdoor spaces.

The marina is an exciting addition to Barcelona’s ancient port which dates back to Roman times, and will add to the existing leisure possibilities of the port including the aquarium and mare magnum shopping centre.

Posted in Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas | Leave a comment

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/

Posted in Areas - The Old Town & Ramblas, Barcelona for Children, Exhibitions in Barcelona | Leave a comment