Barcelona, situated on a plain rising to a range of hills, is a cosmopolitan city and one of the Mediterranean’s busiest ports, and has around 1.6 million residents while its metropolitan are totals 3.2 million residents. With a history of 2,000 years, Barcelona has been Roman colony, capital of Catalonia, medieval trade powerhouse, focus of the southernmost Industrial Revolution in Europe, and home of social and artistic revolutionary movements. Today is renowned for its balanced way of life between hard work and the joy of life. A high concentration of hi-tech and biomedical concerns share the city with busy and countless restaurants, bars, cafés, clubs and beach stalls.
The notable architecture allows the visitor to course a path starting with the Roman town and the medieval trade center that was Barcelona, with the Old Town constituting one of the largest sites of Gothic architecture in Europe, to the Modernist-style buildings, including the recently inaugurated Sagrada Família Basilica by Antoni Gaudí, to the contemporary torres (towers).
Art and museums are also a highlight for Barcelona visitors, singularly with the National Musuem of Catalan Art, the Picasso Museum, the City History Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the museum of the Joan Miró Foundation. Last but not least, the distinctive and lively neighborhoods (Barceloneta, Old Town, Eixample, Gràcia, Vila Olímpica, Poble Nou, Sarrià) will reward the more outgoing visitor.
Looking for information about Barcelona and Catalonia? take a look into the following official websites:
Some artistic pictures with the city of Barcelona as the common element. This collection is called “views of Barcelona”
Non official useful information
For an original way of knowing Barcelona check here: http://www.obrintvia.com/eng/incentive.htm
Mobile apps. There are quite some mobile apps for Barcelona: tourism (Lonely Planet, Timeout, Tripwolf, etc), public transport (TMB Virtual, Bus Turistic Virtual, BCNbus, Metro Barcelona, Barcelona Subway), transit information (Trànsit), taxi (Catalunya Taxi), bicycles, etc. These apps are given as examples not recommendations, please checkout mobile apps for your interests since they keep growing in numbers.
Reading. Reading beforehand is the best way to enjoy a visit to any city, and specially Barcelona. Two foreign authors that lived in Barcelona are art critic Robert Hughes and the novelist Colm Tóibín. If you are not fond of guide books, check out these books:
- Barcelona, 1992, by Robert Hughes – probably the most well known book about Barcelona. Hughes provides an in-depth discussion of the history of Catalonia’s art and culture: recommended for serious scholars.
- Barcelona: the Great Enchantress, 2004, by Robert Hughes – a more light read, covers the same topics as the older book in a more abbreviated way: recommended for light reading.
- Homage to Barcelona, 2001, by Colm Tóibín – this is an engaging book written by a literary novelist. The book is not a guide, it can be fairly described as the portrait of a city: recommended for literati.
- Going Native in Catalonia, 2008, by Simon Harris – for those who wish they could stay.
Finally, reading about Catalan cuisine will enhance anyone’s enjoyment of Barcelona. Some significant books are Colman Andrews’ Catalan Cuisine (more than a cookbook, is a guide to the history, culture, and cuisine of Catalonia); Joan Santanach’s book on The Book of Sent Soví, one of the oldest cookbooks in Europe that (written in Catalan, Llibre de Sent Soví was published in 1,324) with recipes like sofregit or picada still in use today; and Montse Palacin’s Barcelona Served, an illustrated guide to contemporary Catalan cuisine. Finally, for those of a more wine-oriented persuasion, there is Alan Young’s Wine Routes of Penedès and Catalonia.