Barcelona Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips
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Barcelona Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips
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After hosting the Olympic Games in 1992, Barcelona finally took its place on the list of the world's great cities. If you only visit one city in Spain, it should probably be Barcelona.

Catalonia's modernist architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries - a unique melting pot of Art Nouveau, Gothic, Moorish and other styles - climaxes here in the inspiring creations of Antoni Gaudi, among them La Sagrada Familia church and Pare Guell. Barcelona also has world-class museums including two devoted to Picasso and Miro, a fine old quarter (the Barri Gotic) and unbeatable nightlife.


Placa de Catalunya is the main square in Barcelona. Most travellers base themselves in Barcelona's old city (Ciutat Vella), the area bordered by the Port Veil harbour (to the south), Plata de Catalunya (north), Ronda de Sant Pau (west) and Pare de la Ciutadella (east).

La Rambla, Barcelona's best known boulevard, runs through the heart of the old city from Plaga de Catalunya down to the harbour. On the east side of La Rambla is the medieval quarter (Barri Gotic), and on the west the seedy Barri Xines. North of the old city is the gracious suburb l'Eixample, where you'll find the best of Barcelona's modernist architecture.


La Rambla

The best introduction to Barcelona is a walk from Placa de Catalunya down La Rambla, a long pedestrian strip shaded by leafy trees and lined with newsstands, bird and flower stalls, and cafes.

About halfway down La Rambla is the fragrant Mercat de la Boqueria, a good place to stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, bread, pastries and more. Just off La Rambla, farther south, Placa Reial was, until a few years ago, a seedy square of ill repute; now it's quite pleasant with numerous cafes, bars and a couple of music clubs.

 Just off the other side of La Rambla, at Carrer Nou de la Rambla 3-5, is Gaudi's moody Palau Giiell (10 am to 1.30 pm and 4 to 6.30 pm Monday to Saturday, 2 €). Pick up a Ruta del Modemisme ticket, which allows you to see other Gaudi goodies around the city.

Down at the end of La Rambla stands the Monument a Colom, a statue of Columbus atop a tall pedestal. A small lift will take you to the top of the monument for 2 €. Just west in the 14th-century Royal Shipyards, the Museu Maritim has an impressive array of boats, models, maps and more (10 am to 7 pm daily, 6 €).

Barri Gotic

Barcelona's serene Gothic cathedral is open 8.30 am to 1.30 pm and 4 to 7.30 pm daily - be sure to visit the cloister. Each Sunday at noon, crowds gather in front of the cathedral to dance the sardana, the Catalan national dance.

Just east of the cathedral is the fascinating Museu d'Historia de la Ciutat (City History Museum) composed of several buildings around Placa del Rei, the palace courtyard of the medieval monarchs of Aragon. The museum includes a remarkable subterranean walk through excavated portions of Roman and Visigothic Barcelona. It's open 10 am to 2 pm and 4 to 8 pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm Sunday. Entry is 3 €.

A few minutes' walk west of the cathedral, Placa de Sant Josep Oriol is something of a hang-out for bohemian musicians and buskers. The plaza is surrounded by cafes and towards the end of the week becomes an outdoor art and craft market.




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