When you visit Barcelona, you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of places to go and sights to see. We’ve chosen four really interesting must-see and must-do activities that’ll introduce you to something unique and memorable. Did you know that Pablo Picasso spent a great deal of his formative time in Barcelona? Have you ever wanted to try eating with a blindfold on to see if food really does taste better if you can’t see it? How would you love to go behind the scenes in one of the world’s biggest football stadiums in terms of crowd size? All these and more will soon be revealed.
But first, learn how to say ‘Barcelona’
It’s pretty much a case of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. How to say the city’s name is a bone of contention among many who believe there are two different ways of pronouncing it. The truth is, there are actually two pronunciations, depending on who is saying it.
Spanish-speaking people say ‘Bar-the-lona‘ but in the Catalonia region of Spain of which the city is the capital, the natives there say ’Bar-seh-lona‘. So perhaps when you are in this cosmopolitan and autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, you may like to use the local pronunciation, lest you offend those you meet in the street!
Support the local Soccer Team
Soccer fans will not want to miss a match played by three-time FIFA World Cup Champions, FC Barcelona. Having won the coveted trophy in 2009, 2011 and 2015, they are recent honourees of this competition as well as the European Cup and the European Super Cup, among other accolades and therefore attract international travellers in droves to their home games.
Tickets can be purchased via the FC Barcelona website. Even if you’re not a huge follower of the sport, the opportunity to see athletic supremacy in motion is a powerful drawcard. Additionally, just being a part of a crowd of 100,000 spectators, all assembled in one place can be an enthralling experience. You can even take a self-guided tour of the stadium. Your tour gains you exclusive access behind the scenes, including the opportunity to go inside the away team changing room facilities, and you will learn about the history of the team in the multimedia centre. There is even an FC chapel which was inaugurated in 1958 and blessed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in 1982. Run through the players’ tunnel, stand in the benches and visit the press area. Audio guides are available for hire and provide information in numerous languages.
Experience the Sensory Delights of Dining in the Dark
It’s said that if you are deprived of one sense, your others will naturally be heightened. This is the premise behind Dans le Noir, a unique dining experience you can enjoy in Paris, London, St-Petersburg and, while visiting, in Barcelona. You will take your seat at your table in a pitch black room and be served by waiters you won’t see.
The restaurant chain has served more than a million visitors worldwide since opening twelve years ago. Hailed by reviewers on TripAdvisor as “An incomparable experience”, “surreal” and “the strangest experience of my life”, Dans le Noir delights and amuses. The website enables you to book your reservation before you even travel to Spain.
Honour Pablo Picasso
Though he was born in Malaga in the south of Spain, the world famous artist Pablo Picasso was admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona at the tender age of just 13. There, he honed his talents which, over the course of his lifetime extended to sculpting, painting, poetry, writing plays and more.
Barcelona is today the home of the Museu Picasso where his early works are respectfully held and displayed for art lovers to admire. In fact, 4,251 of his works are exhibited there! Fans of the prolific twentieth century artist can wander around various addresses in Barcelona where he lived and worked, by visiting the Museu’s Picasso Chronology web page.
Walk inside a Kaleidoscope
To continue the voyage through beautiful Catalan art of a different kind, the Manzana de la Discordia – ‘The Block of Discord’ – is a city block where a famous collection of modernist buildings all share a common façade. The city’s most important Modernista architects, Enric Sagnier, Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch are responsible for the intriguing designs. The kaleidoscopic mosaic windows seem to change colour as you make your way through the rooms, with the light streaming through in varying intensities according to the time of day and the weather outside.
Locals recommend that travellers visit when the sky is more overcast because the details in each building are much clearer. To go there, the addresses are Passeig de Gracia, numbers 35, 41 and 43. At number 41 is Casa Amatiler which features gargoyles, fascinating turrets and a sculpture of St George slaying a dragon. Next door at number 43 is Casa Batilo, also known as the ‘House of Bones’ or ‘House of the Dragon’. It is characterised by the whimsical multi-coloured ceramic exterior, fashioned to resemble dragon skin.
The entire shape and form of the structure is designed to look like various intricacies such as the slope of a dragon’s back and the bones of those who fell victim to the mythical dragon. Casa Lleo Morera at number 35 has its very own style again, featuring exquisite sculptural nymphs and a number of rooftop cupolas. Its eye-catching stained glass mosaic windows are of particular interest to tourists who marvel at the richness of the colour even today.
How to Stay Safe in Barcelona
By all accounts, Barcelona is quite a safe city, with rare occurrences of violent crime. Petty crime, however, is another story and pickpocketing and bag-snatching are quite common. You are advised to avoid leaving belongings unattended and not to take valuables to the beach. Be mindful of your personal security at night and take a taxi instead of roaming around on foot. Of course you will have your travel insurance to help recover losses of cash and possessions, and pay for medical expenses but it’s obviously better to avoid vulnerabilities!
Take care, keep your wits about you and above all, have a wonderful time exploring the gloriously colourful city of Barcelona.