Barcelona, like Girona, has welcomed me with open arms. Perhaps it’s the gelato stand around each corner or the 2pm nap everyone seems to take, but I have yet to come across an unhappy person. This includes the customs official at the airport who stamped my passport with a big smile (markedly different than the UK customs official who grilled me for 30 minutes). Even my weather app seems to be stuck at 70 degrees and sunny.
The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends:
- The first attributes the founding of the city to Hercules.
- The second legend attributes the foundation of the city to the historical CarthaginianHamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC (thanks Wikipedia).
Hercules vs. the father of Hannibal? Both seem like heroic options to me. Spend any amount of time in Barcelona though, and it seems like the real hero of the city is Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish Catalan architect whose fingerprints seem to touch every corner.
To sum it up, Barcelona is a city built for aesthetics. Thanks to architects like Gaudí, the city’s buildings and streets have taken on a personality of their own. Gaudí’s La Pedrera has a shape so unique that no two apartments are the same. Even the sidewalks look like they are made of tile!
Tiffany and I are earlybirds and it doesn’t seem like Barcelona wakes up until about 10am, so we were able to visit the Arc de Triomf, Parc de la Ciutadella, the statue of Columbus and hike Montjuic, all before lunchtime and without being surrounded by hoards of people.
Our first stop in the morning was Parc de la Ciutadella, a creation of Josep Fontserè, with perhaps some attribution to the young Antoni Gaudí. Since it was still early, we had it all to ourselves aside from a few Asian tourists who had the same idea. They took more creative photos next to the fountain (see below).
I have to admit that I forgot the Arc de Triomf was located in Barcelona. This was my favorite, partially because I remembered learning about it in an Art History course in college, and also because of the beautiful scenic background. Tiff and I fell in love and ended up taking a morning run down this stretch the next day.
This is Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s (arguably) most treasured project. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction has been slow – it was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. The basilica is estimated to be completed in 2026, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death.
The statue of Columbus, located on one of Barcelona’s busiest streets. This was a must for us American tourists. Thanks for discovering our country!
Tiff’s off to Budapest, but I’ve got a few more days in Barcelona. I fully intend on spending them at the beach, gelato in hand.