Barcelona: Built for Aesthetics

In Europe by Mallory17 Comments

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:

  1. The first attributes the founding of the city to Hercules.
  2. 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.

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“It’s early and we can’t wait to be tourists” selfie

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).

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Parc de la Ciutadella


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So classic... I just couldn't help myself

So classic… I just couldn’t help myself

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.

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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.

This was all I could fit in my camera view - it is huge!

This was all I could fit in my camera view – it is huge!

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!

The statue of Columbus

The statue of Columbus

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.

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Some “modern” art in Barcelona. And me doing the cabbage patch.


  1. I feel obliged to thank Columbus for giving my daughter something to discover in Barcelona…

    As always loved the post!

  2. Mal, once I click on a photo, I’m surprised by the quality of your phone camera! It’s exceeding my expectations. I loved the blog as always!

    1. Author

      I know, right?! I’m so glad I didn’t invest in a hefty camera!

  3. You’re making me jealous. Barcelona looks like so much fun! Keep the posts coming as some of us have not traveled much and we can learn from you. P.S. Have you ever thought of becoming a writer of some kind? You’re very good at it! Enjoy yourself at the beach.

    1. Author

      Tammy – you would love it, there’s so much to do here! I realized that the Cathedral and the Picasso museum are free on Sundays, so I’m going to try to squeeze those in with the beach. 😉

      Haven’t thought of becoming a writer — there are plenty better writers out there and I think if it was all I did it would take the joy out of it. I will keep posting on here though. 🙂

      Glad to have you follow along!

  4. I live your photo of the Sagrada Familia! Between your photos and your wonderful descriptions, I feel like I’m there. Have fun at the Picasso museum and at the beach!

    1. Author

      I didn’t end up going into Sagrada Familia. 🙁 But I did go into Parc Guell! And thanks to your blog post, I also made it a point to slip in with a group of people. The security was so lax there that I’m still debating whether I actually cheated my way in or not… so weird.

  5. Love the pics and the update – sounds like an amazing journey. So wish I could join you for a gelato on the beach… And for a run under the arch… And for a photo tour of the basilica! Well… you get the idea!

    1. Author

      Perhaps we can find some gelato in South Carolina? I am not joking when I say I am addicted. I just got to Germany and I haven’t seen one gelato stand yet. WHAT TO DO

  6. Hope you’re having a wonderful time! I spent last weekend in Barcelona and absolutely loved it too. A tip I wasn’t told until after I headed west to Pamplona is that the best beaches are a bus ride outside of the city. If you have the chance I would try those instead of the overly crowded Barceloneta. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.
    Safe travels!

    1. Author

      I heard that too Lauren! I didn’t end up taking the bus to other beaches, but I went to Barceloneta during the week so it actually wasn’t as bad as I expected. 🙂 Minus the ladies that walk around and harass you about giving you a massage…sheesh

  7. As always, loved the read. Got a nice hearty laugh out of the cabbage patch picture. You da best, sista!

    1. Author

      Thought you might appreciate that Cur Bur. I really broke out my best moves.

  8. Love you blog mal! Not gonna lie…. I had to google what a gelato was haha. Looks like Barcelona is an awesome place!

    1. Author

      I didn’t know what it was until I got here either, although I think there is a place in Columbia that sells it. Look it up! 🙂 I’m lucky that they are not everywhere in Germany or else you might have a chubby sister coming home… 😉

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