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Barcelona: Gem of Catalonia Spain

Barcelona is, amongst other things, a prominent "home port" for river cruises and ocean cruises (Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic). It faces the Mediterranean to the southeast and sits on a plain bordered by the Besós River (to the north), the Llobregat River (to the south), the rocky outcrop of Montjuich, and the Tibidabo Mountains (to the west). As such, it is a perfect city to extend your cruise itinerary as a pre or post cruise stay. Here are a few sights to take in while visiting Barcelona:

Best beaches in Barcelona:

One of the best things to do in and around Barcelona in the summer is to hit the beach. All of the beaches are artificial and were built to accommodate and celebrate the Olympic Games of 1992. Here are some of the best beaches to hit up while you are staying in Barcelona.

● La Barceloneta beach sits on the coast of a touristy neighborhood. It is a great place to spend some time exploring the coast of the area.

● Nova Icaria takes up about 1300 feet of the city’s waterfront. It is tagged as one of the most tranquil beaches in Barcelona, making it a perfect destination for a family getaway or just a little relaxation.

● Ocata Beach is a pristine white sand beach, and it is located just north of Barcelona. A simple half-hour train ride will get you there.

● Mar Bella beach was created as part of the restoration of the seafront during urban development for the Olympic Games. The Summer Games were held in Barcelona in 1992.

Barcelona is a shopaholic’s haven, and it is, arguably, the shopping capital of Spain. Passeig de Gràcia is the top choice for shopping in Barcelona. It’s probably the most visually stunning avenue in Barcelona as some of the city’s most stunning architecture lines this avenue. There are artisan shops and boutiques located within in centuries-old gothic buildings.

Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol is an excellent choice for shopping in Barcelona. It's home to beautiful boutiques, artisan shops, and some designer stores. Avinguda Diagonal is the place if you're scouting for high-end, big-name designer items.

Barcelona seems to be under a special kind of magic spell as soon as the sun sets. It is something you have to experience with your own eyes. There is a breathtaking twilight that settles over Barcelona that evokes wonder and appreciation. If you're coming to visit, make sure to squeeze some time to watch the sunset in Barcelona. Here, we've listed a few of our favorite spots.

1. Castillo de Montjuic

2. W Barcelona

3. Carmel Bunkers

4. Park Güell

5. Tibidabo

6. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

7. Las Arenas

Back in 1999, artist Joan Vila-Grau was commissioned to create the stained glass panes for the large group of windows on the western façade of the Sagrada Familia, known as the Resurrection Windows. He studied the temple as a whole and also the concept and function of stained glass windows in the works of Antoni Gaudí before beginning the process.

Joan Vila-Grau aimed to develop a genuinely reminiscent balance of color and light to create an atmosphere that surrounds the entire temple. His work is infused with his signature style but at the same time, fulfills Gaudi's original vision: "The Sagrada Familia will be bright. It will be the temple of harmonious light." The Sagrada Familia is an iconic structure in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia is a must-see Roman Catholic Basilica located in Barcelona, Spain. The architect behind this breathtaking gem is none other than Antoni Gaudí. Gaudi has famous masterpieces spread throughout Barcelona, but nothing is quite like La Sagrada Familia. It is considered to be one of Gaudi's most significant accomplishments, and this is likely the reason he is buried there.

Construction began in 1882, and the basilica remains unfinished to this day. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 because of its artistic representations and unique architecture. When it is finally completed, there will be 18 towers in total: one for each of the apostles, four for each of the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary, and one for Jesus Christ.

Fun Facts about Arenas de Barcelona

It's the most historic shopping mall in the city. It was not originally built as a shopping area, it was intended to be a bullring, and it became one of the most famous bullrings in Spain. The last bullfight took place in 1977, and then eventually it was left abandoned until the early 1990s. It’s seen decades of glory and has been subjected to various uses such as headquarters for the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War, as well as other sports events.

After many years, the London based firm of Richard Rogers + Partners was chosen to renovate it into a shopping and entertainment center. This renovation brought La Arena back to prominence in Barcelona in a whole new way. The renovation maintained the history and brought it into the present.

The history of the flamenco dress goes back to when Andalusian women accompanied livestock traders to livestock fairs in Seville. Andalusia is a region in southern Spain where flamencos (gypsies) lived. Flamenco is their traditional song and dance, and the costume represents that culture. The dress evolved when the dance became part of mainstream culture in the early 19th century, but the Andalusian influence remained.

The dress is designed to highlight a woman's figure and conceal the flaws. The original dress had a guitar-shaped body with a low neck. The frills are made to augment the way a woman walks, and different accessories, such as scarves and flowers, complimented the flirty style.

Barcelona, as everyone knows, is captivating. It has a rich history, grand architecture, and lovely people. Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain, and it is the capital of the province of Catalonia. The Catalans are incredibly proud of their independence and profess their own identity and language with enthusiasm, and Barcelona is their gem.

About the writer:

Nancy Holmes Ploener is a Luxury Cruise Advisor with Suite Dream Cruises, LLC, an affiliate of Gifted Travel Network- a Virtuoso member agency. She works one-on-one with clients who want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Her specialty is helping her clients see the world from the vantage of luxury cruising.

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