If it’s your first trip in Barcelona, you’ll most likely want to visit Catedral de Barcelona (Barcelona Cathedral), Park Güell, Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), but don’t overlook Casa Batlló and Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum).
1. Catedral de Barcelona (Barcelona Cathedral)
Barcelona Cathedral is Barcelona’s main cathedral towers over the heart of the Barri Gtic area. The building of the Gothic cathedral began in the late 13th century, although it was not finished until the mid-15th century. While you’re here, make time to appreciate the numerous examples of artisanship that went into completing this cathedral, from its exterior details to the many gold furnishings within, including the stately altarpiece, part of the Church of Saint Severas, as well as the 140 saint statues that call the cathedral home. While you’re here, visit the cloister, which has a lush tropical garden.
2. Park Güell
Park Güell, designed by Antoni Gaud, is as quirky as parks come. Eusebi Güell commissioned the park with the intention of creating a wealthy housing development. Güell recruited Gaud, but the project was subsequently canceled owing to the unsuitable building requirements of the property. Gaud went on to design the park after seeing gardens in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and constructing around the natural aspects of the land rather than ripping them down.
3. Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The Barri Gtic, or Gothic Quarter, is Barcelona’s oldest neighborhood and, given its proximity to the city center, also its liveliest. Beautiful Roman and Medieval-era architecture coexists with the various stores, restaurants, outdoor cafés, taverns, and clubs that line this neighborhood’s small streets and gorgeous plazas. And there are several plazas to discover.
Aside from Plaça de la Catedral, where you’ll almost certainly end yourself if you visit the Barcelona Cathedral, make a point of visiting Plaça Reial and the tiny and much more picturesque Plaça Sant Felip Neri, which was blasted by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (you can see scars from the attack on the church in the square). Plaça Reial, with its palm trees, is significantly more lively and generally buzzes into the early hours of the morning. Come here to begin your night out in Barcelona. Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Catalan seat of government has been since the Middle Ages, is another significant plaza. Whatever you end up doing in the Gothic Quarter, tourists believe the Spanish magnificence will enchant you long after you leave.
4. Casa Batlló
The attention to detail at Casa Batlló exemplifies the work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaud. This is undoubtedly the most well-known of the Gaud apartments in Barcelona (it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site). Casa Batlló, located just down the street from Casa Milà, is notable for its brilliant colors, elaborate tile work, and skeleton terraces. The unusual façade is inspired by the tale of St. George, who is famed for fighting a dragon in order to save the princess.
The skeleton balconies and boney windows are thought to reflect the dragon’s former victims (the belief says that someone was sacrificed every day so the dragon wouldn’t take the entire town). After you’ve taken in the massive amount of detail on the outside of the building, head inside to see the equally impressive interiors, including the Noble Floor, which was previously home to the Batlló family. You may also reach the roof with your ticket to see Gaud’s impressive mosaic work up close, including those on the dragon’s back and the roof’s many colorful chimneys.
5. Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum)
When you’ve had enough of Gaud, travel to the Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso) for a change of pace. While most people are familiar with Pablo Picasso’s distorted portraits, this museum presents his work on a chronology, allowing you to track his journey from the more controlled works of his early years to the more whimsical paintings and sculptures of his latter years.
Make time to visit Picasso: the museum itself has thousands of his works, including masterpieces from his famed Blue Period. The museum also delves into the artist’s lifetime connection to Barcelona, revealing why he picked the city for his museum before his death.