Ever since taking Medieval Spain and Imperial Spain classes in junior year, I have dreamed of visiting Catalonia (and its capital, Barcelona). What was once the key to economic success under the Crown of Aragon for its coastal position, later became a part of the Kingdom of Spain united by the power couple, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. And if you are a history nerd like me, see this short video on the amazing Queen Isabella.
Now that I’ve shared my excitement for this trip, let me tell you how my first day has already got me falling in love with Barcelona! Read on for an exciting adventure on our ankle express to (1) Casa Batlló, (2) Casa Amatller, (3) Plaça de Catalunya, (4) La Rambla, (5) Mercado de La Boquerìa, (6) Palau Güell, (7) Mirador de Colón, (8) Barri Gòtic, or the Gothic Quarter. I have provided links to the sites that have an official website; for the others, please see below for description and recommendation!
Put on your walking shoes, this is going to be a Fitbit-worthy day!
Stop 1: Casa Batlló ~ one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces in the city center built between 1904 and 1906 for Josep Batlló, a textile industrialist who owned many factories in Barcelona.
Some people call it the House of Bones, can you see why?
It’s all in the detail, here pictured is the base pole of the entrance staircase.
Gaudí’s inspiration for this building was the underwater world, all around the house you will see stained glass like this.
This ceiling design is inspired by the image of water ripples.
Gaudí covered the inner walls with tiles in shades of blue, going darker as it goes up since natural light makes it brighter as you go higher up; he also designed the windows to get narrow as it goes up for the same reason.
Inspired by fish gills, Gaudí included in almost every room an air vent like this to control air flow and temperature.
One of many beautiful doors in Casa Batlló; notice the shape of the door handle, it is designed for comfortable grip. (Also see David rocking the Audioguide headphones)
Here’s another fun door we found.
A sight on the back terrace.
The rooftop of Casa Batlló; Gaudií grouped chimneys together to unite creativity and practicality.
Stop 2: Casa Amatller ~ a beautiful building by Josep Puig i Cadafalch for chocolatier Antoni Amatller, constructed between 1898 and 1900, sitting right next to Casa Batlló. If you visit Casa Batlló, I highly suggest you stop by Casa Amatller too. It is extremely underrated because of Gaudí’s presence in Barcelona, but this is a building worth seeing!
I didn’t get a chance to take a full picture of the building, but here is a detailed image of its exterior.
I couldn’t get over how beautiful the stairwell walls were!
A beautiful dining room with a large fireplace opposite a beautiful bay window.
On the ground floor of Casa Amatller is a coffee shop and chocolate store: faborit, make sure you check it out, they have great coffee and fresh delicious juices!
Cafe faborit actually uses the original kitchen of the building!The tour finished with a piece of chocolate!
Stop 3: Plaça de Catalunya ~ a large square right in central Barcelona, you can’t miss it, if you’re unsure, just follow the pigeons!
Stop 4: La Rambla ~ a central street in Barcelona filled with locals and tourists that goes from the Plaça de Catalunya to the Mirador de Colón.
Barcelona is a very safe city, but you should always be careful when walking down La Rambla; because it is filled with tourists, some will attempt to pickpocket – they won’t grab you or touch you, but they may reach into your bag. Nothing happened to us, but just be careful.
The whole walking path is lined with merchant stands like these.
Stop 5: Mercado de La Boquerìa ~ one of Europe’s largest public markets established in 1826 just off of La Rambla, housing fresh fruits, vegetables, live seafood, meats, and everything else.
We had some delicious razor clams at Bar Central!
Stop 6: Palau Güell ~ a beautiful mansion designed by the amazing Gaudí for Eusebi Güell, a politician, businessman, and patron of literature and the arts. Gaudí and Güell became close friends with shared interests and values, and would go on to create some of the most iconic architectures in the world.
Beautiful stained glass window with Eusebi Güell’s monogram.
The beautiful dining room.
It’s hard to capture the entirety of the palace, but everywhere you turn, there is an item with magnificently designed details, like this wall lamp.
Beautiful tiled chimneys on the palace rooftop. Gaudí was a master at uniting practicality and creativity.
Stop 7: Mirador de Colón ~ the Columbus Monument is situated at the end of La Rambla, you can take a lift inside the column to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Barcelona.
Stop 8: Barri Gòtic ~ the Gothic Quarter is the old city center of Barcelona, with many small streets connected by open squares. It is a wonderful place to walk around and get lost in, reminds me a little bit of Venice.
It was a long day of walking, but it is totally doable because there is so much to see. Every step you take there is something interesting to your left and right. And it helps that there are many tapas bars along the way to help you refuel!
We saw a lot in one day, but given this route, it was very easy and we did not feel rushed at all. If you are planning a trip to Barcelona, consider this walking route to see some of the most iconic sites in Barcelona. If you’ve been to Barcelona, or have the luxury of living in this beautiful city, let me know what you think about this itinerary! Stay tuned for the rest of my stay in Barcelona!