Art and architecture go hand in hand in a city like Barcelona and both are two very good reasons why this is a destination worth visiting. If you like the idea of a cultural weekend exploring museums, art galleries and being stunned by some spectacular architecture then Barcelona is the place to do it.
The Picasso Museum is the most visited in the city where you can see major masterpieces, simple sketches from the early years, and various exhibitions that change regularly. Highlights of the exhibition include ‘Man in a Beret’, 1985, ‘Decadent Poet’, 1900, ‘The Embrace’, 1900, and ‘Seated Man’, 1969. If you want to see more of Picasso’s work then your next stop should be Madrid which features other major works by the unique artist.
The Museum of Contemporary Art attracts lots of visitors and art enthusiasts with its selection of art dating from the later part of the last century and some of the most surprising architecture you will see in the city. Designed in the 1990s by architect Richard Meier, the museum itself is a white geometric building located in the historical district of the Raval Quarter. Huge glass windows and an ingenious system of windows and skylights fill the building with natural light and you can admire works by Paul Klee alongside Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, and Miguel Barcelo.
If you’re staying in a rental apartment in the city then within walking distance is the National Art Gallery of Catalunya, previously 3 separate museums together they offer one of the most varied exhibits of Catalan art in the country, possibly even Europe, starting from the Romanesque period right up to the mid-20th century. Of note is Cerrajeros Barcelona the incomparable Apse of Santa Maria de Taull in the Romanesque wing, with its deep lapis lazuli blues, also look out for works by El Greco, Goya and Velazquez and make the modern art section a priority, highlights include Ricard Canals’ Cafe Concert and Ramon Casas’ Interior.
The Gothic quarter was previously a Roman village and is now a quaint area of narrow alleys, squares, and delightful historical buildings. Expect it to be packed most of the time as the Old Town has numerous attractions including the town hall on Placa de Sant Jaume where the earliest council chamber dates as far back as 1373. The Museu Diocesa de Barcelona on Avenue de la Catedral is full of interesting sculptures, paintings, pottery, religious outfits and jewellery with some pieces from the Roman and Middle Ages.
Antoni Gaudi is a name on everyone’s lips when visiting Barcelona and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see some of his extraordinary and wonderful creations. Tourists are drawn like moths to the city to see Gaudi’s masterpieces, the most famous being the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral still unfinished after more than a century; Park Guell and its huge colourful lizard; Casa Mila, historically a family home for the wealthy; and Casa Batllo, a truly inspired artistic masterpiece.
Gaudi isn’t the only artist contributing to Barcelona’s skyline of course, the Agbar Tower designed by Jean Nouvel is a skyscraper 144.4 meters high, the 3rd highest building in the city, and comprising of 38 storeys including 4 underground. Inspired by Gaudi, the cylindrical shape suggests the Montserrat Mountains that surround the city, and a rising geyser of water. Constructed of reinforced concrete sheathed with red and blue glass panels the 4,500 windows are lit at night creating a truly spectacular scene after dark.
You might not want to visit a hospital whilst on holiday but the Hospital de Sant Pau is unlike any other you will have seen before. Now an UNESCO World Heritage Site it was designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner who placed all the buildings around a park, the administration building is designed as if it were a chapel and has a large dome roof.