With its enchanting Gothic quarter, lively cosmopolitan streets, spectacular modern structures and a relentless creative spirit, Barcelona makes a fascinating place to visit.
The popular heart of Barcelona is its Rambla, the vibrant promenade stretching down to the sea, throbbing with life at any and every hour. Here there is no distinction of classes; bourgeois ladies, strolling couples, buskers, mimes, transvestites, tourists - all are part of the flavour of this tree-lined strip made expressly for walking, and looking. Colourful stalls selling flowers, handicrafts and souvenirs add to the noise and gusto. You can enjoy coffee or a vino, observe and take part in the ongoing circus as the busy city swirls around this island of sheer enjoyment.
Barcelona's 'Gothic quarter', east of La Rambla, is wonderful maze of narrow, meandering streets encapsulating the city's golden age. People are drawn here not just because of its centuries old architecture and unique ambience, some of best the bars and restaurants are to be found here.
The Catalans exude self-confidence, and culturally have always spawned the distinctly different and innovative, the most notable being Dalí and Gaudi. In fact Gaudi is the essence of Barcelona; the Sagrada Familia is the city's icon and his other fantastical works continue to be the inspiration for today's designers. Unfortunately Gaudi's master plans for the city were cut short in 1927 when he was run over by a tram. Curiously, no-one recognised the city's master architect in his shabby clothes; taxi-drivers refused to pick him up, and eventually he was taken by passers-by to a pauper's hospital where he died three days later.
As befits the city's varied character, there is a myriad of thematic museums of practically any area of interest, (from military to the erotic), as well as the great art centres which include the Picasso Museum, National Museum of Catalan Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There are also literally dozens of art galleries, listed in the local tourist information centres. Barcelona is a visual feast inside and outside.