Before we started our adventure for the day, we made a quick stop in Cañas y Tapas at Glòries Commercial Centre (about a stone’s throw away from our hotel) for some Catalan breakfast. Authentic Catalan coffee and pan tostado y margarina: it’s nothing super special but I thought the coffee was excellent and just about right to keep me wide awake for the day’s activity.
We also bought an Orange sim card worth 10 euros, inclusive of 1 gig Internet data plan valid for one month. It also includes voiced calls, though I forgot how much, since we mainly used it for Internet services. There are plenty of available networks that you can choose from in Barcelona. You can find their shops in the airport, most shopping malls, or El Corte Ingles, which is the biggest chain of department stores… and you’ll find them literally everywhere in Barcelona. Based on the reviews I’ve read and personal experience, I think Orange has the best coverage plan. Don’t forget to bring a valid ID/passport if you want to purchase one. Roaming data from our home network costs S$15 a day so I thought a EUR 10 purchase was worth it.
Also, I suggest you purchase online tickets for any exhibitions prior to your trip to save waiting time and long queues. Individual tickets are a bit pricey but if you purchase through barcelonaturisme.com, you can get a discount price of €25 inclusive of selected 7 museums.
Our second day in Barcelona was spent doing the “modernista walk,” which was mostly seeing the finest works of Catalan architects Antoni Gaudi and Josep Puig. From our hotel, we walked past Torre Agbar (see previous post) and Museu Taurino towards Casa Calvet. From Sagrada Familia we took a cab going to Park Güell making it our last stop for the day.
1. Parroquia De La Mare De Deu Del Roser or Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary is a small chapel built in the early 1900. Only the walls were saved after it was burned down in 1939. The parish was rebuilt in 1945.
2. Museu Taurino/Monumental de Barcelona or Bullfighting Museum of Barcelona. Bullfighting or corrida de torros is a traditional Spanish sport. It has existed for 4,000 years and was most likely influenced by the Romans. Although bullfights are no longer conducted in Barcelona, at the museum you will find costumes, heads of bulls, and other bullfighting mementos.
3. Plaça de Tetuan. This is a major square in Barcelona where you will see the 12-metre monument of Bartomeu Robert (1842-1902). He was a doctor and also mayor of Barcelona. The monument originally stood at Placa de le Universitat, but was dismounted during General Franco’s regime. Some years after the general’s death, the monument was re-erected in Placa de Tetuan.
4. Casa Calvet (1899) is one of Gaudi’s earliest works. It was built for Pere Màrtir Calvet, a textile manufacturer who lived on the upper floors and whose business was on the ground floor. Today, Casa Calvet is home to one of the best restaurants in Barcelona.
5. Casa Amatller (late 17th century) was designed by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch for Antonio Amatller i Costa who was a chocolatier. The architect got his inspiration from the Dutch houses for the design of this building. To go inside, you will need to join a guided tour (€10) and a chance to taste authentic Amatller chocolate.
6. Casa Batlló (1907) is located literally just beside Casa Amatller. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi for Josep Batlló i Casanovas, a wealthy man in Barcelona. He lived in the lower floors of the apartment with his family while the upper floors were rented out. The design of the balconies look like a skull and the roof and walls somehow depicts of a scaly animal. Entrance fee is €18.50.
7. Casa Mila is also known as La Pedrera (1910). The iconic Casa Mila is Gaudi’s last and most famous secular building. It was built between 1906 and 1912 as an apartment for the wealthy couple Pere Milà and Roser Segimon.
Built entirely in natural stones, and unlike his other flamboyant designs, Casa Mila looks dry and dull. But what’s very interesting is that this seven-storey apartment was supposedly built without a single straight line or any right-angled corner. Other than the design of the building itself and its magnificent façade, the main highlight is on the rooftop with chimneys that somewhat resembles a melted ice cream cone. Honestly, I don’t know how to properly describe it. It’s just amazingly odd.
Although the wife Roser sold the building in 1946 following Pere’s death in 1940, she continued to live in Casa Mila’s main floor until her death in 1964. Today, Casa Mila operates mainly as a museum. Some parts of the museum were decorated as it was when the apartment held private residences. It also showcases the Espai Gaudi, which is a gallery of Antoni Gaudi’s works. The ticket price is €16.50.
8. Palau del Baró Quadras (built 1902-1906). Another work of Josep Puig is this neo-Gothic building. Notice the detailed figures of kings and queens, flowers and gargoyles.
9. Casa de les Punxes, which literally means “House of Spikes” is a design by Josep Puig built between 1903-1905. Its features resemble that of a gothic castle with four turrets, one standing in each corner. Officially, it is called Casa Terrades after the Terrades sisters who owned this building.
10. La Sagrada Familia. Of all the projects that Antoni Gaudi had done, it was the Sagrada Familia he devoted most of his focus. He spent his time and life, quite literally, on the construction of this incredible icon, which began in 1882 (some books say 1883). He died at the age of 74 when he was hit by a tram. At his untimely death in 1926, the construction of Sagrada Familia was nowhere near complete.
Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) was a very devout catholic. His strong faith reflected in minute detail on almost every corner of Sagrada Familia. It is said that his vision was to include three facades representing the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He also dreamt of including 18 towers made of coloured pieces of glass or stones symbolizing the twelve apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.
La Sagrada Familia is undeniably worth all the praise for Gaudi’s wondrous work of art. According to biography.com, the final completion date of La Sagrada Familia is on 2026 marking the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Ticket prices range from €14.80 to €23.80.
11. Seeing Park Güell (1900-1914) for the first time reminded me of a story I used to read when I was a little girl. There is a pavilion at the main entrance that looks like the real version of the wicked witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. So yummy looking!
A wealthy industrialist named Don Eusebi Güell commissioned Antoni Gaudi to build an English-style garden city set on a 50-acre land. Of the 40 (some books say 60) garden houses that were initially planned to be built, only two were completed and Gaudi lived in one of them from 1906-1926. The project turned out to be an economic failure, and in 1923, the property was turned over to the city.
The multicolored, uneven tiles covering the dragon at the stairway of the main entrance is called trencadis or broken ceramics, a very distinctive Gaudi style. Ticket is priced at €7.00 only for the monumental zone. The rest of the park is unrestricted and is free. There is an assigned time when you purchase the tickets so be sure to arrive prior.