The cultural experiences you’ll only find in Barcelona

Everyone that has been to Barcelona will say that it is the dream city for every traveler, and that it has everything you could hope to find in a urban break. From art museums to designer shops, going by unusual activities, everything is possible in Barcelona, even going to the beach ! But while living there, I discovered some very unique experiences that you can only find in the catalan capital. Here’s 10 cultural experiences you can’t miss in Barcelona, wether you wish to live there or just visit !

Walking by in the shadow of the wind

One of the most acclaimed contemporary Spanish author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, based its most famous novel, The Shadow in the Wind, in Barcelona. Although the book is fictional, it is possible to to take a “shadow in the wind” in the city and visit the many places that appear in his book. Most of them are important places of Barcelona, which makes the visit entertaining, but it’s still a very unique way to explore the history and architecture of the city.

La Casa Pedrerà d’Antoní Gaudí

Discover the masterpieces of catalan modernism

It may seem less original than the rest, but it still remains a huge cultural specimen of the city : Antoní Gaudí is the most famous and renowned architect of Barcelona after all. With its contemporary Lluís Domenech I Muntaner, he is considered as a pioneer in the historical movement of catalan modernism, in the late 19th century. He stands out for his accent on curves and natural patterns in architecture, asymmetry and dynamic shapes, and many symbolic buildings of Barcelona can be associated to that movement. I strongly advise you to visit principal modernism buildings such as la Casa Batllò , le Palau de la Mùsica ou La Pedrera to get familiar with this architectural and historical movement, but also think of just walking by in the city, cause you might be surprised by modernist buildings at some street corners (in the Example for instance).

The Magic fountain

The magic fountain is a splendid free show of lights, music and colors that takes place at the fountain built at the bottom on Montjuïc hill, down the stairs of the MNAC (Museum of National Arts of Catalunya). The fountain was constructed in 1922 to become one of the stars of the international exhibition of 1929 in Barcelona, but was transformed throughout the years, with notably the addition of music in the 80s to be perfect for Olympic Games of 1992. It actually takes its water from a water plan located… under the Ramblas and Liceu !

The Marsella

Nested in the streets of Raval, a part of the city considered as a no go zone place for a long time, the Marsella bar is one of the most famous bar in Barcelona. It is locally renowned as it was frequented by Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, amongst many other artists and writers, and it is also one of the only bar specialized in the sale of absinthe, an anise liquor named “The Green Fairy” as it is very strong in alcohol (45 to 74%).

Les Gigantes de la Mercè

La Mercè

Barcelona is known to welcome many festivals, from the most trendy like the experimental festival of electronic music Sonar, or the more recent Poker festival EPT, to the most ancients like Mercè. You must plan your holidays real good or be lucky to attend the Mercè, because this spectacular celebration only takes place once a year the week before the 24th of September. The Mercè is the short version of La Mare de Déu de la Mercè, or “The Mercy Virgin”, the holy patron of Barcelona, and is officially celebrated since 1871. Celebrations last for a week and include a procession of Giant paper statues (Gegants), and Castellers (human towers), as well as the typical catalan dance, la Sardena. The festival ends with very big fireworks and celebrations in all the city.

The Tibidabo amusement park

Perched atop the Tibidabo Mountain is the amusement park Tibidabo, that overhangs Barcelona. It is one of the most ancient amusement park in Spain and the third oldest of Europe ! One of the most unusual attraction of the park is the machine museum, a museum of mechanical creatures that were conceived to reproduce human movements (Walt Disney even tried to buy it in 1957, unsuccessfully !)

La Calçotada

This is ain’t an exclusive tradition of the city of Barcelona but rather a Catalan tradition, you must absolutely know if you are in the region between January and march. The Calçotada is a big meal where Catalans eat a special kind of sweet onion called calçot ; which is in between the leek and the onion. It is cooked on a barbecue before being plunged into a nut sauce called romescu. Eating a calçot can be very dirty between the sauce and the wine that usually comes with it, but it is so delicious and friendly !

I hope I made you dream with the typical cultural activities of Barcelona !

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