There are a huge number of reasons to visit Catalunya, the region of north-eastern Spain which was home to surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Barcelona, the major city in the region attracts millions of visitors annually, but venture a bit further afield and visitors will find a plethora of different things to see and do.
Starting in the city centre, a visit to Barcelona would not be complete with an afternoon taking in the sights and sounds of Las Ramblas. This long avenue runs from the Plaza de Catalunya for about a mile down to the sea. It’s popular with both locals and tourists alike and is home to numerous street performers, flower stalls, pavement cafés and restaurants. Particularly worth a visit is the Boqueria market, where vendors sell a dazzling array of fruit, vegetables, fish and other local produce. The narrow streets leading off Las Ramblas towards the Cathedral are also worth exploring as they remain largely unchanged since medieval times.
In direct contrast to the narrow streets of the old town, the Olympic Port and marina were built for the Olympic Games of 1992. This is the most popular place in town for a Sunday afternoon stroll, and is packed with restaurants and bars as well as some of the biggest and most expensive yachts in the Mediterranean. It is a great place for people watching, and the ideal location for a relaxing lunch or dinner watching the world go by.
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A short subway ride from the city centre is Parc Guell, the creation of Antoni Gaudí, the famous Catalan ceramicist. The park is less well-known than his incomplete Sagrada Familia cathedral, but is a far more pleasant place to visit. Look out for the iconic tiled bench which gives great views back across the city, and the brightly coloured ceramic salamanders which are so typical of Gaudí’s work. Entry to Parc Guell is free, although there is a small charge to enter the museum.
Leaving the city behind, the monastery of Monserrat is about an hour from central Barcelona by train and is one of the most beautiful areas in the region. The monastery itself is perched high in the mountains, and can either be reached by car or for the more adventurous, by a cable car from the station at the foot of the mountain. The basilica inside the monastery is stunning, as are the panoramic views from the grounds. Montserrat is famous for its boys’ choir, who perform for visitors every day, free of charge.
Dalí Museum, Figueres
Dalí’s home town of Figueres is north of Barcelona, close to the border with Spain, and most visitors to the town head straight to the huge Dalí museum which is housed in the town’s old theatre. Many visitors to the museum will be inspired by online paintings by Saatchi Online, and the museum will not disappoint as it contains a huge number of artworks from all periods of Dalí’s career. Book online to avoid crowds at peak times and leave plenty of time to explore the museum’s intriguing objects thoroughly.
Catalunya is one of Spain’s main wine producing areas, and the main type of wine from the area is Cava, a sparkling wine made in a way similar to French champagne. The small town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is home to two of the major Cava producers, Freixenet and Codorniu, both of which offer tours of their cellars to visitors. A cellar tour gives the chance to learn a bit about how the wine is made, bottled and stored, and at the end of the tour visitors have the opportunity to sample some of the cava too and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
The popular holiday resort of Sitges has a stunning beach and is just a short train ride from the city. Well known for its flamboyant and cosmpolitan night life, Sitges is popular with visitors of all ages who come to sunbathe on one of the 17 blue flag quality beaches within easy reach of the town centre or eat in the good range of restaurants in the town which cater to all tastes and budgets.
Please visit Barcelona Turisme for more information about Barcelona and and for those inspired by online paintings, including works by Salvador Dali, visit Saatchi Online. You can get additional information about Salvador Dali at Artsy.net.