Barcelona Tourism

Castell de Montjuïc

Standing on a vantage point 173 metres above the port, Montjuïc Castle commands stunning views of the city. Now a peaceable place, the memory of this fortress endures in Barcelona as a symbol of repression but also of the city’s struggles during different periods in its history.

The top of Montjuïc is the ideal place for a bastion of defence, with 360º views of the city below. However, this military enclave wasn’t built until the Reapers’ War in 1640. In 1652, the fortress, which stands on the site of a watchtower, came under royal ownership and, some 50 years later, was one of the key defence points in the War of the Spanish Succession, between 1705 and 1714.

In the middle of the 18th century, the military engineer, Juan Martín Cermeño, was commissioned to restore the castle which had been badly damaged during the war, and its current appearance dates from this time. The castle has launched bombing raids on the city on a number of occasions and it has also been used as a prison. On 15th October 1940, the president of the Catalan government, Lluís Companys, was executed by firing squad at the castle. The castle was used as a military prison until 1960 when it was given back to the city and used as an army base. Three years later, Franco opened a weapons museum in the castle. In 2007, the castle came under the ownership of Barcelona City Council and, as a result, now belongs to all the citizens of Barcelona.

Santa Maria del Mar

The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona, also known as the “cathedral of La Ribera”, is one of the most perfect examples of Gothic style architecture due to its harmonious proportions and the serenity of the ensemble.

In the Middle Ages, the long periods of time it took to build a church – often more than a century – usually involved changes in architectural style. Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona is an exception. It was built in just 55 years, from 1329 to 1384, and is the only surviving church in the pure Catalan Gothic style. Its structure comprises three naves of the same height, underpinned by very tall columns set 13 metres apart, a distance unsurpassed by any other existing medieval building. This gives the impression of sublime width, height and airiness, as if gravity had been reversed and pulled the immense blocks of stone upwards. The many stained-glass windows of the church of Santa Maria del Mar play an important role in giving this impression.

The window of the Ascension, in the chapel of Santa Maria, and the Lavabo in the chapel of Sant Rafael, as well as the great rose window are some of the most outstanding examples of the church. The latter was destroyed during the earthquake that shook Barcelona in 1428, and remade in the mid-15th century. If you look at the floor you’ll see private tombs and those of Barcelona’s medieval guilds and brotherhoods. The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which was designed by Berenguer de Montagut, was the place of worship for the shipwrights and merchants of Gothic Barcelona.

Barcelona Area Guides: El Born

Despite humble beginnings as a settlement built on top of a medieval area of jousts and celebrations El Born has grown into being one of the most fashionable places in the city.

Between the beach of the Barceloneta and the Vía Laietana avenue, at the Eixample District, you can find El Born, a place that still preserves the charm of a typical town inside a large city, with its narrow streets that take you back to the old days of Barcelona. Known by some of the locals as La Ribiera, it is ten minutes away from the famous La Rambla and it was a place for jousting during the Middle Ages. Nowadays, a long time after that, it has become one of the hip neighbourhoods of the Catalonian capital.

Palau de la Música Catalana and Mercat del Born are the undisputable cultural hot spots of this neighbourhood. Featuring an active schedule of theatrical, literary and musical activities, Mercat del Born, a beautiful iron and glass building, houses within it the archaeological remains of the ancient distribution of the neighbourhood, a unique way to travel to the past!

Some of El Born main attractions are its small stores. There is no better place in Barcelona to find unique garments or original gifts. Some of them are the StudioStore, which features interesting designs, La Clinique, which sells glasses for all tastes and Ivo and Co,, where you can find very original decorative items for your home. These stores are usually hidden among numerous bars that are perfect to have a snack during the weekends, such as the Bormuth, in front of the Mercat del Born (El Born Market), ideal to have some cod fritters or croquettes.

Plaça Reial: one of Barcelona’s most beautiful squares

Plaça Reial is a compulsory stop on any tourist itinerary. Packed with cafés and restaurants, featuring elegant arcades and a magnificent fountain, it’s a handsome and lively place to visit.

Plaça Reial (Royal Square) is one of Barcelona’s most iconic squares. It’s also one of the most beautiful, with its perfect proportions, its rows of majestic arcades, its wrought iron lamp-posts and its palm trees – all in all, a very photogenic location!

Plaça Reial is located at one end of Las Ramblas, in the Gothic quarter. However, its architecture is nothing like that of the neighbouring streets, and follows the classical style popular in the 19th Century.

Attractions of the Plaça Reial

Art and architecture

The breathtaking beauty of the Plaça Reial is the result of the architect’s efforts to create an impression of perfect symmetry, using two surprising tricks. Firstly, the square is not rectangular: it’s a trapezoid. Secondly, the distances between columns are calculated differently depending on their distance from the viewing point.

The square is also home to one of Gaudí’s first public works: the lamp posts. They feature one of the architect’s favourite themes, Catalan identity. The upper part of the lamp posts features a helmet with a dragon, recalling the Catalan conquests of the middle ages.


Plaça Reial is a great place to watch the world go by. It’s a fascinating place, and there’s always something going on: the terrace being set up at a restaurant, a group of friends meeting up, glasses chinking, tourists sitting on the edges of the central fountain… a whole living soap opera!


Life on the Plaça Reial doesn’t die down after dark. The square’s many bars and restaurants are constantly full, although the crowds are mostly made up of tourists and foreign visitors.

One night-time attraction is the Jamboree. The venue plays host to top-quality jazz concerts and flamenco, and there’s also a club area to dance the night away.

Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

The beautiful neighbourhood known as the Gothic Quarter is so called because it used to be the Roman village and thus has some remnants of its glorious past. These days because of the constant modernization it is easy to spot an ancient building right next to one built in the 90s. It is this mix of old and new that brings people from all over the world to stay in the Gothic Quarter.

The narrow, winding streets create quite a labyrinth and means that it may take a while to get your bearings. I recommend that you should always look up and around you or you may miss some of the best bits.

The Gothic quarter has many peaceful squares (plaças) where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings. However one of the main attractions, right in the heart of the district is the huge Cathedral which has a stunning courtyard full of plants and oddly, geese.

You will be spoilt for choice of restaurants and bars, especially around Plaça Reial which is always full day and night. The night-life in the Gothic Quarter is lively to say the least and you will always find somewhere to have a drink or a dance. Calle Ferran, which is just to one side of Plaça Reial and leads up to Plaça Sant Jaume with its imposing government buildings is also good for bars and cafes.

Shopping is also amazing in the Gothic Quarter, from the more commercial area of Calle Portal de L’Angel to all the little boutiques on Calle Avinyo. Make sure you walk around to experience all you can, the Gothic Quarter is perfect for that afternoon stroll.

There are metro stops on both sides of the Gothic Quarter, there are 3 on Las Ramblas which runs up one side of the area, and on the other is Jaume 1. However you are in the centre of the city and many of the city’s attractions are a walk away.

At the top of Las Ramblas is Plaça Catalunya from where you can go onto Passeig de Gràcia if your shopping tastes are slightly more designer orientated, or if you want to see Gaudí’s buildings.

El Raval is another interesting area worth a visit, you can get there by crossing Las Ramblas.

The Barri Gòtic area is the first choice for many visitors to Barcelona. It is the cultural hub of the city and suitable for any type of traveller.


Free Tour of Barcelona !

The Free Tour of Barcelona starts just outside the Jaume I Metro Exit in front of Hotel Suizo. Just look for the teams in red SANDEMANs NEW Europe T-shirts!

Barcelona has an irresistible creative energy: you feel it on the bustling streets and market squares, you see it in the incredible architecture and museums, you taste it in the fabulous food, and you live it in the legendary nightlife. Explore the lifestyle of the most exciting city on the Mediterranean with this 2½-hour walking tour. The incredible rich history and culture of Barcelona will be brought to life for you by the enthusiastic and knowledgeable independent local guides with whom we work.

From Hercules, the legendary founder of the city, to Christopher Columbus; from Wilfred the Hairy, a heroic Catalan knight, to Pablo Picasso; Barcelona’s history is full of great adventurers, merchants, artists and warriors. The city has been shaped by many of the great seafaring civilizations of the Mediterranean. The sense of commerce, creativity and reaching for the horizon is what makes Barcelona such a unique place. Despite two millennia of proud history, for Barcelona the past is not enough. This is a city that is constantly reinventing itself to embrace the future.

On this 2.5 hour* tour you will see:

  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • The Gothic Quarter
  • King Martin’s Watchtower
  • The Generalitat
  • The Council of One Hundred
  • El Born District
  • Santa María del Mar
  • Roman Necropolis
  • Catalan national identity
  • The Olympic legacy
  • La Llotja
  • Plaça Nova
  • Port Vell historic harbor
  • Santa María del Pi
  • Catalan legends & heroes
  • Picasso in Barcelona
  • Spanish Civil War


The Chocolate Museum – Barcelona

The Chocolate Museum is a dynamic facility promoted by the Barcelona Confectionery Guild and located in the former Sant Agustí monastery. It provides a journey through the origins of chocolate, its arrival in Europe and its spread as an element between myth and reality, its medicinal properties and nutritional value, relating tradition with the future and forming part of our collective imagination.

The Chocolate Museum is located in a historic building that already had a relationship with chocolate: in the 18th century the Bourbon army was a fanatical consumer of chocolate and, according to the ordinances, chocolate was present on the menus of the 18th-century military academies: “For breakfast each cadet and company officer shall be given one and a half ounces of chocolate with a quarter of a pound of bread…”. When the troops were in barracks, acting as garrison, chocolate was also commonly eaten. The halberdier corps, the monarch’s personal bodyguard, was enviously known as the “chocolateros”, because, as they were a pampered, elite corps, they consumed a great deal of chocolate.

Since the age of discovery in the 15th century, chocolate has played a role in the economic and social fabric of Barcelona. Along these lines, Barcelona port acted as a starting point for the sale and distribution of the product all over Europe.

In addition, the first workshop that transformed drinking chocolate into a solid product is recognised to have existed in the city at the end of the 19th century.

Gaudí’s Pedrera: The Origins

If Gaudí brought you to Barcelona, you can’t miss this amazing experience

“Gaudí’s Pedrera: The Origins” is an spectacular night-time experience that will amaze everyone. Live an absolutely unique immersive experience, full of surprises, set in one of Barcelona’s most emblematic buildings.

Gaudí believed that nature is like a large open book; one we should make the effort to read and interpret. Accompanied by a guide, you will experience an unforgettable journey through different areas of the building: Passeig de Gràcia and Provença Courtyards, Espai Gaudí (the attic) and the Roof-Terrace (The Apartment not included), in which the highlight will be a videomapping at the Roof-Terrace of La Pedrera. We use the unique architecture of this space to present a magnificient audiovisual show which allows to make an unforgettable journey to the origins of life, the essence of Gaudí’s architecture, with multiple projections in the “badalots” (stairwells), special lighting and a soundtrack that will accompany it all.

The visit includes:

  • Projections in the Passeig de Gràcia Courtyard
  • Discovering the building’s most remarkable treasures (Passeig de Gràcia and Provença Courtyards, Espai Gaudí and the Roof-Terrace)
  • An extraordinary audiovisual show on the Barcelona’s most remarkable Roof-Terrace
  • Guide of La Pedrera, which will discover the building.
  • A glass of cava to finish off the evening

Don’t miss this highly sensory tour at night to discover the nooks and crannies of La Pedrera, that culminates with an audiovisual show beyond the imagination.

10 Insider Tips on What to Do in Barcelona

1. Walk down Passeig de Gracia and admire the many architectural works of art of Antoni Gaudi. Don’t forget to visit the “House of Bones”, officially known as Casa Batlló. The house is open to visitors 365 days a year from 9am to 9pm.

2.See a free exhibition in Palau Robert (on Passeig de Gracia) or one of the many galleries in the city.

3.Eat fresh tapas in a bar near the Barceloneta beach (Jai-Ca or Can Mano) and follow it up with a delicious paella at Can Ros.

4.Go to a live flamenco show, dance and drink a glass of vermouth on a Saturday afternoon at Bar Leo (Barceloneta)

5.Hunt for antiques and trinkets at the Mercat dels Encants (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays).

6.Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the Montjuic Cable Cars, Teleferic de Montjuic. To get there, take the funicular from the Parallel metro stop (line 2 & 3).

7.Observe the vibrant cultural melting-pot that is the Rambla del Raval.

8.Get lost in the labyrinth of the park “Laberint d’Horta”.

9.Go to a concert at the Palau de la Musica, enjoy the fantastic acoustics and architecture.

10. Unleash the Catalan rhythm and see a concert by the Barceloneta beach.


Catedral de Santa Eulalia de Barcelona

La Catedral de Santa Eulalia fue edificada sobre la antigua catedral de estilo romántico, arte predominante en Europa durante los siglos XI, XII y parte del siglo XIII y hoy ostenta el estilo gótico que se desarrolló desde finales del siglo XII hasta el siglo XV aunque su fachada es mucho mas moderna. Su edificio fue declarado bien de interés cultural, figura jurídica de protección del patrimonio histórico español, como asimismo Monumento Histórico-Artístico Nacional.
¿Sabías que la catedral de Barcelona podría muy bien ser la cuarta que fue construida en el mismo lugar? A pesar de que a los turistas de hoy les pueda parecer que la Catedral de Barcelona ha sido siempre un gran e imponente edificio en el centro de la ciudad, esto no podría estar más lejos de la verdad. Con una historia de siglos, el sitio de la Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia ha sufrido muchos cambios, y ha sido testigo del auge y caída de varias civilizaciones y religiones.
En resumen, La Catedral de Barcelona es una catedral gótica, renovada con un estilo neo-gótico, que fue construida sobre una catedral románica que fue construida sobre una catedral que sustituyó a una mezquita (convertida de una catedral que se actualizó a partir de una iglesia), que fue a su vez construida sobre un templo dedicado al Dios Júpiter. La próxima vez que visites Barcelona, concédete un momento para apreciar la magnitud e historia que te ofrece esta localización. ¿Ya has visitado la Catedral de Barcelona?