Lonely Planet's top 10 sights of Barcelona
Meditating on times past in the Església De Santa Maria Del Mar
The grand Gothic church of Our Lady of the Sea was blessed in 1384. As you admire this splendid feat of medieval construction, imagine the religious devotion of the city's porters, who spent a day each week carrying on their backs the stone required to build the church, trudging all the way from the royal quarries in Montjuïc. Their very blood is etched into the church's walls, and their memory lives on in reliefs of them on the main doors and stone carvings elsewhere in the church.
Falling under a spell in Park Güell
What a fine flop! What started in 1900 as the dream of a Barcelonian magnate, Eusebi Güell, for an English-style 'garden city' for the hoity-toity ended up as an enchanting public space. Alice in Wonderland would feel at home, as you're greeted by two gingerbread houses of soft brown stone, topped by curvaceous, creamy-looking roofs decorated in trencadís (broken-up ceramics). The great pillared hall (Sala Hipóstila) would have housed the garden city's market. Its roof is a grand viewing platform across the city, lined by the Banc de Trencadís, a delightful bench that snakes around its perimeter and is clad with candy-coloured ceramics.
Sitting on the edge of your seat at a Barça match
For the sports-minded, little can match the glory and spectacle of a football match at FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium, one of the biggest and best in the world. The athletic genius of players in one of Europe's greatest clubs (founded in 1899) will have you sitting on the edge of your seat - along with 100,000 other spectators - when the stadium fills for big clashes, like the derby with arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Musing on epic seafaring at the Museu Marítim
Climb aboard the life-sized replica of Don Juan of Austria's elaborately adorned 16th-century galley, and imagine life aboard this warship. Hundreds of men chained to the giant oars drove this vessel at up to nine knots. The cracking of whips; the agony of this mix of slaves, prisoners and desperate volunteers. The sheer stench. These wretches ate, slept and went to the toilet where they sat. You could smell a medieval galley from miles away. Don Juan's galley was launched here, at the Reials Drassanes (Royal Shipyards). The site has been a museum since the 1940s and is one of the most fascinating in the city.