Top free things to do in Barcelona
Despite the common ideology, travelling doesn't have to be overly expensive, especially when visiting the world's biggest cities, which usually feature plenty of budget-friendly sightseeing opportunities. Barcelona expert Sally Davies offers a guide to the city's top free attractions, including the best parks, free museums, historical sites and local markets.
So this is very interesting. I was shooting around "Born" area today and ran into this. The government was about to demolish this old city market to build up a library on 2002, but end up finding the remains of medieval Barcelona town dated from 1700. They decided to keep the whole archeological site intact and built a cultural center around it. It's 6700 square meters of ruins, that just opened to general public a little over than year ago, a must-see if you ever go to Barcelona. History is fascinating! | Entao, isso é muito interessante. Eu estava fotografando em torno da área "Born" hoje e encontrei isto. o governo estava prestes a demolir este antigo mercado da cidade para construir uma biblioteca em 2002, mas acabaram encontrando os restos da medieval cidade de Barcelona datados de 1700. Eles decidiram manter o sítio arqueológico todo intacto e construíram um centro cultural em torno dele. São 6700 metros quadrados de ruínas, que abriram ao público geral há um pouco mais de um ano atrás, imperdível se você for passar por Barcelona. A história é fascinante!
Born Centre Cultural
When plans to turn the gorgeous old Born market into a monster library were scrapped in favour of an archaeological exhibition space, I was as disappointed as the rest of the neighbourhood but I have to admit the finished result is stunning. The slatted iron and patterned brickwork surround a bright space, where visitors can walk around the medieval remains of buildings razed to the ground after the Catalans' defeat in the War of Spanish Succession in 1714.
This part is free to enter but there’s also a ticketed exhibition space that looks at life at the time, the battle and its aftermath. The gift shop is a great place to pick up elegant souvenirs.
The Born is Barcelona's prettiest neighbourhood, with medieval buildings to match any in the Barri Gotic, very few streets that are not pedestrianised, and an increasing number of charming cafes and quirky boutiques – not for nothing did I make it my home. Its central axis is the Passeig del Born, a medieval jousting ground flanked with the glorious Santa Maria del Mar church at one end and the newly restored Born Centre Cultural at the other.
It's worth walking up to the less gentrified northern section of the neighbourhood, above C/Princesa, which has its own share of sights – the Modernista Palau de la Musica concert hall, the colourful Santa Caterina market, and the medieval church of Sant Pere.
The city's most famous street is a mile-long avenue that begins at the Columbus Monument in front of the port, and ends at the Placa Catalunya. Recent legislation means that the stalls of caged animals and birds have been replaced with upmarket souvenirs and tourist information points but the colourful flower stalls remain, as does Miro's pavement mosaic, halfway up.
Dotted along the boulevard are the wax and erotic museums, the Palau de la Virreina information centre and exhibition space and, of course, the wonderful Boqueria food market. La Rambla takes on a very different character in winter and first thing in the morning, which is my favourite time to walk it.
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There are grand plans afoot to turn the hill of Montjuic into a 'museum quarter', based on the Viennese model, but in the meantime it does pretty well with the MNAC, the Fundacio Joan Miro, and the Olympic, archaelogical and ethnological museums. There are several themed gardens spread over the hillside, the hulking castle, some striking architecture around the Olympic stadium complex, an outdoor public swimming pool with views across the city and the vertiginous cable cars, which glide above it all. An outdoor cinema festival, Sala Montjuic, takes place in the moat of the castle in the summer months.
Parc De La Ciutadella
For those of us who live in the barrio, Ciutadella is the nearest we have to a back garden, and year round you'll see kids learning to rollerskate or cycle, musicians practising their instruments and old ladies walking their tiny dogs. Plenty is on offer for tourists, too, including a boating lake, a waterfall partly designed by Gaudi, the city zoo, snack bars and an abundance of sculpture.
There are picnic zones, outdoor ping pong tables, and a couple of playgrounds – including one for blind or disabled children. The most peaceful place to read a book is next to the pond in the formal rose gardens.
Platja De Barceloneta
The city beaches are not entirely natural, and were only really created – with sand dredged from the sea bed, and palm trees imported from Malaga – around the time of the 1992 Olympics, before which Barcelona was said to 'turn its back on the sea'. The result is seven kilometres of sand, which get quieter the further you get down towards the Forum.
The liveliest is the Platja de Barceloneta, marked by Rebecca Horn's tower of rusty cubes, Estel Ferit (Wounded Shooting Star). If you have kids in tow, head right and walk to the end, for rock pools and a rope climbing frame. The water is reasonably clean for a city beach and is safe for swimming.
Santa Maria Del Mar
An unmissable 14th Century church, not especially captivating from the outside but spectacular within. The sense of space in its single nave is majestic, with impossibly high pillars supporting a vaulted roof, and a giant rose window above the main entrance.
Torched by the anarchists in the early 20th Century, it's free of the frills and furbelows found in most Catholic churches of the period, and making its design easier to appreciate. For the fascinating story of how this, the 'people's cathedral', came about, and just how important it has been to the barrio over the centuries, I can recommend Ildefonso Falcones' Cathedral of the Sea, a Gothic page turner.
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This article was written by Sally Davies from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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