Barcelona: Between dream and reality
January 1, 1970
by Amila Š
Magic and Legends of Barcelona
When we say there is one magic city that can awaken all your senses, lead you into a state of complete infatuation, whether you are a gourmand, football fanatic, artist, sailor, mountaineer, historian, shopaholic, air-monger, most of people would think that such a paradise could not be found anywhere in the secular world.
But, not those who have visited it, they will remember its name immediately. That name is deeply etched in their memory like its impressive sights, magic fountains, blue sea, like the smell of delicious traditional foods that still tickles their nostrils. That name is deeply etched in their memory like its colorful streets and contagious energy and serenity of its inhabitants.
They will tell you wistfully that this heavenly city is called Barcelona. And they will talk about it enthusiastically, as if they were talking about their first love,of its beauty that surpasses all others, and urges them to keep coming back to it, once again falling in love with it.
Its position itself contributes to its grandeur – it is located on plane in north-eastern Spain, on the Mediterranean coast, between the rivers Besos and Liobregat, and mountains Collserola and Montjuic. There are many legends about the foundation of Barcelona, amongst which two of them stand out and are most frequently told.
One mentions Hercules as the founder of this Mediterranean jewel, the mythic hero who allegedly founded it 400 years before the founding of Rome, while the other tells the story of Hannibal`s father, Hamilcar Barca, who gave the name Barcino to the city in the 3rd century BC, according to the name of his family. Whether founded by Hercules or Hamilcar Barca, today Barcelona is undoubtedly much more than capital of the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, it is much more than one of the largest ports and the largest city of the Mediterranean. It is a cosmopolitan city with its own rich history, one of the oldest in Europe, which it managed to preserve almost intact, and evolve in perfect harmony with modernism. Its magnificence is most visible in the architectural treasures of the Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance.
And it is almost impossible to extract the essence of Barcelona, for its grandeur extends throughout its surface, but in several districts, you will find the most impressive testimony of its history, most luxuriously unique examples of its art, beautiful seals its giant woven into its ground and walls that proudly emerging from it.
The center of the old town makes Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), which contains most of what is left of medieval Barcelona, but the most famous buildings is the fourth Cathedral, considered to be not only the right example of Catalan Gothic, but also one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. In the heart of the Gothic Quarter is the Plaça del Rei, under which there are important Roman ruins, while the remains of Roman walls can be seen in several streets in the center, so proudly and silently testifying of the former Roman rule in this area, resisting time.
The center of the new town is Plaça Catalunya, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. From the square to the coast, at a distance of 1.2 kilometers, stretches the famous picturesque street of La Ramblas, which is the symbol of the city. It is divided into 4 sections: The red light district, District of flowers, District of birds, and District of the baroque and neoarchitecture. The sight even far more fascinating, in this street of “living statues”, street musicians, acrobats, memorabilia and enchanting colorful marketplaces La Boquera, is St.Cross Hospital (Hospital de la Santa Creu) from the 14th century that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique example of ornate architecture that is still tailored to the needs of patients. And heading towards the coast, while being under immersive impression, after a few meters you will realize with dismay that you are virtually standing on the treasure – the original mosaic of Joan Miro, staring at the Palace Guell (Palau Guell), one of the works of undisputed Gaudi. And therein lies the charm of the Catalan Queen –it is full of surprises and keeps you day and night in the rapture, because with every step you discover its amazing treasures and feel that she, as you walk around La Rambla narrow winding streets, draws you more and more into herself, leaving you breathless.
Connected with the Passeig de Gracia street and Diagonal Avenue it creates a shopping line about 5 km long, and in between attractive window displays, of mostly Spanish, but world-famous designers, there are numerous bars and restaurants, in which except sangria, paella and tapas, you can drink the most famous Spanish beer – canu, eat a tortilla, patatas bravas (fried potatoes in red sauce) and mejillones a la marinera (mussels in a sauce).
La Ramblas, which, as part of its impressive content, offers not only excellent Spanish, but also Turkish food, ends with statue of Christopher Columbus, 60 meters high, proudly pointing to the sea. Inside the statue there is an elevator by which you can reach the top and enjoy the beautiful view of the stately Barcelona, woven by the works of the greatest artists of all time Antoni Gaudi, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
After a swim on one of its sandy beaches, you can, thanks to the excellent public transport, which allows easy access throughout the city, get to the castle Montjuic, another impressive testimony of the Spanish history. At one time it was the scene of a large number of battles, and later a prison for political opponents during the reign of the infamous Spanish dictator, Franco Francis. Today’s Montjuic is also a botanical garden with a viewpoint Miramar Funicular and cable car, and for the Olympic Games in 1992 it was further arranged and constructed with the necessary facilities. It provides visitors with an amazing panoramic view of the immeasurable Barcelona on one side and the sea on the other.
In the same part of Barcelona, you will be greeted by impressive Olympic Stadium, great restaurant with excellent Spanish food and a spectacular panoramic view of the city, and the Magic Fountain (Font Magica), that “dances” with music and light effects in front of the Museum of Catalan national art.
In Barcelona everything is magical and magnificent. Barcelona does not know for mediocrity, be it on a football stadium Nou Camp, one of the largest and the most famous stadiums, be it the Aquarium of Barcelona which, with 35 aquariums and underwater tunnel of 80 meters that goes through oceanium and 4,000 marine species, is one of the largest aquarium in Europe and one of the most important in the world, or the Palace of Catalan music (Palau de la Musica Catalana), that is also included in the UNESCO world heritage list as a unique example of modernist architecture of steel and glass.
But of all great men, Antoni Gaudi, the undisputed Catalan architect, gave to Barcelona the greatest wealth. About how much Barcelona gave to Gaudi and Gaudi to Barcelona, best described AV Lopez and C. Ospina in their book “Barcelona Noir” – “The mere beauty, and all the surrounding mountains and sea, were reason enough to architect Antoni Gaudí, to build up on its soil his own version of the world of imagination, that daily promotes urban mimes and living statues that take place along the streets of La Ramblas and turn it into their stage.”
The beauty and exceptional creativity of Gaudí’s artwork will consume you completely, wiping the time frame you are in and putting you at the center of their own fairy tale. From 12 of his impressive work, 9 are located in Barcelona, and even 7 are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. His crown masterpiece is considered to be La Sagrada Familia, a large Roman Catholic church, whose construction began in 1882 and it is still in progress, and beside it, his most visited artworkshare fabulous home Casa Mila and Casa Batllo and Park Guell.
Barcelona has 68 parks, of which 12 historical, 5 botanical, 6 forest parks and 45 cityparks. It is clear that during one visit, regardless of the desire, you cannot visit all the parks, but you definitely need to visit the Parc de la Cuitadella, which is located near the zoo and in which, in addition to amazed tourists, you can at any time see people playing guitar, amusing themselves in various ways, or simply basking and enjoying the moment.
Barcelona is just as vivid and attractive and at night. Around the Plaça Catalunya there are numerous night clubs and some of the most famous European discotheques. During most of the year in Barcelona, there is a great number of concerts of world famous artists, as well as music festivals that make you feel this city never sleeps.
Hardly a city has to offer so much of well-preserved historical and cultural wealth, so many architectural wonders listed on UNESCO’s lists, so much chantiness that is reflected even in the dancing fountains, energetic and passionate flamenco dancing, great football, along which a bite of tasty tapas and a glass of good sangria, tempting sea and a long summer of sunlight contribute to the overall beauty.
To each its visitor Barcelona represents the same as the muse is to the poet – the eternal inspiration, the freedom of expression and rapture that doesn’t fades away even after leaving from it.
Whether it is sunny or wrapped in white robe, it will show you its treasures with a casualness. If you decide to visit this magical city for New Year’s holidays, do not forget that the old Spanish New Year’s custom requires that with each of the 12 bells beats , which ann ounce the arrival of the New Year, you should eat one of the 12 grapes, to ensure prosperity and happiness in the next 12 months. There is no doubt that one of the twelve berries will represent your desire to meet again with the magical Barcelona.