Barcelona is far more than just a hedonist’s playground; it is also one of Spain’s most culturally rich cities, with a powerful links to artistic giants from Picasso to Joan Miro to Gaudi. Here are some of the sites where you can absorb the Catalan capital’s heady artistic history:
Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso)
The Picasso Museum
is a treasure trove of works by the great master, featuring 3,500 pieces covering every major period in the artist’s development and providing fascinating insights into his youth and relationship with the city of Barcelona.
The Tapies Foundation
was established in 1984 by Antoni Tapies, the instigator of the Dau-al-Set (Surrealism and Dadaism) artistic movement. His aim was to advance the study and the knowledge of contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on art’s role in forming the conscience of modern man.
Joan Miro Foundation (Fundacio Joan Miro)
Surrealist painter Joan Miro was born in Barcelona, and the Joan Miro Foundation
is a wonderful place to find out more about his work. Miró's art is displayed alongside a wide variety of creative works by other artists, offering a refreshing way to appreciate his art.
Mies Van der Rohe Pavilion
German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed this gem as the German National Pavilion
for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Constructed of glass, travertine, and various types of marble, the Pavilion was designed to stage the official reception presided by King Alphonso XIII of Spain with the German authorities. Though dismantled in 1930, this architectural wonder was reconstructed in 1986 and can now be visited.
Catalan National Art Museum
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
houses comprehensive collections of everything from sculpture, painting, and drawing to engraving, posters, and photography. Its mission is to provide an overview of Catalan art from the last millennium, so the range and quality of what is on show is almost overwhelming.
Frederic Mares Museum (Museu Frederic Mares)
The Frederic Mares Museum
was established when the sculptor and great art collector Frederic Mares donated his collection to the city of Barcelona. It’s not just sculpture either; you can find everything from a Roman sarcophagus to centuries-old everyday objects.
Güell Park (Parc Guell)
is the perfect place to relax after an exhaustive (and exhausting!) tour of Barcelona’s artistic wonders. Situated on the hill of El Carmel, it is one of the biggest architectural works in southern Europe, and it is also one of the world’s most distinctive parks, filled as it is with trademark flamboyant works by the great Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. The focal point of the park is the main terrace, encircled by a serpent-shaped bench, whose curves create several enclaves to encourage sociability. Gaudí included many motifs of Catalan nationalism and symbols of religious mysticism and ancient poetry.