Barcelona, the beautiful

Lawyer Raymundo Larrain explains what he thinks makes Barcelona so special and why you should buy property there.

Article copyrighted © 2022. Plagiarism will be criminally prosecuted. 

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Sunrise from Park Guell

By Raymundo Larrain

8th of November 2022

Right off the bat, I must admit I have a soft spot for Barcelona, so yes, this article is going to be biased towards it, soz.

Introduction

Barcelona was founded in the 3rd century B.C. by Carthaginians. It was named ‘Barcino’, and – if we are to go by legend – it is named after one of the most prominent Carthaginian families (the Barcas) which included no other than Hannibal himself; one of the finest commanders of all time.

Barcelona is the capital city of the Spanish region of Catalonia, one of the richest, most powerful, and industrious in all of Spain. It is undoubtedly one of the crown jewels of the Mediterranean Sea, and is arguably the most beautiful city in all of Spain; well, at least to me. The fact that it is a coastal city is simply the cherry on top. Its close proximity to European influences and avant-garde trends, give it a luster of a cosmopolitan city.

The Eye-Catching Architecture in October 2022 crowned Barcelona as the third most beautiful city on the planet, after Rome and Venice. Using an advanced computer program to measure the dimensions and proportions of buildings, they compared them to the golden ratio (1:1.618). But frankly, you don’t need any machine to appreciate its beauty, you only need to be human.

If you are single, this is the city where you need to mingle. I have fond memories of visiting it with the lads when I was an undergrad. Mmm, to be young again!

For reasons of space constraint – and also because my editor would likely strangle me – I need to keep this article short; but you should know I could ramble all day about Barcelona and its countless delights. This is an abridged article, do not expect an insightful guide chock-full of insider tips, because it is not. I simply gloss over the city’s main highlights and leave it to the reader to fill in the gaps.

Barcelona’s Districts

The Old Town

The Old Town is the core of the city and includes the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, La Barceloneta, and El Born. You will find antique shops, centuries-old cafes that were frequented by artists, poets, laureate writers and bon vivants that discussed on arts, and politics; fancy restaurants sprawl amid its winding lanes surrounded by a cosmopolitan crowd of smiling tourists, students, and immigrants displaying their brightly coloured wares. A scent of freshly made food gently drifts through the air tethering the unsuspecting visitor.  

Eixample

This is a large district with modernist avenues and buildings which includes such iconic places as the Passeig de Gracia, and Gaudi’s masterpiece ‘La Sagrada Familia’. It attracts swathes of tourists.  

Montjuic

Overlooking the commercial port, there is a hill rising above the city, the Montjuic mountain. It is a place of natural beauty and cultural value. Beautiful views over the city are guaranteed at dawn and dusk.

Gracia

Is home to Gaudi’s Park Guell, another landmark of this stunning city, which illustrates this article. It’s a garden park that beckons you to wander it and get lost in its enticing beauty.

Must-see places

La Sagrada Familia

This is widely regarded as Gaudi’s masterpiece, it’s an unfinished cathedral unlike any you have ever laid your eyes on. It seems taken straight out of an alien dream that beckons you forward, ensnaring your very soul.

Port Olimpic

This was built to accommodate Spain’s 1992 Olympics, hosted by Barcelona, which brought the nation together, and constitutes one of the most beautiful chapters in Spain’s young democracy; a wondrous time when anything seemed achievable, and which rallied all of Spain behind one banner, as one, in happier times.

During the daytime, you can take a walk and view the yachts with the family, at dusk you can sit at one of the many cafes and take in the beauty of a golden dusk against a dashing blue sea. But only when the sun sets, it is truly when the place comes into its own – at nighttime. The port is brimmed with industrial hubs that have been reconditioned to harbour hedonistic nightclubs that cater to discerning party owls. It’s another place where beautiful people, and those young at heart, visit to quench their undying thirst for living life with passion.

Las Ramblas

Is a tree-lined avenue in the old town that acts as a boundary between the Gothic Quarter and El Raval. This is a place where carefree undergrads visit the numerous watering holes that dot it, pulling the local (beautiful) girls, or so I’m told, ahem. I recall El Bosc des Les Fades (Fairy Forest) as a great place to stop for a pint or two, it is beautifully decorated with candles and inside waterfalls that give it an ethereal mystique, almost dream-like. Las Ramblas bustles with life and diversity, but you should pay special attention to pickpockets whose nimble fingers have ruined many a day of wide-eyed tourists.

Barcelona’s Architecture

To speak of Barcelona’s architecture, is to speak of Gaudi as they are both inextricably linked. Frankly, I don’t even know where to begin, I’m so overwhelmed. You are going to have to forgive me on this one, because there are simply far too many places to list, and I only have so much space (that and also because I cherish my neck!).

To name my personal top tier:

  • La Sagrada Familia: as mentioned, an iconic cathedral built at the heart of Barcelona, unique in the whole world, otherworldly, almost alien-like. I’m pretty sure Ridley Scott took pointers for his famous Alien movie. I run out of words to describe its mesmerizing beauty.
  • Park Güell: another of Gaudi’s iconic marvels. It’s a park that draws inspiration from Mother Nature, now converted into a municipal garden.
  • Casa Batlló: Gaudi was commissioned to build this building. Its façade and balconies resemble Venice’s carnaval masques. Again, another prime example of Modernist art.
  • Casa Amatller: another beautiful example of modernist fantasy with reliefs of dragons and knights commissioned by a generous philanthropist after which it was aptly named.
  • La Pedrera: a Unesco-listed masterpiece. A beautiful building with endless balconies commissioned by another affluent businessman after which it was initially named (Casa Milà), but its nick (meaning the quarry, after its uneven grey stone façade) catched on and is now known by it.
  • Palau de la Música Catalana: again, another Unesco-listed building. I would finish quicker if I simply listed the ones which are not Unesco-listed!
  • Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar. I’ll finish the list as I started it, by naming another religious building, a Catalan Gothic church named Our Lady of The Sea that dates from the XIV century.

Conclusion

Truly, what can one add to perfection?

If you want your heart stolen visit Barcelona, or better yet, buy a property there. Barcelona is one of those bewitching cities which beauty and lovely people haunt you, leaving an indelible mark upon your soul. It truly is a unique European city that one should visit during his lifetime.

Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.” – Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852 – 1926). Was a Spanish architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works are mostly located in Barcelona, and include La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló amongst many others. Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudi is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest modern architects whose magic art will echo down the ages, standing the test of time; a hallmark reserved only for a handful of artists.

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